Monday, 17 March 2014

“Glory” on BLU RAY - A Review Of The MASTERED IN 4K Release…

Here is a link to Amazon UK to buy this issue at the best price (£9 as of March 2014):

First things first - I don't own a 4K TV - nor do I own the Sony BDPS6200 BLU RAY player with built in 4K upscaling. So I suppose this review of "Glory Mastered In 4K" is compromised on 2 fronts. However I have what I suspect most film lovers have - a good Plasma TV and a half-decent BLU RAY player. But even with machines as lowly as these - I'm compelled to review...

Is Mastered In 4K a gimmick? No it's not. The new format on BLU RAY is in its infancy for sure as far as releases and market interest is concerned - but judging on what I'm seeing on my television - that isn't going to last long. Once you set your eyes on the quality of the picture and what can be done - immediate upgrades on all your favourites is going to make you very excited - and your bank manager very nervous.

"Glory" has had a convoluted and patchy history with regard to reissue - most notorious of all was the DVD - slammed as being awful - with its BLU RAY follow up not a whole lot better. And this powerful 1989 Edward Zwick movie about the 54th Massachusettes regiment in the American Civil War (the first Black military unit and their extraordinary bravery) means a lot to many. So Sony seem to have gone to some lengths to change this with their new format baby because "Glory" is being hailed as a sort of flagship release to show what can be achieved  - even with older and sometimes degraded elements.

It's defaulted to 1.85:1 aspect ratio so it naturally fills the full screen and has a huge impact for doing so. The picture isn't perfect by any means or stretch of the imagination - and there are shocking 'grain' spikes at times. The most famous of these is where Colonel Robert Shaw (a huge performance from Matthew Broderick) is in a ballroom talking to a general - when it cuts to the general the picture is gorgeous - but when it cuts back to Broderick's face - it looks awful - twice. And on many other occasions the natural grain of filming is evident like a very faint shimmer - but even in the darker night sequences in tents when Denzel Washington, Andre Braugher and Morgan Freeman are talking - the picture is amazingly clean, rich and rock solid.

But it's when the camera moves to the drill marches, the towns they pass through and especially the battle encampments and the fields of battle - it looks gorgeous to a degree that is breath-taking. Bloody wounds, muddy shirts, the blue uniforms they covet so much, Denzel standing tall and defiant and hurting as he takes the lashes on the wheel for insubordination - it all looks incredibly rich and deep. Throughout the film this kicked in maybe 30 or 40 times which is impressive despite the grain moments in between.

The best way to describe the picture is 'cinematic' - there's an almost 3D depth to some shots - a real 'movie-in-your-home' sense of distances. And the James Horner soundtrack is given full reign too by the 5.1 True HD mix (English and Spanish) as are and sounds of rifle gunfire, canon blasts, rain on tarpaulin and men screaming in pain in tents as surgeons saw off limbs.

Presentation - Subtitles are in English, English for The Hard of hearing, Hindi, Polish and Spanish. Each release comes in a pretty blue card slipcase on the outside with the BLU RAY MASTERED IN 4K logo across the top - but unfortunately little else. There are literally no extras of any kind - which feels like a huge missed opportunity especially on such a rich film as "Glory" (3 Oscar wins - Best Supporting Actor for Denzel, Best Cinematography and Best Sound).

And as you can see from the list below - the initial vanguard of titles in 4K is hardly enticing - and in some cases - why even bother (the truly dreadful "The Other Guys" and the underwhelming "Moneyball")? And these titles were issued (Region Free) in the States between April and July 2013 with no further names since? Hardly a rip-roaring start...

Having said all that - I'm impressed. I'm even tempted now by "Taxi Driver", Ghostbusters" and "Godzilla" which have received similar glowing reviews on the improvement front.

The truth I suspect is that `4K' is an advancement for film fans that we're going to want more of once we clap our beady eyes on the screen - and that can only spell joy and pain in equal measure.

Here we go again...

Titles MASTERED IN 4K as of March 2014 are:

1. Angels And Demons (2009)
2. Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
3. Ghostbusters (1984)
4. Glory (1989)
5. Godzilla (1998)
6. The Karate Kid (2010)
7. Men In Black (1997)
8. Moneyball (2011)
9. The Other Guys (2010)
10. Pineapple Express (2008)
11. Spider-Man (2002)
12. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
13. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
14. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
15. Taxi Driver (1976)

16. Total Recall (2012)

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc