Regan Blu-ray Review
Regan comes to UK Blu-ray courtesy of distributor Network with a 1080p resolution, encoded using the
AVCcodec and framed within its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The disc is Region Free.
Shot on 16mm with minimal effort put towards lighting or smooth camerawork, Regan was never going to be a visual marvel even on Blu-ray. That being said, the blurb purports this to be remastered and restored, and the results do appear to make some difference.
The opening night shots show good contrast, with the blackness blending into the borders of the frame well. The first close-up, picking out a face against the night sky, lighting it in a bright beam, shows the improvement in detail over the
DVD, the pores, pockmarks and wrinkled brow, as well as the separation of hairs, all prove a step-up. It’s not the grandest of improvements, but it’s noticeable.
The colour palette wavers a bit, not aided by the seventies fashion (whoever put Thaw in a poncy lurid multicolour neckerchief should be shot) and décor, but they allow for a suitable testing ground of colour stability. Which other era would provide us with orange walls and purple doors? It survives the gamut of gaudiness quite well, but again perhaps only comparatively so, it improves upon the
DVD, but the shift from pallid skin tones (in the admittedly cold winter clime) and washed out to shocking colour never sits as well as one might hope, arguably the fault lies as much with the approach of film making as anything else, and there is the very real possibility that this acquired palette will not improve with any further renditions. At least colour bleed doesn’t become an issue.
Delineation is as you’d expect of 16mm, pretty soft in the middle ground with some nice tighter close-ups displaying the increased resolution, but also they jar against some interior shots in dim light that are not soft but positively blurred around the outlines of figures moving through the shot. Speaking of which, it is a frame that lacks depth, only sporadically hinting at a dimensionality proponents of the format crave from remasterings.
If it sounds harsh, bear in mind the style of film-making, film stock used and previous versions released. This will no doubt please many fans, but the improvement is not as night-and-day as many would’ve (and perhaps should not have) hoped for.
Two audio tracks to choose from – Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM 2.0 mono.
Given the original recording was mono, you’d assume that to be the better option, but delve into the disc, repeat a few key scenes, and all is not as one might expect. The DD offering has a slightly mellow vibe to it, with little in the way of directionality to indicate a need for the extra channels. The sounds are split, with the surrounds often piping in little more than the background equivalent of white noise form the general London area – nothing distinct or discreet really slips through. Choose to pick out a sound effect and play the same moment switching between tracks and the lower bitrate seems to raise its head. So, case solved then, go for the lossless original track? Well, no.
Bizarrely the LPCM track suffers when it comes to speech, it can be tighter in terms of effects, but dialogue is often hollower, bordering on the tinny, with a distinct, dare I say it mechanical nature to it. The DD track softens this, giving dialogue a more mellifluous composure. Music also has more vigour in 5.1, the twitching of what we assume to be a dead man’s arm has a snap in the lossy option that is bafflingly missing in LPCM. Thoughts that this may simply be a general volume disparity between the two tracks is dispelled by a crank of the volume. It solves little, if anything.
The Dolby Digital offering won’t set the world alight, it plays it safe with no significant surround sound use, an LFE channel that may as well be turned off and a smoothed out nature, but it keeps speech feeling organic and warm, the music levels punchy and has a good degree of cohesion across the front soundstage.
Dennis Waterman (DS Carter), producer Ted Childs and director Tom Clegg join for a chat about the film. Interesting in parts, but there are a few too many “who did this?” and “who’s that?” as well as mentioning of half names that’ll mean little to the viewer. At times it’s like listening to what it is, three men of a certain age trying to remember something.
Music Only Track
An LPCM 2.0 track of only the music, obviously falls to silence, but great to switch on when you know the best tunes are about to kick in and you want an unadulterated listening experience.
Regan is a wonderful time-capsule of a film, a window into a world that no longer exists, but the key inhabitants, the police we follow, still arguably struggle with the same issues to this day. John Thaw plays the gruff politically incorrect wayward copper who refuses to play by the rules to a tee, looking every inch a man both beaten down by life and invigorated by the challenges he faces. Even he though must take second stage to the setting itself, a London full of characters, brimming with working class atmosphere in an era before yuppies and gastro pubs. You can almost smell it. Now just don’t mention the remake.
The Region Free disc is a bit hit-and-miss, with some targets being easier to predict than others. The 16mm film stock was never going to offer the greatest upgrade, but the lossless mono track could have been a belter, yet it falls beneath the Dolby Digital offering in almost all areas. Extras are miserly, only a commentary track that dawdles and a music only track for those wanting their tunes unsullied by sound effects.
Hard hitting, darkly amusing and bursting with authenticity, Regan on Blu-ray remains only a partial success due to some rough edges and material that was always likely to fail to show the upgrade to a high storage medium in a comprehensive manner.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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