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The Blu-ray disc of Gladiator was just released yesterday, but some reviewers and consumers alike are taking issue with the picture quality of the theatrical and extended editions that are available on the disc.
Strangely, and probably adding fuel to the fire, is that the extended sequences are higher quality than the theatrical sequences. This made it easy for people to investigate any issues they noticed and also became fodder for screenshots demonstrating the issues and the differences between the two editions.
Influential Blu-ray and DVD advocate Bill Hunt from The Digital Bits has this to say:
The uneven video quality of Gladiator really damages the launch and reputation of Paramount's new Sapphire Series. As the disc is obviously going to street as planned, what I HOPE happens - what I STRONGLY encourage - is that Universal and Paramount immediately run a new HD transfer, and then either recall the disc or make it a running production change. Either way, they should arrange an exchange program for those fans who purchase the disc in the meantime. IF the studios take quick steps to correct the disc and make things right with fans who purchase it, that will go a very long way toward restoring confidence in the Sapphire line. IF that happens, the disc will have earned my highest recommendation. (Rest assured, I'll keep you up to date on this here on The Bits.) Until that time, just know that the video quality is disappointing and adjust your purchase plans accordingly.
Please read his full review to get the complete picture of his opinions of this release.
There is a discussion going on at the High Def Digest Forums, where people are posting screenshots of what they feel are examples of the offensive noise reduction and aggressive edge enhancement artifacts. One particularly good example of the difference between the theatrical and extended edition quality can be seen in this post, where the poster attached screenshots of the same general scene taken from both editions.
Lots more screenshots and plenty of discussion is also happening on the AVS Forums. Check out the Gladiator Master Blu-ray Comparison and Review Thread for more than 45 pages of commentary on the subject!
This type of thing has happened in the past, and in some cases, studios have recalled the "bad" discs after the uproar from consumers became too great to ignore.
Is the transfer really that bad, especially for those that may not have the same eye for perfecting detail? After all, what can be incredibly obvious in a screenshot may not be all that visible when that same shot is flying by at 24 frames per second.
I just received the disc today, so I haven't had a chance to look at it myself. This is one of my favorite movies, and I pre-ordered this from Amazon.com soon after it was announced, so I'll be quite disappointed if the picture quality is as poor as some are saying.
Given the examples I've seen and the amount of negative buzz this Blu-ray release is getting, let's hope that the studio does right by the buying public and replaces this release with one that everyone can be proud of.
Reviews the Gladiator "Sapphire Series" Blu-ray Disc
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