SRP $39.98 1.85:1 DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 PARAMOUNT
 
SRP $39.98 1.85:1 DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 PARAMOUNT
 

This reviewer must start off by stating she's neither a Hilary Swank or Patrick Dempsey fan. It defies logic that she's actually won 2 Oscars, let alone been nominated in equally over-rated films! That being said, Director/writer Richard LaGravenese has done something remarkable! He's taken a tired genre(teacher working with inner-city kids, beating the odds, making a difference)and somehow, by the end of its "over"-2 hour running time, made it work and even feel fresh!  Swank doesn't chew the scenery as she has typically done and it makes a difference. Swank plays Erin Gruwell, a teacher at Long Beach High School, dismissing claims that her students are not teachable, she presses on, and through determination and creativity, but most of all sincerity, makes a difference.  In lesser hands, this would've been crap, but LeGravenese is impressive throughout, and the film's pacing, atmosphere and ultimate impact, make for a great film!  Even more of a surprise is Dempsey! The scenes between him, as Erin's husband, and her, are the best thing in the film!

PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/MPEG-4 transfer.  While the dvd was impressive, the level of contrast and detail in the HD-DVD and Blu-ray format, is noticeably improved upon. Colors are much more vibrant, and the exquisite detail is apparent in scene after scene.  Some of the darker scenes on the standard dvd, lost their depth. Not so on hd-dvd! It's close to perfect.  Few scenes appear flat, and most are exactly what we'd hoped for. This isn't a demonstration quality transfer, but it's quite good. There is no discernible difference between these two formats.

PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix for the HD-DVD and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for the blu-ray.  Not an aggressive mix, surrounds are delegated to boosting a great soundtrack and a few ambient effects. While this is a dialogue-heavy film, it would have been great to have more surround involvement.  The front soundstage has its share of separation effects, and whenever one of the great songs appears, this mix impresses! While there are no visual differences between the two high-def formats here, the audio is notably different. The blu-ray is generally pleasing, however the HD-DVD offers notably deeper bass, more prominent surround effects and overall better dynamic range.

All of the extras found on the dvd have been carried over. The running commentary with LaGravenese and Swank is disappointing, especially when the director did such a great commentary for his earlier film, "LIVING OUT LOUD."

The deleted scenes section is worthwhile, and it's disappointing these scenes weren't given an option for seamless branching into the viewing experience. The featurettes are for die-hard fans only.