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"U2 Rattle And Hum" Blu-Ray release

Heard It On The XM

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I bought a PS3 a few months ago, mainly for use as a Blu-Ray player, and have been slowly building up a Blu-Ray library, so far mainly upgrades from my standard DVD collection. My latest acquisition is U2 Rattle And Hum, which has always been my favorite music-oriented film, and has recently been released in the Blu-Ray format.

As one would expect, the film itself is just as good as it's ever been. For those unfamiliar with the film, it depicts U2 at (IMHO) their peak, during the Joshua Tree tour of 1987-88. The music is a tour de force through the band's 1980s catalogue, plus a few "new" songs like "Desire" and "When Love Comes To Town", consisting mainly of live performances filmed at various venues. Interestingly, most but not all of the film is in black-and-white (more on this later); only the Tempe concert footage is shot in color. The concert footage is interspersed with conversations and vignettes with the band members, including backstage with B.B. King and a visit to Graceland. If you're like me and enjoy U2's early material but couldn't care less about most of their later stuff, Rattle And Hum is an essential film. (20 years on, I still get goosebumps watching the intro to "Where The Streets Have No Name".)

But is the Blu-Ray version itself essential? I'm not so sure about that. The HD capabilities of the Blu-Ray format seem wasted on a movie shot mostly in grainy B/W to begin with. Visually, only the Tempe color footage is a marked improvement from the standard DVD. Now, that footage does look awesome, but then again we're only talking about roughly one-fourth of the whole film here. The one key feature added to the Blu-Ray version that's not on the standard DVD is a 6.1 DTS soundtrack, but unless you have a high-end home theater system that doesn't mean much, and in any case the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack (also available on the standard DVD) sounds just fine.

My verdict: a qualified thumbs-up. Again, if you're a fan of early U2 first and foremost, Rattle And Hum is a much better choice than U23D - but if you already own the standard DVD, there's really no need to upgrade to the Blu-Ray version unless you're a completist, an audiophile or, like me, just a big fan of this particular film.

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