The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 1978
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 110 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.20:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conaway, Stockard Channing, Didi Conn, Kelly Ward, Jamie Donnelly, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar
Directed by: Randal Kleiser
Music by: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Written by: Bronte Woodard
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 5, 2009
"Grease is the word"
John Travolta solidified his position as the most versatile and magnetic screen presence of the decade in this film version of the smash hit play Grease. Recording star Olivia Newton-John made her American film debut as Sandy, Travolta's naive love interest. The impressive supporting cast reads like a "who's who" in this quintessential musical about the fabulous '50s. Grease is not just a nostalgic look at a simpler decade--it's an energetic and exciting musical homage to the age of rock 'n' roll!
Grease is the word! I knew John Travolta from watching Welcome back Kotter and seeing him in a movie called The boy in the plastic bubble. I became a big fan after seeing Saturday night fever (review forthcoming). When Grease came out I was first in line at the theater. My initial reaction was tepid at best as I was expecting something more in line with what I had seen in SNF. Hey I was 14 years old and the disco craze was in full bloom. The 1950's setting, the corny dialogue, and softened romance left me disappointed. What I did like about it was the musical set pieces which showcased the excellent dance routines and choreography. When I really came to appreciate this film is when I was a bit older and it came to cable TV. Grease is a truly fun musical film that features a wonderful ensemble cast, great music, and the dancing prowess of John Travolta. I am not so sure about his singing but with Olivia Newton-John co-starring who cares? She has a beautiful voice and together they lit up the screen with their onscreen chemistry and strong song and dance numbers. Grease is the all time highest grossing musical film which provides some idea of how popular it is. The theme song by Frankie Valley is still catchy after all these years. The cameos among the cast add a sprinkling of comedic seasoning to the already strong mix of young talent featured in the film. Seeing Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Alice Ghostly, and Joan Blondell again was a treat. Patricia Birch did a fantastic job with the film's choreography and the soundtrack is one of the best. Regardless of what year its set in this film has a timeless feel. I haven't seen it in a long time and had forgotten how good it is. It is filled with colorful characters, great music and has a light comedic/romantic premise that makes it special. I am sure that Grease has a place in the hearts of many. I couldn't help but have feelings of nostalgia as I watched it. I have been a John Travolta fan for years and seeing him here brought me back. I am glad to see Paramount reaching into their catalog and releasing films like this on Blu-ray. It gives fans the opportunity to re-visit and enjoy them all over again.
The rating is for thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Grease comes to Blu-ray from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps.
I would like to start off by saying that I have never owned Grease on home video (I know!). In looking at this disc my initial impression was one of deep concern. The image appeared unstable with resolution that transitioned from very good to poor. By that I mean that in one shot I saw good quality delineation, sharpness and definitive depth. In the next, backgrounds were fuzzy, the lower and upper portions of the frame were blurry/out of focus and depth was gone. Examples of this can be seen in chapter 5 (25:24 mark) when the girls are sitting in the bedroom. Sandy's feet are in the lower portion of the frame. Her face and mid section are in focus and reasonably sharp but her feet as well as everything else in the lower portion of the frame are blurry. The effect is not subtle. Another is in Chapter 7 at the beginning of the Greased lightning musical number. When it begins the guys are in the body shop at school. The entire shot is flat and practically devoid of fine detail with portions of it appearing softer than others. When the number gets going it switches to a white room/body shop as they continue. Here the image looks noticeably sharper with appreciable texture, improved dimension and clearer backgrounds. As it progresses it reverts back to the aforementioned poorer perspective. This is noticeable in more scenes, such as the Hopelessly devoted to you song number. The mid level shots of Sandy lack detail and her robe basically looks soft and has no discernible texture. Since I haven't seen this film on DVD I called a colleague (Dave Vaughn) to see if he was familiar with it and has seen the Blu-ray Disc. He had not seen it but had it on hand. He saw the same things I was seeing and had the DVD on hand for comparison. It appears that this is innate to the source because the DVD has similar traits.
Having said that I will move on to the other aspects of the presentation. When the image looked good it presented very well. The beach scene which takes place right before the opening credits (after the initial beach sequence) where Danny and Sandy talk looked great. Details within the image were clearly defined with lucid texture and punchy colors. Wide angle shots of the town streets outside of the diner exhibited plenty of object detail in the buildings, streets, and vehicles in both the foreground and background. Colors had lots of pop with deep reds and warm vivid hues that looked great on my large screen. Complexions were on the rosy side but had lifelike texture and fair tonal description. Blacks were stable with excellent dynamic range and depth. The dark night sky had a near infinite sense of depth during the football rally scene. It was enhanced by the deep red and bright white of the football uniforms and the contrast rich light of the barn fire as it burned against it. Grain was present but appeared diminished when compared to the theatrical trailer for Grease that is included on this disc. I saw a distinct difference in the amount of grain there when compared to this. I can't say with absolute certainty that there has been no noise reduction, print clean up or artificial enhancement applied but it is possible considering inconsistent nature of this source. The higher resolution of high definition definitely makes the limitations of the source more prominent. From what I gather this is far and away the best that Grease has ever looked on home video. Those who are accustomed to looking at the DVD will surely find this presentation to be a breath of fresh air.
The Dolby TrueHD multi-channel audio renders the recorded elements of this soundtrack perfectly. The music numbers sound terrific as the front three channels deliver the vocals and instrumentation while the surrounds add a light splash of vocal ambience/reverb that gives the music a bit more presence. Dialogue is always intelligible and prominent through the center channel. Sounds across the left, center and right speakers are clearly distinct with good dimensional spacing that adds depth the musical set pieces. There isn't much deep bass however low frequency detail does support some of the music and occasionally the flame bursts from the hot rod car engines. I thought that the mix was done appropriately. It won't fill your room with sound but conveys this energetic and fun soundtrack just fine.
- Commentary by Director Randal Kleiser and Choreographer Patricia Birch
- Introduction by Director Randal Kleiser
- Rydell Sing along - Takes you directly to each of the 11 song numbers featured in the film
- The time, the place , the motion: Remembering Grease - 22 minute featurette
- 11 Deleted/extended/alternate scenes with director introduction
- Grease on DVD launch party - 15 minutes -coverage of the 2002 launch party
- Grease memories from John & Olivia - 3 minutes - interviews at the 2002 DVD launch party
- The moves behind the music - 8 minute choreography featurette
- Thunder Roadsters - 5 minute featurette
- John Travolta & Allan Carr - Grease day interview - 2 minutes at the film's premiere
- Olivia Newton-John & Robert Stigwood - Grease day interview - 2 minutes the film's premiere
- Photo galleries
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
Grease is a timeless, entertaining, and classic musical that was successfully brought to the big screen in 1978. It's wonderful cast, colorful characters, and blend of great music and dance numbers has made it a fan favorite. I haven't seen it in years but watching it during this review brought back all lyrics, quips and fun that make it special. Paramount has brought it to Blu-ray Disc in the Rockin' Rydell Edition which includes all of the bonus features from the 2006 DVD release. The video presentation is good in that it appears to be faithful to the source. I have no frame of reference regarding how it looked during its theatrical run. Personally I found the inconsistent nature of the photography to be distracting. Those who already own it on DVD will more than likely be very pleased with the improvement this Blu-ray Disc offers. If you have never seen this excellent musical I can't think of a better way to experience at home.
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