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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Prince Valiant [Blu-ray]

 

(Henry Hathaway, 1954)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Video: Eureka

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:09.253

Disc Size: 23,048,406,064 bytes

Feature Size: 22,680,809,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.97 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 26th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.55:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1619 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1619 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Trailer (2:56)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The Saturday matinee adventure classic is back! Young Prince Valiant travels to Camelot to become a squire for Sir Gawain, one of King Arthur's legendary knights, unaware that the traitor that sold his father King Aguar to the pagan rival King Sligon is already seated at the Round Table! With thrilling action, romance, courtly intrigue, Franz Waxman's rousing score, and a magnificent cast of Hollywood greats including James Mason, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner, Debra Paget, Sterling Hayden, Victor McLaglen, Donald Crisp and Tom Conway, Prince Valiant is released for home viewing for the first time in the UK.

 

 

The Film:

Have you read any good comic books lately? Do you know what's going on with Prince Valiant, his close friend, Sir Gawain, and the other knights of King Features' Table Round? If you do, then you have a good idea of what to expect from the big CinemaScope film that Twentieth Century-Fox has concocted from Harold R. Foster's "Prince Valiant" cartoon.

For Director Henry Hathaway and his associates have whipped up this clanging costume film in precisely the spirit and the aspect of the comic-book original. The hero is a glowing idealization, a straight high-school four-letter man, dressed up in a black wig and the garments of a free-wheeling Arthurian squire. The villian is a double-crossing rascal in the plumage of a Round Table knight. And the action is a wide-screen conglomeration of Douglas Fairbanks and horse-opera derring-do.

Excerpt from Bosely Crowther at the NY Times located HERE

 


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

Under the microscope, the 2.55:1 widescreen aspect ratio, image quality of Prince Valiant on Blu-ray from Eureka has a few issues. Colors and contrast fluctuate a great deal between certain scenes a lot and the film exhibits some frame bouncing movement - especially in the beginning. It looks nominally horizontally stretched. There are some compression artifacts on the single-layered transfer and the source print has a few speckles and frame-specific damage marks (see last large capture example below).  It's easy to see that visually The Black Shield of Falworth - released in 2009, by the same company, looks much better in my opinion. Detail is not consistent but does have some impressive moments - and colors, especially 'greens', are quite pleasing. While much of the presentation looks fine - there are moments the appearance can be erratic. This would probably be more noticeable to people with large systems (those who project) - where most home theater's won't be impinged by the deficiencies. This is obviously superior to any SD-DVD transfer.   

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Damage

 

 

Audio :

The audio track seems a competent lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel rendering at 1619 kbps. Franz Waxman's original score has some uplifting and lively moments but nothing is extraordinary coming through the front speakers. It's reasonably clean and probably a demonstrative step above the previous DVD transfer. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc, just like The Black Shield of Falworth, playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

There is nothing with my screener copy aside from a 3-minute, un-restored, SD trailer on the disc.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I liked the concept of this medieval knights and grandiose 'feel' but the story itself was less than engaging. I enjoyed the casting with hunky Mason, sweet Janet Leigh, wide-eyed Wagner, and support from Debra Paget, Sterling Hayden and Victor McLaglen. I doubt we're going to see it looking any better and for those who might be keen on this classic large-screen storytelling, the Blu-ray is the best rendition currently available. 

Gary Tooze

April 2nd, 2010

 

 

 

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 3500 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. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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