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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Valley of Gwangi [Blu-ray]

 

(Jim O'Connolly, 1969)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner Brothers/Seven Arts

Video: Warner Archive

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:35:27.763

Disc Size: 29,748,915,718 bytes

Feature Size: 27,907,885,056 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 33

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 14th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2019 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2019 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Return to the Valley (8:04)

• Gwangi and Vanessa (DVD Easter Egg) - 1:03

Trailer (2:44)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Cowpokes head into a mysterious Mexican valley to head 'em up and move 'em out. But they're not looking for little doggies. They're looking for great big dinosaurs.

James Franciscus stars in this thunderous adventure featuring amazing special effects by Ray Harryhausen [The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Clash of the Titans (1981)]. Franciscus plays a Wild West showman who leads his riding and roping crew into the title region, where prehistoric giants still roam. Thanks to Harryhausen wizardry, fantastic creatures lunge, fight and rampage in scene after dazzling scene (including an awesome sequence where the cowboys rope Gwangi, a razor-toothed allosaurus). Saddle up and join the excitement.

 

 

The Film:

A Charles Schneer/Ray Harryhausen fantasy for Dynamation special effects fans only: a reworking of the King Kong structure that has turn-of-the-century Wild West show boss Franciscus venturing into Mexico's Forbidden Valley in search of prehistoric specimens. A formula writing credit for William Bast, one of the very few screenwriters to have been characterised on screen: by Michael Brandon in the telemovie James Dean, which tracked the friendship between the actor and Bast from UCLA to Dean's death..

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Promoter Tuck Kirby arrives in a small Mexican town to visit T. J. Breckenridge, his ex-partner and girl friend who now owns a financially troubled Wild West show. Tuck suggests that she sell the show and marry him, but T. J. boasts of a new attraction that promises to make her wealthy. She shows Tuck a miniature horse which she obtained from Carlos, a gypsy who defied native superstition by removing the creature from the nearby Forbidden Valley. Baffled, Tuck takes the tiny animal to British paleontologist Prof. Horace Bromley who claims that it belongs to a species believed to have been extinct for over 50 million years. Before the horse can be put on display, however, it is stolen by gypsies and returned to the Forbidden Valley. Despite warnings about Gwangi, the monstrous 14-foot reptile that rules the valley, Tuck, T. J., and several cowboys enter the area and find themselves in a prehistoric world.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

 

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

The Valley of Gwangi appears pretty solid on Blu-ray from The Warner Archive. This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. It has been transferred in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The only issue is that with the higher resolution you see the weakness in the real-life screens behind or adjacent to Harryhausen's excellent effects. It's a function of the way it was produced but the tight lines of 1080P cause a disparity between the general sharpness and those visuals with effects. Generally, though it looks excellent - great colors - a shade inconsistent but that would be too picky. The monsters look fabulous.  This Blu-ray offers a pleasing presentation - far in advance of SD.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is rendered in a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2019 kbps (24-bit). It doesn't have any flaws and the effects carry some weight in the dinosaur and horse sounds. This is partially a western and the original score is by Jerome Moross (notable for wholesome western tracks for The Jayhawkers, The Big Country, Have Gun - Will Travel (TV) and large productions like The War Lord and The Cardinal)- it runs parallel to the film adding to the action adding an air of excitement and adventure. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Not much and all from the last DVD (I think). Return to the Valley runs juts over 8-minutes and has lots of Harryhausen back-slapping as he also discusses the film. Gwangi and Vanessa was a brief DVD Easter Egg with Harryhausen talking about his young daughter's input in the Gwangi dinosaur models. There is also a trailer.

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I'm always in the mood for Harryhausen's creatures and while The Valley of Gwangi isn't premium cinema - it will do in a pinch. I have trouble in that it takes so long to get going - about 40-minutes in before they get into the valley for some dinosaur-spotting. Still, it goes on the shelf with the rest of my Harryhausen Blu-rays. There are some decent plot points here and character acting from the likes of Laurence Naismith - often playing a professor. Fans get my endorsement.

Gary Tooze

March 14th, 2017


 

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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