Empire Of The Sun

Featured In Issue 172, December 2012

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Steven Spielberg
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Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Based on J.G. Ballard's autobiographical novel, "Empire Of The Sun" is about James Graham (Bale), a young English boy whose privileged life is upturned by the Japanese invasion of Shanghai on December 8, 1941. Separated from his parents, he is eventually captured and taken to Soochow confinement camp, next to a captured Chinese airfield. Amidst the sickness and food shortages in the camp, Jim attempts to reconstruct his former life, all the while bringing spirit and dignity to those around him. This is an inspiring, deeply moving human drama of survival. (Gary Reber)

Special features include the documentaries "The China Odyssey: Empire Of The Sun" (SD 49:10) and "Warner At War" (SD 47:01) on how Warner Bros. uses the movies to prepare the U.S. for war and to keep up morale on the home front during World War II (narrated by Steven Spielberg); a collectible 36-page book with rare images, cast bios, facts about the film, essays and more; and the theatrical trailer.

The newly remastered 1080p AVC picture is magnificent-looking, with a beautiful surreal presence. The picture (previously reviewed in Issue 56 as an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 DVD) has a stylistic imagery that is slightly soft and hazy, but with generally a nicely detailed quality. Colors are well balanced, with accurate fleshtones and deep blacks. Contrast is excellent and shadow delineation is nicely rendered. Allen Daviau's cinematography is sweepingly beautiful and epic in visual quality. The Blu-ray presentation is absolutely fabulous and will not disappoint. (Gary Reber)

The repurposed and remastered DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is wonderful. John Williams' music score is one of the prominent aspects of the soundtrack, having been nicely repurposed and having a subtle, yet effectively enveloping and spacious presence. The rendering of atmospheric effects is also notable, with a presence that is compelling in terms of providing for a satisfying, pleasing listening experience. Fidelity is excellent, though, there is a general balance of the audio toward the screen, but the surrounds become dramatically enlivened during the appropriate moments. There is some directionalized surround placement of effects as well. The .1 LFE aids in giving the soundtrack some palpable low-end foundation. Dialogue sounds quite natural, despite the dated recording, and spatial integration is effectively respectable. This is an impressive and engaging soundtrack, despite its age. (Gary Reber)