The best pics in London
Above: Now that’s what I call fancy packaging
On Wednesday, while on my lunch break, I spied in the local Borders the UK Blu-ray release of Tim Burton’s latest extravaganza, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, complete with a rather fetching tin case. Back when Paramount originally announced this for release on HD DVD in the US, it was one of my most anticipated purchases, so you can imagine my disappointment when the HD DVD was cancelled and the film then failed to materialise on Paramount’s Blu-ray slate, despite (as far as I can gather) all of their other cancelled HD DVDs making the jump to Blu-ray. Luckily, Warner, who own the rights in the UK, have come to our rescue with an extremely nice release indeed, one that more than does the film justice and ranks among the best the studio has ever released for either format. The one failing, as seems often to be the case with the bit rate misers at Warner, is that some visible compression artefacts do creep in at times, one of the most offensive examples of which is visible in the first screen capture.
When you look at these pictures, you may notice what looks like smearing in the fine details of Johnny Depp’s face. Unfortunately, this is the result of the process that seems to be being used more and more frequently on big budget films - an automated spot/wrinkle remover which I’m sure is very flattering for the actors but has the unfortunate side effect of making them look like porcelain dolls. It was inconsistently applied in Resident Evil: Extinction, making Milla Jovovich look at times as if she was made of plastic, and it appears to run rampant in The Golden Compass (the details of which I shall go into in a future post). For Sweeney Todd, however, oddly enough it appears that only Depp’s cheeks and the bridge of his nose are affected, and it only seems to have been applied to close-ups. It’s not a failing of the transfer, but it does provide an example of how really good high definition transfers make this sort of tomfoolery easier to spot. Ironic, really, when you consider that it was probably applied in the first place because someone got ants in their pants about “imperfections” on actors’ faces being more visible in HD.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
(Warner, UK, VC-1, 27.1 GB)