So, last week I traded in a much unwanted copy of “Pearl Harbor” (unopened, on blu-ray), and picked up three more movies instead. By turning in the Michael Bay disaster, I in turn got The Omega Man, Men in Black, and The Terminator. I definitely got the better end of the deal. 😉
The Omega Man: The Charlton Heston version of the Richard Matheson book “I am Legend.” Supposedly, Heston read the book on a flight, and thought it would make a great movie, not knowing that Vincent Price had alrady done a version (The Last Man on Earth). The script diverges from the book (Plague victims vs vampires), but captures much of the essence, perhaps better than the book itself. It is terribly dated in a lot fo respects (especially technology), but I still find it the best of the three versions. This movie was standard Saturday afternoon fare in TV when I was growing up, I think I saw it at least three times on local TV. So I’m a bit sentimental about this one.
The Blu-Ray version is incredible for a movie from 1971. There are no errors or damage to be seen in the print, the picture is clear and crisp, and the sound is theater quality. The downside is that film errors (cars driving in the background, a man crossing a street in a supposedly deserted city), become even more obvious, and more easilly seen, especially on a large screen TV. But a lot of details, which got washed out on previous versions, such as cobwebs, are amazingly clear and add a wealth of depth to the settings.
The Terminator: As I said in a previous entry, some movies don’t benefit from being transferred to Blu-Ray. The Terminator may be one of them. I’m kind of torn on this one. One the one hand, the print of this 80’s SciFi classic is superb. A clean transfer was obviously made, from a high quality original print. The sound is better than I remember from the theater (age may be playing a role here), and the picture is shap and clear, better than the DVD release.
That said, some of the special effects do look a bit dated, and obvious. The scene with the animatronic Terminator head at the sink looks obviously to be a mechanical construct. The scenes with the Terminator skeleton also look more like a Harryhausen stop motion set than a cutting edge effect. Even so, the “flashback” scenes really shine through IMO. The robotic death machines of the future look amazing, as details really come out. The scene with the tank rolling over the skulls is amazing, and shows what details the model makers were able to get onto such small skulls.
I don’t know what extras were on the previous DVD releases, but the Blu-Ray edition has a few worth watching. The extended/cut scenes have a good one of an extended arc with Paul Winfield and Lance Henrikson. The behind the scenes stuff is also interesting, with stuff from Ah-nold, and James Cameron.
Men in Black: This Wil Smith and Tommy Lee Jones vehicle is a fun ride, in any format. This movie is new enough, and has enough CGI to really benefit from a transfer to Blu-Ray. The effects, notably the aliens, really benefit from the higher definition format. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details, and the details really are noticable on this one.
Every alien is sharp, and look great on a big screen. Sound is solid, and on a surround sound gets to shine through. Much like the 5th Element, MiB on blu-ray may be better than it was in the theaters.