PictureThe Blu-ray disc of Eraser is presented in it's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and coded at 1080P using the VC-1 codec. It's distributed by the studio on a single layer BD-25 disc - and contrary to all rumours, it IS a significant step up in quality from the ten year old SD DVD version - though it's not of the quality that some of the recent blockbusters can boast about...
The most significant thing that I noticed is that the studio has sourced new source material for this Blu-ray pressing. In direct comparison to the SD version, all of the marks, tears and dirt that plagued that disc (and the laserdisc) have all but disappeared. This does indeed look like a new print...
The good news continues when we take a look at the detail offered onscreen - there's tons of it. Dark scenes (of which there are many) are very cleverly lit. This enables the tiniest detail to be seen in the darkest of corners on the darkest of nights.
Colours are bright and solid and flesh tones are natural. There's a certain amount of grain visible at times, but this has never bothered me as it gives the picture a more filmic look. Also absent are evidence of edge enhancement and digital artefacts.
The picture quality is by no means demo quality - but it's a lot better than we had before and adds to the enjoyment.
SoundIn the old days, we used to have to have a de-modulator in between or laserdisc player and amp to be able to decode the cinematic Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Some of us were lucky to have an amp with one built it...but this quickly became redundant with the introduction of DVD. Blu-ray goes one better of course - bringing us lossless sound that is supposed to be as close to the cinema master as possible.
Warner have brought one of their original DVD releases to the sparkling new format with an English Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that is another upgrade on it's SD sibling.
I remember first hearing this film on DVD through my old Yamaha Dolby Digital amp and thinking that I had better buy a new detached house to accommodate it. And I'm glad to say that listening to the lossless track on this disc has made me even more determined...one day.
Though in my opinion, the demands of home cinema enthusiasts have changed in the last ten years. Then it was all about the bass and surround effects. If a film didn't have something flying overhead every two minutes, it was deemed as rubbish and promptly sold on the forums...these days, whilst we still love our bass and what's going on behind us, it's the subtle things that matter now. Dialogue has become more important - and on this disc, it's crisp and clear and cemented firmly to the centre channel. The surround effects are still there - in abundance. As Arnie destroys something else, pieces of that destroyed object (or person) fly off to rear right or rear left. Steerage is spot on in pan effects also. As the building explodes in the first scene, you'll be wanting to stamp on your carpet to put out the bits of debris that sound like they've landed right in front you...and then there's bass. Most of you will be glad to hear that it's still all there from all those years ago. However, it's a little more controlled and refined. What was once over the top and dominating is now more natural and doesn't suck all the air out of the room...
The good news is when comparing this soundtrack to it's SD brother is what was once good is now very good. Again, it's not really demo material - but there's enough going on to keep you interested, your neighbours annoyed and your mates impressed...
ExtrasNone. Nada. Nil. Not even a trailer...
VerdictWhen you watch a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger you know you're going to get one of two things:
1. Something so terrible and cringe worthy that you think that the big man must have been so skint at the time he would have done anything for money.
2. Something that you'll never admit to loving but secretly you know one day you'll long to see that film again - a kind of guilty pleasure.
There doesn't seem to be any in-between with the big Austrian, However, I'm glad to say that in my opinion, Eraser falls into the second category of guilty pleasures. It helps that this film has some sentimental value for me as it was the first ever SD DVD that I purchased - but push that mushiness to one side, and there's everything in here that makes Arnie one of the biggest action heroes that Hollywood has ever produced.
As a Blu-ray package, it falls a hairs breadth short of demo quality in the sound and picture department - but what we do have is a definite improvement over what was available before.
The distinct lack of extra features seems to follow Warners trend at the moment of releasing carbon copies of the SD versions. It's not great but if we want improved versions of the films, I suppose we'll have to put up with it...
The bottom line is that it's about time you upgraded your ten year old DVD in it's snapper case that used to annoy everybody at the time. Highly recommended for double dippers and first time buyers alike.
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