The New PQ Tier thread for Blu-Ray - Discussion - Page 721 - AVS Forum
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post #21601 of 21738 Old 06-28-2014, 08:02 PM
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Pompeii (2014)

Once again Sony doesn't disappoint, giving us yet another DETAILED and SHARP Blu-ray release. All outdoor, daytime scenes, as well as interior scenes with good lighting, are demo-worthy, and in some cases reference quality. Every close-up was pure EYE CANDY, with spectacular texture in faces, intricate details in clothing and armor, and mesmerizing details in many of the aerial views of Pompeii and the surrounding countryside. Depth was also a highlight in many shots. Black levels were excellent in a majority of nighttime scenes (with the exception of the last half hour once Mt. Vesuvius starts exploding). Primary colors, though limited, were bold and vivid. Flesh tones were normally spot-on, but a good deal of color-grading with orange hues did wreak havoc at times.

My biggest gripe, by far, would be with the heavy CGI scenes during the last half hour. Black levels suffered occasionally...softness reared it ugly head in numerous shots...and depth and details all but disappeared during really fast action shots.

As you can imagine, this is a hard one to call with such pristine resolution during most of the first hour. If I could rate the Blu based solely on that part, it may have warranted a low Tier 0 placement, but when trying to average things out I'm forced to drop this at least a whole tier. So, to be fair, and consistent with the criteria set forth for this thread, I'm going with the following....

Tier Recommendation: 1.75*

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post #21602 of 21738 Old 06-28-2014, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by djoberg View Post
Pompeii (2014)

Tier Recommendation: 1.75*
Was the movie an enjoyable watch? Is it just another mindless, FX-driven spectacle?

Last edited by Phantom Stranger; 06-29-2014 at 11:55 AM.
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post #21603 of 21738 Old 06-28-2014, 08:14 PM
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I actually enjoyed it and was glad I rented it. It was NOT on the same level as Gladiator or Braveheart, but the acting was good and there was enough character development to become somewhat connected with a few of the characters. Having said that, I believe the history of Pompeii would have justified a longer version with even more character development and more emphasis on the politics and corruption of Pompeii.

I mentioned the acting was good...it was weird watching Keifer Sutherland in the role as an evil Roman Senator (he was downright ruthless). I've been watching the new 24 series on FOX so I'm used to seeing Super Jack save the day!

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post #21604 of 21738 Old 06-28-2014, 08:30 PM
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Jack Bauer versus a volcano. I think you have just pitched the next season of 24.
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post #21605 of 21738 Old 06-28-2014, 08:50 PM
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Jack Bauer versus a volcano. I think you have just pitched the next season of 24.
Pompeii's "Jack" failed miserably in his duo with Mt. Vesuvius!

I should issue a disclaimer. I responded to your question about the movie itself by saying I enjoyed it. I'm in the minority with only 28% of reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes giving it a Thumbs Up and reviewers from HiDef Digest, Blu-ray.com, DVD Talk, etc. trashed it. Again, it was a *decent* rent in my opinion, though it's certain I'll never give it a second viewing. The CGI may not have been reference quality in the PQ department, but it was enjoyable to watch and IMO it was just as *believable* as the CGI in movies such as 2012. So, I'm NOT shouting from the rooftops, "Go out and rent Pompeii; you won't be disappointed!" The truth is most here may not like it!

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post #21606 of 21738 Old 06-29-2014, 09:13 PM
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The Lego Movie

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Originally Posted by wattheF View Post
The Lego Movie

Overall the PQ is outstanding and the animation looks incredible! Contrast is very strong with great black levels and shadow detail. Colors are abundant and pop off the screen. Clarity and sharpness leave nothing to be desired. The image is very clean and polished, *all the while maintaining a natural and almost "handmade" feel. The lighting and motion is animated in such a way to make it look and feel like a stop motion film.

All these factors combined with an amazing amount of detail and texture rendered in the animated characters makes for depth and realism that is almost palpable. They even animated fingerprints and other "flaws" into the Lego parts. Even in 2D images seemed to jump off the screen. I can't wait to see the 3D version.

There are some live action scenes at the end that also look great.

About the only negative I noticed was some very slight color banding a few times but it was minimal so I don't feel the need to dock the movie too much for this. *The issue may also be endemic to the animation itself.

Btw, the dynamic DTS audio is also excellent.

Ranking...TIER 0 (in the middle)

(*) EDIT-6/18
I agree with 98% of this excellent review! I won't try to add anything except to say that I did NOT see any banding AND I have to disagree with his comment that there is "an amazing amount of detail and texture rendered in the animated characters." Detail...YES...texture...not so much. That's not to say there isn't any texture, it's just that it falls short of other animated titles where you have texture in faces (most faces are as smooth as butter and their hair is equally unimpressive), and there is a lack of texture in other areas as well. Take any of the top 15 animated titles in Tier 0 and compare them with this and you'll see what I mean. But this is only one area and it excels in every other area, so it's still a reference Blu-ray by those standards.

Because of the lack of texture in faces, hair, and many other areas (such as foliage, buildings, etc.), I can't assign it a place in the top third of Tier Blu, but I have no argument putting it where my fellow-reviewer has suggested....

Tier Recommendation: Tier 0* (.5)

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post #21607 of 21738 Old 06-30-2014, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post
The Lego Movie



I agree with 98% of this excellent review! I won't try to add anything except to say that I did NOT see any banding AND I have to disagree with his comment that there is "an amazing amount of detail and texture rendered in the animated characters." Detail...YES...texture...not so much. That's not to say there isn't any texture, it's just that it falls short of other animated titles where you have texture in faces (most faces are as smooth as butter and their hair is equally unimpressive), and there is a lack of texture in other areas as well. Take any of the top 15 animated titles in Tier 0 and compare them with this and you'll see what I mean. But this is only one area and it excels in every other area, so it's still a reference Blu-ray by those standards.

Because of the lack of texture in faces, hair, and many other areas (such as foliage, buildings, etc.), I can't assign it a place in the top third of Tier Blu, but I have no argument putting it where my fellow-reviewer has suggested....

Tier Recommendation: Tier 0* (.5)

Viewed from 7.5' using the equipment listed below....
Thanks djoberg. The Banding I saw was so fleeting that it was almost unnoticeable. Also I wonder if different displays do a better job than others with fine gradations. What display did you use?

Also, I suppose I should qualify my statement about texture and add the term "relatively speaking" to it. Since the subject matter and characters Are made up of a plain smooth toy blocK it's naturally not going to present the same opportunity to too possess the same high level of texture that some other animated characters may. SO you are right about the fact that this movie doesn't have the same level of diverse textures as some of the other top end animated titles. Having said that I was very impressed at how much texture they were able to add to these figures. The dust, fingerprints, nicks and scratches, etc all added to a lifelike realism. There were times when I said to myself...are those real Legos they are using?

I agree that it belongs no higher than the middle of Tier 0.

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post #21608 of 21738 Old 06-30-2014, 11:23 PM
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Akira

recommendation: Tier 1.75

Someone had previously ranked Bandai's release of Akira in Tier 1.75. Bandai withdrew from video distribution in North America and the rights to Akira went to Funimation. I am covering the Funimation version's picture quality, which features a solid AVC video encode and a clean, film-like transfer of the movie's 1980s cel animation.

This one has been restored to some degree, the elements are in very good condition and retain a vibrant crispness that other animated films of the period occasionally lack.
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post #21609 of 21738 Old 07-02-2014, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wattheF View Post
Thanks djoberg. The Banding I saw was so fleeting that it was almost unnoticeable. Also I wonder if different displays do a better job than others with fine gradations. What display did you use?

Also, I suppose I should qualify my statement about texture and add the term "relatively speaking" to it. Since the subject matter and characters Are made up of a plain smooth toy blocK it's naturally not going to present the same opportunity to too possess the same high level of texture that some other animated characters may. SO you are right about the fact that this movie doesn't have the same level of diverse textures as some of the other top end animated titles. Having said that I was very impressed at how much texture they were able to add to these figures. The dust, fingerprints, nicks and scratches, etc all added to a lifelike realism. There were times when I said to myself...are those real Legos they are using?

I agree that it belongs no higher than the middle of Tier 0.
I used my Pioneer KURO. I do see banding occasionally but I didn't any on that title.

You are right about the "dust, fingerprints, nicks and scratches" adding to the realism? I would add that the lighting also added to the photorealism. Very impressive indeed! But the texture was still limited compared to other animated titles that featured fur, hair, grass, and more prominent facial texture. I believe we gave it the proper placement, all things considered.

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post #21610 of 21738 Old 07-02-2014, 11:02 AM
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If you see banding on a calibrated plasma, it's almost certainly endemic to the video encode found on the Blu-ray. It means they didn't properly dither the video and colors. Without having seen The LEGO Movie yet, I placed the LEGO Batman disc in largely the same area of Tier 0. You get the flashy color range and perfect black levels, but I agree the level of textural detail is below the latest CGI offerings.
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post #21611 of 21738 Old 07-02-2014, 04:48 PM
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Tower Heist

Directed by Brett Ratner, TH has a visual appeal similar to his earlier crime caper Rush Hour 3....which also happened to be one of my initial PQ favourites.

The image is sleek and glossy throughout. Blacks are nice and deep, contrast sharp, helping colours to really pop and shine. A couple of nighttime city scape shops really impressed; dark black skies contrasting with the glittering lights of NYC. Equally pretty, the climatic carnival parade showcased primaries at their best.

I recall Rush Hour 3 showing better facial detail but otherwise I was pretty impressed.

Tier 1.5
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post #21612 of 21738 Old 07-04-2014, 04:11 PM
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The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Arrow Video's Region B)

recommendation: Tier 3.5*

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (Arrow Video's Region B)

recommendation: Tier 4.0*

British distributor Arrow Video released these films together in a region-locked set as The Complete Dr. Phibes. They licensed both transfers from MGM, the same source for Scream Factory's edition of The Abominable Dr. Phibes. These aren't the most brilliant film transfers, they resemble telecine scans intended for MGM's DVD releases. While not on par with a newer film scan, they are from the original film negatives and provide mild improvements in clarity and detail over standard-definition resolution. The transfer for the first movie looks to be from film elements in better condition, it is sharper with a more stable color palette.

There are no real indicators of heavy processing aside from a touch of ringing. The grain structure is handled by a top-notch AVC video encode that fills a BD-50 for each movie. The sequel does have a heavier grain pattern, possibly exacerbated by sharpening.

This type of older transfer doesn't provide the wow factor of a newer 4K film scan from the original negatives but satisfactorily gets it done in terms of video improvement, especially for The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The less-heralded sequel is less impressive for our standards.


Enjoy the fireworks for the Fourth of July holiday.
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post #21613 of 21738 Old 07-04-2014, 04:22 PM
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Thanks Phantom for wishing us a Happy 4th!

I echo your sentiments to the whole AVS family! We live on one of the highest hills overlooking Fergus Falls, MN and thus we have quite the vantage point for watching ALL of the Fireworks displays throughout the city. Last night the city had its BIG display and it was awesome, with vibrant colors, strong contrast, and it featured a very deep and inky black sky....I'd put it in Tier 0, near the bottom! Tonight there is a Speedway Racetrack that has races every Friday night and they're having a big display after the races are over. Again, we have an excellent vantage point for watching it so I'll chime in later with a review and placement recommendation.
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post #21614 of 21738 Old 07-04-2014, 07:50 PM
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I just got my UK Blu-Ray Hitchcock Collection in the mail. (much, much cheaper than the US version)

Oh my, I don't think I've ever seen a transfer quite as bad as Family Plot. Crushed blacks, colors that change DURING a scene, haloing, bad noise reduction. It really isn't much better than the DVD, if at all.
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post #21615 of 21738 Old 07-04-2014, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
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I just got my UK Blu-Ray Hitchcock Collection in the mail. (much, much cheaper than the US version)

Oh my, I don't think I've ever seen a transfer quite as bad as Family Plot. Crushed blacks, colors that change DURING a scene, haloing, bad noise reduction. It really isn't much better than the DVD, if at all.
Universal didn't do much of anything for some of the lesser films in that box set. Generally speaking, a Blu-ray that looks little better than DVD usually ends up in Tier 4.5 or the dreaded Tier 5. I own the same set but I've been holding off on watching some of the later ones.
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post #21616 of 21738 Old 07-04-2014, 11:15 PM
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When can we expect to see the updated tier list? I can't wait to see where all these new movies fall.
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post #21617 of 21738 Old 07-05-2014, 11:32 AM
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Smile

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When can we expect to see the updated tier list? I can't wait to see where all these new movies fall.
The last update was at the end of March. As some have probably noticed, the discussion thread tends to get less activity in the middle of summer and I like to wait for as many reviews as possible. I would figure on another update in the next two or three weeks. So if someone is burning with desire to review a disc, they should post it soon to make the July update.

This will be the first update for the PQ Tiers back on the new old system of Vbulletin. I have to hope the forum software hasn't changed enough to make problems when I format the new listings. It was a huge problem a couple of years back when AVS switched from Vbulletin to Huddler and this appears to be a newer version of Vbulletin.
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post #21618 of 21738 Old 07-05-2014, 07:19 PM
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The Big Gundown

recommendation: Tier 2.25*

I pushed this excellent Spaghetti Western to the top of my queue after a member of AVS privately contacted me about it for the PQ Tiers with their own review. It's not the first time someone has sent me a private rating about a disc, some readers want to contribute rankings outside the glare of a public discussion in this thread. Which is fine by me, my inbox is always open for reviews or other concerns.

I had been wanting to pick up the collector's edition for The Big Gundown anyway, so this gave me a good excuse to go out and finally buy it. Put out in a lavish four-disc set by Grindhouse Releasing this past December, the 1966 Technicolor film looks absolutely great in 1080p. The new 2K film scan from the original negative has utterly film-like fidelity, perfectly replicating its natural grain structure in crisp detail. A solid AVC video encode runs at decent parameters without compression artifacts. Grindhouse Releasing made the wise decision to put the English-language version on its own BD, allowing the longer director's cut seen in Europe to breathe on another BD. Both versions are given wonderful presentations.

The film elements are in excellent condition, almost completely free of debris and damage. The 2.39:1-framed composition retains its proper presentation with very good sharpness and full color saturation. It resembles a beautiful film print of the era that has avoided filtering or other detrimental video processes. Simply a high-quality film scan that shows The Big Gundown's cinematography in its best possible light.

While it occasionally reaches a level of aptitude worthy of Tier One, its picture quality more comfortably resides in Tier Two. That is not a knock, this perfect transfer of vintage film would merit a much higher score under a normal reviewing system. An easy recommendation if you want to see this movie in all its glory.
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post #21619 of 21738 Old 07-07-2014, 06:49 AM
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^^^^^^

Thanks for the good review and for whetting my appetite for this release Phantom. I absolutely love "Spaghetti Westerns" with The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly being my all-time favorite. I must confess I have never seen The Big Gundown, but reviews on Amazon are singing its praises. The only downside is the price...almost $30, which is too much IMO.

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post #21620 of 21738 Old 07-07-2014, 09:47 AM
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It's an unheralded but excellent Spaghetti Western. I don't want to get your hopes up, it's not as entertaining as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The 4-disc set occasionally goes down on Amazon around $23. You get two Blu-rays, a DVD, and Morricone's soundtrack on CD in it. In a bit of irony it probably received a better film transfer than that iconic Westerner.
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post #21621 of 21738 Old 07-08-2014, 10:49 AM
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I love this thread. You guys are doing a great service for those looking for truly beautiful Blu Rays. When is the last time the list was actually updated?

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post #21622 of 21738 Old 07-08-2014, 11:01 AM
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I answered this a couple of posts back but the last update was near the end of March, 2014. We don't get as many Blu-ray scores and reviews for it during the summer months.

The date of the last update is always listed at the very top of the PQ Tiers:

Blu-Ray Picture Quality Rankings

"Oculi plus vident quam oculus" - "Several eyes see more than only one"

Last Update: March 27, 2014 by the Phantom Stranger


You can tell your friends, you can tell your co-workers, the Tiers are alive and well.

Maria Holic: Complete Collection

recommendation: Tier 2.0*

The 2009 anime series looks okay in Hi-Def. The palette is awash in bright, bold colors but the animation is not as polished as the best in its genre. Sentai Filmworks uses a satisfactory video encode for the clean material.
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post #21623 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 09:22 AM
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I just purchased The Man from Snowy River from Amazon. Our family must have watched this Australian Western classic a dozen times as our daughters were growing up. We loved the story line, the action, the acting (you gotta love the "duel role" of Kirk Douglas in this movie!), and the amazing cinematography. I have no idea how it's going to look on Blu-ray, but I'm excited to find out. I may not get to it for awhile but when I do I'll check in with a review (I see it hasn't been reviewed/placed yet). Are there any other members out there who love this film?

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post #21624 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 11:46 AM
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I've heard good things about it but never actually seen it. I might have to give it a closer look sometime after your recommendation.

Operation Petticoat

recommendation: Tier 4.0*

Olive Films licensed this comedy starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis from Paramount. On the whole its picture quality is better than a Tier 4 ranking, but many will be turned off by the frequent print damage evident on the unrestored film print. The actual color saturation and contrast are fairly nice, providing suitable detail and clarity. This is definitely an unfiltered 2K film transfer with substantial benefits over any DVD version.

It would have been nice if a little manual scratch removal had been applied to the film transfer. Olive Films gives it an adequate AVC video encode that preserves the inherent grain structure and fine detail. While I am not sure I would pay full price for this Blu-ray, it certainly provides a decent Hi-Def experience for the 1959 comedy.
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post #21625 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 12:10 PM
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Total Recall (1990) (Mind Bending Edition)

Thoroughly mediocre from start to finish. Detail is strong but black levels are flat and fluctuate throughout the feature. Grain is present but not highly resolved. An upgrade from DVD for the resolution bump, but not much more. No demo potential.

Pretty much the definition of...

Tier Recommendation: 3.0

Calm the muddy water, it becomes clear.

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post #21626 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 12:15 PM
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The Terminator (From Terminator Anthology Box set)

Not a great encode, but not nearly as bad as some have made it out to be. Detail is middling. Black levels are strong and stable. Whites are a bit blown out. The picture evinces some digital noise and macroblocking. But overall, I like this better than T2 Skynet (A DNR'ed mess) because, despite its flaws, it doesn't try to compensate with any picture destroying computer trickery. This disc certainly does things a DVD can't. Perhaps I went in with low expectations and had them surpassed, here.

Tier Recommendation: 3.5

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post #21627 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 12:18 PM
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Terminator 2: Skynet Edition

DNR has wiped away all fine detail, leaving us with a clean, shiny, but ultimately dull Blu-Ray. Black levels stay pretty strong, whites are blown out. Given how much money they've made on this, and how many times they've dipped, this release is a slap in the face. Also, as an aside, I'd like to travel back in time and assassinate whoever designed this menu system.

Tier Recommendation: 3.75

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post #21628 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 01:51 PM
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The Wolf of Wall Street

As other have indicated, flesh tones are hot. Otherwise, basically flawless. Scorsese has struck again with a combo of the Arri Alexa and Kodak Vision film stock. Fine detail is splendid, with pores, cloth textures, and so on easily in evidence. Black levels are stout and shadow detail is exceptional. The red push puts it near the bottom of Zero IMHO.

Tier Recommendation: 0 (Between Gatsby and Hobbit EE)

Calm the muddy water, it becomes clear.

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post #21629 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post
I've heard good things about it but never actually seen it. I might have to give it a closer look sometime after your recommendation.
I had called The Man from Snowy River an Australian "Western" but technically it's a "Cowboy" flick with one of the most amazing scenes ever with the lead actor riding a horse down a mountain. Again, this was one of our favorites and I can't imagine anyone not liking it. It has a sequel called Return to Snowy River but so far it's not out on Blu.

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post #21630 of 21738 Old 07-09-2014, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mweflen View Post
Terminator 2: Skynet Edition

DNR has wiped away all fine detail, leaving us with a clean, shiny, but ultimately dull Blu-Ray. Black levels stay pretty strong, whites are blown out. Given how much money they've made on this, and how many times they've dipped, this release is a slap in the face. Also, as an aside, I'd like to travel back in time and assassinate whoever designed this menu system.

Tier Recommendation: 3.75
It probably cost a lot of money as well.
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