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Pimp Your Projector

March 9, 2010 By Dennis Burger

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District 9

Let your projector strut its stuff with one of these visually stunning Show-Offs selections

Spec sheets and reviews can tell you a lot about a projector, but let’s face it: Without good content, even the most highly lauded, feature-packed projector in the world is little more than a bulky, expensive light source.

If you’re looking to impress your guests with your new projector, don’t bore them with stats, figures and features. Just stick one of these luscious-looking Blu-ray discs in and let the images do the talking.

District 9 (Blu-ray)
Best Chapter: 14

 District 9

With its fake documentary trappings, dismal settings and generally melancholy mood, this heady sci-fi flick probably isn’t the first disc you’d think to grab when looking to show off your new projector.

That’s what you’ve got me for, though, right?

Gloomy as it may be, District 9 benefits from a spectacularly detailed image with jaw-dropping contrasts. In the scenes leading up to the climactic showdown, the holographic alien computer screens are rendered so precisely they seem to defy the pixel count of even Blu-ray. A nigh-infinite palette of grays manifests the thousands of stalactite rods that hang from the bottom of the mothership. The real visual splendor doesn’t begin, though, until the film’s protagonist dons a hulking mech suit and starts ripping through the screen, dragging inky black shadows and whizzing contrails of bullet smoke with him every stomping step of the way.

Don’t be surprised if you find your projector huffing and puffing as hard as you are by the time the heart-stopping action comes to an end.

Home (Blu-ray)
Best Chapter: 3


If the idea of faux documentaries about extraterrestrial refugees doesn’t sound appealing, perhaps a very real documentary about very terrestrial matters is more your thing. This stunning film from French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand is at once a love letter to our home in the cosmos and a warning letter to its inhabitants, all wrapped up in a lavishly and hypnotically filmed package that’ll light up you projector whether it stirs your heart or not.

Every frame of every scene is so packed with astounding detail and delicious hues, it’s almost impossible to pick one favorite chapter over any other. But this is not ’Nam; this is Show-Offs. There are rules. So if you’re really looking to strut your projector’s stuff and blow your guests’ minds in under three minutes flat, I’d say queue the disc up to Chapter 3 and let the drooling begin.

The sequence begins with a hot mineral spring as seen from above—way above. It almost looks like an alien landscape, or some psychedelic re-colored volcano: blazingly bright orange soil, cut through by the eye-popping ultra-green and very-berry-blue of the archaebacteria-filled waters between. The camera then cuts to the majestic vistas of the Grand Canyon—sweeping, craggy outcrops and monolithic walls of rock, striped with the pixel-thin markings of geological layers and divided by cool shadows that positively drip down the screen.

In those three short minutes, your projector will see finer details and more vibrant hues that it would normally see in the course of a whole film. Just don’t be surprised if your guests ask for more. Once you’re hooked, it’s rather hard to take your eyes off this astounding film.

9 (Blu-ray)
Best Chapter: 11—“The Winged Beast”


If Home hits a little too close to... um, home, check out this gorgeous little animated film instead. 9 (no relation to the District of the same name) pretty much came and left theaters last year with hardly a dismissal, but don’t believe the lack of hype: It’s a beautiful, if simple, tale—sort of a cross between a bedtime story and a Tool music video. And it boasts some of the most astounding visuals to go unnoticed on the big screen in quite some time.

Check out Chapter 11, one of the movie’s most exciting action set pieces, to see what I mean. It begins with a quick shadow passing behind a stunning stained glass window—a rich collection of cool translucent hues that somehow manage to shine through a layer of grime. That shadow quickly rips through the room in the form of a great, gleaming, black-metal monstrosity made of blades and wings and spiky things, and soon drags the action (and our burlap heroes) outside in a shot with such sumptuous depth of field it seems to stretch to infinity.

Even when the action drags the scenery across the screen at hyperkinetic speeds. The image is rendered in such detail that you can almost feel every bump and pore in the stone architecture and the cool breeze pouring out of the sky, itself an awe-inspiring backdrop painted in a million and nine shades of pink and purple.


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