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Whoa Déjà vu

Of course all that would be moot if Warner hadn’t done a good job with The Matrix Trilogy on HD DVD, and in reality it hasn’t done a good job, it’s done a great job. Few will argue that The Matrix is the stand out movie of the trilogy, and I’ve got to say that I’ve never seen it looking this good. Considering how dark The Matrix often is, it’s staggering how much detail is on show in this disc. I guarantee that the lobby shootout will simply take your breath away. Likewise the two sequels look just as gorgeous – the fight between Neo and hundreds of Smiths blew me away to the extent that I had to watch it all over again as soon as it had finished. If a high definition format ever needed a specific film with which to show the benefits of that extra resolution, The Matrix is it.

The extras are every bit as impressive as the high definition prints of the movies too. The real time commentary and behind the scenes footage on The Matrix lives up to all the hype that the HD DVD camp has been putting out for the past few years. Before you had to be quite a film buff to sit through an entire movie just listening to the commentary, but on these discs not only do you actually see who’s talking in a picture-in-picture window, but you also see how each scene was constructed while it plays out. This is what the next generation of DVD should be about, and it’s here, now!

You may be thinking that I’m an HD DVD fan boy, but I can assure you that isn’t the case. In fact if I look up at my shelf I can see that I own exactly the same number of Blu-ray discs as I do HD DVD discs. I’m also the first to admit that there are some truly stunning examples of Blu-ray movies available – Casino Royale for example is a beautiful high definition showcase disc, as is the excellent Blood Diamond (although this is also available on HD DVD).

You see I’m not an average consumer, I’m what’s known as an early adopter. So I’m happy to have both HD DVD and Blu-ray players in my living room and buy discs on both formats. But the average consumer isn’t willing to do that. The average consumer will look for the format that is the most attractive and right now, that’s HD DVD. I don’t know how Toshiba has managed to bring its players down to such an affordable price so quickly, but for anyone who owns a high definition TV (which is pretty much anyone who’s bought a TV in the past year or so), an HD DVD player looks like the perfect way to get the best from their TV investment.

The other side of the coin is of course the movies themselves, and with landmark releases like The Matrix Trilogy already launched on HD DVD, complete with fully interactive extras and no region coding, the case for HD DVD just gets stronger. I’m not suggesting that the format war is over; far from it. But what I am saying is that right now, HD DVD is looking far more like the successor to DVD than Blu-ray.

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