Monday, August 23, 2010

Escape from New York Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 31.4 GB
Film Size: 31.0 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: A
The Video
Escape from New York comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film is certainly a mixed bag, however having seen a UK import of ‘Escape from New York’ on Blu-ray this is certainly a welcome upgrade.

The U.S. Blu-ray release while far from perfect either at least features a high-def look throughout. The film is dark and at times muddy looking; however the Blu-ray presentation does seem to present everything accurately.

The Blu-ray encode itself is actually very healthy and free of any actual tech-related issues. Unfortunately the film’s look makes it hard for the Blu-ray release to ever really impress. Detail levels certainly aren’t as strong as I would have hoped, but there is no denying that this is the best the movie has ever looked.

Grain is thankfully present throughout and colors look natural and appealing. Black levels are generally solid, although there are a few scenes in which I wish they were just a bit inkier. Overall I do think the film looks pretty good in high-definition, the source limits this one from standing out among catalog releases however.

The Blu-ray release is a clear upgrade compared to the DVD version as well as the available U.K. import and I am happy for that. At the end of the day, I think Fox did a great job with the transfer. Could it been better? Perhaps, if touched up a little (and properly). That being said, this is one movie that will never make for demo material. 7/10.

The Audio
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is the lossless track included. Also included is an English Dolby Surround track and French 5.1 Dolby Digital track. Optional subtitles include English (SDH) and Spanish.

The audio mix is certainly far more front heavy, but I expected it somewhat. The audio actually does sound quite good through. Dialogue is presented front and center and sounds crisp and easy to understand for the most part (there were just a few moments which were a bit muddier).

The film’s audio effects usually come through the front left and right speakers, but they also have a decent oomph to them (certain audio effects themselves are just a bit cheesy though). The film’s retro style music comes through clearly as well.

While I did say the mix is quite front heavy, there are some nice surround use moments throughout. When surround use is present, the mix features fantastic direction as audio effects travel throughout. Smaller details to the environments are also present through the surround speakers.

Overall the audio mix is a very solid one. I wasn’t always amazed, but it certainly was better than I expected. Fans of the film and audiophiles in general will find the audio mix included to be very pleasing for a catalog release. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray disc):

No extras are included on the Blu-ray disc.

Disc 2 (DVD):

DVD copy of the film

Theatrical Trailer (SD)

The Blu-ray disc itself does not include any extras, which is extremely disappointing. A DVD copy is included to make up for the lack of extras, but is almost as big of a fail, including only a theatrical trailer.

I do have some information regarding this release though and why extras are not included. The film’s encode was created in the first half of 2009, as well as menus, etc. When the disc itself was pressed I am not sure, however I do know that this disc has been prepped for quite some time.

Regardless, that is not an excuse for a lazy port. But it does make it easier to understand as many Fox/MGM releases have been released as featureless discs in the past couple of years on Blu-ray. Had the disc been prepared now, surely we would have seen features included. Oh well, this one is unfortunately not one of those.

I will give the extras a small score boost, simply for including a DVD with at least the theatrical trailer. 0.5/10.

The Movie
Escape from New York is directed by John Carpenter and stars Kurt Russell as lead character Snake Plissken. At the time of theatrical release (1981), the film was a futuristic adventure about the year 1998 in which crime-rates increased nearly 400% and criminals were contained on Manhattan Island with no way of getting out.

The film’s story begins when Air Force One is hijacked causing the plane to crash in Manhattan Island and killing almost everyone. The President of the United States is a survivor and is held hostage. This causes the police to recruit Snake Plissken to rescue the President of the United States, in doing so he would be pardoned and be a free man….however if he fails to rescue the President within 24 hours he will die.

To those who have not seen the film, the overall story may sound a bit familiar as the crime-infested city theme has been reused for some recent films (Including Doomsday). That being said, Escape from New York is certainly a better effort.

The film is fun and despite being lower budget, I actually like it very much. The sequel, Escape from L.A., is bigger in every aspect, however that doesn’t make it any better than Escape from New York. The film definitely feels dated, but there is still plenty to enjoy about Escape from New York. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Escape from New York is a fun action/adventure film which is still incredibly enjoyable. The Blu-ray release is pretty good, featuring a respectable video presentation and pleasing audio mix. The extras (or lack thereof) are extremely upsetting and make this release a bit less desirable. Overall the Blu-ray release is still ‘Recommended’ to fans of the film, but only at a great price.

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