New to Blu: May 25-31

Two best-picture Oscar-nominees and the finest TV drama series ever make this a blue-chip week for new Blu-ray releases.

Best Picture winner The King’s Speech comes to Blu-ray with solid extras, including a highly recommended director’s commentary, and a 1080p transfer – unlike the British Region B edition, which sparked controversy for its 1080i/50 transfer.

As AVForums pointed out in its review of what was otherwise a “fantastic natural looking” transfer:

“This means that whilst the picture will be as clean and bright as a 1080p transfer, providing your system de-interlaces correctly, it will still suffer from the 4% PAL speed up and thus the sound will be of a slightly higher pitch than its cinema run and a 1080p/24 print.”

It rated the HD image 7/10 whereas High-Def Digest graded the Region A 1080p transfer 4/5, albeit with this caveat: “For a newer film, this transfer should have been shining and radiant, but it seems rather glum and dreary … a decent transfer, but if you were hoping for a demo-worth disc for this year’s Best Picture winner then you’ll be disappointed.”

However, DVD Beaver thought it “looks exactly as I remember it theatrically” and Home Theater Fourm said one of disc’s pros was its “excellent a/v quality”.

High-Def Digest praised The Fighter for “one great looking Blu-ray presentation” and The Digital Bits acclaimed it as “excellent … The level of image detail evident is uniformly impressive from facial features to costume textures to the interior and exterior locations of the Lowell, Massachusetts setting”.

Even if you’ve already seen it in SD on Prime, Mad Men: The Complete Fourth Season will be well worth a second viewing on Blu-ray, for everything from its sterling transfer to wealth of intelligent extras.

DVD Authority dubbed the transfer “nothing short of spectacular” while rated it 5/5: “Mad Men just about leaps off the screen in 1080p.

“All of the show’s meticulous period details fill the frame wonderfully. The show is filmed with a muted colour palette that mimics colour film of the era. Grain is present and naturally presented as well.”

Also new are the thrillers, 22 Bullets and Elephant White. Unfortunately, 22 Bullets’ aspect ratio has been cropped, from 2.39:1 to 1.78:1, as happened with the UK Blu-ray release.

But, as commented, “What is really strange, however, is that this ‘new’ high-definition transfer actually looks very strong; in fact, excluding the cropping mentioned above it is practically identical to the French high-definition transfer.

“But the cropping is very disturbing, and there is absolutely no way one could tolerate it.”

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