‘Soylent Green’ comes to Region free American Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Those with a pathological hatred of DNR will be relieved to hear that there is little, if any, evidence of its application here and the presence of a fine veil of grain throughout lends it a very filmic feel. Only on a very few interiors does the grain rise to a level that offends the eye. On exteriors where the green smog pollutes the air, film grain also becomes slightly more noticeable, but hey it was shot on 35mm film in the 70’s.
Skin tones are strong in the orangey brown Hollywood style while the shadow detail is good for a film of this vintage. The sweaty highlights on faces never burn out and you get the general idea that the characters are feeling the heat. Contrast is very good throughout and blacks are truly black.
A very good print has been used for the transfer, but I did notice the odd bit of dust and dirt – although it did not offend the eye. There was also no real evidence of ringing due to over sharpening. The movie looked good on both a 50 inch plasma and projected on a 7 foot screen. It could never be mentioned in the same breath as a fully restored classic or the most recent blockbuster in terms of sheer picture quality but it’s certainly good enough to warrant the label of High Definition.
The audio on ‘Soylent Green’ comes in a DTS-HD MA mono track which gives a fairly faithful rendering of the way the movie would have sounded on its cinema release. Albeit everything comes from the centre channel, the mix is good with clear dialogue that never becomes engulfed in the music or effects. This is really a tribute to the work of the movie’s Dubbing Mixer – and you’d certainly be surprised if a film from a big Hollywood Studio like MGM was released with anything less than a first class mix. It would appear to have had a bit of a digital clean up as there is no evidence of age related snap, crackle or pop at comfortable listening levels.
Audio Commentary - Director Richard Fleischer and actress Leigh Taylor-Young take us through their memories of the making of ‘Soylent Green’. Fleischer leads the way as he explains the story and tells us of his good working relationship with star Heston as well as his respect for Edward G. Robinson (who he reveals was almost stone deaf). It’s fascinating to discover it was the last movie shot on the MGM studio back lot before it was demolished to build a housing estate. Fleischer keeps it interesting although there are some gaps. Ms Taylor-Young, now an environmentalist, tells us of the important message in the movie as well as her memories of getting the female lead role in the film. Great for movie production buffs.
A Look at the World of ‘Soylent Green’ (HD, 10 mins) - It may well be HD, but it’s also a pretty ropey 16mm print of a period short film complete with dirt, scratches and dust along with hideous grain. The ideas behind ‘Soylent Green’ are investigated here along with ‘on set’ footage from the production of the movie. This is the kind of promo that would be played in the cinemas in the run up to the release of the movie. A bit of PR puff.
MGM’s Tribute to Edward G. Robinson’s 101st Film (HD, 5 mins) - Another scratchy film print takes us to the party hosted by Charlton Heston – who reads out a few telegrams sent to ‘Eddie’ including one from Frank Sinatra. Even George Burns shows up to congratulate his old pal. It’s also nice to see Edward G Robinson (still in Sol costume) make a short speech. Sad to think this was his last film.
Trailer (HD, 3 mins) - A nice example of 1970’s trailer editing.
‘Soylent Green’ is processed on to American Region free Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. A veil of grain reminds us of the movie’s 1973 filmic origins and skin tones look good in this largely darkly lit picture which also sports deep blacks and good contrast throughout. The DTS-HD MA mono audio faithfully reproduces the original soundtrack which is thankfully free of snap, crackle and pop. An interesting commentary from director Richard Fleischer and female lead Leigh Taylor-Young together with a couple of period promos and theatrical trailer make up the bonus materials on the disc.
The film itself is a chilling view of the future which serves to warn mankind on various environmental issues with a shocking revelation at the end. Good performances from Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson in his last film, Chuck Connors and Leigh Taylor-Young. Every serious Sci-fi buff needs to see it.
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