I would actually like to order an edition of Almost Famous but I'm still not sure which one I should go for.
Ralph Potts' review and the highdefdigest review sound so contrary >>>
This is a solid looking high definition Blu-ray catalog release from Paramount. It boasts clean, well depicted colors that offer a good mix of secondary hues that appear natural. The soft hues and sepia tones that represent the period specific colors have realistic texture and spot on tonal balance. Facial complexions and skin tones are warm, with pinkish highlights that rarely appear unnatural. The level of detail present noteworthy which especially enhanced dimension during bright wide angle camera shots. There are minor fluctuations in apparent resolution that are more than likely related to the original photography and don't infringe upon fidelity. In most cases I had no trouble making out the thread patterns in clothing/furniture or the texture on surfaces in the 1.85:1 framed image. There are instances where the video takes on an edgy quality but I don't feel it was excessive or distracting. Black and white levels are stable which gives a fair level of pop to colors and brighter exterior sequences while keeping darker or low lit segments looking noticeably punchy with crisp blacks and visibly gradational detail in shadowy backgrounds. Grain is well preserved, even layered and unobtrusive while providing a noticeable texture that is film like and ultimately rewarding. The print is in decent shape and artifacts are kept to a minimum.
I didn't give high marks to the UK release (and my scores for the Japanese version would have been the same, even if there are a few tiny differences) of 'Almost Famous,' so what does one do when the American release is inferior in visual quality? Knock it down a point or two! Paramount's release of the Bootleg Cut of the film is a slight disappointment compared to the other releases, with an AVC MPEG-4 encode that screams, "Hey, I've been tampered with!"
The problems with this release of the film are a bit of a laundry list. Skin tones are more extreme than before, as what was once a somewhat mellow standard has become an extreme, too red or too pale, more often than not. There's some slight edge work visible, as well as minor noise, questionable shadow details, random white and black blips that are scattered throughout the film (and while frequent, are hardly prevalent), some light aliasing, and most troubling, a bit of the ol' DNR. Backgrounds can be unusually static, faces can be waxy and overly smooth sometimes, and there are even a few shots of Penny Lane's hair that have been messed with, as the once buoyant, wild hair becomes a flat wash out of nowhere, between shots that are normal. If the previous releases had some minor hints and allegations of criminal alteration, this release has police-outlined corpses and evidence markers.
The picture that was once consistent, good or bad, is now inconsistent and somewhat unpredictable. Whites remain busy and blacks a bit soft and weak. I'm a bit bummed out.
...and here's the Blu-ray.com review >>>
Almost Famous almost looks good. Paramount's 1080p Blu-ray transfer is something of a disappointment, but it's still a step above any previously-released standard-definition presentation. The picture is plagued by a myriad of problems, none of which prove debilitating, but definitely amount to annoyances that together insert something negative into almost every frame to drag down the overall experience. Whether some blocky backgrounds, poor color gradations, slight edge halos, a subtle but nonetheless evident overly sharp look, grain that sometimes appears frozen in place, random white speckles, sloppy background noise, a generally flat appearance, or the occasional plastic-like texture, Almost Famous definitely won't be in the running for best catalogue transfer of 2011. It sports many of the same issues seen in another of Paramount's recent disappointing catalogue offerings, American Beauty, but this one lacks the "Sapphire Series" label to further complicate matters. Still, there's no doubting that Paramount's Blu-ray yields solid details and superior clarity and resolution as compared to other releases of Almost Famous. Colors are solid as well, as are blacks and flesh tones. In fact, the transfer's steady and accurate palette may be its best attribute. This is not a bad overall image by any stretch of the imagination, and fans will still want to splurge on the upgrade. Still, it probably should have been better than this, and a remaster somewhere down the road is necessary to give this wonderful film the release it deserves.