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Congratulations, Buena Vista - you’ve managed to make Universal’s catalogue releases look good

HD DVD/Blu-ray/DVD

Is you probably know by now, my eye is, to put it lightly, rather critical when it comes to image quality, whether it be standard definition or high definition. You’ll probably also know that I hold the majority of review sites in contempt - or, at least, the ones which concentrate on reviewing the audio-visual elements of discs rather than the films themselves, and which present themselves as authorities on technology but prove to be nothing of the sort. I’m the sort of person who, when I read a glowing review of a new release, will think “Okay, so what have they missed?” rather than “Great! I can’t want to see it for myself!” Broadly speaking, though, I tend to expect that if a disc is really - and I mean really - shoddy, even the most vision-impaired critic will notice.

Well, today, I have been proved wrong once again by Mr. Peter M. Bracke, the lead reviewer over at High-Def Digest, one of the most contemptible of the contemptible web sites. Until recently, my “favourite” (in the same way that a tornado is my “favourite” natural disaster) Bracke review was of Universal’s HD DVD release of Traffic, in which he showered praise on a standard definition upconvert. Now, he’s done it again, this time with the Blu-ray release of Scary Movie, just one of the many masterpieces from those auteurs of cinema, the Wayans Brothers. Here is Mr. Bracke’s assessment:

[T]his transfer is bright and colorful, exceedingly sharp, and bolstered by a crystal clear print. There’s not a blemish to be found on the print, and I was particularly taken aback by the almost complete lack of grain and noise, even though the majority of the film takes place at night. Likewise, colors are bold but smooth, and fleshtones are naturalistic. Most astoundingly, detail is strong enough that it rivals most of the new releases I’ve seen on Blu-ray lately, and the “three-dimensional” effect is well in evidence.

The only irritant I could find is some edge enhancement, resulting in some visible halos. Otherwise, when it comes to picture quality, ‘Scary Movie’ is a top-drawer catalog release.

He goes on to give the transfer an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Here is what the transfer looks like:


(Picture nabbed from the AV Science Forum, captured by benes.)

Granted, Cindy Campbell may have skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom after spending the previous evening shaving her moustache in the bath (I’ve seen the movie, unfortunately), but this is going a bit too far. This is some of the worst degraining I have ever laid eyes on, and is the sort of thing I’m talking about when I refer to images that look “waxy”… although, having used that word to refer to comparatively excellent transfers like La Vie en Rose, I’m thinking I need a new way of describing the likes of Scary Movie. “Diarrhoea-like” might suffice.

I could also point out the massive halos, but in this particular case, it’s almost beside the point.

Seriously, Buena Vista (and every other studio), don’t think you can get away with putting out turkeys like this. And reviewers, don’t think that your shoddy journalism is doing you any favours. A picture is worth a thousand words, and one press of the Printscreen button can quash oodles of uneducated writing.

Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2008 at 7:22 PM | Comments: 4
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Technology



I was about to roll my eyes at disc-critic-infighting until I reached that capture. Wow, yes, that's an abomination. I could create a better upscale job in Photoshop, for gods sake.

Bracke desperately needs to defend his opinion on this one (I actually tend to agree with the gist of 90% of his HD quality reviews - though obviously not anything he says about the films themselves).

Posted by: Rob, February 17, 2008 3:29 AM


I think that a good 75% of Mr. Bracke’s reviews are absolutely fine. It’s the other 25% that bring him and High-Def Digest into disrepute, which I like very much as a news site but find to be too unreliable when it comes to actually reporting on the quality of discs.

Posted by: Whiggles, February 17, 2008 2:18 PM


That picture looks just plain awful and the edge enhancement was probably added just to sharpen up the image after they had totally removed all fine detail by DNRing the print to within an inch of it's life.

Just imagine if they do that to your favorite movie ( and no it isn't mine - My favorite is Raiders of the Lost Ark although i am also a huge horror fan )

I can only imagine the original DVD master was used and if they had struck a new print this wouldn't have happened ( at least i hope so and the fact that The Rock can look so good suggests that perhaps the limitations of the original master struck for DVD is a factor in some films looking so bad )

Oh by the way i love your site....It's good to read and is a refreshing change from poorly written sites with bad reviews......don't stop.

Posted by: FoxyMulder, February 18, 2008 12:35 PM


I have a feeling that The Rock was actually taken from the same master that was used for the DVD, as it happens. The difference is that it was a very good master and was transferred to Blu-ray without any manipulation, so it holds up very well.

Glad you enjoy the site. :)

Posted by: Whiggles, February 18, 2008 9:03 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:


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