This review is based upon the 2012 3D disc and movie. Please do not confuse this release with the earlier 2D version. I did not have a 2008 Blu-ray version to compare this release, but looking at the later disc in isolation, it is pretty good as conversions go. Looking at the picture first, the AVC-MPEG transfer extracts the best out of the 2K intermediate, looking bright and clean. Some film grain is evident, but it does not impact on the picture quality as a whole. Grading and exposure have been tightly controlled, but some edge enhancement is visible and the join between real life and the green screen CGI is quite visible at times. This is made significantly worse by the 3D conversion, making scenes look much more artificial than the 2D version. Looking at the 3D in more detail, it is fairly good for a conversion, but there is very little pop out and limited depth throughout the movie. The dreaded layering is there by the bucket load, but a lot of effort has been put into making key characters and elements of the movie look as rounded as possible. For a movie using significant amounts of CGI before the techniques had fully come of age, it looks very good. There is some haloing around actors with some of the green screen bleeding through the matte and this remains visible in this version. There are a few nice touches, like the opening titles that have been recreated in 3D, but on the whole, there is not a lot to set this apart from the pack.
The DTS-HD MA stream retains all the energy from the original movie. Effects are well placed and dialogue is always clear. Subtlety is not a strong point of the soundtrack however, but as an action movie, we will forgive this. Based upon a common theme, Marco Beltrami composed the score for a large orchestra and choir and it supports the movie very well. Maybe not the instantly recognisable and catchy riffs that epitomise the great John Williams, but still very competent. The surround speakers carry very little in terms of music, but get a serious workout from the huge effects. bullets and trucks rattle around the soundscape at a frantic pace, just about keeping up with the on screen effects. The dynamic range is not as great as some more modern movies, but is still quite acceptable. The LFE channel is very solid throughout, but is poorly controlled in the lowest register, sounding quite uneven at times. There is also a tendency for a little boominess at times and this does detract a little from the overall mix.
On the 3D disc we get just a couple of 3D clips, with all extras contained on the accompanying DVD. So far as I can tell, this is an earlier DVD release simply bundled in with the new transfer. The menus look significantly different and this one actually has higher production values than the Blu-ray!
The extras comprise:
Commentaries from Director Alex Proyas and one of the screenwriters - Akivia Goldsman, the production, special and visual effects team – all twelve of them, plus the isolated score with narration from composer Marco Beltrami. The director’s commentary is OK, but the rest I could happily ignore.
Other than that, we get a twelve minute “Making of” featuring interviews with cast and crew and back stage filming cut into the feature film footage. Pretty standard stuff, but well produced, but of course in SD. Other than that, we get a stills library and that’s about it!
Both discs load quickly enough and the 3D disc gives you the option to play in 2D as well.
You do get the feeling that this 3D conversion is slightly cynical attempt to cash in on the trailing edge of the 3D revolution. There is very little extra value over and above the 3D conversion in the SKU and the 2D Blu-ray and DVD are available for a fraction of the cost of this release. The movie just about scrapes in as “OK”, but the tie-in with Asimov’s stories is tenuous at best.
The 3D conversion is fairly good, but does suffer from excessive layering and a lack of realism, with foreground objects looking pasted onto the background at times. It is pretty hard to recommend this disc over the existing 2D version, as the 2K intermediate is the major bottleneck. It is a good transfer, but I still do not think this is worth the money over the older release.
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