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Just arrived…

Blu-ray

Final Destination (BD, New Line/Warner, Region ABC, USA)

Blu-ray

Let the Right One In (BD, Magnolia, Region ABC, USA)

DVD

Inspector Morse: The Complete Case Files (DVD, ITV, Region 2, UK)

The latter was something of an impulse buy, although one that I feel is somewhat justified by the fact that I’ve been wanting to pick up the Inspector Morse episodes for some time and happened to come across them by chance on Amazon.co.uk at a very impressive discount. I paid just under £55 for all 33 episodes - a bargain when you consider that the RRP is 200 smackers.

 
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 7:52 PM | Comments: 13
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | DVD | TV | Web

 
Comments

1.

Michael,

I've taken the plunge and bought a UK (80gb) PS3 and have thus joined the high-def arena. I'll be pouring over your coverage of the Blu-Ray discs out there and am really keen to hear your thoughts on LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Again, I think this is a title which should work on a UK PS3 due to its multiple region coding of A,B,C.

By the way, am I right in thinking the same transfer and video codecs have been used in both US and UK releases of most films on Blu-Ray?

The first films I picked up (available at point of sale) were THE DARK KNIGHT, KING KONG (2005) and Kubrick's 2001, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and FULL METAL JACKET.

Looking forward to setting it all up and seeing the results for myself.

Posted by: Count Fosco, April 16, 2009 11:11 PM

2.

Yes, in the majority of cases, you’ll find that the same encodes end up being used for both US and European releases of films, assuming the rights are held by the same studios in both territories. From the titles that you’ve ordered, I think you’ll probably be most impressed by King Kong, although Full Metal Jacket is very nice too. A Clockwork Orange is probably the weakest looking (although it’s still pretty reasonable). The other two titles are somewhat in the middle ground.

You might want to check out https://bluray.liesinc.net/ to see which US/Canadian titles you can play. The majority of available titles are in fact Region ABC, with only Fox and to a lesser extent Disney routinely locking their discs out. Anything from Paramount, Warner or Universal (the big three HD DVD supporters back in the day) is guaranteed to be Region ABC.

EDIT: Just a thought, but which version of Full Metal Jacket did you pick up? The first version (whose cover is the helmet against a white background) has very poor picture quality, but the later version (this one) is a big improvement.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, April 16, 2009 11:30 PM

3.

Never take anything for granted, for all releases where a major label only has US rights there will be a region code. This has been seen for Warner in the past and I wouldn't exclude the other major players.

Plus I still think FMJ looks very weak, even the special edition one.

I'm curious, which version of The Shining do you prefer?

Posted by: Peter von Frosta, April 16, 2009 11:48 PM

4.

Anxious to see if FD got the wax treatment.

Posted by: Kram Sacul, April 17, 2009 2:03 AM

5.

Did you receive the first print of "Let the Right One In" with the false subtitles or the new one? I want to order this BD as well but I don't know if and where the new version is available.

Posted by: 4LOM, April 17, 2009 12:04 PM

6.

Peter:

While you’re right in saying not to take anything for granted, I disagree with your statement that “for all releases where a major label only has US rights there will be a region code”. I can think of plenty of titles that are coded for all regions despite only being owned by the studio in a single territory. Look at Brokeback Mountain, for example, or Eastern Promises.

As for The Shining, I’ve only seen the version on the US HD DVD and BD releases, which I seem to remember being the longer cut, so I can’t comment on that.


Kram Sacul:

Not the wax treatment, but it has definitely been grain reduced. As catalogue titles tend to go, it’s really not that bad, and is definitely a million times better looking than Dark City. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to watch it and do a post on it before too long.


4LOM:

I’ve just taken a quick look, and my copy definitely has the “simplified” translation. I’m not sure whether or not they’re even bothering to repress the BD.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, April 17, 2009 2:37 PM

7.

"You might want to check out https://bluray.liesinc.net/ to see which US/Canadian titles you can play. The majority of available titles are in fact Region ABC, with only Fox and to a lesser extent Disney routinely locking their discs out. Anything from Paramount, Warner or Universal (the big three HD DVD supporters back in the day) is guaranteed to be Region ABC.

EDIT: Just a thought, but which version of Full Metal Jacket did you pick up? The first version (whose cover is the helmet against a white background) has very poor picture quality, but the later version (this one) is a big improvement."

Thanks for the link to the Blu-Ray website. Very useful indeed. I've now watched my first Blu-Ray film (Peter Jackson's extended edition of KING KONG) and must say I thought the image quality was spectacular. This extended version, despite its flaws and sprawling running time, was also better in my opinion than the theatrical version.

The audio on the KONG disc also sounded very impressive to my ears although I am only outputting the audio via HDMI to the TV speakers. By the way I've noticed a lack of mono and stereo audio tracks on several Blu-Ray discs, will this cause me problems lacking a surround sound system at present? For example, I gave THE DARK KNIGHT Blu-Ray disc a quick spin and found the dialogue muffled whilst the score and sound effects were clearly louder?!

As for FULL METAL JACKET, by pure blind luck I managed to get the remastered version. I'll have to do a little more research before purchase in the future to avoid dud transfers.

Posted by: Count Fosco, April 18, 2009 12:42 PM

8.

The image quality of King Kong was ok but i expected better.

I feel they did some mild grain reduction as the opening twenty minututes or so has a very fine grain structure but once they reach the island that grain structure is reduced and most scenes are slightly smoothed over. Sure it still looks very good but it lacks the absolute fine detail they could have shown if they had just kept their hand off the degraining button.

The dialogue on the Dark Knight is at times muffled especially when Christian Bale is talking as Batman and that's the way they recorded it so you are hearing things right.

The score and sound effects will always be louder it's called dynamics. Well recorded soundtracks will have a very good dynamic range going from low soft sounds to very high volumes in a second. Many people sometimes complain about not being able to hear certain sounds but you have to realise you are supposed to play these movie soundtracks at reference volumes. Below reference sometimes makes dialogue difficult to hear or at least that's my experience and if you Google movie mixing and soundtracks and reference volumes you can find out a lot more.

There are many films that have better image quality than King Kong and usually they retain the grain structure better. I thought Kong was good but i was disappointed at the need to reduce the small amount of fine film grain in a movie which should have easily fitted on a BD-50 without the need to do that.

Posted by: FoxyMulder, April 20, 2009 11:11 AM

9.

FoxyMulder:

"There are many films that have better image quality than King Kong and usually they retain the grain structure better."

Thanks for the information regarding soundtracks. I admit the upgrade to Blu-Ray is proving to be a bit of a leaning curve for me in terms of optimum audio-visual playback. Once the wallet has recovered sufficiently I will be looking into picking up some form of surround system. Although, I do think the decision not to include standard mono and stereo tracks on Blu-Ray discs is somewhat forcing the consumers hand in this regard. We all want the best visuals and sound but at a realistic price.

What I wanted to ask you Foxy is that you mention superior transfers which retain the inherent grain of film over KING KONG. Can you name some of your recommendations so I can take a look for myself?

Cheers

Posted by: Count Fosco, April 23, 2009 5:43 PM

10.

What I wanted to ask you Foxy is that you mention superior transfers which retain the inherent grain of film over KING KONG. Can you name some of your recommendations so I can take a look for myself?

I’m not Foxy, but I can recommend a few:

I, Robot (not a very good film, though)
The Descent (Australian release)
Twilight (see I, Robot)
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bourne Supremacy
Enchanted (live action segments, animated segments are digital)
Silent Hill (German release)
Spider-man 3
Doomsday
The Godfather Trilogy
Quantum of Solace
Blade Runner (theatrical/international/director’s cut - final cut has been somewhat grain reduced)
300 (grain artificially amplified in post production)
Serenity
Gone Baby Gone
Juno
Domino
Quantum of Solace
Nikita
Two Evil Eyes
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
28 Weeks Later
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
The Omen
The Rock
Run Lola Run
The Stendhal Syndrome
The Lives of Others
Chungking Express (Criterion, Region A)

That’s just counting the ones I own. As you can see, there are a LOT of BDs that retain their filmic look very faithfully. Casino Royale also has an extremely nice transfer, although it has been confirmed that it was slightly grain reduced as per the director’s request.

And of course there are also a bunch of digitally sourced movies, most of which never had grain to begin with:

Open Season
Ratatouille
Bolt
Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death
Cars
Wall-E
etc.

As for King Kong, the HD DVD release certainly has a superb transfer, and while I haven’t seen the BD, I’d be genuinely surprised if it looks weaker. Foxy says that once the explorers reach the island the grain looks smoothed over, but to be honest I don’t see it. If the later sections do look less grain-intensive than the earlier material, I’m more inclined to attribute this to the heavy amount of CGI in that section.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, April 23, 2009 6:08 PM

11.

Re: Inspector Morse. Is that collection, other than the packaging, any different from this set: https://hmv.com/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?sku=940629&affiliate=td&lpgrp=network&tduid=8a8ec4afdae752ea9c19c279e71d1021

Apparently the Carlton releases have pretty poor transfers, full of nasty digital artifacts, etc. Can you confirm or disconfirm (and I'm not expecting stellar discs) from your advertised set above?

Posted by: Chris B, April 27, 2009 4:40 PM

12.

Chris:

I don’t think it’s any different - I think the version I have just has slightly more user-friendly packaging. I watched the first episode last night (The Dead of Jericho) and found the image quality to be pretty ghastly, suffering from heavy NR.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, April 27, 2009 4:52 PM

13.

Yeah, I suspect they might be the same. I really want the set, and £40 for all 33 episodes is a good price; the only thing is, if it's as bad as say Sliders: S1/2, then the NR and motion artifacts render the discs nearly unwatchable, or rather, unbearable. Hmm, decisions, decisions.
Thanks.

Posted by: Chris B, April 27, 2009 5:29 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:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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