Just took a look at GLADIATOR. Starting from the beginning, my reaction was something like this:
DreamWorks and Universal logos - "Okay, this isn't too bad. I would expect more grain but things look okay."
Gladiator logo and opening text crawl - "Ugh, that's some pretty nasty banding in the fog. Oh, and how amusing that, despite the DVNR machine having erased a bunch of arrows and fireballs, it's missed all the grit and dirt that's visible at the moment."
Shot of Russell Crowe's hand in the wheat - "Hmm, it looks okay. Practically no grain, though."
Close-up of our friend Russell - "He looks baked."
Close-up of the bird - "Why is there a forcefield round that twig?"
Wide shot of soldiers marching and "Germania" location type - "This looks OH MY GOD THIS LOOKS AWFUL! WHAT DID THEY DO???"
This is one wildly inconsistent transfer. A few shots look just about passable and, in some of the tight close-ups, you can almost kid yourself that you're looking at a decent transfer. Other shots look mediocre. A large number, however, look downright awful, particularly wide shots, where the forcefields around the characters, spears etc. are just shocking. I actually think this is the worst edge enhancement I've ever seen in an HD transfer, outside of upconverts like TRAFFIC and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK. I'm genuinely shocked that this got through quality control. Is it the worst BD ever released? No, of course not, not by anyone's standards. It is, however, probably the worst BD I've ever seen of a film of this standing. I genuinely, truly don't understand why no-one said "Wait a minute - this is our 'A' title - it CAN'T go out looking like this."
The extended scenes - much, much better. BRAVEHEART puts them in the shade, admittedly, but then BRAVEHEART puts just about every other catalogue title I've seen outside of HOW THE WEST WAS WON in the shade. Had the whole film looked like these scenes, I suspect we would have been elated. Whenever an extended scene comes on, the rampant edge enhancement disappears completely, the grain becomes entirely natural, the facial textures suddenly look like real life, and detail goes up across the board. This is a night and day difference in my opinion, and ironically the presence of the extended scenes, looking so good, simply drags your perception of the transfer as a whole down, because it highlights just how poor the rest of the film looks.
An improvement on the DVD? In some ways yes, in other no. Certainly, you do get a bit more detail on the BD (although not much), but on the other hand, the DVD didn't suffer from anything like this level of rampant edge enhancement. I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone buys this release, particularly if they already have the DVD.
PS. Something that I don't believe anyone else has noticed is that, presumably believing it would give the picture more "pop", someone has cranked up the colour, giving everything an oversaturated look.