SRP $27.95 1.85:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 WARNER BROS

WARNER BROS has released "THE FOUNTAIN" on blu-ray, hd-dvd and standard dvd.  Darren Aronofsky's latest film seems to have gone through as many trials and tribulations as Terry Gilliam's "Don Quijote" film. However, somehow, against most odds, Aronofsky's film got made!  This reviewer admits to having hated the director's debut film, "PI." The confusing narrative and annoying visual imagery of that film, also plagues "THE FOUNTAIN," however, "THE FOUNTAIN" has its share of brilliant and extremely moving moments. It's really hard to define, and while it's not a "love it or hate it film," this reviewer was ultimately disappointed by it because it could've been so much better than it is.  Aronofsky jumps back and forth between three stories, all starring the same lead actors. In one, Hugh Jackman plays a conquistador, another has him playing a modern day oncologist trying to save his dying love, and the final story has him playing a space traveler venturing to a distant place, within the complex world of metaphysics.  The  modern day story is the most compelling, because it's the most accessible. The others end up becoming annoying, as it's never really certain "what" Aronofsky is trying to say!  It's like watching some of the crappy films one had to watch in film school, wherein the instructor would state if one didn't agree it was a masterpiece, the viewer just didn't get it. Sometimes, this is a valid argument, but others, as in this case, it's because the story's crap or overrated. Aargh!

The acting is terrific, the pacing isn't as sluggish as in all of Aronofsky's earlier films and the imagery, when it's not seemingly drug-induced, ...pleasing. 

WARNER BROS. has provided a 1080p/VC-1 transfer of the 1.85:1 aspect ratio for both high-def formats.  While blacks aren't as deep as they'be been on the best WARNER BROS high-def releases, they're adequate. Colors are rich, and the level of detail is often amazing. It's just unfortunate that in the darkest scenes, there's almost a notable loss of detail on faces. The standard dvd offers impressive color levels, but they're not anywhere nearly as vibrant as the hd-dvd format, and detail is notably inferior.  The difference in depth between the standard and high-def formats is most evident during the space travel sequences.  The level of detail found on the tree within the space bubble is markedly different.  The HD-DVD and Blu-ray offers many outstanding "pop off the screen" type depth moments. However, it's still not as consistently impressive as the best WARNER BROS HD-DVD and Blu-ray releases have been. The dvd is decent looking, but it's not anywhere nearly as impressive in its image quality as the recently released "PAINTED VEIL" dvd from WARNER BROS, in comparison.

WARNER BROS. has provided a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix for the HD-DVD and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for the Blu-ray. The mix sounds virtually identical between the high-def formats. However, there is a notable difference within the dynamic range in regards to the score. There is more prominent bass within the score on the HD-DVD in comparison to the Blu-ray, otherwise, no difference.  It's not an overly aggressive mix, but often creative.  There are a decent amount of surround moments, though mostly delegated to ambient effects and in boosting a great score. Separation effects for the front soundstage are well balanced and dialogue is always intelligible, even when presented within a myriad of sound and music effects.  The standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix found on the dvd is impressive, but notably inferior to the hd-dvd's mix and with less dynamic range.

There are some great High Def supplements on the hd-dvd, including a storyboard to screen comparison, featurettes and a looping segment. The other supplements, also found on the dvd, include a great documentary.