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A view on Blu-rays by Gary W. Tooze


*NOTE: the cover does not appear as above - an actual photo of the package is below.

Review by Gary W. Tooze


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

Runtime: 2:17:14   /   2:14:44   /   2:12:29

Disc Size: 49,678,053,938 bytes

Feature Size: 37,348,374,528 bytes   /   36,620,150,784 bytes   /    36,062,017,536 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.85 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Special packaging (see below)

Release date: November 13th, 2007



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video




DTS-HD Master Audio English 3743 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3743 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3191 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3191 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps)
Dolby TrueHD Audio French 1519 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1519 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -2dB



English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, none



On Disc 1 are three versions of the film 'seamlessly branched':
• Original Theatrical Version (1977)
• Special Edition (1980)
• Director's Cut (1998)

Special Features (Disc 2):
• New 2007 interview with Spielberg talking about the versions (in hi-def)

• Acclaimed 100 minute documentary from Collector's Edition release
• 42 minute "Making of" documentary

• Deleted Scenes
• Poster - flow chart



Product Description:

In the night skies near his Muncie, Indiana, home, power repairman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) experiences something out of this world. His close encounter sets into action an amazing chain of events that leads to contact with benevolent aliens and their Mothership!



The Film:

Close Encounters takes the favoured dream of every UFO enthusiast (that the US government has been operating a cover-up) and turns it into a majestic and finally unprecedented adventure story. As early references to The Ten Commandments and Chuck Jones's Warner cartoons show, the film seems less concerned with science fiction than with recapturing the wonder of a child's first experience of the cinema, and the surprising thing is that Spielberg moves into this territory so effectively. There are some awkward touches (Truffaut never ceases to be Truffaut, while some of the comedy scenes are a little overplayed), but they're small price to pay for the first film in years to give its audiences a tingle of shocked emotion that is not entirely based either on fear or on suspense.

Excerpt from Time Out Film Guide located HERE



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

I admit that I was anticipating more, visually, from this Spielberg's classic on Blu-ray. I don't think there is any question that this new 1080P dual-layered transfer excels above any of the SD versions in circulation... and it truthfully reports the grain present in the original theatrical presentation. However, the image doesn't jump out at you like many modern films do that are transferred in the new format. I'll repeat that it still looks very good at times and I only had one issue; in only a couple of instances, I could see a very strange sheen of digital noise in the black, star filled skies. It may be a clunky rendition of the grain - it's hard to be sure. It appeared like a flattened blanket being slowly immersed in water. Other than that - colors, detail and contrast look strong - exceptional at times. I also had my eye peeled for digital noise in other sequences (bright blue skies, or such large monochromatic patches) but I saw none (in all three versions of the film). I expect this, quite handily, is the most faithful representation of Close Encounters for home theatre use.  






















Comes in two 'original language' flavors - English: DTS-HD 'Lossless" Master Audio 5.1 (a first for Sony I believe), and an English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. There are also 2 optional DUBs: in French: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and Spanish: Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Sound was very good (DTS) - possibly even a notch better than the image. Either/or - it still sounds wonderful. No complaints whatsoever. Optional subtitles support the audio in your choice of English (CC), English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, or Thai. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Sony offers some very competent supplements (for both the Blu-ray and the SD 2-disc editions simultaneously released). Disc one - on top of the three branched version of the film (Original Theatrical Version (1977) - Special Edition (1980) and Director's Cut from 1998) you get an option to receive onscreen cues to distinguish the, often subtle, alternations between the three versions. I suspect only real zealots might utilize it but the option distinguishes the thoroughness of the extras. On disc 2 the "Encounters" button gives you the option of three different documentaries (all from different eras). "Watch the Skies" is a six minute featurette - kinda cute and nostalgic and the perfect short length. "The Making of Close Encounters" is the 1.5 hour documentary with plenty of talking heads and input from many sources discussing conceptual ideas for the film and beyond. I believe it was made in 1997 by Laurent Bouzereau. This was also found on the last SD edition. New for this (and the SD 'Ultimate') release is "Steven Spielberg: 30 Years of 'Close Encounters'". It is given to us in 1080i and lasts about 20+ minutes of Spielberg talking about the film and its importance to his career. Under a new heading there are also 7 deleted scenes (about 10 minutes in total) - probably not entertaining excepting for the die-hard fans. Also included is a very nice 64-page Collectible Book and a small poster with a flow chart on the back. Well - it seems we have everything but a commentary although the film seems not to require that collaboration with all the supplement material provided. Sony went to town and fans will appreciate. 


Disc 2

BOTTOM LINE: There is a lot to say in favor of Close Encounters which still looms large in Spielberg's ouvre.  The Blu-ray has many positives including the 3 seamlessly branched versions to choose from although they differ by less than 5 minutes - serious fans will still make note. I recall seeing this in the theatre with my older sister when I was about 15 and I thought it was the greatest film ever for about a 3 years after. So it also holds some real nostalgic value for many as well. I wouldn't ask more from the package even if my atmospheric expectations for image weren't quite met. Fans should get this one - no question. Still very watchable after more than 30-years and almost an essential Blu-ray.

*NOTE: the cover does not appear as above - an actual photo of the package is above the video review portion.


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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