New to Blu: November 29 – December 5

  

Marching on to Blu-ray this week are a remastered American Civil War epic and a re-make of a creepy psychological drama set during the same conflict.

“Aside from the technological upgrade and the preservation aspects, there isn’t much that a high-definition remastering of Ken Burns’ landmark documentary The Civil War can do to enhance the experience of watching the film,” Home Media Magazine said.

The film is already a masterwork recounting of a crucial turning point in U.S. history, and will always be relevant as long as we continue to deliberate on what it means to be free or what it means to be an American.

Among the Blu-ray extras are a featurette about the restoration of the film, which gave the filmmakers a chance to clean up the images and reduce vibrations from the original camerawork.

And it does look fantastic in high-definition. Certainly many of the period photos aren’t of the resolution that an HD upgrade would give much of a boost, but it doesn’t hurt. The impact of the HD is more evident in the modern footage shot by Burns.

“Is it worth an upgrade, if I already own the DVDs?” A Few Words About … pondered:

Simple answer. A resounding yes! Absolutely. There is a huge difference between a quarter-century old 480i telecine, and a full-on pin-registered 4k image harvest.

Beyond basic image stability, color comes to life. Resolution grows by 600%. Shadow detail opens up, to allow the audience to fully appreciate, for the first time, the magnificent cinematography.

The Beguiled is Sofia Coppola’s 1.66:1 re-make of the unusual Don Siegel-Clint Eastwood 1971 collaboration.

Blu-ray.com called it “a rare treat in the digital age” because it was a new release shot on film.

It was even finished at 4K, and while Universal has chosen not to release a UHD at this time, the 1080p Blu-ray nevertheless carries the film nicely. Detail is very good, and even through the movie’s many darkened and low-light interiors it’s easy to see and enjoy good textural abundance on period attire, woods around the house, and trinkets throughout.

But DVD Talk said the video quality of the Blu-ray “isn’t as exceptional” as you might imagine:

Coppola, I think, intentionally left the images slightly grainy, left the color slightly dark, in an attempt to convey the time period rather than the power of modern media. And it worked, the film felt very authentic, and there are great visuals throughout shot with an intelligent eye, just don’t expect perfect picture quality.

Gifted looks great in high definition, bolstered by its locations which offer lots of sumptuous outdoor environments which director Marc Webb and [NZ] cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh exploit regularly,” Blu-ray.com said.

Many of the outdoor scenes feature impressive depth of field and some pretty gorgeous scenes of water and sun. The palette is typically natural looking, with a warm and inviting presence that features excellent saturation.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (“a good but somewhat inconsistent presentation”) misses out on a 4K-UHD release here but the first four movies in the Transformers franchise are being re-issued on the format (“fans will be thrilled with what Paramount has done”).

And getting a spruce-up for its 40th anniversary is Saturday Night Fever with a 4K-sourced transfer that Blu-ray.com praised for retaining the appearance of film while still providing plenty of detail but observed:

The controversy here, as is often the case with new transfers, is if this is actually better that the old release … Yes, the old release had some edge enhancement, but may have provided more detail overall. Another issue is the framing, as this new transfer is framed a little ‘tighter’ than the previous one, with a little less (but not much) visual information on the top and bottom of the image. Which is correct?

Well, it’s actually probably the new version, as the prior release had a non-theatrical 1.78:1 aspect ratio as opposed to the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio provided here, although one could still question whether they framed it correctly when creating the 1.85:1 image.

Hey, at least the colour timing isn’t too drastic between the versions (the new director’s cut is a little more subdued/darker  but the overall color palette remains pretty much the same), which is more than I can say for many new Blu-ray transfers these days.

Also new are season seven of SuitsConor McGregor Notorious and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (“HD image quality is quite good – not a reference experience, but of course this is a shot-on-HD video documentary”).

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3 Responses to “New to Blu: November 29 – December 5”

  1. Yay, I will soon have my complete Blu-ray box set of Breaking Bad from Amazon UK, i-parcel finally updated their tracker today to say it’s gone through customs. I’m looking forward to watching Breaking Bad on Blu-ray which includes over 50 hours of extras 🙂

  2. Good call, Trevor! Two of the seasons released in NZ came out ahead of the US with only a fraction of the extras.

  3. It’s annoying when we miss out on extras in New Zealand. Has it ever been released here as a complete Blu-ray edition? If not, that’s sad as that’s my favourite way of watching TV shows on Blu-ray, especially with all bells and whistles included 🙂

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