PictureThe anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 image is pleasant enough. Black levels are good but I did observe a couple of instances of compression, fine detail is merely average, as is shadow detail delineation. There is, on occasion edge enhancement present (isn't there always) although grain is all but absent.
The colour palette is natural (but not vivid), the contrast between whites of the snow and the greens of the hillside trees is instantly pleasing, but I did feel on several occasions that the image appeared quite frail. Overall this transfer is smooth and filmy in appearance rather than being a razor sharp, uber-fine detail, definition lovers dream.
I have not seen the R1 release of this, so can offer no personal reflection on comparisons. But, that which I have read regarding the R1 transfer (all of which point to it being of reference quality) would perhaps "indicate" that this R3 release is not nearly the match of it.
SoundHere we have both a (384kbs) Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a (768kbs) DTS 5.1 alternative. Both are English, and not only are the Chinese subtitles not burned in but neither are they the default option.
This soundtrack is not "event" ridden. Certainly there are moments with great dynamics with the LFE and surround channels engaged. For the most part however it majors on dialogue, subtle ambience and a brooding, uncomplicated score. Dialogue is well integrated, clean and easily discernible. Clearly, whilst understated for the most part, on closer auditioning this is showcase of subtlety, ambience and design that could easily be dismissed as a secondary player.
Comparing the two sound options, I arrived, with monotonous predictability, at the conclusion I preferred the DTS track. There is nothing missing with the Dolby option in regard to actual detail, nor are there vast differences in steering (what there is of it) or ambient presence on the effect's channels. Simply, the Dolby track was smoother and more restrained sounding, particularly noticeable with string interludes.
The DTS variant was to my ears a more open sounding affair due to slightly more presence of the higher frequencies. When the LFE channel was required to play a part, the DTS track was considerably more dynamic and generally louder, although never overpowering the soundstage, remaining tight and controlled. The Dolby option was neither flabby nor uncontrolled, simply over-understated and not giving any real sense of depth to the mix by comparison, this was most evident with the floating lumber scene.
ExtrasThis won't take long! Biographies of the Director and 3 cast members, and.... theatrical trailers for both this film and Gosford Park, the latter being of such low rent, quality wise as to be a "shock" to both my system AND my system. Quite how they managed to cram this all on a single disc is no doubt, a miracle of the bit-rate encoding/available disc space ratio - Bah Humbug!
VerdictThis is a good film, probably better than I give it credit for if you have not seen the original. Al "safe money" Pacino carries the decent script along superbly, and the choice of Robin Williams as the murderer, is not the misguided judgement call you could easily think it might be. I would certainly recommend this film to most.
Whether you would pick this R3 version (with it's inclusion of a lower bit-rate DTS track allied to an average image quality, and "extra's" that are an insult to the term) over the R1 edition (with it's reportedly superb image quality and better, but hardly exhaustive selection of extra's and no DTS track) is one for yourselves.
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