Hairspray Blu-ray Review
PictureComing by way of a super wide 2.35:1 picture that has been coded at 1080P using the VC-1 codec, Hairspray looks timeless to me.
1962 Baltimore seems to be a dreary place to live. The streets seem drab and plain and it always seems to have just been raining. The disc does a fine job of oozing detail onto the screen. Wet roads shine without a hint of video noise or macroblocking. Video noise is absent throughout but there was the slightest amount of grain on some close up shots.
Skin tones look fabulous, helped by the tons of make up that seemed to be the order of the day. Clothes weren't particularly colourful back then - but the deep reds that Seaweed seems to favour are solid with no bleed at all. Tracy seems to like wearing skirts that have an obscure tarten pattern on them - every line is visible - even from distance.
Dark scenes hold up very well to. Shadow detail is visible throughout and blacks are solid and ink like.
All in all, a fine first Hi Def effort from New Line that only bodes well for future releases. And remember, New Line hold the key to the HD releases of The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy...
SoundFirst the bad news. New Line appear to have gone the way of Fox in using DTS-HD Master Audio as their sound format of choice. Now, while I have nothing against DTS, seriously, how many people can actually hear it in it's raw format at this time? Not many. Particularly as New Line have gone the 7.1 route rather than the 5.1 path. My Japanese Playstation 3 downmixed the soundtrack to 1.5 Mbps DTS and these are my findings...
The good news is that the downmixed DTS track sounds mighty fine indeed. As you may have gathered, Hairspray contains a lot of music...the majority of the music is confined to the front soundstage, which is where it should be. The separation is spot on and you can pinpoint certain instruments to individual speakers. Vocals are loud and clear and are not anchored to the centre channel, but are distributed throughout the front soundstage in a manner so as not to distract from the film..
The surround channels are used sparingly for the odd ambient effect and the use of the .1 LFE channel is also limited.
Overall, the soundtrack for Hairspray sounds natural and wide open. I'm looking forward to the promised update from Sony that will enable me, and millions of other PS3 owners to hear these soundtracks in all their lossless glory
ExtrasA film like Hairspray has a long history and there must be loads of material lyeing around that the studio can use to beef up the Blu-ray. Only thing is, will they?
The good news is, they have. And to top it all, they have produced tons of material of their own as well...take a deep breath and take in the extras of the Hairspray 2 disc Special Blu-ray edition...
Starting with the first disc, we have all the movie related extras - kicking off with:
5 deleted or alternate scenes. these include a couple of songs not seen in the film and can be viewed with or without a commentary by the director.
Hairspray Extensions - includes a selection of six extended scenes.
Step By Step - The Dances Of Hairspray. Step aside Anton - Brian's coming! Learn the steps of two of the dances from the movie. Dazzle your friends on Hairspray night by not only singing the words, but dance the moves to Ladies Choice or Peyton Place After Midnight.
Two Feature Commentaries. the first one features the director and choreographer David Shankman and Nikki Blonsky, who plays Tracy. The second features two of the producers. Both of the commentaries are camper than Pontins in 1962 but very informative...particularly the bits about John Travolta.
Jump To a Song does exactly what it says on the tin - enables you to jump directly to any one of the 21 tunes in the movie. You can also add subtitles for that Hairspray night you are now planning...
Behind The Beat is the jewell in the crown of the extras on the first disc. It's a Picture in Picture commentary featuring all four people from the audio commentaries - and it works! So good is this commentary, I would rate it up there as probably the best extra feature I have seen on any disc format.
Told you they were extensive - now it's time to move on to the actual extras disc...disc two features the documentary's and features about the film. New Line have gone to town here as well because every minute of every feature is presented in glorious 1080P VC-1 High definition. Spoilt or what!?
The Roots Of Hairspray (39.37) is a three part documentary charting the journey of John Walters original idea. The man himself takes us through how he had the original idea and it's here we meet some of the stars of the Buddy Deane Show, the actual show that Corny Collins was based on.
John then tells us how his idea hit the big screen and then Broadway. Genuine movie fans will love this.
You Can't Stop The Beat (78.00) is a documentary about the making of this new version of Hairspray. It's a great watch and only adds to the information contained in the two commentaries and the PiP feature.
The Theatrical Trailer is the final squirt from the can and is presented in DTS Master audio 5.1.
You can open your eyes now - I've stopped spraying. New Line have a reputation for producing fantastic discs on SD DVD that are usually packed with extra material - The Lord of The Rings Trilogy springs to mind. Well it seems that the company have now set the benchmark for Blu-ray as well. A fantastic offering and all worth watching - no hesitation in giving 10/10 for this set of extras.
VerdictLadies and Gentlemen, nearly two years after it's launch, Blu-ray has arrived. What we have here is very nearly the perfect Hi Def package. We have a brilliant film. If you don't like musicals, then there's no need to steer clear of this. It's a toe tapping, high haired corker of a film. The two hours fly by all to quickly. But that doesn't matter.
New Line have packed probably the most comprehensive set of extras seen on a Blu-ray disc thus far. I'm only hoping the sensational PiP feature works on your player as it's a treat. They only add to the movie experience and in effect, extend the movie beyond it's 117 minutes.
The picture quality, while not quite reference material, is still up there with the likes of the Spider-Man discs. It brings the 1960's to your viewing room.
Though the absence of a LPCM lossless track may peeve some people, for me, it will be an excuse to watch the movie again when Sony finally release the update for the PS3 to enable DTS-HD MA. The downmixed track will suffice until then and certainly kept my toes tapping...
This disc can only bode well for what New Line have locked away in their vault - bring on Frodo and co...
This disc comes recommended by me without caveat. Women will love it. Men will pretend to hate it. Get those parties going now and click buy!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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