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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Scanners [Blu-ray]

 

(David Cronenberg, 1981)

 

 

 

   

 

   

 

  

 

   

 

Also available in a 'Limited Edition' Steelbook:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC)

Video: Koch Media / Criterion Collection Spine # 712 / Second Sight (UK)

 

Disc:

Region: B-locked / Region 'A' / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:42:51.539 / 1:43:17.774 / 1:42:51.206

Disc Size: 18,160,128,496 bytes / 49,428,492,208 bytes / 37,432,017,051 bytes

Feature Size: 18,069,301,248 bytes / 28,404,264,960 bytes / 26,581,131,264 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.99 Mbps / 32.67 Mbps / 29.10 Mbps

Chapters: 13 / 12 / 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case / Standard BD case and option for steelbook

Release date: June 10th, 2011 / July 15th, 2014 / December 4th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 / 1.78:1 / 1.78

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1719 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1719 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio German 1360 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1360 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1819 kbps 5.0 / 48 kHz / 1819 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

English, none

English, none

 

Extras:

• None

 

The “Scanners” Way, new documentary on the film’s special effects, featuring interviews with Cronenberg’s collaborators (22:57)
Mental Saboteur, a new interview with actor Michael Ironside (19:26)
The Ephemerol Diaries, a 2012 interview with actor and artist Stephen Lack (14:23)
Excerpt from a 1981 interview with Cronenberg on the CBC’s The Bob McLean Show (11:07)
New, restored 2K digital transfer of Stereo (1969), Cronenberg’s first feature film (1:02:43)
Trailer (2:22) and radio spots (1:33)
• PLUS: An essay by critic Kim Newman

• DVD included

 

My Art Keeps Me Sane - Interview with Star Stephen Lack (23:46)
The Eye of Scanners - Interview with Cinematographer Mark Irwin (15:11)
The Chaos of Scanners - Interview with Executive Producer Pierre David (13:43)
Exploding Brains & Popping Veins - Interview with Makeup Effects Artist Stephen Dupuis (9:33)
Bad Guy Dane - Interview with Actor Lawrence Dane (5:18)

 

Bitrate:

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

Description: The title of this David Cronenberg sci-fi horror film refers to a group of people who have telekinetic powers that allow... them to read minds and give them the ability to make other people's heads explode. The children of a group of women who took an experimental tranquilizer during their pregnancies, the scanners are now adults and have become outcasts from society. But Darryl (Michael Ironside) decides to create an army of scanners to take over the world. The only person who can stop him is his brother Cameron (Stephen Lack), who wants to forget that he was ever a scanner. Winner of the International Fantasy Film Award at the 1983 Fantasporto Film Festival, Scanners was followed by a pair of sequels, neither of which involved Cronenberg.

~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide.

 

 

The Film:

This looks less like Cronenberg's popular mid-'70s exploiters (Rabid, Shivers) than one of his early experimental films remade on a higher budget, with a small group of 'scanners' (warrior-telepaths) fighting off a sinister mind-war army that is backed, indirectly, by industry and the state. Part conspiracy thriller, part political tract, it is Cronenberg's most coherent movie to date, drawing a dark (but bland) world in which corporate executives engineer human conception to produce ever more powerful mental samurai. And he punctuates it with spectacular set piece confrontations which really do dramatise the abstract, ingenious premise. As always, there's a nagging feeling that the script is not quite perfectly realised on screen, but Patrick McGoohan's bizarre cameo performance, and the extraordinary moral and sexual ambiguity of the final scanning contest, more than make up for it.

Excerpt from TimeOut London located HERE

In a stalwart example of camp, early in Scanners, a man addresses a room of people — it is a conference, of sorts. He is a scanner, and intends to display his ability to the group. A man volunteers, sits beside the speaker, and is soon scanned (the process involves, in the scanner, tightening every muscle, clenching teeth, and glaring evilly). Unbeknownst to the speaker, the volunteer is a renegade scanner, and more powerful. The two become awkwardly tense, convulse a bit, and the speaker’s head explodes — it is a perfect culmination for the building action.

“Scanning” involves telepathy although, exampled here, the process causes harm in the scanned. In other hands this ability may have been depicted in a humorous or respected manner (What Women Want) — it would be a talent, whereas here it is a handicap as well as skill. The conflict arises between two groups of scanners: one set for world domination, the other set to stop them
.

Excerpt from Rumsey Taylor at NotComingToATheaterNearYou located HERE

 

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

The best I can say for Scanners on Blu-ray is that it looks better than SD. Some colors are bright - it is clean and there is some infrequent depth on the single-layered 1080P transfer. There is a green hue over much of the image and background grain can be downright blotchy. I may be hyper-critical as it did give me the best presentation of the film I've yet seen - but the Blu-ray leaves some room for improvement. Detail has impressive moments in Scanner's close-ups and contrast wavers from modest to strong - dependant on the scene. The effects aren't overly-transparent through the higher resolution and remain as gruesome as ever.  As a bare-bones quickie Blu-ray - it's visually 'okay' for a late night viewing.

 

The Criterion is advertised as being a new, restored 2K digital film transfer, supervised by director David Cronenberg. The Koch colors appear boosted and it looks very green beside the darker US rendering and it is, occasionally, out of ratio with wider, fatter faces. The 1.78:1, 1080P, Criterion is transferred to a dual-layered disc with a very high bitrate. It looks super with strong earth tones and subdued, but richer, colors. Flesh tones are much more realistic and the visuals are tighter with more detail. Contrast is another area of advancement and there is no noise and has some depth. To me, this darker appearance looks far more film-like but I can't speak to it being theatrically accurate.

 

Okay, so we added the Second Sight Blu-ray captures - after a lot of email,  some of it, complaining about the Criterion appearance not being theatrically accurate. The UK 1080P matches closer to the German transfer colors but doesn't have the 'ratio' anomalies. The UK transfer has a high bitrate and looks quite good 'in-motion'. It's good to compare as fans have a distinct option now of whihc they feel is the one they want to own. One difference is that the 1.78:1 Criterion shows more information at the bottom of the frame - but less ta the top than the Second Sight - which is also 1.78:!!  

 

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

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Audio :

Koch have provided lossless tracks in both original English and a German DUB via DTS-HD Master 5.1 bump at around 1600 kbps. The intense and suspenseful score is by Howard Shore who has an impressive resume of work behind him. There is some less-overwhelming depth and clean high end. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'.

 

No bump, Criterion transfer the film's audio to an authentic linear PCM mono track. It sounds flat but there is depth in the film's many effects. Howard Shore's score sounds eerie and haunting via the lossless. There are optional English subtitle sand the disc is region 'A'-locked.

 

Second Sight give the option of a, similar-sounding to the Criterion, linear PCM track (but in 2.0 channel stereo) but also offer a DTS-HD Master 5.0 surround at 1819 kbps. I did notice some extra depth and a few adroit separations but they weren't dynamically crisp but again, it is nice for fans to have the option. The Second Sight also offers optional English subtitles and their disc is region 'B'-locked.

 

 

Extras :

No extras at all. They intended some but the Blu-ray authoring team's heads all blew off.

 

Criterion stack their release with some keen extras. The “Scanners” Way is a new, 23-minute, documentary by Michael Lennick, a Toronto-based filmmaker, on the film’s 'pre-digital' special effects, featuring interviews with several of David Cronenberg’s collaborators. Mental Saboteur is a new 20-minute interview with actor Michael Ironside who discusses Scanners and his extensive career in both Canada and Hollywood. The Ephemerol Diaries, is a 15-minute 2012 interview with actor and artist Stephen Lack who discusses how he became involved with Scanners and his notable career as a visual artists. There is a 10-minute excerpt from a March 10th, 1981 interview with Cronenberg on the CBC’s The Bob McLean Show. They talk about Scanners and some of his earlier films. We get a new, restored 2K digital transfer of Stereo (1969), David Cronenberg’s first feature film. It is about medical experiments and telepathy and is a clear pre-cursor to Scanners. The 65-minute film stars Ronald Mlodzik who would go ion to appear in Cronenberg's Crimes of the Future (1970), Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977). There is also a trailer and 3 radio spots. The package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Kim Newman and the dual-layered set includes 2 DVDs of the feature with all the extras of the Blu-ray.

 

Second Sight are very impressive with their extras - all original (I believe) done in-house. There are an hour+ worth of 5 video interview pieces including one with star Stephen Lack entitles 'My Art Keeps Me Sane', another interview with Cinematographer Mark Irwin called 'The Eye of Scanners' lasting 1/4 of an hour, an interview with Executive Producer Pierre David - The Chaos of Scanners and a fourth with Makeup Effects Artist Stephen Dupuis entitled Exploding Brains & Popping Veins. There is a short last one with actor Lawrence Dane called "Bad Guy Dane". Great stuff from the UK production company!

 

Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

 

Second Sight - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
There is a campy edge to Cronenberg's Scanners. From that angle - I like it. In fact there are plenty of positives - including a very deliberate build with enough unknowns to keep you attentive. The Blu-ray is second tier but probably won't be bested anytime soon. Fans may wish to pick it up.

 

Three years later and Criterion's package is a massive improvement over the Koch - in every area. The supplements are great and the supervised transfer seems far more in-line with the original release. The director's fanbase should be all over this Blu-ray. Recommended!

 

Thanks for the notifications about this UK Blu-ray release. It obviously got by me - and its a great 1080P edition! Those voicing displeasure with the Criterion (and the Koch Media) have the option of picking up the Second Sight! We can endorse that it is a magnificent package!  

Gary Tooze

June 30th, 2011

June 27th 2014

July 18th, 2014

 

 

 

   

 

   

 

  

 

   

 

Also available in a 'Limited Edition' Steelbook:


 

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.

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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