The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 1974
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby TrueHD Mono, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Burt Young, John Hillerman, Perry Lopez, Diane Ladd
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Written by: Robert Towne
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 3, 2012
"Let sleeping dogs lie"
Screen legend Jack Nicholson breathes life into sharp-tongued private eye Jake Gittes in Roman Polanski's Chinatown. Gittes is hired by a stunning socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband, who she suspects of cheating. But what Gittes thinks is a routine case of adultery quickly deteriorates into a tangle of deceit, corruption and treachery.
Chinatown is a landmark movie in the film noir tradition. Jack Nicholson stars as slippery private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sun baked, pre-war Los Angeles. Hired by a mysterious socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband's extra-marital affair, Gittes soon finds himself swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits, uncovering a web of personal and political scandals that come crashing together for one, unforgettable night in...Chinatown. Roman Polanski's Chinatown stands as a true screen classic. It has a timeless appeal that captures a lost era via a masterfully woven murder mystery that twists, turns and compels as we follow Jake Gitties' unraveling investigation where he comes face to face with a City of Angels that has a dark side. Jack Nicholson is on top of his game and his superb performance is accentuated by the wonderful chemistry he shares with the sultry and credible Faye Dunaway. I haven't seen Chinatown in years. It's an engaging and fulfilling detective/mystery that is enhanced by complimentary production elements, apt direction and a sterling cast. The film easily withstands the test of time and is deservedly among the AFI's top 100.
The rating is for thematic material, sensuality, partial nudity, brief language and violence.
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:
Chinatown comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3 Mbps.
This is a solid looking high def catalog release that presents this 30 plus year old film in a positive light. It boasts clean, well depicted primary colors and a good mix of secondary hues that mate well with the source material. Resolution is discerning with varying degrees of delineation. Sharpness is primarily stable with lucid clarity which enhances depth. Black and white levels are spot on which imparts a fair amount of pop to colors and brighter exterior sequences while keeping darker or low lit segments looking noticeably punchy with quiet blacks with visibly gradational detail in shadowy backgrounds. Grain is moderately textured and other than a few minor instances appears undisturbed. This is a pleasing video presentation that appears faithful to the film's original elements.
This Dolby TrueHD multi-channel mix (there is also a lossless Mono option) does a commendable job presenting the film's soundtrack. The audio maintains a front oriented perspective with a fairly wide soundstage that exhibits good directional spacing and clearly articulated dialogue that reaches well into the room. There isn't much in the way of discrete surround sound or extended dynamics however there are a variety of instances where the entire soundstage is put to good use via Jerry Goldsmith's eclectic music score or the replication of open expanses, echoing gunshots the rush of running water. The auditory is surprising clean and free from strident highs or an edgy mid range. Based upon the theme of the film and the age of the recording I think this is a complimentary presentation that sounds quite good.
- Audio commentary by screenwriter Robert Towne with David Fincher
- (HD) Water & Power (3 segments totaling 77 minutes):
- The Aqueduct
- The aftermath
- The river and beyond
- Chinatown: An appreciation - 26 minute featurette
- Chinatown: The beginning & the end - 19 minute featurette
- Chinatown: Filming - 25 minute featurette
- Chinatown: The legacy - 9 minute featurette
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
Chinatown is justly heralded as an American Film classic. It's an engaging and fulfilling detective/mystery with a bygone era narrative that is enhanced by complimentary production elements, apt direction and a sterling cast. It's a thoroughly entertaining and intriguing landmark movie in the film noir tradition. Chinatown makes its debut Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring a great looking high definition video transfer, complimentary Dolby TrueHD multi-channel sound and a solid supplemental package that is well worth exploring. If you're a fan this Blu-ray release belongs in your collection.
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