Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gladiator Blu-ray - That Bad?

As I mentioned in a previous post about the controversy (is that too strong a word?) regarding the transfer on the new Sapphire Series Blu-ray from Paramount of 'Gladiator' where the old 2000 HD transfer was used as the master instead of making a new one. 'Gladiator' is one of my all time favorite movies so I was eager to watch it again no matter what. I did watch the extended version and the extended scenes (which I believe were mastered in 2005) do look a lot better.

The film itself holds up so well. I've seen the film so many times and it's just as effective as it was the first time I saw it. So five minutes into the movie the transfer is really not that big of an issue. At least with me. The main issue is the edge enhancement. It is never (or should never be) used on current transfers because of the digital artifacting that can come from it. It provides a false level of detail. Like you had your sharpness turned up too high. If it is turned up too high then turn it down by the way. This is noticeable from the start. Again, a few minutes in I was just watching the movie. The color rendition is great. The transfer isn't bad. It's not like other discs I've seen ('Donnie Darko' and 'Dog Soldiers' for example) where it looks like the DVD. It looks better than DVD but not on par with other current HD transfers. I hope Paramount rectifies this but it does not, in the end, take away from the movie itself.


2000 was a major year for me. Coming out of 1999 I felt like I was left a bit beaten. Was going through a bad time and was very depressed. I hadn't done anything creative in over two years and life in general was getting to me. New Year's Eve while I watched alone on TV the world celebrate the coming of the new millennium I realized I needed to turn my life around. Within three months I was able to and started pursuing my dreams again. Got in contact with old friends. Got involved in creative projects. Jumped back in although it did mean I took a hit financially. However, that summer was just incredible. And having it start with a movie like 'Gladiator' made it all the more special. It was the first film I had seen in awhile that really hit me and got me excited about movies. It was a nice marriage of my creative life and my film geek life. So the film will always hold a special place for me.


This was also Oliver Reed's last film. He died towards the end of shooting which resulted in his last scene in the movie being done using outtakes of footage from other scenes being digitally altered to match and a double. It is quite amazing. I still can't tell. Such a powerful performance and a very underrated actor. Many people thought this film would have kicked off a resurgence for him. But it's nice to know he went out on a high note.


Should you buy the Blu-ray? Not sure. If you honestly can look at a transfer and know off the bat the faults with it and are preoccupied with it then no. If you sort of notice things like that but overall the movie will eventually take over your interest then I think you'll be fine. If Paramount does offer a replacement at some point then all of this is a mute point. In the meantime, if you love the movie and want to watch it in the best form available (and it is despite its flaws) then by all means get it. Afterall, are you not entertained?


*NOTE: The above screen shots are NOT from the Blu-ray. They are from the the DVD. Their only purpose is to show off the movie and it makes posts more interesting if you have pictures.

UPDATE: has a review of the disc. They do great reviews especially when it comes to the technical aspects so by all means this is a great resource to make your decision on. Click Here

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