New to Blu: May 16 – 22


Budget back-catalogue Blu-rays are the week’s sole newcomers.

They range from the cult horror appeal of Deadly Blessing to Goldie Hawn in her heyday: Death Becomes Her and Bird on a Wire.

Assuming Bird on the Wire uses the same transfer source as last year’s British release (the world’s first), expect it to be presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with an AVC MPEG-4 codec.

“It’s clearly from a dated master, but as a whole, it’s generally a positive experience,” Rewind said.

Lighter colours feel muted … blacks are generally deep, but sometimes move towards a slight greyish tone – and skylines occasionally seem muddled … Skin tones look natural, if a little warm in a couple of scenes. Grain is present throughout, though a little inconsistent in structure with some occasional noise in the darker scenes. Details are a little mixed but certainly pleasant.

Death Becomes Her came out two years in the US. “The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully delivered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec,” Home Theater Forum said,

Sharpness is mostly outstanding apart from a few shots late in the movie that seem softer than necessary. Colour is joyously vibrant (reds may be the slightest bit hot) with luscious skin tones. Black levels are wonderfully rich and deep while contrast has been consistently applied to make for the best picture possible.

“Culled from the Universal catalogue, this transfer is generally decent looking,” said.

A lot of this transfer is on the gauzy side, though unlike many early Universal catalogue releases, there is a healthy grain field here, though it’s fairly variable throughout the presentation and flirts with compression anomalies at times.

Deadly Blessing is blessed with a strong, often great 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.78:1),” High-Def Digest said.

Given its age and low-budget origins, the print used for this transfer is in great shape, minus the occasional white spot and vertical brown line. The natural grain structure is consistent and visible from beginning to end, but is more prominent during indoor and nighttime sequences, sometimes to the point of looking like noise.

“Detail and clarity are surprisingly good,” DVD Talk said.

There’s a bit of softness in the image, likely present in the source, and I suspect there’s a bit of noise reduction and edge enhancement baked into the master used. This is never a huge problem, and the image retains a nice, film-like appearance with natural grain (which is heavier in nighttime scenes). Black levels are fairly good, though there’s some moderate crush, and skin tones are natural.

Also new are Spanglish (“exceeds expectations“), Nine, which originally was released in 2010 (“overall transfer is a bit dull“), and The American President (“serviceable but a little problematic”).

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