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Old 06-15-2021, 11:09 PM   #81
Geoff D Geoff D is online now
Blu-ray Emperor
 
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Feb 2009
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review:

Itís an existing HD transfer, probably off an IP, and appears to date back to at least the HD DVD version (so is 15 years old at a minimum), yet it's not been subjected to Universal's usual regimen of "improvements" like overdone noise reduction and strong sharpening. Detail looks crisp, not quite at the level of a modern scan but it allows as much high frequency information as it can muster, and it's got a nicely filmic bent. The grain is part of that look, it's ever present but is finely resolved and doesn't 'scream' like it does when it gets sharpened up. There's a gentle bit of flicker in the grain, density flutter most likely, which is something that'd get evened out on a new transfer but again it just adds to the filmic charm of this.

Dirt of both positive (black) and negative (white) type is constantly sprinkled throughout, I'd rather have a bit of schmutz left in than have it get removed with the kind of haphazard poorly-QC'ed processing that has been previously employed to 'beautify' these old transfers. It's quite stable too, sometimes the telecine wobble can be drastic but this is surprisingly steady, it's partly what allows the fine detail to look as good as it does.

Colour looks great. A bit on the warm side when it comes to skin tones but they usually reflect the environment, e.g. the movie has very distinct colour schemes for certain parts and they come across well, like the warmth of the Sneakers' 'lair' and Liz's apartment versus the cold grey/blue of Cosmo's modernist office or that lush swimming pool shot when Redford confronts his Russian comrade. The highlights burn out in that typical old transfer way e.g. the illuminated sign at the bank in the first reel is almost unreadable, but the movie doesn't have a lot of hard light sources like that so it's not an issue. It's very dense in the blacks though, shadow detail is gobbled up by the darkness but it adds to that literal 'shady' feel that the film has.

David M's compression is essentially faultless. The grain is given plenty of room to groove with a very high bitrate and never looks blocky or clumpy, it's always as finely tuned as the source will permit. The aforementioned heavy blacks could cause problems with posterisation/banding in lesser hands but are impeccably rendered here, as are those moments of deeply saturated colour on people's faces like Redford in the car boot lit just with the red brake lights. Again, just excellently-handled gradations. There's not a thing here that calls attention to itself encode-wise and that's just how it should be.

The 2.0 audio is simply gorgeous.

All three audio commentaries have their charms. Simon and Jamesí track has a good energy as they banter back and forth, delivering their own personal anecdotes about their love for the film as well as more standard info on it. The one from the director and DP has a slightly more laid back vibe but is no less entertaining for it. The last one from Priscilla Page is a little dryer, as being a solo effort means a bit more dead air, and if youíre listening to it after the other two commentaries youíre gonna hear some of the same facts and figures for the third time, but itís a good summation of that available info plus her own thoughts on the film.

The new 44m interview with Phil Robinson is superb, choosing to omit the interviewer and just get straight to him answering the questions put to him. Some of the deleted scenes he describes sound wonderful, itíd be nice to see them someday as well as the work print he wishes we could see. Not that he thinks itís a superior version of the film as that stuff was cut for a reason, but just so we could see some of the deleted material in context.

Other legacy extras include an 8-minute selection of EPK interviews with Redford and Poitier plus the trailer, both in 4:3 SD. As explained by Plumeria they couldnít license the existing 40m making of documentary as the paperwork could not be located, it was a close run thing just to get the filmmaker commentary on there. Disc is Region B locked as per licensing agreements.

All in all this is an excellent package, put together by fans of the film for fans of the film, and it deserves all the love you fine people can give it.
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