PicturePicture quality ranges from surprisingly clean and sharp, for forty-four year old movie, to extremely poor - take a look at the Horst Buchholz scene immediately after Chris and Vin escort Sam the Indian up to Boot Hill Cemetary (19 mins 03 secs). Here the image is very grainy makes everything appear soft and almost out of focus. The print suffers from a great deal of damage in this one scene, with scratches and dirt aplenty. By contrast, what immediately follows this dire image is a shot of Chris' room as the three Mexicans first ask for help. Despite the dark and gloomy setting all signs of video noise have vanished and we're left with a reasonably detailed and contrasty image - the print damage, whilst not as bad as the scene before, remains though. There's a fair amount of edge enhancement on display also.
A quick comparison with my region 2 UK release shows the Ultimate Edition to have the superior picture - I easily became immersed in the movie watching the Japanese release, but the poor quality of the UK Special Edition had me wanting to tinker with my settings... a sure sign that something's not quite right.
SoundAudio wise things are slightly less good. Listen carefully and you'll hear a little rear action at times, but you really will have to listen carefully - audio is pretty firmly riveted across the front soundstage. Differences between Dolby Digital and DTS encodings are noticeable, but neither will ever be used as reference material. As is often the case the DTS offering benefits from a more open, slightly less hemmed in sound... albeit at the expense of centre channel loudness. When all's said and done, I wouldn't be too fussed whichever version I listened to.
ExtrasI was quite disappointed with the supplemental features on offer here. As with the movie proper Japanese subtitles have been set as default, but here they are forced and you cannot turn them off. Disc one has an audio commentary featuring Executive Producer Walter Mirisch, Eli Wallach, James Coburn and Robert Relyea. I didn't enjoy this at all - it seemed to me that none of the commentators was even watching the movie as they discussed matters, and for the most part we are left with reminiscences from those concerned... which is OK, but it's all rather dry and uninvolving.
Disc two holds most of the supplemental features, but even here the only really interesting item for me was the forty five minute piece, Guns For Hire: The Making Of The Magnificent Seven. Despite the nice packaging and twenty six page photo booklet, the Ultimate Edition tag seems a little wasted here.
VerdictDespite reasonable image quality I can't help but feel The Magnificent Seven: Ultimate Edition is going to appeal to true DVD collectors only - the packaging is nice, but supplemental features, especially the audio commentary, are a bit of a let down.
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