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Darkman - 'Collector's Edition' [Blu-ray]
(Sam Raimi, 1990)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Universal Pictures
Video: Shout! Factory
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 43,243,236,248 bytes
Feature Size: 25,534,279,680 bytes
Video Bitrate: 27.69 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: February 18th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3690 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3690 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2030 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2030 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
• Audio Commentary with director of photography Bill Pope
• Theatrical Trailer (1:47)
• TV Spots (4:24)
• 4 Stills Gallery (Behind the Scenes/Makeup, Posters and Artwork, Production Stills, Storyboards)
Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand star in this explosive, action-packed thriller from director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man). Dr. Peyton Westlake (Neeson) is on the verge of realizing a major breakthrough in synthetic skin when his laboratory is destroyed by gangsters. Having been burned beyond recognition and forever altered by an experimental medical procedure, Westlake becomes known as Darkman, assuming alternate identities in his quest for revenge and a new life with a former love (McDormand).
Neglecting Julie (Frances McDormand), his lawyer lady friend, Dr. Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) works feverishly to perfect his latest invention -- artificial skin that could be used to treat burn victims. Peyton himself falls victim to an explosion when one of Julie's crooked clients sends his henchmen to sniff out an incriminating document that's been left in Westlake's lab. Hideously disfigured and left for dead, the good doctor receives an experimental medical treatment that renders him super-strong, impervious to pain and prone to heightened fits of rage. Rebuilding his lab into an underground hideout, Westlake begins using his synthetic skin to impersonate various characters and engineer his revenge against those who destroyed his life. Reconnecting with Julie, however, becomes the unsightly vigilante's biggest challenge.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Dr. Westlake (Neeson) is on the verge of perfecting a synthetic skin which conceals disfigurements; the problem is, the skin dissolves in sunlight after 99 minutes. When his laboratory is ransacked and blown up by gangster Durant (Drake), Westlake is left for dead, face down in a vat of caustic chemicals. But he survives (sans visage) as Darkman, an avenging angel who uses temporary masks to impersonate and destroy his enemies, while simultaneously attempting to win back his estranged love (McDormand). Drawing self-consciously on the 'misunderstood monster' tradition of Universal's golden age, Raimi's major studio debut abounds with conflicting ambitions, juggling pathos, horror and incongruous slapstick as it attempts to meld (with variable success) an archaic narrative structure with a kinetic, modern visual style. Neeson's performance encapsulates these contradictions, mixing camp histrionics with moments of touching precision. But the breathtaking action sequences find Raimi in his element: wild, woolly and occasionally wondrous, Darkman has the chaotic charm of untrammelled, undisciplined talent.Excerpt fromTimeOut Film Guide located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
I didn't pick up the Universal Blu-ray of Darkmen, back in 2011 - but I wish I had - not only to compare to this new Shout! Factory 1080P edition but I quite liked the film. Shout! Factory - is continuing releasing - especially, what were perceived as, previously flawed Universal HD transfers. I know sentiment was that the previous Universal Blu-ray of Darkman was poor. Not owning it I can't say. While I enjoyed the film, I did see some anomalies in these new format visuals. Firstly, I don't want it to seem I am picking on Shout! Factory - I, generally, like their releases and this is mostly acceptable. I did see some edge-enhancement though (see identifying zoom-in below). It wasn't blanketed, or heavy - but it was there - more notably at the beginning. Could this be on Universal's Master? I have just been informed that it has... This is, by no means, unwatchable, and I did enjoy the film - but for those ultra-sensitive, they should be notified this transfer has issues.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Edge Enhancement Halos
The DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a healthy 3690 Kbps sounds intense and carries through the film's aggression and mood-shifts wonderfully well. The score is by Danny Elfman (Batman Returns, Good Will Hunting, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) and play perfectly alongside the film. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.
There are a massive amount of extras here starting with an audio commentary with director of photography Bill Pope who shares his insights on the production. Shout! Factory include interviews with Liam Neeson (7:29) and Frances McDormand (10:50) and four new 'Red Shirt' featurettes - My Name is Durant is 15-minute interview with Larry Drake (who played baddie Robert G. Durant in Darkman.) The Face of Revenge gives us 13-minutes with Makeup Designer Tony Gardner. Henchman Tales has a dozen minutes of interviews with actors Danny Hicks and Dan Bell ('Smiley' and 'Skip') and Dark Design focuses on a 16-minute interview with Production Designer Randy Ser and Art Director Philip Dagort discussing their contributions to the film with glimpses at storyboards. Shout! Factory include the previous vintage “Making of” (6:26) and interview with Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand. There is a theatrical trailer, TV Spots and 4 Stills Gallery (Behind the Scenes/Makeup, Posters and Artwork, Production Stills, Storyboards) to click thru.
February 14th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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