Having watched 300 twice before on DVD and been entertained rather than enthralled, watching it for the first time in HD had me transfixed for every moment. 300, clearly, was a film designed to show off high definition and the high quality encoding of the film is a testament to this. Its rich palette of gold, brown, black and red is instantly that much more vivid and eye-catching in HD, bringing to life the sumptuous CGI environments with great alacrity.
This for me was particularly well illustrated by the Ephors, the lecherous and inbred priests that supposedly protect the laws of Sparta. For those that haven't seen the film they're disgusting looking "barely human" men and in HD, you truly appreciate exactly how horrific they look down to every detail. It truly sent shivers down my spine.
This, however, only forms a very small part of the film; unsurprisingly it's the action that really sets it apart. Watching in standard definition I found the liberal use of slow-motion action somewhat tiresome. I like my action to be Bourne-like, quick, sharp and brutal. Yet, in HD everything seemed to be different. Perhaps it was just the "heightened sense of things" as described in the film, but every slow motion action sequence brought me more into the moment. Every gratuitous dismemberment brought greater cries of glee.
It may be the basest of thrills but when it looks this good, is this enthralling and this graphic, who really cares?
All of which, despite my relatively high exposure to all things HD, has given me the HD bug good and proper. Having watched 300 and also American Gangster in HD I've now populated my rental list with every half decent HD DVD available. I need to consume. I want to experience films I've known and loved for years in a different way: in a better way.
It's a shame, then, that picking up a decent Blu-ray player is an expensive business. Since January prices have slowly crept downward, but only older and poorly featured players have ever reached sub-£100 levels and even then only for brief promotional periods. In our current economic climate this is obviously a problem but things are definitely looking up.
Take the Samsung BD-P1500 as an example. When Danny reviewed it in September it cost £250 and he gave it 8/10 overall and 9/10 for value. It can now be had for as little as £150. Sure this still isn't the commodity purchase it could be, but think about how much you spent on your TV in the first place, or the netbook you're thinking about buying, and £150 suddenly doesn't sound like so much money. So, if you've been lying in wait for the best time to complete your HDTV setup, now seems like a pretty good time.