Patlabor Movie 2 -

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: A - N. America, S. America, East Asia
  • Released By: Bandai Visual
  • MSRP: ¥10,290
  • Running time: 113
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 1080p
  • Disc Encoding: H.264/AVC
  • Series: Patlabor

Patlabor Movie 2

By Chris Beveridge     September 06, 2007
Release Date: August 24, 2007

Patlabor Movie 2
© Bandai Visual

What They Say
Set three years after the first film, Patlabor 2 draws police commanders Ki'ichi Gotoh and Shinobu Nagumo into the hunt for Tsuge, a rogue officer of the Japan Self-Defense Force connected with an escalating wave of terrorist attacks. But the investigation into the plot is guarded by secrets both personal and political, as the awakening fear of terror in Tokyo is slowly answered by the dream-like fade of democracy into martial law.

Tokyo, rush hour: the dead of winter. A terror strike from the air shatters the Bay Bridge. When news footage shows an unidentified F-16 fighter jet in the vicinity, the investigation takes a darker turn, as the cops of the Second Unit begin to trace the outlines of the shadowy military and political coalition behind the incident. But the conspiracy itself is out of control, and what began as a gesture is becoming a game where the peace, the freedom, and the very lives of the people of Tokyo are at stake!

The Review!
When a terrorist act causes dramatic changes in the balance of power, it's through actual investigation and good luck that the truth is revealed. Along with a little help from a Patlabor or two.

This feature has seen a couple of different audio tracks over the years and this release has a good variety of them that will have audio fans interested in. For starters, the English language track done by Elastic Media for Bandai Visual USA's 2006 release is present here and it's a good 5.1 mix that maxes out at 640 kbps. The original Japanese theatrical mix from 1989 is included here in a stereo PCM mix that maxes out at 1.5 mbps and captures what was seen during that run. When the film was released on DVD in Japan some years ago, a new Sound Renewal version was created which also saw a theatrical run, which means we have two "original theatrical mixes" on the release. This has been presented here as a Japanese TrueHD 5.1 mix which means it's bitrate is all over but maxes out around 4.9 mbps depending on the scene.

Similar to the first movie, the Patlabor TrueHD presentation is a significant upgrade over the previous incarnations that have been released. The standard 5.1 mixes do seem a bit louder in the forward soundstage, but the depth and clarity of the TrueHD mix gives it a much richer and deeper feel. There is a good deal of surround effects during the busier action sequences and it has some solid placement and clarity to it that you don't get to the same level on the 5.1 mix.

Originally in theaters back in 1993, this film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is encoded using AVC. Depending on displays, this may have some slight letterbox bars across the top and bottom. Using a dual layered 50gb Blu-ray disc, the bitrate for the show typically runs into the mid to high twenties with several bursts into the thirties. While the first film showed off a lot of elements from the cel animation itself, this one has a much cleaner look to it with far fewer specks throughout. This maintains a much more solid feel and some of the exterior scenes, particularly during sunsets, are spectacular. Colors are vibrant and bold when required and the detail is all the more apparent and rich here. The 2006 DVD release was a solid one as it used the Sound Renewal masters as well, but the detail and clarity to this take it up several notches in a very noticeable manner.

Bucking the trend of every other Blu-ray release out there, this box set release of the BD and DVD are done in standard thickness keepcases. The heavy chipboard box has a good classic feel to it as it uses the cover art that now seems to be dominant for the series with Nagumo set against a Patlabor in a snowy scene. The background wraps around to the back of the box which also has a listing of some of the shows creative staff and a summary of the premise of the Patlabor concept. All of this is in English which is a bit of a surprise. All of the packages technical details are kept on the obi around the box as it has two technical grids to cover both the BD and DVD details. The Blu-ray keepcase has a new piece of artwork I hadn't seen before with a cloudy sky that's filled with the visual of the blimp and some of the gas leaking from it. Though it's not an action piece, it's good to see a non-standard piece of artwork used for it, especially since it's inside the box so it won't be the first thing scene as it can't sell the film at all. A booklet is included with numerous shots from the film and several pages worth of discussions and interviews that are likely to be translated for the US release.

With this being a dual language worldwide release, albeit staggered, the disc is designed to work both in the US and Japan. Upon load, a static screen comes up asking you to select your language of choice. If you select English, you get the FBI warnings before it starts into the movie proper. If you select Japanese, you get those warnings but you also get a Dolby TrueHD logo as well before it starts into the movie. The top level menu is rather basic with a purple filtered shot of a Labor set next to a cityscape background with no music or animation tied to it. The bottom has the standard navigation selections with a very simple design to it that doesn't really evoke anything from the film itself. The submenus load quickly but you do have to select them, you can't push up and have them pop-up above the main menu as they get swapped out instead. The pop-up menu works in the same way during the film with the exception of an extra button to close out the pop-up menu.

Similar to the barebones release of the DVD in the US back in 2006, the main disc contains only a teaser trailer for the film and a regular length trailer. Both are provided with subtitles, presumably the same as the US DVD release, and look good as they're presented in HD here. It is unfortunate that the lengthier extras from the US special edition couldn't be included here as it would have made this the definitive version of the film.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Bandai Visual's launched their Honneamise label with Patlabor 2 and it's no wonder why. The movie has earned plenty of credibility over the years for its visuals and atmosphere as it tells an interesting story. So it wasn't much of a surprise that Bandai Visual in Japan decided to take all of these nice new elements that they have and put them together for an international version of the film on Blu-ray. You just know this is going to hit the US at some point based on how the disc is designed.

That said, Patlabor 2 is very hard to describe without giving a lot away, as the movie is about peeling away the layers of society through the story and said societies relationship with the outside world. Written as a near-future story with really only one element of science fiction (the Patlabors themselves, which are very underused in this movie), much of it can be seen as an insight into the psyche of a national consciousness and give some understanding to the thinking behind it. Having an avid interest in Japanese society and culture, I really find such stories to be among the most interesting.

The storyline is almost entirely dialogue driven with the exception of the final ten minutes or so. Some brief bits of action are scattered throughout, but they primarily serve the storyline and not vice versa. The bulk of the story also focuses on the two Captains of Section 2. Through investigation and the changing level of panic in the country, the two work their way towards unraveling who is behind the terrorist attacks.

The movie contains very high production values and looks fantastic. The character designs are extremely well animated and designed. The flow and movements of each of the characters is dead on for the personalities, for the main characters at least. With the slow pace of the movie, the soundtrack also follows the same course with some subtle pieces playing throughout and the occasional big sweeping score.

There's one particular segment that really stands out on this disc is about halfway into it. The city has fallen under control of the civil government who uses the military to take hold of it. The citizens watch what's going on via their televisions and in the streets as the tanks and other personnel vehicles make their way throughout the city. Some of the soldiers are humanized, others are dangerous looking figures. All of this begins against the backdrop of a grim and gray fall season. As the sequence plays out, the days and nights get colder and the snows begin to fall in a most hypnotic fashion. The way its animated is gorgeous and blends quite well with the characters and the settings. Watching people walk through it, watching the tanks rolling by... the entire feel of the segment at this point is very somber.

In Summary:
Taking in this film after just seeing a year ago on DVD, which in itself was fascinating to watch since I had finally seen all of the TV series material at long last before it, it's still just as engrossing as it was before. The visuals of the film draw me in even more now while the audio upgrade really provides quite the punch in several scenes. Though the WXIII movie is still my favorite of the bunch, this one very much outweighs the first in terms of enjoyment of the actual story itself. It's fascinating to see how relevant some sections of it are to the last few years. While it is a bit too long in some ways, it's easy to admit that in the way it's plotted out and the pacing works, there is little to nothing that I could see to cut easily. The way the film is telling its story is very well done but it requires a good deal of attention and the ability to lose yourself in this fascinatingly detailed world. Similar to the first Patlabor movie Blu-ray release, this one stands out quite well and provides plenty of upgrades that make it worthwhile in getting. Both movies have pleased me quite a lot overall and this one overcomes some of the problems of the first. Very recommended, particularly for strong Patlabor fans.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language,Japanese Linear PCM,English Dolby Digital+ 5.1,English Subtitles,Teaser Trailer,Theatrical Trailer

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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