Stargate Blu-ray Review
'Stargate' is presented in widescreen 2.25:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
I have to say that I was initially impressed at how well this movie looked and how much detail there was on show. While it has not been granted the painstaking remastering process which has gone into such classics as 'Terminator 2', it none the less looks very good indeed. There are some scenes which can appear a little soft and there was increased granularity in some portions but this was as a result of the filming process and so is not a flaw. However, some portions of the movie, such as those of the of the well lit alternate desert world, can look sublime. Facial close ups are also pin sharp and expose a lot of fine detail, such as the wrinkly old face of Catherine Langford. This leads me to believe that we have a brand new transfer here for this release but as I do not have the original BD release I cannot confirm (if you can, please post on this thread).
Colouration is perfect, with strong, deep primaries, such as the deep blue of the desert horizon. Well saturated colours shine through, such as the deep purple robe of Ra and the violet robes of his assistants. The overall palette is dark and moody, emulating the evil nature of Ra's secret. The contrast ratio is very strong, with some really deep blacks on show. Shadow detail is spot on and the torch lit portions of the movie are fantastic looking, casting shadow and a dull fiery glow on the faces of the Russell and Spader. In saying that, there were a few instances of digital noise and some of the darker backgrounds did seem a little muddled, but these were few and far between. The print is in excellent condition and contains very little blemishes or other damage. The well textured and very filmatic print, has most certainly stood the test of time, and most definitely has benefitted from a careful clean.
I can without question recommend this release as an upgrade from the previous DVD releases, as the increase in detail and quality is a revelation. While it may not be the best of the best (in terms of BD release, it is without question a very impressive upgrade and so comes highly recommended and gains a solid eight (bonus points are awarded for the age of the movie).
'Stargate' comes packed with a dts HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track.
First of all, kudos to Optimum for the inclusion of a 7.1 track on this release. It's a crying shame that the extra two channels available on BD are not utilised more often. As we initially saw with DVD, there was a very slow migration to dts and 6.1 matrixed tracks and I fear that it will be a long time before we see a more prevalent 7.1 selection on BD. Even though this is an old movie, I distinctly remember that it had an epic dts track, which gained that release high praise. I was initially very excited to see how this uncompressed 7.1 would compare and I am pleased to report that I was not disappointed.
Stereo reproduction is sublime, as exemplified by the scenes involving the Ra's spaceship as it dominates the soundstage, with lighting crackling around the listening plane. Vocals are crystal clear and always locked to the centre channel. Surround activity from all four available channels is very engrossing, with chants, epic thunderclaps and other effects rotating around the viewing position. The rear surrounds are suitably employed, with star-fighters screaming in from directly behind. The bass is very meaty and there's many a scene which satisfyingly shook my living room. With almost constant activity, this is one of the most involving tracks that I have heard is some time.
The magnificent orchestral score from David Arnold is wonderfully rendered here in 7.1 surround sound and the distinctive title theme has never sounded better. Reminiscent of Williams' work on Indiana Jones, the score suits to perfection, with its rousing intonations and emotion evoking capabilities. Stereo reproduction is top notch and there's great surround bleed and nicely weighted bass. For fans of this score I cannot recommend this BD release enough.
This portion of the BD release is without doubt the star of the show. Not only is it a huge improvement over the already impressive dts track, it's also comparable to some of the top flight audio mixes out there. While it doesn't quite make it into the demo material category, it does squeeze into the upper echelons of rating systems and is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Optimum have certainly gone all out on this release and have presented us with both the Director's Cut and the Theatrical cut of the movie. In addition to this, we also have a commentary track, a PIP feature and lots of other additional supplements. The disc also includes BD Live, which includes the usual slew of trailers and other high definition content.
The nifty picture in picture feature contains interview segments and b-roll footage. The content is taken from the included documentaries but it is insightfully put together and is a nice accompaniment to the main feature. There are some moments of activity and there are no interesting pop-up factoids (which we have seen before on other BD releases) but it's a worthwhile feature none the less.
The disc features a commentary track with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. I'm not too sure if there was a fault with my copy of the disc or some incompatibility with my HTPC based set up but I could not get this track to play. It was not available on the track listing on my player and when I tried to activate it via the menu it crashed my player (Total Media Theatre 3). I was gutted that this track was not available as I'm sure that it's a very interesting listen. Please post on this thread if you can confirm that this feature is working correctly for you.
Stargate - History Made (22mins HD) - This all new feature, put together for the fifteenth anniversary of the movie, takes a retrospective look at the initial troubles that Emmerich and Devlin had when trying to get the movie financed. Russell actually turned down the opportunity to play Jack several time,s before he eventually reneged and agreed to jump on board. We also get to meet many of the other cast members and there's lot of interesting anecdotes from the set. Featuring clips from the movie and interviews with the cast and crew, this feature is definitely worth a watch.
Making of Stargate (SD 52mins) - This lengthy documentary takes an in depth look and the making of the movie. Charting the story from its conception to its release, there are absolutely tonnes of b-roll and backstage footage, as well as interviews with nearly everyone involved the project. There's also expansion on the special effect process which was pretty advanced at the time of the movie's release. With a nifty score to accompany it (which is obviously lifted from the movie) and excerpts from the movie itself to punctuate points made, this is another well put together feature that has lots of interesting content and will have fans of the movie salivating at the mouth.
Is There a Stargate? (SD 12mins) - This featurette takes a look at a lunatic called Eric Von Daniken (author of “Chariots of the Gods”), who spent a considerable portion of his life searching for the real stargate. It does contain some interesting conspiracy theories about the world's most mysterious sites, focusing on the pyramids of Giza.
Original Previews (SD 17mins) - This feature contains six promotional clips for the movie which features excerpts from the movie as well as backstage footage and interviews with the cast and crew. It's rather like a disjointed version of the previous epic documentary.
B-Roll (SD 6mins) - This feature contains a series of b-roll portions edited together and underpinned by the score from the movie. An interesting montage.
Gag Reel (SD 3mins) - This extra is basically a skit featuring cast and crew members - a little wacky but it's good to see people enjoying themselves on the set!
Trailer (HD) - Included here, for your viewing pleasure, is a single high definition trailer for the movie .
'Stargate' was released in 1994 was and directed and written by Roland Emmerich. With a innate ability to produce thrilling blockbusters, we are treated to a high definition overall of this movie for its fifteentieth anniversary. With a cast led by the mighty Kurt Russell and backed by James Spader, we are led on an epic journey to other worlds. The plot is fast paced and contains enough sci-fi, action and romance to offer the complete package. Some of the content has unsurprisingly dated but with some strong performances, this engaging and exciting movie is perfect for those lazy Saturday afternoons.
The high definition upgrade from the previous DVD releases is at times stunning. The colour palette is very bold and all aspects of the presentation have clearly been improved upon. We're also treated to a hugely impressive 7.1 uncompressed track that really is the star of the show and makes full use of all available channels. The extras portion of the disc is packed to the gills with four hours of special features as well as both the Director's Cut and Theatrical Cut of the movie. For those of you who are looking for a worthwhile upgrade of a back to basics highly enjoyable movie, then look no further. Highly recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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