I just finished watching the whole movie after purchasing it when Best Buy opened their doors this morning. Again, it was a good deal, especially after picking up Braveheart too.
I watched the extended version, and I had never seen these extended scenes before. Despite Gladiator being my favorite movie ever, I hadn't seen it in a couple years. Despite this, it was incredibly obvious when an extended scene started playing as the PQ went way up without any DNR/EE and detail was absolutely stunning.
The original cut of the film on this Blu-ray, as expected, looks very processed and digital at times and screams of DNR/EE which we're all aware of. It is very obvious to me that the studio used an old transfer, probably the original one for the DVD as many have speculated. But again, the extended scenes looked absolutely amazing.
One point of reference for top-notch PQ in my book is in chapter 17 around the 1:50 mark when you see the execution of the soldiers who failed to execute Maximus and then lied about it. That part is reference quality in my opinion and had the whole film been like this PQ-wise, we would all be giving very high praise.
You will not see any missing arrows, even if they had been accidentally edited out due to effects in some still frames. But most of the PQ is a let down and I am sure that even Joe Schmoe will be able to notice this right away, especially when they view the extended scenes. The differnce is night and day to me.
But overall I am happy to finally have my favorite movie released on Blu-ray. It's a disappointment in the PQ department, sure, but I've seen a few worse titles.
In case you're interested, here's my setup:
58" Samsung Plasma PN56B650 fully calibrated
Onkyo 705 receiver with 7.1 speakers from Elemental Designs
Viewed on PS3 80gb via HDMI to Onkyo 1080p with audio as 5.1 DTS-HD MA matrixed to 7.1 via PCM
DirecTV Genie HR44 — Xbox One — Onkyo TX-NR636 — Samsung UN75F6400