Hotel Rwanda appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This wasnít a flawless presentation, but it usually looked good..
Overall sharpness satisfied. Some light edge haloes cropped up and made a few shots a little tentative, but those were in the minority. Instead, most of the flick was accurate and concise. I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, but some print flaws materialized. The movie came with a smattering of specks and marks; these werenít heavy, but I witnessed more than expected for a recent film.
Colors functioned as the strongest element of the visuals. The movie used a lot of bright and dynamic hues that matched the African setting, and the transfer replicated those with vivacity. Blacks looked deep and dense, and shadows were fairly good; they could be a little murky at times but usually appeared pretty visible. All in all, this was a mostly pleasing presentation.
Although I discerned no serious flaws with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Hotel Rwanda, it failed to merit a grade above a ďB-ď. Part of that stemmed from the mixís general lack of involvement. Some of the violent sequences added dimensionality, but much of the time it seemed like a pretty restricted track, with little to create a feeling of atmosphere.
Actually, that didnít bother me much, as I didnít expect a slam-bang mix. My larger complaints related to the awkwardness of the mix. The elements tended to be speaker-specific and they failed to blend cleanly. This mostly affected effects, as the score showed decent stereo delineation. However, the various effects usually popped up in one particular channel and didnít mesh well with the rest of the mix. This wasnít a terrible tendency, but it could cause distractions that occasionally took me out of the movie.
At least audio quality was fine. Speech was consistently natural and distinctive, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music demonstrated good range and clarity, as the score was bright and acceptably bold. Effects also came across well. They seemed clean and accurate, and they kicked in decent low-end material when necessary. Ultimately, the soundtrack was good enough to earn a ďB-ď.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the 2005 DVD? Audio showed a little growth, but not a lot. The lossless mix seemed a bit broader and more dynamic but still had the same semi-awkward blending of the channels.
Visuals worked better. The Blu-ray suffered from less prominent edge enhancement and demonstrated stronger definition. It was consistently more appealing than the DVD.
The Blu-ray offers the same extras as the DVD. First we find an audio commentary that mostly features director Terry George and the real-life Paul Rusesabagina, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. Composer Wyclef Jean pops up briefly during the end credits. Along with George, he discusses the writing and recording of his song that plays at that time.
If you want to learn much about the making of Rwanda, youíll not get that here. At the trackís start, George tells us that he prefers to allow Rusesabagina to do most of the talking and he wants to focus on the facts. George does chime in about locations, liberties taken such as composite characters, and his decision not to feature graphic violence in the movie.
Rusesabagina fills us in with the facts behind the filmís tale. He offers quite a lot of good details that broaden our understanding about the actions depicted. We learn many good notes about elements not depicted and how close the movie gets things. This nicely fleshes out matters and proves very informative, educational and enlightening. Itís a really fascinating piece.
Unfortunately, the selected scenes commentary by actor Don Cheadle proves much less interesting. Cheadle offers screen-specific remarks that cover about 21 minutes and 47 seconds as jump around from scene to scene. Cheadle tells us a little about the production and his approach to the character, but donít expect to learn much. Even with the abbreviated period covered by the track, thereís still a lot of dead air, and Cheadleís notes tend to be bland and uninformative. Skip this nearly useless discussion.
Next comes a 27-minute and 56-second documentary called A Message for Peace: Making Hotel Rwanda. This uses the standard complement of movie clips, archival material, and interviews. We hear from Rusesabagina, George, Cheadle, writer Keir Pearson,
They discuss the storyís path to the screen and the development of the script, storytelling decisions and related issues, some of the facts behind the tale and thoughts about why the west didnít assist, modern visits to Rwanda, casting and Cheadleís approach to the role, more particulars of Rusesabaginaís activities, and what the folks involved hoped would result from the flick.
Since it largely emphasizes Rusesabaginaís story, ďPeaceĒ duplicates some of the information already heard in the commentary. However, it opens up matters well. The title is deceptive, as thereís really not a lot about the making of the film, but we do get some good notes in that realm. Cheadle offers a lot more insight into his performance here than in his commentary. Despite some repetition and too many movie clips, this acts as a fairly informative piece.
In addition to the filmís trailer, we finish with a featurette entitled Return to Rwanda. In this 14-minute, 32-second piece, Rusesabagina heads back to his native country and revisits some of the spots featured in the film. He also narrates the program to discuss the locations and his activities. Some harrowing shots appear such as those that depict the corpses of those mauled back in the attacks. Rusesabagina gets into a surprising amount of new material and presents an involving and moving look at his past.
Despite some clumsy story telling and a few other awkward moments, the natural intensity of Hotel Rwanda allows the movie to succeed. With another excellent performance from Don Cheadle and a tale that packs a punch, the movie creates an involving world with emotional heft. As for the Blu-ray, picture and audio are inconsistent but usually fine, and we get some interesting supplements. This is a decent upgrade over the old DVD.
To rate this film visit the original review of HOTEL RWANDA