H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Basic Instinct - Unrated Director's Cut [Blu-ray]  


(Paul Verhoeven, 2007)

Studio: Lions Gate
Region: A
Video: MPEG-4/AVC - 1080p - 2.35:1 - (19Mbps)

Audio: English DTS-HD 5.1 (1.5Mbps - 16-Bit/48kHz), English Dolby Digital EX 5.1 (640 Kbps)

Subtitles: English, Spanish
Special Features Subtitles: None

Disc: Single-Layered Blu-Ray (25GBs)
Runtime: 128 min.

Making Of (Blonde Poison)
2 Audio Commentaries
Cleaning Up Basic Instinct
Screen Tests

Release Date: May 29th, 2007
Package: Blu-Ray Standard case

Michael Douglas stars as Nick Curran, a tough but vulnerable detective. Sharon Stone costars as Catherine Tramell, a cold, calculating, and beautiful novelist with an insatiable sexual appetite. Catherine becomes a prime suspect when her boyfriend is brutally murdered - a crime she had described in her latest novel. But would she be so obvious as to write about a crime she was going to commit? Or is she being set up by a jealous rival? Obsessed with cracking the case, Nick descends into San Francisco's forbidden underground where suspicions mount, bodies fall, and he finds within himself an instinct more basic than survival.

The Film: Nick Curran (Douglas) is a cop on the edge. Investigated for an over-zealous approach to his work, saddled with a drink and relationships problem, he becomes slowly embroiled with the case, then with the suspect, when a former rock star is found murdered at the climax of some bondage-style sex. Catherine Tramell (Stone), an ultra-clever, ultra-rich author and bisexual free spirit, is at the core of all the basic instinct paraded in the film. One scene in which she teases and bosses a roomful of hard law enforcement men is probably the best illustration of post-feminism in action that Hollywood has offered. Yet the film's depiction of not one but several bisexual women with murky, murderous pasts has angered activists, and does illustrate that sensitivity is not always the strong suit of Verhoeven or scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas. But if you like things unrestrained, hard, adult and off-the-rails, then Douglas and Stone are superb, and George Dzundza (as sidekick Gus) delivers another classic hard-boiled cameo.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


The Video:
The image is better than ever before on DVD, but it is still far from the ideal HD quality one should expect in recently released Blu-Rays. The over-sharpness and uneven contrast are the main cause of visual discomfort IMHO. When compared with the SD-DVDs, the blurriness of the SD transfer helps disguise some of the problems prominently noticeable in this Blu-Ray. Example include "edge halos", weird color adjustment, and Chromatic Aberration. The later is rarely present but clearly visible like in the scene captured below. These aberrations are originated by the lenses, but can be enhanced (or become visible) by a bad contrast adjustment.

Chromatic Aberration sample: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatic_aberration

Example of Chromatic Aberration in Basic Instinct Blu-ray


The distracting problems end there - noise is about adequate and I don't remember being bothered by it. Now, as you should expect, the improved resolution makes many scenes quite revealing and grabbing. We have crisp detail which is indeed where this Blu-Ray scores and problems are not gross enough to detract its pluses. In the end I am satisfied by the image since there is perceptible improvement over the SD.

Luiz R.

Blu-ray Screen Captures












Standard Blu-Ray case



Both mixes are very modest and don't offer any significant improvement over the SD DVD's available. You can't get much of the aural background details. I don't know how much is lost compared with the original and uncompressed mix but maybe the director wanted it simple, but I don't think as "simple" as the mixes available. This Blu-Ray should come with a richer mix, the DTS HD is almost as dull as any other SD mix, maybe the range is a bit better but I can't tell for sure since it sounded so uninteresting that I actually didn't feel like going through an extensive and detailed audio comparison. Anyway, the mixes definitely don't subtract from the film, they just aren't able to add much, due to their mediocre level of quality, to the movie's mood.

All the extras come in 480i and un-subtitled.

There are 2 audio commentaries, I didn't go through the second but the first (director and cinematographer) sounded interesting to me. The Making Of.. is also nice. It is not very extensive but it covers all the basics about the movie. I also found the screen tests with Sharon Stone and Jeanne Tripplehorn a nice add-on, not that they appeared exceptionally good... but they certainly fit the cynical roles.

There is also a silly comparison between the original subtitles and the subtitles that were redone for the TV version.



BOTTOM LINE: The movie is (in)famous because of a certain scene and has become a contemporary "classic" in the genre. This Blu-Ray certainly enhances its "wickedness" and makes it more blue than ever. Now, seriously, everything looks and sounds at least a bit improved from the best SD DVD edition and thus won't leave the fans overly disappointed.

Luiz R.



Hit Counter