Black Book Blu-ray Review
PictureSomeday, every HD transfer will be made this way. Every aspect of this just screams quality at you - and if you have a partner who is not sure about the benefits of HD then you should get them to view this.
Like every good HD transfer - it is the sheer level of detail that initially jumps out at you. The set design and locations used in this film are beautifully shot and the HD transfer really enhances them - showing them off at their very best. Whether it be the faces of the characters, or the detail in the building you almost feel you can reach out and touch them.
Colours are also vibrant and deep - with black levels looking superb and colours never looking unnatural. There is no noise in the image at all, and a lack of grain. The film looks incredibly natural - exactly as I would imagine it would look in the cinema. It has that filmic look that you wish more discs would have. It never looks unnatural or over-processed.
This transfer is reference quality and is easy up there with the best I have seen. Stunning.
SoundThe sound is not quite up to the standard of the picture - but it runs it very close indeed. The sound mix makes full use of all the channels to create an immersive and vibrant experience.
The sound mix is one of contrast - bombastic loud action scenes contrasting with quiet dialogue driven interior scenes. The mix deals well with both, and what is pleasing is that even in the quieter scenes the rears are used well to convey a sense of atmosphere and immersion.
The sub gets used well in the action scenes and is capable of being driven to shake the room.
The particularly pleasing aspect of the sound mix is that it never sounds forced. In some films, action scenes are processed at a much higher volume than other scenes, but in this the balance throughout the movie is pretty near perfect.
It should be noted that for the purposes of this review I listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. There is also a PCM mix. The film is presented in its original Dutch, with English subtitles.
ExtrasThe extras for the US release are completely different to the English release. The US release gets a disappointing director's commentary which considering Verhoeven has been writing this film for 15 years is a little short on detail - instead presenting the director as a rather arrogant person.
There is also a 25 minute Making of documentary which is more welcome as the insufferable Verhoeven is less present - and the stars get to talk a little more about what the project means to them.
The UK release loses the commentary but gains a booklet, a 13 minute chat with the director, and a 20 minute chat with Van Houten.
VerdictIt is a shame that the extras let this disc down, as apart from these we have a stunning effort from Sony. The film is an interesting entry into the canon of Verhoeven's work, and is certainly worth a watch despite its flaws.
The picture and sound is quite simply up there amongst the best HD has to offer, so that lifts this into the recommended category. It may not have a massive amount of rewatch value but any fan of Verhoeven will find this an interesting progression on from his Hollywood films. A recommended disc.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.16
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