Published on June 14th, 2011 | by Greg0
The Usual Suspects and Terminator: New on Blu-Ray
When we received the discs in the mail, our immediate impression was: weren’t these out already? But, it turns out, they haven’t been released in HD before: two of the best movies of their respective years (1984 and 1995) are finally out in high-definition.
The Usual Suspects was, without a doubt, one of the movies that launched the careers of Kevin Spacey, Bryan Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, and Benicio Del Toro into the stratosphere. The Oscar-winning screenplay and twist spawned a thousand imitators, and if you haven’t seen it, you need to. The plot might not hold together that well on repeat viewings, but the performances do.
On Blu-ray, the picture looks far better than any previous version we’ve seen. For a movie more than a decade old, skin tones are sharp and colors natural. We didn’t notice any significant errors in the transfer- no major spots or speckling or scratches. The DTS sound was also good- we’ve seen some mediocre, shallow re-releases in the recent past, but this wasn’t one of them. It’s an indie film, so there isn’t a lot of depth there, but on a decent 5.1 sound system you get clear front and decent balance. There aren’t a lot of special features, sadly, and nothing exclusive to see here. In fact, that’s the only disappointing note here- we would’ve loved to see more here than a trailer. At under $10, it’s an amazing deal though.
If a bit more action is your style, then consider the James Cameron classic The Terminator. Perhaps the definitive Arnold movie, it may lack the whiz-bang special effects of the sequel, but makes up for it with an original story that continues to hold up (and spawn sequels). Sure, the plot might not be water-tight, but it’s science fiction with plenty of guns and gusto.
The Blu-ray copy, though, leaves much to be desired. Unlike the previously mentioned transfer, this one is poor- it appears to be no better than the DVD version only upscaled. It looks muddy, a bit grainy, and certainly unrestored. Now, it was shot quite a while ago, and was almost intended to be a B-movie- the star and the director weren’t big shots back then, and few saw this as a big-budget success. There are some artifacts on the video, though it does feel reasonably sharp and balanced, it just doesn’t do justice to the high-definition format. If you own earlier copies, then you aren’t gaining much here. The same is basically true for the sound- we found it a bit off-putting at times, and weren’t sure why until some research revealed that different sounds have been inserted and a bunch of tweaking done almost a decade ago. It feels dated and awkward at times, but also unbalanced. Yes, there is 5.1, and it’s not bad, but lacks punch or feeling, except for some of the score which can sound very good indeed.
Finally, and also disappointingly, the special features are minimal. None are new, all are in standard definition, but the deleted scenes are interesting and worthy of viewing and the 20 minute retrospective is amusing (if terribly out of date). Again, at $10, it’s a cheap buy and perfectly worth the price if you don’t own another copy. But we would’ve been happy to pay a bit more for a higher quality transfer and updated bonus features.