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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Adventures of Captain Marvel [Blu-ray]

 

(John English, William Witney, 1941)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Republic Pictures

Video: Kino Films

 

Disc:

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

Average Chapter Runtime: 0:17:53.238 X 11 (and Chapter 1 is 0:30:11.017 minutes long)

Disc Size: 46,029,255,623 bytes

Chapter Size: 3,755,624,448 bytes bytes X 11 - Chapter one is 6,356,213,760 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.81 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 19th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1560 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1560 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentaries:

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

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Film Historians Jerry Beck, Chris Eberle, Shane Kelly, Boyd Magers, Leonard Maltin, Adam Murdough, Constantine Nasr, Donnie Waddell, Tom Weaver and J.D. Witney
Booklet essay by Matt Singer, editor-in-chief and film critic of ScreenCrush.com
Reversible Blu-ray Art

 

Bitrate Chapter 1:

 

 

Description: Newly Re-mastered from a 4K Scan by Paramount Pictures Archives! One of the Greatest Serials of All Time! Considered by many to be the finest serial ever made, Adventures of Captain Marvel chronicles the exploits of Captain Marvel (Tom Tyler, Sam Fuller's I Shot Jesse James), the world's mightiest mortal, as he combats the Scorpion, a hooded villain intent on obtaining six optical lenses that turn ordinary stones into gold! Highlighting the serial are the fabulous flying sequences by Republic's ace special effects team, Howard Lydecker and Theodore Lydecker. Combining a wired dummy photographed against real backgrounds in natural sunlight, with spectacular take-off leaps and landings supplied by action ace David Sharpe, the final effects are still as fascinating today as they were in 1941. Adventures of Captain Marvel marked the very first time a comic book superhero's exploits were transferred to the silver screen, and the resulting 12-chapter serial has yet to be equaled in excitement and entertainment. Directed by the great team of William Witney and John English, responsible for making some of the greatest serials of all time including the legendary Daredevils of the Red Circle.

 

 

The Film:

Adventures of Captain Marvel is a 12-episode Republic serial based on the comic book character of the same name. Young Billy Batson (Frank Coghlan Jr.) is part of a scientific expedition in a remote section of Siam. Trapped in an ancient tomb, Billy happens upon an ancient shaman acronymically named Shazam (each letter in his name stands for a famous Greek or Roman god). Because Billy has obeyed the warnings written on the sacred chamber, the old man rewards the boy with the ability to turn into superhero Captain Marvel (Tom Tyler). Billy can make the transformation only by uttering the word "Shazam!"--which explains why the script, for suspense purposes, contrives to have Billy bound and gagged at crucial moments. Young Batson finds that his alter ego comes in handy in determining the identity of "the Scorpion," a member of the expedition who plans to kill his colleagues after learning the secret hiding places of the components of a super-weapon called the Golden Scorpion. A well-above-average Republic entry, The Adventures of Captain Marvel is distinguished by the eye-popping stunt work of David Sharpe and by Captain Marvel's utterly convincing flying scenes, courtesy of special-effects maestros Howard and Theodore Lydecker.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

 

Captain Marvel was one of the greatest of comic strip characters until DC publications, creators of Superman, sued his publishers for plagarism and wiped him off the news-stands in the '50s. He was revived later by DC themselves, but when this vintage serial was put together he was at the height of his fame and glory. Young Billy Batson, who changes into superhero Captain Marvel on uttering the magic 'Shazam', here ventures to Siam to ensure that the secrets of the Scorpion Dynasty, violated from the tomb, are not put to wicked use (naturally by a mastermind intent on world domination). Fun.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

Adventures of Captain Marvel arrives on Blu-ray from Kino and is advertised as "Newly Re-mastered from a 4K Scan by Paramount Pictures Archives". The 12 chapter serial is on a dual-layered disc with a reasonable bitrate. It runs about 3 1/2 hours in total. This is over 75-years old and has plenty of surface scratches and speckles. Density seems affected and the contrast wavers - with some dark openings and is, overall, less consistent. I see some textures and the detail can have some surprising clarity. There is no real depth but this is all certainly watchable in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and it looks very appealing in-motion.

 

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

 

Character Profile Description of following Chapter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The score is credited to Cy Feuer (the Republic serial Jungle Girl, 1939's Sabotage) with both Ross DiMaggio and Mort Glickman- who are uncredited. The music here is typically up and down depending on the action - with a few violent outbursts shifts via in Kino's DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1560 kbps (16-bit). There are plenty of effects - sounds used when Captain Marvel is flying, guns, lava-slides etc. but it stays within the restraints of the era and original production as does the dialogue - flat without extensive depth. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

One of the best things about this wonderful serial on Blu-ray are the optional audio commentaries in every chapter by film historians Jerry Beck, Chris Eberle, Shane Kelly, Boyd Magers, Leonard Maltin, Adam Murdough, Constantine Nasr, Donnie Waddell, Tom Weaver and J.D. Witney. They take turns on chapters, sometimes duplicating or pairing together and these are fans of the serial - and as Maltin states - that "Adventures of Captain Marvel" was the best of them all. Lots of reminiscing exporting details about the actors and the production. I really enjoyed them. There is also a liner notes booklet essay by Matt Singer, editor-in-chief and film critic of Screen Crush and the package has reversible cover art (see below.)

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I continue to enjoy the whole concept of the 'serial' - from Jungle Girl to Judex. But Adventures of Captain Marvel is one of the best - and is dripping with innocence and nostalgia. The Blu-ray is the absolute best way to rifle through these little charmers. If this sounds like it is up your alley - I suggest going for it. Lots of campy pre-feature enjoyment here - each 'chapter' is just over 1/4 hour. I loved the mystery, characters and the secret, superhero, identity angle. We fully endorse serials on Blu-ray. This is a great one!

 

NOTE: Again, my only complaint was seeing the start-up (credits, main title etc.) but its only about 50 seconds - every time. I wish there was a way of bypassing it to go right to the action, but I suppose it is part of the original presentation. 

Gary Tooze

August 25th, 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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