PictureThe transfer on this disc has also come in for a lot of criticism, and for the life of me I cannot see why. I have owned the original Criterian DVD, and the Box set version as well, and in my opinion this release is a vast improvement. It may not live up to the standard of your modern blockbuster - but it was a low budget feature made twenty years ago. This is, without a doubt, the best that Robocop has ever looked.
There has been some controversy over the aspect ratios of this film. I believe that it was originally presented in theatres at 1.85:1, but the official director approved version is 1.66:1. Unfortunately, it is the former version that we get here, encoded with MPEG 2 at 1080P. The difference in OAR is not, admittedly, great - but for the purists it is a shame.
The first thing to mention here is that the original print would not have been of the highest quality, and is unlikely to have been subject to the most careful handling over the years. This has been very obvious in the past, with both previous DVD releases I have seen being very grainy. Whilst I had read that there was some grain in this Blu ray transfer, I am very pleased to say that this release is a lot sharper and grain free than some modern movies that I have reviewed. The only grain that I could really see was very occasionally during some night scenes.
The level of detail is also massively ramped up here. The facial tones are natural and the amount of detail shown is superb. Look, for example, at the small scar on Allen's forehead. When Robocop takes off his helmet, his face has an absolutely wonderful stretched false look that the transfer brings out a lot better than the SD version.
This level of detail is also visible in the surroundings as well, with shop fronts and vehicles looking much more realistic than they ever did in the SD version.
Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, there are some defects in the source material - and this manifests itself with the occasional speck of dirt or blemish. But again, I stress that this is easily the best Robocop has ever looked, and to my mind it is worth the upgrade.
SoundThe picture may be a great improvement, but when I noticed that a DTS Lossless master Quality audio track was included I was salivating. And I was not disappointed.
This is a huge upgrade over the original sound mix. Every speaker is used to it's full to provide an immersive mix to completely surround you in the action. The soundtrack is always dynamic, whether in action scenes (with bullets whistling around the room), or in more quiet scenes like in the boardroom and washroom, where dialogue and chatter come from all around.
One slight disappointment is that the LFE channel is probably not utilised quite as much as it could have been. The mix just didn't shake my room as much as I would have hoped.
This is a minor gripe with what is otherwise an astounding transfer.
ExtrasThis is nothing short of a complete and utter disgrace. Robocop has recently been re-released on Standard Definition with a plethora of fascinating extras, and has also had several previous SD released with plenty of extras. I am sad to report, however, that here all we get is a Theatrical Trailer. That is it. Nothing more.
It is hard to believe that HD formats are going to get the push they need, when they release them as such bare-bones editions - alongside extras packed SD versions. Very disappointing.
VerdictThis is the definitive Robocop despite the Aspect Ratio. The picture and sound are easily the best that the film has ever looked, and likely to be the best that the film will look until we are having it holographically beamed onto our eyeballs.
However, the set is badly let down by the complete lack of extras. Personally, I will always go for the best transfer and sound mix over extras every time, as for me it is about the film. However, those who are prepared to take a dip in quality on the film in order to get the extras, will probably be advised to pick up the new SD release.
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