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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Island of Lost Souls - Somewhat Lost on Blu-Ray, April 23, 2012
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This review is from: Island of Lost Souls (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I didn't know anything about this movie until I came across it about a month ago when I was searching for "Island of Dr Moreau" (1977). Being a huge fan of cinema and reading all the positive reviews, I bought the Criterion Blu-ray version which makes this the oldest film in my Blu-ray collection.

My biggest disappointment is that the movie shows its age and even Blu-ray doesn't do justice. Since I don't own the standard DVD, unfortunately, I cannot compare the Blu-ray Criterion edition to standard DVD but I doubt Blu-ray version is a whole lot better than the standard DVD (just a guess). I am sure other folks can speak more intelligently about the transfer and the difference, if there is any.

Another problem is that most parts of the film are very dark. Most of the scenes in the jungle, especially the ones that take place at night, are very dark and the details are impossible to see. So, in addition to being grainy, it also suffers from low-light levels.

I am not technically knowledgeable but my experience is that if the film is very old then there is not much that can be done to create that impressive Blu-ray crisp image that we are used to seeing in less-dated films. I first experienced this with History Channel's "World at War" documentary on Blu-ray.

The film itself is a classic and it was way ahead of its time back then and probably set horror genre to a whole new level. Makeup is simply amazing. They did a great job creating variety of beast-men which come to life at the climax of the movie. Even though Charles Laughton's (Dr Moreau) acting seems to be getting the most credit, my vote goes to Kathleen Burke whose portrayal of Panther Woman steals the show. She was very subtle in her role and her suffering was heartbreaking. I actually wasn't all that impressed with Charles Laughton's acting. He was grinning the whole time.

If you don't own this title in any format, I guess Criterion Blu-Ray edition is probably the best to own. Although I'd recommend reading more technical discussions about the transfer. I would love to see Island of Lost Souls in a better light but until then, I guess it will remain somewhat Lost, if not completely. That's still a good thing.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 3, 2013 6:51:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2014 11:21:26 PM PDT
Charlie says:
You said "my experience is that if the film is very old then there is not much that can be done to create that impressive Blu-ray crisp image that we are used to seeing in less-dated films. " You are mistaken.

Island of Lost Souls is a dark film (visually) and the original negative is long gone so it doesn't look like you expected (although it's a big improvement over the old VHS. It was never issued on DVD.) Many films of this age (or even older) took fantastic on blu-ray. Check out Kino's print of the complete Metropolis (1927) for a shining example. It all depends on the print it's being made from. If it's in good shape and was well shot (in focus, good film stock, etc) a quality blu-ray transfer will look far better than it could on DVD.
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