WARNER BROS. has released Scorsese's "THE AVIATOR" on blu-ray and hd-dvd simultaneously. Leonard Di Caprio is magnificent as Howard Hughes, and while one wishes that much more of his life was covered than is in this 170 minute film, leaving an audience wanting more, isn't necessarily a bad thing! "AVIATOR" focuses mainly on Hughes' captivation with filmmaking and aeronautics. It's often brilliant, and always engaging. The acting is terrific all around. This may be the first appearance by John C. Reilly. where he isn't overdoing it! Even Gwen Stefani is thrown into the mix, but, thankfully, Scorsese doesn't give her too much to trouble with, so there's no real time given to see if she can or can't act. She's just a bit of celebrity thrown into the mix to exemplify the celebrity of the era, and Jean Harlow in particular.
Cate Blanchett is perfect at Katherine Hepburn, but while the scene wherein Hughes meets her eccentric family, is quite humorous, it feels totally unnecessary, and one wonders why Scorsese chose to leave it in. Ultimately, Scorsese manages to make a film that pays tribute to the art of filmmaking, similar to the way Levinson did with "BUGSY," but with a much bigger canvas. He also paints Hughes as a heroic, flawed character, fighting the good fight, and demonstrating one can still be a successful American capitalist, and still find fault with unchecked corporate greed and political corruption.
WARNER BROS. has provided a 1080p transfer with the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image is notably superior to the dvd in virtually every scene. Colors had previously been oversaturated, whereas now, they are consistently rich, and fleshtones appear natural! The first third of the film has an intentionally subdued color scheme, and appears somewhat soft. However, the rest of the film is slick and stunning! Detail is magnificent! A great looking transfer!
WARNER BROS. has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. While this is a front-heavy mix, surrounds occasionally kick in to enhance the score or provide some minor effects. Front separation is impressive and dynamic range is excellent. Dialogue is always intelligible. A good mix, but nothing to shout about.
WARNER BROS. has provided a great commentary with Scorsese, his long-time editor, and Producer Michael Mann. It's an outstanding commentary, loaded with production insight.
There are a variety of featurettes and documentaries as well.