They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and nowhere does that appear to be more true than in reviews of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow as released on HD DVD by Paramount. One thing that seems to be shared by all the reviews we read is that in this case the source material, with dark, largely colorless backgrounds and very present film grain. It's not the kind of movie that you look at in high definition and it practically jumps off the screen in 3D at you, making it a difficult choice for the format. However in the three reviews we found plus a discussion on AVS Forum, reactions to the quality of Paramount's 1080p VC-1 encoded effort varied widely.


At the bottom seemed to be Digitally Obsessed's review, giving the disc an image transfer grade of C, finding problems with background shimmering and edge enhancement that they suspect are a symptom of the early state of HD DVD authoring tools. In the middle is High Def Digest's look, commending the quality of the transfer given the source, and finding no problems with color reproduction or detail. They did complain of some "wavering" in the print causing changes in contrasts and colors but called it overall very film-like. The best review came from noted film archivist and restorer Robert Harris who proclaimed that Paramount has "hit the ball out of the park" and that "If the point to be achieved is to replicate the look of the film, they have done it to perfection". You really can't say much more than that. DVD Town was also impressed, remarking that while this isn't a standout title on the format, they attribute the occasionally soft picture to the original cinematography. Finally on AVS Forum we have a thread apparently created by someone who was very disappointed in the quality present, saying that others are mistaking digital noise for film grain, while many of the replies in the post say they were more than satisfied by the PQ on the disc. We should mention that all of the reviews noted a substantial jump in quality over the original DVD release.

As the responses to our post on Thomson's Film Grain Technology and aspect ratio posts have recently shown, there is always more than one opinion of what is the "best" look for HD content. That's before even accounting for possible differences in equipment, viewing distance or any number of other variables. Now that we're in the next generation of content, expectations are at an all time high and they won't always be met for everyone. Since we can assume this will be hitting Blu-ray as well, it will be interesting to see if the reviews are any different there.

Read - Review - Sleepy Hollow HD DVD - Digitally Obsessed
Read - HD DVD Review: Sleepy Hollow - High Def Digest
Read - A few words about... Sleepy Hollow -- in High Definition - Robert Harris
Read - Sleepy Hollow HD DVD - DVD Town
Read - Sleepy Hollow HD DVD: Not Impressed - AVS Forum

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Sleepy Hollow HD DVD review roundup