Since 3D is the cool thing that everybody wants to know about, I’ll start there first. When watching my small library of extra-dimensional material — Blu-rays of Coraline and Monsters vs. Aliens, along with Panasonic’s own demo disc — the P50VT25 delivered consistently solid, sharp-looking 3D pictures that were free of crosstalk (onscreen overlap of left- and right-eye pictures that result in “ghost” images). Depth effects were strong, and occasionally dramatic: In a close-up shot from the title sequence of Coraline, where a needle juts forward through a buttonhole into the area just in front of the screen, the impression of continuous 3D space created by the Panasonic was entirely believable. The 3D illusion held up well when I sat at off-center seats, and also when I slumped down on the couch with my head slightly tilted (which is my customary, get-comfy viewing posture). The only 3D-related complaint I had was with Panasonic’s glasses, which pressed down a bit uncomfortably on the bridge of my nose.
Now, on to the wider world of 2D viewing. Martin Scorcese’s mind-bending Shutter Island is one of the best-looking movies I’ve seen on Blu-ray Disc in some time. (Robert Richardson, the film’s director of photography, was also responsible for Inglourious Basterds, another stunning-looking Blu-ray.) Viewing a shot where the boat carrying federal agents Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) coasts slowly toward the island, I could see a wide range of subtle green tones in trees covering the rocky hills, and the red-brown of derelict brick structures displayed an authentic, weathered hue. In a subsequent shot outside the gates of the hospital grounds, Daniels’s gaudy green tie and Aule’s red one looked notably vivid. At the same time, the sallow skin tones of both agents came across as natural and stood in contrast to the ruddier faces of the hospital’s security officers.
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