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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Terry Gilliam
U.S. 1998

It is 1971, and journalist Raoul Duke barrels toward Las Vegas—accompanied by a trunkful of contraband and his slightly unhinged Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo—to cover a motorcycle race. What should be a cut-and-dried journalistic assignment quickly descends into a feverish psychedelic odyssey. Director Terry Gilliam and an all-star cast headlined by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro show no mercy in bringing Hunter S. Thompson’s excoriating dissection of the American way of life to the screen, creating a film both hilarious and savage.

***

“We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold.” It is 1971, and journalist Raoul Duke barrels towards Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race, accompanied by a trunkful of contraband and his slightly unhinged Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo. But what is ostensibly a cut-and-dried journalistic endeavor quickly descends into a feverish psychedelic odyssey and an excoriating dissection of the American way of life. Director Terry Gilliam and an all-star cast (headlined by Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro) show no mercy in bringing Dr. Hunter S, Thompson’s legendary Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to the screen, creating a film both hilarious and savage.

Poster

Theatrical Release Date: May 22, 1998

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Comparison:

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray vs. Universal Studios - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. UFA (German) - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Universal - Region 1 - NTSC

 

Big thanks to Gregory for all the DVD Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - LEFT

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - SECOND

3) UFA Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion Collection - Spine #175

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

Universal Studios

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

UFA / 101 Distribution

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #175

Region 1  - NTSC

Universal Studios 
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:58:13.127 1:58:28.601 1:58:07.7891:58:24 1:58:16
Video

Disc Size: 47,572,578,345 bytes

Feature Size: 28,555,997,184 bytes

Total Bitrate: 23.98 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Disc Size: 36,192,653,001 bytes

Feature Size: 33,929,588,736 bytes

Total Bitrate: 30.86 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray VC-1

Disc Size: 24,251,193,282 bytes

Feature Size: 20,893,882,368 bytes

Total Bitrate: 23.58 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray VC-1

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.30 mb/s
NTSC 960X540 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.92
NTSC 960X540 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Criterion Blu-ray

Bitrate:

Universal Blu-ray

Bitrate:

German Blu-ray

Bitrate:

Criterion

 

Bitrate:

Universal

Audio DTS-HD Master Audio English 3518 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3518 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2075 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2075 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4245 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4245 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Audio English 2046 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2046 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Audio German 2046 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2046 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (DTS)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)

Subtitles English, and none English, Danish, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and none English, German and none English, and none Spanish, French, English (captions) and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Criterion
 

Disc Size: 47,572,578,345 bytes

Feature Size: 28,555,997,184 bytes

Total Bitrate: 23.98 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG4 - AVC

Edition Details:
• Three commentary tracks: director Terry Gilliam; stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro and producer Laila Nabulsi; and author Hunter S. Thompson
• Deleted scenes, with commentary by Terry Gilliam
• Collection of storyboards and production designs
• Collection of original artwork by famed illustrator Ralph Steadman
Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood: A BBC feature documentary with Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman
Hunter Goes to Hollywood, a short documentary video by Wayne Ewing
• A look at the controversy over the screenwriting credit
• A selection of Hunter S. Thompson's correspondence read on-camera by Johnny Depp
• Rare material on Oscar Zeta Acosta, the attorney on whom the character Dr. Gonzo is based
• Excerpt from the 1996 audio CD
• Trailer and stills galleries
• A booklet featuring an essay by J. Hoberman and two pieces by Hunter S. Thompson

Blu-ray Release Date: April 26th, 2011
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 22

Release Information:
Studio: Universal

Disc Size: 36,192,653,001 bytes

Feature Size: 33,929,588,736 bytes

Total Bitrate: 30.86 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray VC-1

 

Edition Details:
• Deleted Scene (11:39 in SD)

• Spotlight on Location (10:35 in SD)

• Trailers / Previews

BD-LIVE capable / D-Box motion enabled

 

Blu-ray Release Date: February 2nd, 2010
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 30

Release Information:
Studio: UFA

Disc Size: 24,251,193,282 bytes

Feature Size: 20,893,882,368 bytes

Total Bitrate: 23.58 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray VC-1

 

Edition Details:
• Deleted Scenes (11:42)

• Depp Interview (4:57)

• Del Toro Interview (:36)

• Gilliam Interview (2:44)

Trailer / Previews

 

Blu-ray Release Date: October 23rd, 2008
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 20

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Three commentary tracks: director Terry Gilliam; stars Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro and producer Laila Nabulsi; and author Hunter S. Thompson
• Deleted scenes, with commentary by Terry Gilliam
• Collection of storyboards and production designs
• Collection of original artwork by famed illustrator Ralph Steadman
Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood: A BBC feature documentary with Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman
Hunter Goes to Hollywood, a short documentary video by Wayne Ewing
• A look at the controversy over the screenwriting credit
• A selection of Hunter S. Thompson's correspondence read on-camera by Johnny Depp
• Rare material on Oscar Zeta Acosta, the attorney on whom the character Dr. Gonzo is based
• Excerpt from the 1996 audio CD
• Trailer and stills galleries
• A booklet featuring an essay by J. Hoberman and two pieces by Hunter S. Thompson
• Widescreen anamorphic format
• Number of discs: 2

DVD Release Date: February 18, 2003
Keep Case

Chapters 22

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Production notes
• Theatrical trailers
• Deleted scenes
• Spotlight on location (10 Minutes )
• Web links
• Widescreen anamorphic format

DVD Release Date: November 17, 1998
Keep Case

Chapters 30

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray April 11': Criterion have used the AVC encode while the other two 1080P transfers choose the VC-1 in their transfers. Differences exist - most notably in colors - the Universal (and UFA) skin tones are more red - while Criterion's have a touch of orange - hard to say which is more correct. As Criterion have filled their Blu-ray with extras (appears to be all the same as their 2003 DVD - including the three commentaries) there is less space for the feature and hence it has a smaller bitrate. To my eye the Universal looks a bit sharper - but this might be more dependant on your system or how discerning you are in regards to the image quality. Audio is strong and there are optional subtitles. The more I was switching between the two in my home theater the more I began to realize the a/v transfer may be of less importance as the differences are so minute. The Criterion, although marginally weaker, still looks (and sounds) superb.

Bottom line is that if you want the Criterion extras - their Blu-ray is the way to go but price-wise the Universal is significantly cheaper. So if you already own the Criterion DVD you may only wish to pick up the Universal Blu-ray which is less than $10 at the writing of this review.

***

ADDITION: Universal Blu-ray January 10': Depending on the system there may not be excessive visual differences in the two Blu-rays but if you look very closely you may see the superiority of the Universal. This newer edition is dual-layered (as opposed to single-layered) and hence has a higher video bitrate. It is occasionally sharper with a tad more depth. Colors differences appear negligible. The Universal may be marginally smoother in motion but for most this probably won't be a deal-breaker.

Audio seems a more significant bump over the German release with a strong DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at, a healthy, 4245 kbps. I found this notable in playback on my system with the North American transfer producing a more robust and deeper sound. There is a French DUB. The Universal has some Scandinavian subtitle options (among others like English) and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

The Criterion is still tops with the extras and we only get a deleted scene and 'Spotlight on Location' featurette (both in SD) running over 20-minutes in total. There are Previews, the disc is BD-LIVE functional and D-Box Motion enabled.

Great price on this for those that didn't get the UFA edition. This Universal Blu-ray looks and sounds top notch and the film is a ride you don't soon forget. Recommended!

***

ADDITION: UFA Home Video Blu-ray February 09': This is being distributed in the US from 101 Distribution that are taking some region-free Blu-ray titles from locations outside North America and exposing them, through Amazon, for purchase. It's not a bad idea as shipping across the pond from Germany, where this UFA single-layered Blu-ray originates, can be excessive for some reason (much more than, say, the UK or even France - I've never known why).

NOTE: I can confirm that the UFA Home Video Blu-ray is region free and will play on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

The Blu-ray image quality is demonstratively superior than either of the DVDs as the screen captures should easily bear out. Detail, colors and just about every facet of the visuals, including slightly more information in the frame, leans heavily to the hi-def release.

Audio get a beneficial bump to DTS-HD and a German DUB is optional. Both English and German subtitle choices are available.

This Blu-ray has some extras (in English) with Deleted Scenes (also found on the Criterion) and three short interviews with Depp, Del Toro and Gilliam. There are also some trailers. Criterion with the commentaries obviously eclipses the Blu-ray in the supplement department with the commentaries etc.

Bottom line is that it looks just too superior to pass up for this ad-hoc masterpiece. Fans should strongly consider indulging - it's close to watching a whole new film.

***

ON THE DVDs (from 2003): I don't see a lot of difference in the image quality of these two DVDs but of course the Extras are all in favor of the Criterion Double disc set. NOTE: The promo "Spotlight on Location" (10 minutes) and Spanish and French subs are unique for Universal. Criterion wins the sound with a 5.1 soundtrack to the Universal's 2.0 . Personally I like the easier to read Universal menus... but that is just me. Fans of the film should obviously get the Criterion. Casual viewers the Universal.     

            - Gary W. Tooze


Menus

 Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray

 

 

Universal Blu-ray Menus

 



(Criterion R1 - NTSC-Left vs. Universal Region 1 - NTSC-Right)


 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - SECOND

3) UFA Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - SECOND

3) UFA Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM


1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - SECOND

3) UFA Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM


1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - SECOND

3) UFA Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM


1) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - TOP

2) UFA Region FREE Blu-ray - SECOND

3) Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray grabs!

 

1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

 Universal Blu-ray

Sound:

 Blu-rays

Extras: Criterion Blu-ray

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Criterion Collection - Spine #175

Region 'A'  - Blu-ray

Universal Studios

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

UFA / 101 Distribution

Region FREE  - Blu-ray

Criterion Collection - Spine #175

Region 1  - NTSC

Universal Studios 
Region 1 - NTSC



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