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A view on Blu-rays by Gary W. Tooze

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (30th Anniversary vs. 40th Anniversary) [Blu-ray]

 

(Steven Spielberg, 1977)

 

Also available in a Giftset (see image below):

 

Review by Gary W. Tooze

Disc:

Region: FREE! (both) (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtimes: Original - 2:14:44   /  Special Edition - 2:12:29  /  Director's Cut - 2:17:14

Runtimes: Original -  2:14:45.076  / Special Edition -  2:12:29.941 / DC - 2:17:14.225

Disc Size: 49,678,053,938 bytes / 49,887,004,977 bytes

Feature Sizes: 37,348,374,528 bytes  /  36,620,150,784 bytes  /  36,062,017,536 bytes Feature Sizes: 30,824,472,576 bytes / 30,278,676,480 bytes / 29,774,493,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.85 Mbps / 22.86-22.87 Mbps

Chapters: 20 / 16

Case: Special packaging (see below) / Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 13th, 2007 / September 19th, 2007

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (2.39:1)

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Audio:

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)
DUBs:

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

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1981 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1981 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DUBs:

DTS-HD Master Audio French 2253 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2253 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

 

Subtitles:

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

 

English SDH, English, Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, French, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, none

 

Details (both):

On Blu-ray 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

 

Special Features (Blu-ray 2):

Three Kinds of Close Encounters (22:02)

• Steven's Home Video and Outtakes (5:25)

• Steven Spielberg 30-years of Close Encounters (21:21)

• Making of Documentary (1:41:41)

• Watch the Skies (5:54)

• Deleted Scenes (18:23)

• Storyboard Comparisons (22:10)

• Photo galleries

• Special Edition Trailer (6:01)

UltraViolet

 

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

 

2007 Package

 

2017 Giftset

 

 

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. To me this looks very strong 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 very good - 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.  

Firstly, this is advertised as "Close Encounters of the Third Kind is presented with an all-new 4K restoration, fully restored from the 35mm original camera negative, thereby utilizing in 4K the full resolution, detail and color depth inherent in the film. 4K Blu-ray brings the full power of this restoration into the home, featuring four times the resolution of high definition, high dynamic range (HDR)--which produces brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays. The Blu-ray will also utilize this new restoration at HD resolution. Both 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray versions will feature all three versions of the movie and the original restored 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio."

This 4K -restored Blu-ray has the same three versions of the film (1977 Theatrical, 1980 Special Edition, and 1997 Director's Cut) seamlessly branched - and, therefore, the quality is the same for each version. We presume the, simultaneously released, 4K UHD to use this as well, although through that process will look superior. We are reviewing the 2-disc Blu-ray. I don't remember what Close Encounters looked like theatrically - I remember my sister taking me to it. I'm surprised that the new 40th Anniversary 1080P image is so, dramatically, different from the one a decade earlier. It is in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio where the older release was 2.35:1. The new transfer is darker, thicker,, yellowish and gains information - mostly on the right edge. Despite that the technical stats are essentially the same (bitrate, feature file sizes), personally it looks heavier/softer, saturated, has less depth and one of the two has slight distortion - either the new releases is marginally vertically squeezed or the original was horizontally stretched. I lean to the former. I could see this most obviously with the ship in the desert capture below (toggle between the larger captures.) Colors in the 40th Anniversary edition are richer and deeper (reds). In all honesty, I think I prefer the original Blu-ray image but, as I stated, this new transfer may actually be the most theatrically accurate. The more I watch it, the more I am warming to it.    

 

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

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More 2007 Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio:

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 Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

This is a downgrade, imo. The new 40th Anniversary audio transfer is via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 1981 kbps (only 16-bit). It is significantly less technically robust and, to my ears, doesn't have the depth of the many, excellent, effects in the film as heard through the original Blu-ray audio. The score sounds strong but not at the level of the BD from 10-years ago. Surprising indeed. It has multiple subtitle options on the Region FREE Blu-ray discs.   

Extras:

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.

There are repeat supplements (all on a second Blu-ray) but also new. We get Three Kinds of Close Encounters running about 22-minutes - it has input from Spielberg, JJ Abrahms and Denis Villeneuve about the film's legacy, impact and the three versions. Kinda cute is the 5-minutes of Steven's Home Video and Outtakes shot during the production and includes many of the behind-the-scenes workers. It is new and described as "Rare never-before-seen home movies & gags from the set of Close Encounters." Steven Spielberg 30-years of Close Encounters is, obviously a repeat from the last BD and DVD set - as is the extensive 1-hour 40-minute Making of Documentary, the Watch the Skies piece, 18-minutes of deleted scenes, storyboard comparisons, photo galleries and a lengthy 'Special Edition' Trailer. This has the 'UltraViolet' ability for those who utilize - with a code for digital download. 

Menus

Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Sony (2007) - Region FREE - Blu-ray 2

 

Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Blu-ray 2 - Sony (2017) 40th Anniversary - Region 'FREE - Blu-ray

 

BOTTOM LINE: There is a lot to say in favor of Close Encounters which still looms large in Spielberg's impressive collection of blockbusters.  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 14 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.

I have to admit to be somewhat underwhelmed by the new 40th Anniversary Blu-ray package. As I say, I am starting to appreciate the visuals more upon repetition but the audio is a letdown. I continue to adore this film - perhaps because of my age - I was 14-years old when it came out. It impacted me heavily and still does so today. Brilliant storytelling... and, as we say, it is always nice to have choices for your home theater preferences.     

 

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Gary Tooze

 

Thank You!