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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Westworld [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael Crichton, 1973)

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Video: Aventi vs. Warner

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:25:07.200 / 1:28:48.364

Disc Size: 17,632,992,804 bytes / 22,445,964,785 bytes

Feature Size: 17,507,094,528 bytes / 18,520,633,344 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.51 Mbps / 21.73 Mbps

Chapters: 1 / 32

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 3rd, 2012/ March 5th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (both)

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD High-Res Audio English 3840 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3840 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUB: DTS-HD High-Res Audio French 3840 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3840 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3331 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3331 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

French, none

English, French, German, Italian, Spanish , Korean, none

 

Extras:

• None

On Location With Westworld (9:07)

1980 Pilot "Beyond Westworld" (47:52)

Trailer (3:07)

 

Bitrate:

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: Welcome to Westworld, where nothing can go wrong...go wrong...go wrong....Writer/director Michael Crichton has concocted... a futuristic "Disneyland for adults", a remote resort island where, for a hefty fee, one can indulge in one's wildest fantasies. Businessmen James Brolin and Richard Benjamin are just crazy about the old west, thus they head to the section of Westworld populated by robot desperadoes, robot lawmen, robot dance-hall gals, and the like. Benjamin's first inkling that something is amiss occurs when, during a mock showdown with robot gunslinger Yul Brynner, Brolin is shot and killed for real. It seems that the "nerve center" of Westworld has developed several serious technical glitches: the human staff is dead, and the robots are running amok. Suddenly promoted to the film's hero, Benjamin (who seems as surprised and shocked as the audience) must first avoid, then face down the relentless Brynner. Much of Westworld was lensed on the expansive grounds of the old Harold Lloyd estate in Beverly Hills, so it's no surprise that there's something Lloydlike about Dick Benjamin's instinct for self-preservation.

 

 

The Film:

Despite faults (chiefly a dispersal of its energies), a wonderfully enjoyable fantasy about a futuristic holiday resort offering robot worlds of exotic sex, romance or violence amid the licence of ancient Rome, the gallantries of a medieval chateau, or the gunslinging frontier town. Best and most fully realised of these worlds is the Western, with Brynner (brilliant) as the robot gunman required to die, bloodily, every time a greenhorn tourist challenges him to the draw. Until, that is, the robots begin to malfunction - or rebel: only the computers that designed them know exactly how they work - and the Brynner machine sets out, now part mad killer and part Frankenstein monster, in quest of revenge. Great stuff.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Westworld was filmed in several locations including the Mojave Desert, the gardens of the Harold Lloyd Estate, and several sound stages at MGM. Apparently the film was shorn of ten minutes prior to its release in order to earn a PG rating which makes you wonder what the R-rated footage could have been. Perhaps a sequence with Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, and those obliging saloon girls?

According to Crichton, in an interview with Cinefantastique correspondent Stuart Kaminsky, Westworld took "thirty days to shoot. It had a typical post-production schedule...about 12 or 13 weeks. Five weeks were for the director's cut. We had shot about 110,000 feet of film on a budget of $1,300,000. We finished under budget and on time. In editing the picture I must have seen it, literally, hundreds of times.".

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Westworld certainly looks better than the German Blu-ray of its sequel, Futureworld. Despite the reasonably modest single-layered transfer the visuals are bright and detailed. Contrast is strong and the image is very clean without digital manipulation. Daylight scenes may be more impressive but nothing is overly dark and there is no undo noise. There are sequences of surprising depth. This Blu-ray has a crispness to it that elevates it above SD. Fans of the film should be reasonably pleased - not only with the image but the mere release of this inventive 70's sci-fi gem.

If you toggle back and forth between the two Blu-ray releases (use the 1080 captures) you can see that either the Aventi transfer is vertically stretched or the new, single-layered, Warner is horizontally stretched. I lean to the latter - but aside from that the French release looks better to me. I don't know if it is more accurate (color-wise) but I prefer the appearance. They are both in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio but the Warner shows more information in the top and bottom but less on the right edge. The Aventi also appears sharper to me (I see no edge enhancement). opinions may differ but the captures are there to see.

 

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

 

Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray Subtitle Sample

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

The lossless boost - a DTS-HD High-Res5.1 surround at 3840 kbps is also pleasing. It supports the film's effects with some surprising buoyancy. There is some potent bass resulting in impressive depth. The original music by Fred Karlin supports the films action and suspense very well and is competent via the uncompressed rendering. There is a French DUB - also in HD and there are optional French subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

I didn't note any differences in the audio track - the Warner is technically very similar - also lossless but does offer many foreign language DUBs - and it has English, and other, optional subtitles. The Warner Blu-ray is region FREE.

 

Extras :

There are no supplements. Like myself, I am sure many believe the film deserves some discussion but alas, there is not even a trailer.

The Warner includes the 9-minute vintage featurette entitled On Location With Westworld as well as the 1980 TV Pilot "Beyond Westworld" with Jim McMullan. It ran for only five episodes and this Pilot was about 47-minutes long. An interesting inclusion that fans of the original film might find a cool curiosity. There is a trailer for the film as well.

 

Aventi- Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Warner - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
It was very enjoyable to revisit Westworld after many years. This is a great story by Crichton and well realized as a film. Kitsch value is there but this still holds up a premium sci-fi. The Blu-ray is quite solid. It's bare-bones but I expect many will be happy to own it in such a competent HD transfer. We recommend!

The Warner has better extras, is region FREE and has subtitles and DUBs but I think I still prefer the Aventi appearance despite which may be more accurate. It's great to have the choice. The Warner is priced very reasonably. 

Gary Tooze

April 16th, 2012

February 15th, 2013

 

 


 

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 5000 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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