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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Black Widow [Blu-ray]

 

(Bob Rafelson, 1987)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Video: Twilight Time

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:41:51.438  / 1:41:51.563

Disc Size: 28,654,795,887 bytes / 23,904,999,516 bytes

Feature Size: 28,416,976,896 bytes / 19,670,597,184 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.98 Mbps / 21.92 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case / Standard (think) UK Case

Release date: October, 2015 / March 7th, 2016

 

Video (same for both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1636 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1636 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1865 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1865 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1449 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1449 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles (same for both):

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
TV Spots (1:35)
Isolated Score Track
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:00)

Liner notes by Julie Kirgo

Limited to 3,000 Copies!  

 

Audio commentary with film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman

The Predator and Her Prey (2016, 27:06): revealing new interview with writer Ronald Bass
Bright Colours, Deep Blacks (2016, 28:27): assistant cameraman Conrad W. Hall on the visual style of Black Widow
Lobby cards, poster and stills gallery (1:08)
Original theatrical trailer (1:59 - HD)
4 x US TV spots (HD - 2:06)
HoH subtitles on the feature, trailer and TV spots

 

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Description: With Black Widow (1987), maverick director Bob Rafelson gives us the alluring tale of a seductress (Theresa Russell) who marries and murders a series of wealthy men, getting away with her crimes until an equally clever female adversary – a Justice Department drone (Debra Winger) as bewitched as she is repelled by her quarry – picks up the Black Widow’s scent. Also starring Dennis Hopper, Sami Frey, and Nicol Williamson as an entertaining trio of poor saps. Shot by the incomparable Conrad Hall and featuring a superlative score from Michael Small, available on this Twilight Time release as an isolated track.

 

 

The Film:

Black Widow bears no relation to the 1954 film of the same name--beyond its characterization of the female as the deadlier of the species, that is. Debra Winger stars as a federal agent who has sworn to bring Theresa Russell to justice. Ms. Russell has married several millionaires who have all died mysterious deaths, for which she has remained undetected because she has assumed a number of different identities. Ms. Winger is the only person in her department who suspects that all of the deceased millionaires' widows are the same person. Finally tracking down Russell, Winger finds herself inexorably becoming friends with the charming murderess.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

From its opening shot - Theresa Russell's split reflection in a make-up mirror - both the theme and the over-schematic symbolism of Rafelson's thriller are immediately apparent. For Russell plays a homicidal psychopath whose killings of various wealthy husbands are investigated by a Justice Department workaholic (Winger), who slowly but surely becomes a kind of mirror-image of her Protean prey. The story and treatment are familiar from '40s noir thrillers, but it's clear that Rafelson is attempting something more than mere homage. Disappointingly, the femme fatale - apparently in love with her husbands even as she plans their demise - is presented as somehow more female, fulfilled and complete than the career woman, who in turn eventually discovers both dress sense and the joy of sex with her opposite's next victim-to-be.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

Black Widow comes to Twilight Time Blu-ray in a dual-layered, 1080P transfer with their usual high bitrate. The visuals are reasonable but not overwhelming. Contrast has some decent layering and colors look true and fairly tight in the HD transfer. It looks quite consistent in-motion with no damage or speckles.  I see no evidence of manipulation or noise. This Blu-ray gives a good presentation in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio - probably as good as it will get for this film.

 

Technically the Twilight Time is superior but it wasn't noticeable on my 60" system. Signal One also looks strong - no color variances, adept 1080P - no noise or issues. Thumbs up!

 

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

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1636 kbps (24-bit) sounds clean with a few richer moments in pushing the film's modest requirements for the limited effects and depth. The score by Michael Small (Child's Play, Night Moves, The Driver, The Star Chamber) and it seems competent but is fairly subtle - easily supported by the uncompressed. There are optional English subtitles (sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Signal One use a linear PCM track at 2304 kbps (also 24-bit) and my ears couldn't detect much of a difference. It might have been a bit crisper in the higher end and a shade more depth but I wouldn't say I was positive on that. It also offers optional English (SDH) subtitles - not only for the feature but the trailer and TV spots as well. It is region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Twilight Time add a new, impressive, audio commentary with film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman who discuss Rafelson's subtleties, the performances etc. It's quite rewarding. There is also the usual Isolated Score Track, 3 TV Spots and an original theatrical trailer. The package has some liner notes by Julie Kirgo and is limited to 3,000 copies.

 

Signal One gain superiority with their supplements - they offer the same audio commentary with film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman as found on the Twilight Time and add two new Robert Fischer-produced, excellent, Fiction Factory documentaries; The Predator and Her Prey is a revealing new interview with, the writer Black Widow, Ronald Bass and runs almost 1/2 hour and Bright Colours, Deep Blacks spends a similar length of time with assistant cameraman Conrad W. Hall on the visual style of Black Widow. There are lobby cards, poster and stills gallery an original theatrical trailer, and 4 x US TV spots.

 

Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Black Widow is a above average femme-fatale thriller. The performances are strong and it's very entertaining. The Twilight Time Blu-ray provides as good an a/v transfer for the film and further value with the commentary, isolated score and liner notes. It's a complete package of a very suspenseful and watchable film - no masterpiece, but entertaining - certainly recommended!

 

If you are hyper-sensitive about the video quality (as in you project 120" or more) then you might lean to the Twilight Time but most will be satisfied with the Signal One a/v and they get the hour's worth of 2 Fiction Factory documentaries as well as the commentary. The more I watch the film the more I appreciate the Noir touches and great performances. We can also certainly endorse the Signal One. 

Gary Tooze

October 29th, 2015

April 2nd, 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 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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