Serenity' may be one of the least visually impressive movies. Not that it's the fault of the HD DVD format, but rather indicative of the style of the film itself. A rough, oftentimes grungy-looking movie, ‘Serenity’ is not supposed to look totally polished, which means it is not quite ideal home theater demo material. Highly stylized with a processed veneer, the look of ‘Serenity’ sometimes varies wildly, with some shots looking almost crystal clear, and others heavily sprinkled with film grain, pumped-up colors and bleached out whites that make it appear as if the film was left out in the sun too long. Maybe its a bit schizophrenic, but it can sure look cool.
That said, this HD DVD release certainly looks more detailed than its standard DVD counterpart. Despite the all the technical trickery, the overall depth and clarity of the image is considerable, especially during the cleanest-looking sequences in the film. Colors are also a bit more stable than the standard DVD, with less apparent noise on the most vibrant hues. I also felt the blacks where a tad bit more robust, and shadow delineation improved – in some of the darker moments, such as the opening action scene, I could clearly make out fine details in the dimmest areas of the picture that weren't discernible at all on the standard DVD release. However, overall, someone who pops this one in as their first taste of HD DVD may come away wondering what all the fuss is about.