Presented here in 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen, the print is very good in it's presentation. The setting of Shawshank is a mixture of bleak greys and black, and the transfer deals with this admirably. Flesh tones are rich and natural, with bags of detail along with strong solid blacks. There are some signs of dirt and specks during the first 5 minutes, but this settles down to show a satisfying transfer that looks very crisp and sharp.
The UK R2 version of this disc is available in Dolby Surround only, the US R1 version has a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, whilst this Japanese R2 release sports a dts soundtrack, and is the reason we are reviewing the disc on these pages. So does it make a big difference to the overall DVD experience? Switching between the two 5.1 tracks show subtle differences between the Dolby and dts flavours, and they are subtle. This is no action movie and the sound effects are used to build a believable ambient soundfield. Both manage this very well with good dynamics and solid dialogue, with subtle nuances during the scenes. The dts track does however handle those final scenes with a tight bottom end and slightly better clarity over the Dolby mix, and the fantastic score just sounds so much better in dts, but those are the only real differences.
The extras on this release are a little light. The main thing is the fact that all the menus are in English Language. However saying that the cast and crew section as well as the production notes are in Japanese, as is one of the three trailers, which rounds of the extras.A brilliant movie, presented with a very good transfer and a nice functional soundmix, where the dts mix just manages to edge it, but not by much.
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