Most helpful critical review
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Classic, great film; but VERY POOR Blu-Ray version!
on December 26, 2012
This great film was given a poor, unforgivable, JUNK Blu-Ray transfer. It has soft focus, bad colors, way too much black, and odd blacks in the wrong scenes. The worst blu-ray picture quality, along with THE GREAT ESCAPE, that I have ever seen (and I viewed it on a new hi-def 55" TV). And, actually, THE GREAT ESCAPE, a 13-years-older film, has a nicer blu-ray picture than this awful ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN blu-ray. The idiots who remastered this for blu-ray must have never done this job before, plus someone had the moronic idea to make every scene darker than ever shown before, thus everyone's faces range from mildly too dark to WAY TOO dark in virtually every scene of the film. WHO IN HELL APPROVED THIS JOB BEFORE THEY RELEASED IT TO THE COMPANY THAT PRESSED ALL THE BLU-RAYS FOR THEM?
Honestly, my two regular commercial DVDs of this film (the 2-disc Special Edition [enhanced for 16x9] AND my previous, non-Special-Edition full-screen-and wide-screen version [flip over the DVD to view the other]) look MUCH better on my 1999 JVC 32" tube TV than this blu-ray disc looks on my Hi-Def TV. MUCH better. In fact, I played the blu-ray disc on that old TV--which has a blu-ray player connected to it, which of course down-converts blu-ray discs for it (and they normally look great on my tube TV, by the way)--but here again, THIS blu-ray ALSO looks WORSE on the old tube TV than does the plain DVD versions on that TV. True.
Some stupidly way-too-dark scenes in the blu-ray:
1) Early in the film, when Woodward talks with attorney "Markum" in their last exchange, while standing together after Markum went to get a drink of water at a water fountain near the courtroom they had just left (Markum was the one Woodward had sat behind at the hearing for the 5 Watergate burglars, the guy who was slightly annoyed with him). While they are now standing and talking near the water fountain, they are in freaking near-darkness! This is INSIDE a lighted room! I assure you this was NOT originally filmed this way "for effect"-- this scene is much brighter in the far-superior Xfinity Streampix version discussed below.
2) All scenes inside Jack Warden's office at the Washington Post, and in fact many other scenes in other locations within the Post's large offices-- the light is at least a bit too dim, the focus is soft (ESPECIALLY the focus for the actors, it is more weak than the focus of the office walls or furnishings), the colors are slightly bland (again, worse for the humans) . . . oy, what crap. All of these interior scenes are MUCH better on the Xfinity Streampix version, being both much brighter and much sharper.
3) Other indoor scenes later in the movie when Woodward and Bernstein are working together, alone, and are physically close to each other; yet it freaking looks like they are working in the dark-- yet they are in rooms with lights on!! Yet again, these scenes are much brighter and better in the Xfinity Streampix version.
Worst blu-ray I've ever gotten, out of 300 bought, and it's too bad, because I love this riveting movie. (I recently bought Redford's 1975 film, "Three Days of the Condor" on blu ray, and it is BEAUTIFUL-- SHARP, GLOSSY, and NEW-LOOKING. Yet, the film is a year older than ATPM!! I should add that even the "Three Days of the Condor" DVD, which I already owned, is FAR better in picture quality on an HD TV than the ATPM blu ray!)
There is simply nothing good to say about this "All The President's Men" blu-ray release except perhaps that it has all of the same extras that the 2-disc Special Edition DVD version has.
UPDATE - May 24, 2014 - Recently, my cable TV provider, Comcast (now, "Xfinity") offered this movie in Hi-Definition for free via their "StreamPix" (it's playing for free through June 30, 2014 where I live). Well, their HD version is really nice, almost "beautiful"-- it is LIGHT YEARS better than this awful blu-ray! I actually compared them, side by side and scene by scene, and for this comparison, I also pulled out my 2-disc Special Edition (enhanced for 16x9 TVs) DVD, plus the very first DVD of this film ever issued (with full-screen and wide-screen versions on flip sides of the disc), also compared vs. the Amazon Instant Video HD version, which I rented, and ALSO, I compared with a blu-ray that a very "techie" friend of mind was able to record for me off of his satellite TV system (he has recorded numerous, BEAUTIFUL HD blu-rays for me off of TV, with zero Hi-Def quality-loss vs. watching those programs "live" on an HDTV oneself. Amazing stuff.)
Among these six options, I have to say that the obvious WORST of the group of six is THIS overpriced blu-ray being reviewed here by us all-- the commercial blu-ray offered by Warner Brothers. The MOST noticable, and stupid, thing, in this commercially-made blu-ray is that in several indoor scenes IN BRIGHT or at least NORMAL LIGHT, the faces of the Redford, Hoffman, and whoever else is in the scene, are DARK! WAY under-lighted. Second, the quality is grainy-- and not in ANY positive sense, as everything is STILL soft-focus. Third, the colors are just not colorful in any way-- BOTH of my earlier DVDs are way more colorful (which still isn't highly colorful), as is the Xfinity StreamPix version (which is BY FAR the best of all versions.)
To rate these versions of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN when viewed on a HI-DEF TV, in order of best to worst, here goes:
1) Xfinity (Comcast) Streampix - By FAR the best, on ALL counts. Sharpest-focus HD picture, most vibrant colors, and SO MUCH brighter a picture. And no, friends, not "too" bright by any stretch; no, instead it's the ONLY one of the three Hi-Def versions I have that is merely SUFFICIENTLY bright, or normally bright. So that when you see these men in a meeting inside their fluorescent-bulbed office, you can see their faces normally and also see the detail on their faces (and on Jack Warden's bald head!). Again, this version is superior in EVERY WAY to all of the other choices! Even as to sound quality.
2) The WB Special Edition version (2-disc set), with the movie enhanced for 16x9 TVs - This DVD is darned good as to picture-quality, and beats out the blu-ray--YES-- EVEN on HD TV sets as well as on older tube TV sets. It has very nice colors, is sufficiently bright (though not quite as bright as the Xfinity Streampix version, but close in this regard), and is very sharp on an HD TV for merely a DVD!! Only slightly softer focus and slightly less bright than the above Xfinity Streampix version.
That "enhancing for 16x9 TVs" goes VERY far with many DVDs (UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT, THE PAPER CHASE, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, BLAME IT ON RIO, GLENGARRY, GLEN ROSS, and SHADE being SIX other personal favorites that are good examples of commercial (studio-issued) DVDs that ALSO look great on an HD TV, looking only a hair less than true High-Definition).
3) The first Warner Brothers studio-issued DVD (in full screen and flip over to wide-screen) - this might be the equal of #2 immediately above, as they sure look similar on my HD TV, but I ranked this version one notch below because it doesn't share the same disc with a full-screen version, and was issued later, so maybe SOMETHING was improved?! (Of course, the blu-ray is the newest of all, and YET is the worst of all, so who can ever tell!)
4) The Amazon Instant Video HD version. This one's picture quality is as sharp as the blu ray (big deal!), maybe a hair sharper, without the deep, deep blacks and without the graininess of the blu ray. But, still not sharp; nor bright enough. Hardly high-def-looking.
5) The blu-ray recorded by my near-genius friend for me from some satellite TV HD pay-per-view movie channel. Again, his blu-rays always looks gorgeous-- but just not THIS movie. The problem with this one is all about the satellite pay-movie network (I don't recall the name, but had never heard of it before) that he recorded it from, not his capabilities. Still, while this has soft focus, muted colors, and is too dark, with too much "black", it's still not as bad as #6, below.
6) Last and Worst: the commercial Warner Home Video blu-ray that we are reviewing here. Yuk! The worst on all counts except that its sound is better than #5, immediately above. They are actually offering this crap BD in a book version, too, which I'm sure is a nice add-on. But, this blu-ray is garbage, as to the movie, for all of the reasons enumerated above. Nearly all scenes are WAY too dark (such that faces are hard to see), colors are weak (they are muted plus there's way too much black), it needs to be A LOT brighter, the focus is SOFT, yet it is STILL the only one of the five that's grainy (and I rarely object to grain in an old movie when the picture is sharp as a result, but this is dull and soft-focus). The extras on the blu-ray, however, are all fine.
Stay away from this crap. The studio should be ashamed of itself for putting out such garbage.
By the way, as an owner of over 300 blu-rays, and many times that number of DVDs, I can say this is the first-ever blu-ray I have bought that was worse than the DVD. Think of that: how many of you own a studio-made DVD of a favorite film and look forward with great eagerness to getting the blu-ray, primarily for an improved, preferably much-improved, HD picture? (Yes, even in an old movie, a fine HD picture is still possible.) And we virtually always get a MUCH-better, nice HD picture when that blu-ray arrives! Well, not this blu-ray; it is worse than the DVD of this movie that you already may own.
I'm sorry to have to have written this. But I love this film, and also spent hours the other day comparing all six versions that I have against one another. This commercial blu-ray is simply the worst.
Can anyone here record a blu-ray of the Xfinity Streampix version????? My (out-of-state) buddy, unfortunately, cannot, since he doesn't have my cable TV company. And I know nobody else who knows how to do this, or has the equipment to do so (apparently, he tells me, what is needed primarily, besides knowledge of how to do it, is a computer with a huge hard drive of several Gb capacity.)
Hopefully, Warner will re-master this great film into at least a mediocre blu-ray. That would be nice . . . And, imagine how nice a truly good or great HD blu-ray would be!!!