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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Hatari! [Blu-ray]

 

(Howard Hawks, 1962)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Paramount

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:37:32.901

Disc Size: 44,764,798,150 bytes

Feature Size: 44,551,643,136 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.49 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 11th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 829 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 829 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Theatrical Trailer (3:00 in 480i)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Hatari! is Swahili for "danger"--and also the word for action, adventure and broad comedy in this two-fisted Howard Hawks effort. John Wayne stars as the head of a daring Tanganyka-based group which captures wild animals on behalf of the world's zoos. Hardy Kruger, Gérard Blain and Red Buttons are members of Wayne's men-only contingent, all of whom are reduced to jello when the curvaceous Elsa Martinelli enters the scene. In tried and true Howard Hawks fashion, Martinelli quickly becomes "one of the guys," though Wayne apparently can't say two words to her without sparking an argument. The second half of this amazingly long (159 minute) film concerns the care and maintenance of a baby elephant; the barely credible finale is devoted to a comic pachyderm stampede down an urban African street, ending literally at the foot of Martinelli's bed. The other scene worth mentioning involves comedy-relief Red Buttons' efforts to create a fireworks-powered animal trap. Not to be taken seriously for a minute, Hatari is attractively packaged and neatly tied up with a danceable-pranceable theme song by Henry Mancini.

 

 

The Film:

Marked by the relaxed pace and tone of Hawks' later work, this could easily be seen as Only Angels Have Wings transferred from the Andes to the African bush. There's little plot but plenty of typically Hawksian situations as it follows the travails of a group of safari hunters (preservationists, not killers) working a game reserve. All the usual themes emerge as gently and naturally as bubbles from champagne: the need for professionalism and self-respect; the importance of the group and integration; attraction between men and women seen as conflict; and (echoing Monkey Business and Bringing Up Baby) asides on humans as animals. Light, sunny, and effortlessly switching between action and comedy, it also fascinates through its superb footage of the actual capture of the wildlife, in which the danger and the excitement of the chase are beautifully, precisely evoked. All in all, one of those rare films that genuinely constitutes a 'late masterpiece'.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

Howard Hawks made more classic movies in a wider variety of genres than just about any other director. His early days as a writer for MGM always served him well. There are countless tales – some of them may be apocryphal - of his freewheeling approach to direction turning mediocre screenplays into gold. In essence, Hawks knew what worked, and he had the guts to throw the rest away. But even he couldn’t completely save Hatari! (1962), an African action picture that boasts several exhilarating animal-capture sequences...and virtually no plot. “There wasn’t much story (to Hatari!),” he once admitted. “I accept anything anybody says about it.”

In place of a legitimate narrative, Hawks offered John Wayne tearing after rhinos, zebras, elephants, and giraffes - all shot on location in the wilds of Tanganyika. Wayne and his co-stars go toe-to-toe with real live animals, chasing them down in suped-up trucks and wrangling them like displaced cowboys (albeit the kind that are costumed by Edith Head). Outside of that, the characters mostly just play cards, argue, and flirt with women, but the chase scenes seem to be enough for the picture’s many admirers."

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

Hatari already available in Europe on Blu-ray and it lands in the US from Paramount as a bit of a disaster- visually speaking.  While I don't own the European BD - and I suspect a comparison is required. I see more over-processing here in edge-enhancement (more visible in the expanded captures) - in most scenes. So here, again, I have an issue - I will reiterate that I get heck in email from people who have either greater, or lesser sensitivity to manipulation than I do. I try to be honest. This, particular, transfer has crossed my personal threshold for being distracting in the 1080P presentation. It looked quite poor to me - worse than El Dorado. This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Despite the manipulation - even the source is weak... hence, perhaps the requirement to digitally 'improve'. It looks dirty, grain blotchy and artifacts visible. The image is also flat and unappealing. Those sensitive to EE will probably be highly displeased. I will try to obtain the European release, which I presume is also region FREE, and do a full comparison if it is different.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Paramount use a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 channel at a paltry 829 kbps. The film has audio that would support a more robust transfer but I suspect this is authentic. The great Henry Mancini (Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Experiment in Terror, Charade) scored the film which includes the The Sounds of Hatari Overture, Baby Elephant Walk, Swanee River etc. Effects sound flat and lifeless (some depth in animal sounds and chasing trucks) but the score seems the biggest beneficiary of the lossless. There are two Dolby foreign-language DUBs and subtitles offered on the region FREE disc BD playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Only a trailer. The film deserves more but the reasonable price reflects the lack of supplements.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is not very respectful of Hawks' film - manipulated image, bare-bones. It is not my favorite from the director - but I think it deserves a better 1080P transfer than this.  My reservations on the Blu-ray image may not apply to YOU (hence we include captures so you can, hopefully, make up your own mind.) I'll work on getting the European BD for comparison soon. I suspect it is different - regardless, this is a 'pass'.

Gary Tooze

February 24th, 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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