Urban Legend Blu-ray Review
Presented in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and coded using the MPEG-4 codec at 1080P, Urban Legend has probably not looked this good since opening night.
Firstly, the source print is immaculate. Sony have done well to find this particular print because the film is now ten years old - prints that are available will probably be full of marks tears and scratches - so it's a good start.
Continuing the good start is the contrast levels. Being of the horror genre, as you would imagine, a lot of the film takes place in the dark. Shadow detail holds up extremely well and objects never disappear into the background unless they have to because of the sub standard black levels. Most of this, however, is helped by the very clever use of the lighting - so whilst the scene appears to be in the dark, look a little closer and you'll see a shard of light creeping in from somewhere that's supposed to represent the silver moon.
Skin tones are spot on in both dark and light scenes. They never degenerate into a red mushy mess that I have seen on some encodes in the past when the lights go down.
Edge enhancement and digital artefacts seem to be absent throughout. Colours on the whole are dark and gloomy - but that's how they're meant to be and it all adds to the atmosphere of the film.
All in all then, not a bad effort at all and certainly as good as the majority of Blu-ray discs being released just now
Along with the effort beyond the call of duty in the picture department, Sony has seen fit to too go the extra mile again in the sound category with an all out lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack - and well worth it it was too...
We all know how these teen horror tracks work, right? Seems like total silence, maybe a few crickets buzzing in the background - one in the surround left and one if the surround right speakers...just as you're led into a false sense of security BOOM!!. The killer comes from nowhere, blades slash across the front soundstage, girls scream from the centre channel and you sub is going into overdrive as the score goes up to 11 just to see if it can finish you off as well as the poor helpless victim onscreen...
Well, times that by however many killings there are in this film, throw in some more LFE for good (or bad measure), engineer it perfectly so it's so over the top and you have the soundtrack contained on this disc.
Normally I mark the soundtrack I review on their realism - however, if I was to do that for this one, I think I would be giving my first zero in the sound column - so, just this once, I'll take it for what it's meant to be and award a well deserved seven...now what's my next disc up for review so I can get back to natural soundtracks - oh yeah, The Mummy, with Brendan Fraser...Doh!!
Whilst the studio have seen fit to go all out on the technical side of the disc, I'm afraid to say that it drops the ball on the halfway line when it comes to the extras...
Directors Commentary is a pretty un-original piece where the director is joined by Michael Rosenbaum and some crew members. It's a good ten minutes before anybody other than the director gets a word in and when they do, they seem to be shoved off mic. so that he can get centre stage again. Doesn't really add anything to the Blu-ray experience.
Making Off Featurette (10.09, SD) is a pretty poor affair also. Made back in the day when extras really were extras on SD DVD, this may have been classed as acceptable - but today, it's pretty poor. Shot on a hand held camcorder and randomly flicking from scene to scene with what appears no editing, I would suggest you only watch this if you have ten minutes to kill and have absolutely nothing else to do. Even then, I would try harder to find something else.
Online Features - that didn't work. I kept getting a host not found message on my PS3 - that works perfectly well online for gaming. If Sony are going to include as an extra feature on their discs, they need to get it sorted out - though it may not work due to the fact that the disc isn't officially released as yet and the feature may not be up and running...
So - pretty poor extras package then - though the lack of extras does probably explain the lack of compression artefacts in the picture quality - Sony have used a BD50 disc here and wasted it really...shame.
Though not an out and out fan of the teen horror genre, I can fully understand what the attraction is. Having only seen a small handful from the genre in the past, I don't have much to compare it too I'm afraid. But out of those I have seen, I would place it firmly between Jeepers Creepers and the first Final destination film - though others would probably disagree.
looking at the Blu-ray package as a whole, we have a perfectly acceptable picture quality that holds up extremely well during the dark scenes - which is the majority of the film really.
The soundtrack is so over the top it has forced me to abandon my usual stance when reviewing of looking for realism and subtlety. Instead, I'll turn a blind eye to the outrageous LFE channel that kicks into life every time the killer appears onscreen and take this as the norm for the genre...
Where the studio has dropped the ball though is in the extras department. We have a commentary that features the director and a few members of the crew - when the director allows them on, a featurette that looks like someone has found on the cutting room floor and thought it would be a good idea to pad out this disc with, and some online features that don't work - yet.
The poor extras package has deemed me to dock the overall package a mark - so instead of a healthy eight, I'll give it an above average seven. Fans of the genre should order this for release day and I believe it will be an upgrade on any SD version previously released. The remainder of you could do worse than rent this for a Friday night horror on the way home from the pub.
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