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November 18, 2007
The Covenant - Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
12/10/200619/12/2007Sony PicturesRenny Harlin
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MPEG-2Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps
PCM 5.1 4.6Mbps
MSteven Strait

THE MOVIE
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C'mon! Where are the snags for the BBQ?
About a decade ago Renny Harlin was one of my most admired directors. With movies like Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight to his name it seemed he could do no wrong. But since the latter movie was released in 1996 everything seems to have been on a downhill slide for poor old Renny and he has since turned out duds like Driven, Mindhunters (which, wasn't actually all that bad) and Exorcist: The Beginning. Can this teen horror flick, The Covenant resurrect his career? Well, before we give you our thoughts let's look at the storyline.

In 1692, in the Ipswich colony of Massachusetts, five families with untold power formed a covenant of silence. One family, lusting for more, was banished – their bloodline disappearing without a trace. Until now.

The Covenant tells the story of the Sons of Ipswich, four young students at the elite Spenser Academy who are bound by their sacred ancestry. As descendants of the original families who settled in Ipswich Colony in the 1600s, the boys have all been born with special powers. When the body of a dead student is discovered after a party, secrets begin to unravel and threaten to break the covenant of silence that has protected their families for hundreds of years.

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Time for a little get together...
Sadly this movie hasn't resurrected Renny's career - if anything it's probably done it a lot more damage. The movie took in a worldwide gross of just over $US37 million, and while we suspect the budget for this movie was a lot less, that's certainly no where near the $US255 million worldwide gross for his hit movie Cliffhanger. When this movie first started I was actually in a pretty positive mood about it. The opening intro sequence is pretty kick-ass with some great music and imagery.

I'm sorry to say but this movie fails to fire on any level at all really. The cast is made up of unknown actors and the acting quality is very shaky across the board. In fact I would say you get better acting in most TV shows, it just felt so cheap and rushed with poor dialogue. Fortunately the set design, and some of the cinematography is decent while the visual effects - particularly at the end - are decent enough. Still none of this makes up for the pedestrian storyline. Perhaps we could have seen the Covenant formed in 1692? Perhaps we could have seen more use of their powers through the movie? Perhaps Renny Harlin could have picked a better script to film... The mind boggles.

VIDEO
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At least the girls are nice to look at!
Much of The Covenant takes place in dark and rainy locations which doesn't lend itself to the best of transfers, but yet again Sony have come up with the goods as this movie has one of the best transfers we've seen to date. Encoded in MPEG-2 in the movies original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 the picture is ultra-sharp with fantastic use of colours and lifelike flesh tones throughout. Indeed the movie has been processed with a blue tint to it which gives is a cooler, more menacing look

I have to say that some of the special effects in the movie, including a car crash near the middle, and the battle at the end are pretty cool. Yes, they do look CG-ish, but they are also pretty well done.

AUDIO
Sony Pictures don't disappoint in the audio either with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps and also a Uncompressed Linear PCM track encoded at 4.6Mbps. While the Dolby Digital track is impressive there is, yet again, a little more clarity and kick to the PCM track. This is certainly evident in the opening credits, as well as some of the more action oriented scenes. Having said that this movie is quite dialogue driven and there's not a much 'showcase' material as one would expect from a 'Hollywood' action movie.

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Someone looks a little pissed.
Spanish Audio is provided in Linear PCM 4.6Mbps as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. Polish, Czech and Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps is also provided on the disc. English Audio Descriptive Service is also provided at 448kbps. Spanish Audio is provided in Linear PCM 4.6Mbps as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps. Polish, Czech and Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps is also provided on the disc. Finally we also get an impressive 18 different subtitle tracks including English and English SDH.

EXTRAS
While this movie was pretty much a bomb at the box office Sony Pictures have at least given us a couple of extras worth checking out. So here they are...

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Special effects are pretty good.
Commentary with Director Renny Harlin:

    I've always been a fan of Renny Harlin and hearing him talk through this commentary was a joy for me. He can be a little dry, but does provide some interesting stories from the production of this movie.

Breaking The Silence: Exposing 'The Covenant' (18:45):

    Certainly not the best documentary ever seen, not even close. While there is the usual comments about how great the movie is (perhaps that was before they saw it!) there is also some interesting footage taken during the filming as well as some decent comments from various cast and crew. One thing I found absolutely hilarious was a comment early on from actor Taylor Kitsch. He said 'the special effects, the lighting, everything, it's just different'. Umm, yar. It probably is if you haven't been to the cinemas in the last 20 year or so. Give me a break. Still, this is worth a look.

Trailers (HD):

    Trailers for several movies including Casino Royale, All The King's Men, Big Fish and Ghost Rider. Each is presented in HD and with Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps audio.

OVERALL
If you like Buffy The Vampire Slayer or similar TV shows and movies then you may get some enjoyment from this movie - to me it was dull, predictable, and rather stupid. The best part was the opening credits, but from there it's all downhill until a very mildly entertaining final battle.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
4/10
THE VIDEO
8/10
THE AUDIO
7/10
THE EXTRAS
4/10
OVERALL
5.5/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.