H D - S E N S E I

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


Introduction: 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 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 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:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze







Beetlejuice [Blu-ray]


(Tim Burton, 1988)



Review by Gary Tooze



Video: Warner



Region FREE

Feature Runtime: 1:32:26

Chapters: 28

Feature film disc size: 19.4 Gig

One single-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 7th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1


English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 5.1, DUBs: Japanese: Dolby Digital 2.0, French: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0, German: Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0

Feature: Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Spanish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish and none


3 Episodes of the animated Beetlejuice TV series (12:15 X 3)

• Accessible Music only track in 5.1


Product Description: In the surreal, wonderfully cartoon-like comedy Beetlejuice, a childless couple, Barbara and Adam (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin), move to the country only to be killed in a car accident while passing over a quaint covered bridge. Their ghosts return to their beloved Victorian home, and find the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, which not only lets them know they're dead, but comes in handy when they learn that they can continue to live in their house, even though a new family—from the land of the living—is moving in. The new owners, fresh from the city, are quite a strange group themselves, and include the overpowering hipster mom Delia (Catherine O'Hara), her pompous SoHo interior designer Otho (Glenn Shadix), her meek husband Charles (Jeffrey Jones), and their morose teenage daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder), who befriends the ghostly couple. Though the threesome attempt to scare Delia from ruining the house with redecoration and her unpleasant personality, their attempts fail. As a last resort, they call upon the services of the demented, terrifying, but hilarious "bioexorcist," "Beetlejuice" (Michael Keaton)....




The Film:

In the mid-'80s, Tim Burton became the most sought-after director in Hollywood due to the wholly unanticipated financial returns of Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985). While Burton found himself deluged with offers of studio comedy projects, none of them appealed to the renegade Disney animator's bent for the bizarre. That changed when he was presented the initial screenplay for Beetlejuice (1988), an engagingly demented fantasy-comedy that became one of the biggest successes of its year.



Scenarist Michael McDowell's fanciful story, which owed an obvious debt to Topper (1937), caught Burton's immediate attention. As the director reminisced in his 1994 memoir Burton On Burton, "after Hollywood hammering me with the concept of story structure, where the third act doesn't work, and it's got to end with a little comedy, or a little romance, the script for Beetlejuice was completely anti all that; it had no real story, it didn't make any sense, it was more like stream of consciousness. That script was probably the most amorphous ever." ....

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


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

Although I felt this Blu-ray image quality gave a fairly true representation of its original theatrical viewing - there are no dominant high-definition characteristics to extol. It is not particularly detailed and although colors have a tendency to become vibrant when called upon - for the most part they are dullish and relatively flat for 1080P. It is hard to believe that Beetlejuice is 20 years old now but that is probably the most mitigating factor in its comparatively weak appearance. It doesn't ever really look 'bad' but it never climbs the heights that some may expect from this new format. There is some minor softness while background noise exists in a reasonable amount. Good film grain is visible. Technically it is single-layered with the feature size being a modest 19.4 Gig. I don't see strong evidence of DNR or edge enhancements. The VC-1encode does a its job but viewer expectations should be tempered with appreciating the film's age - it probably can't look much better than it does on this Blu-ray.
















Audio & Music:  
The major bump is to TrueHD and it has some moments of decent separation. It is never outstanding but some scattered sounds trickle to the rear speakers. Overall it is very clean and dialogue clear. Danny Elfman creates another very memorable score (that is also accessible as stand-alone in 5.1) and we have Harry Belafonte performing "Day-O" in that humorous scene. There are optional DUBs and subtitles offered in
a myriad of options identifying this edition is Region FREE to be sold across the globe.


Aside from the aforementioned Music only track we don't have much substance here. We get 3 episodes of the animated Beetlejuice TV series running just over 30 minutes in total. So, no Burton commentary or subsequent featurettes which seems as shame as the film has a following for all its quirky weirdness.

NOTE: My screener edition didn't come with a CD sampler or booklet which the consumer package will have.


Bottom line:
I'm not one of those who really enjoyed Beetlejuice. It was definitely interesting but I found the meandering story and pragmatic special effects disengaged me from any real entertainment value. The
image didn't endear the film to me either so while I'm not recommending - others may see the glass as half-full and indulge. The positives might be the surreal afterlife aspects of Beetlejuice and it's hard not to revel a bit in Keaton's over-the-top performance. To each his own. To end on a positive note; the Blu-ray will easily give you the best and most accurate presentation of the film for your home theater.

Gary Tooze

October 4th, 2008





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