Comments intended for the Picture Quality Tiers, but I thought it might be of some interest in this thread.Blade
recommendation: Tier 2.25*
BD was released around two weeks ago courtesy of Warner Bros., finally releasing the 1998 New Line movie on the format after it had been put out in other countries by different distributors. Running 120 minutes on a BD-50, the AVC video encode averages 29.88 Mbps. The picture quality is fairly strong for a catalog title but does have one troubling flaw that discerning viewers might find objectionable.
The compression has been handled in a satisfactory manner that goes well beyond the typical Warner effort. Outside of possibly one scene near the finale where dust and smoke completely fills the screen as Blade battles a horde of vampires, the picture is totally absent of compression noise or artifacting. More importantly, the generous bitrate budget preserves the excellent amount of micro-detail visible in most scenes beyond the scope of older AVC encodes from Warner.
Outside of a few soft and dated CGI moments, the image is very sharp with excellent depth and focus. The pleasing dimensionality provides ample pop to the set action pieces. Unlike many other recent catalog releases on Blu-ray, the contrast has not been pumped up and the color timing has not been manipulated towards magenta. That leaves the flesh-tones with a normal appearance and the color palette fairly neutral.
Black levels are very strong with substantial shadow detail, outside of one scene where Deacon Frost first meets with the vampire elders. That particular scene does not look like the rest of the movie and almost looks like it wasn't from the same camera negative or film source. Which is odd as the transfer clearly has been taken from the camera negative. The BD shows zero print or film debris, and overall has an amazing level of clarity for a 1998 production.
Most of the film has outstanding high-frequency content, showing off a plethora of facial information in close-ups and even long shots. Digital noise reduction has been sparingly applied if used at all and likely in select moments only, leaving the film looking very good with a decent sense of cinematic texture. The grain does look a little strange in a few early scenes but my concerns were allayed as the movie developed.
What does bother me and will likely bother viewers on the largest screens over 55”, are the all-too-frequent signs of ringing and sharpening throughout the movie. The halos are noticeable and will be spotted by viewers aware of their appearance. Blade's car glows with them and they show up in other places on a regular basis. It's not a dealbreaker for a transfer that generally looks great in most other aspects, but it's clearly not perfect or desirable. The problem was serious enough for me to drop my final ranking some ways down the Tiers List.Blade
does enough to satisfy most requirements of Tier One, but unfortunately the ringing is bad enough to place it in Tier Two at the very least. The BD is still a must-buy for interested fans and looks much better than the available alternatives.
Watching on a 60” Pioneer KURO plasma played from a Sony PS3 (firmware 4.21), at a viewing distance of six feet.
BDInfo scan (courtesy of Patsfan123):http://www.avsforum.com/t/1155731/new-unofficial-blu-ray-audio-and-video-specifications-thread/4350#post_22186280
Comparison against the Netherlands BD:http://caps-a-holic.com/hd_vergleiche/comparison.php?cID=1126#auswahl