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'The Magnificent Seven' on Blu Ray!,
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This review is from: The Magnificent Seven [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I am a huge fan of Steve McQueen and as such purchasing The Magnificent Seven on Blu Ray was a no brainer for me, a true must purchase item.
This movie is a classic and set a very high standard for all Westerns to come. With that said, this review is going to deal with the actual Blu Ray transfer , both video and audio , and not the plot or performances contained in it.
This being another 'quickie' catalog release from MGM, a studio in bankruptcy, I was not expecting too much here and afraid the technicians would just slather the image with tons of DNR, Edge Enhancement and call it a day. Luckily for me and all fans of this film I was wrong! Phew!
Here is the good news: This film has not been DNR'd to death at all. I can't see any actually, and as for edge enhancement, I just don't see that either. GREAT! A pretty natural looking image, nothing spectacular, but solid color and an almost fully stable image. There are a few very short instances of 'image/telecine wobble' but nothing too severe and only a few times. Chances are most folks won't even notice it.
Generally the image is pleasing,. Although there are SOME soft shots, a few horrible looking grainy shots, a bit of mosquito noise on certain blue sky shots and a grainy blurriness every single time the picture dissolves/fades into another scene, rather than a clean cut. I watched this carefully and noticed that most of the video problems occur in the first 50 minutes of the film, with the remaining hour and 18 minutes being just about issue free and VERY nice to look at for a 1960 film. Seriously, unless you are picking it apart, you will just notice a few soft grainy shots and everything else should look pretty good to you, bordering on very good.
Note that this transfer is not anywhere near a reference catalog title and stands no chance of winning Blu Ray release of the year or anything like that. I absolutely think most video reviews on name brand reviewer sites have inflated the video quality of this transfer. It was no where near as good as I was expecting, but then again no where near as bad either! Did I enjoy watching it? YOU BET! I can honestly say this is the very best this film has looked in home release format. EVER! Period!
The sound fares better than the picture I think. A decent DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track is your only option. Basically this film is front heavy and center heavy. Every now and then you might get a gunshot or ricochet in a surround speaker, but most all the action and sound takes place up front and in the center channel. On the other hand, there is more LFE for your Sub than you would expect. Only a few lines of dialogue here and there were hard for me to hear, even with my surround system cranked up a bit. Most of it is clear as a bell with both music and sound effects sounding fine. I ran into a small segment towards the end where the audio/video sync was off. It was not my system and I could duplicate it multiple times with the problem always occurring in the same spot. When Charles Bronson paddles the kids behind, you see it, then hear the whack whack whack! Since the mouths are moving BEFORE the sound, the delay adjustment on your receiver will be useless. Fortunately, this disappears in a few minutes as if it had never happened and mouths and words match up once again. I have only ran into an actual disc/audio problem once before and that was on the last Dirty Harry movie, The Dead Pool. I am convinced that both discs have some sort of authoring problem that causes this.
**If you see the same sequence and the sound IS in synch please write a comment on my review so I know it is my gear and not the disc. Thanks.
There is a pretty nice selection of extras on this disc. Most come directly ported over from the 2 DVD collectors set. The audio commentary is particularly good, with stars James Coburn and Eli Wallach, plus the producer and assistant director. Not bad and at times quite entertaining and informative. When I really love a movie I tend to eat this stuff up and this was no exception. Also included is a very nice 46 minute 'making of' type documentary that offers lots of good stories and trivia. Another 15 minute documentary on composer Elmer Bernstein's score, and yet another shorter 'making of' piece called 'The linen Book'. Add to all of that two trailers and you can see this is a pretty hefty offering for bonus features.
The Magnificent Seven was a big hit, first in Europe and then in America. It is still revered today by both classic film buffs and Western genre fans. I love it because it launched Steve McQueen into stardom. It has a lot of appeal that works on many different levels. The score in particular is as rousing and inspirational as has ever been heard in a Western and all by itself it is an American Icon. You immediately conjure visions of the Old West and wide open spaces when you hear this music. Add an all star cast and great direction from John Sturges and you get one heck of a Western and one heck of a movie, period! Highly recommended!