Follow us on:





RSS Feed to all our Blu-ray Reviews



While everything airing of SyFy doesn’t hit a home run, the television series SANCTUARY definitely comes close to knocking the ball out of the park. Sure I found the series to be immediately likable, but I have to say that the earlier episodes of SANCTUARY seem to meander in the expected monster of the week format, while searching for a sense of direction. Fortunately, once SANCTUARY does find direction and starts to piece together a larger story, which it does during the second half of season one, the show really grabs one’s attention.

SANCTUARY follows the adventures of Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping), a scientist that is quite a bit older than she appears, who has made it her life’s work to study and protect the "Abnormals" of the world… creatures that most people would consider monsters. The Sanctuary of the show’s title referrers to the institute in which she studies the "Abnormals" that also provides safe houses to protect them from the outside world. Also assisting Magnus in her quest to protect and study "Abnormals" of the world are her daughter Ashley Magnus (Emilie Ullerup); forensic psychiatrist Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne); the sanctuary’s chief computer and security tech Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins); and an intelligent Neanderthal, that so many refer to as Bigfoot (Christopher Heyerdahl). Season one also includes appearances from John Druitt (Christopher Heyerdahl), Magnus' former lover, whose motivations can go from belligerent to benevolent.

SANCTUARY: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($50) comes to Blu-ray in a four-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes that were aired in the show’s freshman year: Sanctuary for All Part 1, Sanctuary for All Part 2, Fata Morgana, Folding Man, Kush, Nubbins, The Five, Edward, Requiem, Warriors, Instinct, Revelations Part 1 and Revelations Part 2. Once SANCTUARY moves passed the disconnected monster of the week trappings, we find that Magnus and company have stepped on the toes of an ancient society known as The Cabal, who have their own agenda for the "Abnormals" and they are not about to let anyone stand in their way.

E1 Entertainment has made all thirteen episodes from SANCTUARY: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. For the most part the episodes look very good, but series production technique does impact the 1080p presentations. Much of the show is shot on green screen, with CGI backgrounds standing in for complex sets. The marriage of actors and foreground objects to the CGI backgrounds isn’t always seamless, and can introduce some softness to the picture. Sequences without CGI appear crisper and better defined than those that incorporate the computer generated backgrounds. The image can appear crisp and finely detailed, or somewhat diffuse. Unprocessed close-ups demonstrate excellent texturing, which is attributable to the Red digital cameras used for shooting. Color reproduction is usually at a natural level of saturation. Blacks are accurate, and the whites are crisp. The elements from which the episodes are mastered are free from flaws. There are instances of heavy artificial grain being introduced into the image for effect. Also, darker sequences do contain digital noise.

All of the episodes that constitute SANCTUARY: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The episodes sound good, but the sound designs are not overly complex. Since SANCTUARY is very talky, as opposed to being an action driven show, the sound is confined to the front (and largely center) much of the time. Of course, the usual complement of ambient and environmental sounds does find their way to the outlying channels, as does active effects during key moments. Fidelity is very good for a television production; with the lossless encode helping things along. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track has also been provided, as has an English 2.0 channel track and English subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Running Audio Commentaries have been provided for all of the episodes. For those who may not be aware, SANCTUARY started out as a web based series, and the eight Webisodes that launched the show are provided in their original form. A Picture-In-Picture Track is provided for the series pilot, which emphasizes the series special effects (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Featurettes and other programs include the following: Welcome To The Sanctuary (five minutes), The Sanctuary Residents (six minutes) and Sanctuary Visual Effects (five minutes). A Blooper Reel, a Still Gallery and a Season Two Preview close out the supplements.

SANCTUARY is an immediately likeable series that improves once it sets its sights on something larger than being just another monster of the week show. The Blu-ray presentations highlight the show’s visual strengths without emphasizing its weaknesses. Recommended.



Sanctuary - The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



Add to My Yahoo!  Add to Google  RSS Feed & Share Links