204 of 228 people found the following review helpful
Il Cattivo, il Brutto, il Blu-Ray,
This review is from: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (Blu-ray)
I am a huge fan of Leone's work, especially his Westerns. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a fantastic entry in his oeuvre (though I rank Once Upon A Time in the West and For A Few Dollars More just above it). It is full of his great style, it's very entertaining, and it features one of the best adversarial trios ever put to film in Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes.
So it is with sadness that I have to rate this Blu-Ray 3 stars (and it's closer to 2.5). I've bought this movie three times now, not counting this Blu-Ray: on VHS, the first single disc DVD, and the SE that came out a few years ago. It should be obvious that I love this movie. When the Blu-Ray was announced, I was ecstatic. High definition Leone? Sign me up! I pre-ordered it along with the new T2 disc. Then I started reading early reviews that said the picture quality wasn't up to snuff. I was disheartened, and decided to cancel my order until I could check out the disc for myself.
I rented it from Netflix, and have unfortunately found my fears confirmed. While it certainly looks better than the SE DVD, it is not the best this movie can look. The over-zealous Digital Noise Reduction that has been applied completely robs many scenes of the fine detail we might otherwise have seen in 1080p. I put the old SE DVD in my Xbox and flipped back and forth between the Blu-Ray and DVD on a single scene (Blondie stands alone against some hills in the background in the final scene). While the Blu-Ray looked "cleaner" (that is, the digital artifacting visible on the DVD was gone), there was actually no further detail to be seen on the Blu-Ray! It was as if you took the DVD image and smeared it until the noise was gone, then bumped it up to 1080. I looked specifically at Blondie's eyes to see if any more detail was visible on the Blu-Ray, but there wasn't. The bushes on the hill in the background, too, looked like sharpened up-scaled blobs rather than bushes captured on film by a camera.
So, the picture quality isn't as good, but how about the rest? Well, it's mostly great! The extras, carried over from the SE, are all still interesting, and the new commentaries (which I haven't listened to yet) are very welcome and appreciated. The new menus are also nice. But I do have one more negative point: the sound.
If you watch the special feature on restoring the movie, the producer notes that in order to make a 5.1 audio track, he had to add sound effects. While I'm sure some appreciate having a 5.1 track, the sound effects (specifically the gun-shots) sound way off from the original unique and integral Leone effects. They use the exact same stock gun-shot that you've heard on TV cop shows and it really detracts from the movie if you've seen the original as many times as I have. The Blu-Ray includes many audio options, but unfortunately, an original mono track is not among them. It did have an English 2.0 mono, but it's still the remastered sound with the lame gun-shot effects, oddly. To hear the difference, pick a scene (like Tuco in the bath), and switch back and forth between the English 5.1 or 2.0 and the Italian 2.0. It's very obvious and really bugs me. So if I want to hear the original sound effects, I have to watch it in Italian? Come on, MGM/Fox, how hard would it have been to include the ORIGINAL 2.0 Mono track?
So, in conclusion, you have a great movie on Blu-Ray with lackluster picture and no original English soundtrack, but a plethora of great extras, all on a single disc. Worth it? Not for me, but it may be for you. I'm holding out hope that one day MGM/Fox will get a good transfer that isn't overly digitally tampered with (Leone should have some GRAIN, man! Check out the Italian BR releases!), and includes the original mono sound in English. Until then, I'm going to have to buy the old 1-disc DVD release used to enjoy this great movie.
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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 20, 2009 11:38:38 AM PDT
Alric the Red says:
Thanks for an outstanding review. This is just the sort of details I look for in reviews for videos. I already know about the movie. I want to know details about the transfer itself. You delivered. Thanks. I love this movie, too. I think I'll keep my SD.
In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2009 11:15:00 AM PDT
No problem, Alric, glad it was helpful. It's the sort of info I was looking for as well, but as it wasn't available in the other reviews (the sound issue, especially), I had to find out for myself.
In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2009 11:24:38 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 22, 2009 11:26:21 AM PDT]
Posted on Jul 2, 2009 7:23:56 PM PDT
BOB SZVETICS says:
Posted on Sep 28, 2009 5:52:00 AM PDT
Kenneth Sohl says:
Alric, thanks for a review that drives right to the heart of the matter. I, too, am a fan of this film and note that Leone's style was such that subtle nuances (such as the gunshot effects) were his tools for creating the moods that he did, and to think that some unknown sound tech in some anonymous studio was given the green light to tamper with some of this is outrageous, to say the least. I don't think I'll be wasting my money on this one, but just stick to my regular DVD 2-disc edition.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2009 11:55:00 AM PDT
Kenneth, the 2-disc DVD also features the "upgraded" sound and not the original English mono track, unfortunately. You have the buy the original MGM 1-disc to get the English mono.
Posted on Oct 4, 2009 3:40:42 AM PDT
Crazy Boy Henderson says:
Blech, I'll have to pass on this! Do both the 2004 and 2007 double-disc editions only have the redone English 5.1 track? I just have the single disc version and I'd really prefer not to upgrade until it's done right!
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2009 6:37:51 PM PDT
Henderson, I'm fairly certain that both the 2004 and 2007 double-disc editions are identical, and, as such, neither has the original English mono. You'll have to stick with your single disc version.
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2009 2:30:10 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2009 2:30:42 PM PST
D. Jacoby says:
Thanks for the thorough review. I will probably wait for a better version.
In case you are curious... I figured out why R. Szvetics called you a jerk. It's because you commented on RS's lack of punctuation in his review of T2. I thought it was pretty funny myself.