|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
The Player [Blu-ray]
(Robert Altman, 1992)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Spelling Entertainment
Video: New Line / Criterion Spine # 812
Region: FREE!/ Region 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:04:19.994/ 2:04:27.126
Disc Size: 28,281,429,948 bytes/ 49,486,490,123 bytes
Feature Size: 26,955,079,680 bytes/ 29,136,893,952 bytes
Video Bitrate: 22.94 Mbps/ 27.25 Mbps
Chapters: 24 / 16
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Keep case
Release date: September 7th, 2010 / May 24th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 / 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: VC-1 Video / MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3844 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3844 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
/ DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2060 kbps
2.0 / 48 kHz / 2060 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz /
1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps
2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), French, Spanish, none
English (SDH), none
• Commentary with Robert Altman and Michael Tolkin
• One on One with Robert Altman (16:55 in SD)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:10 - SD)
•5 Deleted Scenes (13:32 - SD)
Audio commentary from 1992 featuring
director Robert Altman, writer Michael Tolkin, and
cinematographer Jean LÚpine
Description: “Movies. Now more than ever!” That’s the motto of the movie studio where fast-tracking exec Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) works. But rumor has it a power play could push Mill out. And a rejected writer who’s sending anonymous death threats could push him under. Robert Altman directs this acclaimed and satiric love/hate valentine to Hollywood, and from the bravura opening tracking shot to the spot-the-star cameos (60+!) to the inside skinny of studio life to the gleeful finale, you’re in good, knowing hands. The Player. Now more than ever!
If Robert Altman's The Player were nothing more than an
ingenious, gleefully close-to-the-bone satirical thriller about
Hollywood in the age of high concept...well, that alone would be plenty
to sing about. The film's achievement doesn't end there, though.
Miraculously, The Player is a true comeback for Altman — a
return, after more than 15 years, to the infinitely sly and supple
virtuosity that marked his great films of the '70s.
The Player is a film that will never look digitally pristine - even on Blu-ray. It can't improve beyond the stock used and it wasn't meant to 'wow' you with impressive visuals. This is true of most Altman films. Comparing to many other movies of the same era now available on digital - The Player can look unimpressively soft and hazy. This is not the, finger-wagging, fault of the transfer. To show some of how the move really has benefited to the rendering to 1080P - we have added some captures from the 1997 DVD Special Edition below. It represents a dramatic increase in detail and colors... but is still 'Altman-esque' :). It can even look like it has had DNR (digital noise removal) - a practice that New Line have become one of the major 'baddies' (see Dark City) BUT I still see plenty of noise here - most notable in the darker sequences where Griffin Mill (Robbins) meets with writer David Kahane (Vincent D'Onofrio). There is even some depth but detail will never rise to crystal clarity in Altman's The Player. Comparatively speaking though - it looks significantly superior to the pasty-looking DVD version - the Blu-ray is 5 X the bitrate. The transfer is dual-layered utilizing the VC-1 encode but I have no evidence to suggest an even stronger transfer would produce vastly superior results in the video presentation. It 'looks the way it looks' and much closer to theatrical.
The Criterion is a new 4K digital restoration... and there are plenty of differences in the video transfer of the 2010 New Line Blu-ray. Firstly, Criterion use the AVC as opposed to the inferior VC-1 encode. Criterion show it in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the New Line have it in the opened-up 1.78:1. So, we lose the information on all four sides but I suspect it is more accurate (although it is a guess on my part.) It's all Criterion - more robust, higher bitrate, 4K, better contrast - the Criterion is darker, richer, generally warmer flesh tones... and better detail, more depth - essentially more film-like.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is a strong lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 bump at 3844 kbps. Altman's trademark scattered dialogue blending and mixing conversations sounds clean and excellent. This is not an aggressive sounding film but separations do exist on the gentler level. Thomas Newman's score switches gears accordingly and can sound crisp and impressive. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Criterion use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2060 kbps (24-bit) for their audio transfer. So more original (stereo - as opposed to 5.1 surround bump) - still crisp and with depth. Thomas Newman's (In the Bedroom, American Beauty, Shawshank Redemption, Eric Brockovich) score sounds excellent and, presumably, more faithful in the simpler stereo. Criterion add optional English (SDH) subtitles on their region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.
Unfortunately, an opportunity was missed here and there are no new supplements. Found on the DVD is the edited commentary with Robert Altman and Michael Tolkin explaining motivations behind certain production choices, the pleasant and somewhat revealing 17-minute 'One on One' with the director and 5 deleted scenes - all in SD. There is also a theatrical trailer. The commentary is golden to the legion of Altman fans - the one-on-one interesting as well but offering something new would have certainly sweetened the pot for a potential purchase. Still there is significant value for those who don't already own the DVD.
Of course Criterion also advance upon the supplements. They include the audio commentary from 1992 featuring director Robert Altman, writer Michael Tolkin, and cinematographer Jean LÚpine as found on the New Line. But Criterion add a new 45-minute long Planned Improvisation which offers new interviews with Tolkin, actor Tim Robbins, associate producer David Levy, and production designer Stephen Altman reflecting back on the production. There is a 21-minutes interview with Altman from 1992 and an, almost, hour-long Cannes Film Festival press conference from 1992 with the cast and crew. Robert Altman’s Players, is a 16-minute documentary about the shooting of the film’s fund-raiser scene. Map to the Stars, is a gallery dedicated to the cameo appearances in the film identifying many of the film's notables from varies scenes. Criterion include six deleted scenes and outtakes and an interesting analysis of the film’s opening shot of 8-minutes, with alternate commentaries by Altman OR LÚpine and Tolkin. Lastly, we get a US Trailer, Japanese Trailer and TV spots plus the package contains a liner notyes booklet with an essay by author Sam Wasson.
New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
The Criterion Blu-ray is an obvious recommendation - the best a/v - most, and best, supplements - cool cover too! It had me fall in love with The Player all over again! Our highest endorsement!
September 1st, 2010
April 27th, 2016
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
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze