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    The Fugitive: 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Warner

    Sep 07 2013 08:22 AM | Cameron Yee in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Dr. Richard Kimble, Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard, and the one-armed man are back, looking better than ever thanks to a new (and finally awesome) HD transfer from Warner Home Video.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Warner Brothers
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD, Spanish 5.1 DD
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
    • Rating: PG-13
    • Run Time: 2 Hr. 10 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 09/03/2013
    • MSRP: $19.98

    The Production Rating: 4.5/5

    With an esteemed career and a beautiful, loving wife, the brilliant Chicago surgeon Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is a man who wants for nothing. His life takes a tragic turn, however, when he comes home to find his wife dying from a brutal assault, and then is attacked himself. Though Kimble manages to avoid being killed as well, the perpetrator gets away and leaves behind no evidence. The only physical description the doctor can provide to the police is the man had one arm, but with little else to go on, the authorities quickly set their sights on Kimble as the chief suspect.

    Ultimately convicted for first-degree murder, Kimble is en route to prison when his fellow inmates stage an escape attempt. The plan is successful, but far from flawless, though it does give the doctor an opportunity. Faced with surrendering to authorities and a death sentence, Kimble goes on the run, hoping to clear his name by digging into the evidence detectives overlooked.

    But hot on his heels are the U.S. Marshals, led by Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), the personification of dogged. Though he’s wholly uninterested in Kimble’s alleged injustices, Gerard quickly learns his quarry is just as relentless as he eludes capture at every turn, operating on a combination of quick wits and dumb luck. Eventually, Gerard sees he’s not chasing an ordinary escapee but a man who may actually be innocent, his thirst for justice gradually shifting Gerard’s alliances from pursuer to potential ally.

    In today’s reboot and remake-happy moviemaking environment, a film like Andrew Davis’ The Fugitive seems like par for the course, but at one time, making a film based on a highly popular, 30-year old TV show was considered a questionable move. Perhaps it’s because of the perceived risk that the filmmakers put so much effort into casting the project, enlisting not just one, but two top-notch actors to portray opposing, but equally sympathetic characters. Considering Ford and Jones actually spend very little screen time together, it’s also a credit to the storytelling and editing that their cat-and-mouse chemistry is as memorable as it is. The central mystery behind the one-armed man also doesn’t disappoint; even having watched the film numerous times now, the sense of satisfaction about the what, why and who remain utterly effective, if not incredibly relevant. Certainly, the story pushes the boundaries of plausibility at times, particularly in the final act, but by then the film has earned so much dramatic and emotional capital with audiences, they can’t help but follow along.

    Given the few number of remakes that have actually met or exceeded the quality of their inspirational material, it’s clear The Fugitive remains the exception rather than the rule in the remake sub-genre. Unfortunately, studios won’t take this as a cue to proceed with caution, but instead keep trying to capture lightning in a bottle.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    Framed at 1.78:1 (a modification from the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1) and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer shows a major improvement over the 2006 release, which was riddled with problems. Viewers well acquainted with the old transfer’s mosquito noise, aliasing, and combing, among other issues, will be relieved to finally see the movie set free, with contrast, color, black levels and resolution all looking impeccable across the board, with nary a sign of digital artifacting. There’s a bit of softness here and there, but it’s inherent to the source material – the result of focusing errors or just the state of 1990s-era visual effects. It’s hard to believe the film went for so long with such a poor presentation, but at least things are now as they should be.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    The audio options get a less dramatic, but no less appreciated upgrade, going from Dolby Digital 5.1 to DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Dialogue in the lossless track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround effects can be quite aggressive, and even startling as with the opening credits sequence, producing an engaging and often tense aural experience that perfectly complements the visuals. LFE and upper bass frequencies are measured but effective, showing up as expected in an early, pivotal action sequence but also lending support to the film score and other environmental cues.

    Special Features: 3.5/5

    The extras include items from previous releases, along with a couple new pieces, though neither are particularly worth repeat viewings.

    Introduction by Andrew Davis and Harrison Ford (1:52, SD)

    Commentary by Andrew Davis and Tommy Lee Jones

    The Fugitive: Thrill of the Chase (28:21, HD): New, retrospective documentary interviews all the major players and includes some amusing anecdotes, an interesting, if somewhat debatable comparison to Les Miserables, and a look at the production process from development to distribution.

    On the Run with the Fugitive (23:06, SD): Older documentary hits on many of the same points as above.

    Derailed: Anatomy of a Train Wreck (8:55, SD): An overview of the filming and visual effects work behind the jaw-dropping set piece.

    The Fugitive TV Pilot (45:28, HD): Produced by Arnold Kopelson and Warner Bros., the series aired on CBS in the 2000-2001 TV season and starred Tim Daly as Kimble and Mykelti Williamson as Gerard.

    Theatrical Trailer (2:02, SD)

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    For The Fugitive’s 20th anniversary (has it really been that long?), Warner Home Video delivers a fantastic upgrade in high definition picture quality that finally allows collectors to get rid of the horrendous Blu-ray edition from 2006. With the incorporation of lossless audio and addition of a couple new extras, it makes for an easy title to recommend, both as a repeat and first time purchase.

    Reviewed by: Cameron Yee
    Support HTF when you buy this title:



    12 Comments

    I remember this movie on VHS. I worked at Lazarus at the time managing their big ticket(furniture/CE) department.

     

    Surround sound was en vogue(center speaker itself was new) and the train crash was epic.

     

    I skipped the '06 release cause I didn't buy Blu until the war was over...and the issues of the release were well known.

     

    Pre-ordered this awhile ago.

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    Cameron Yee
    Sep 07 2013 08:41 AM

    The surround channel thump-thumps when his temp housing gets raided also holds up nicely.

    This was the movie, to me, that proved you needed 4 "real speakers" in the room...once the AVRs went "equal power".

     

    My first 5 channel home theater...

     

    Technics SA GX650

    4 Altec Lansing Model 100

    The Altec Center(there was only one)

     

    2 Mitsubishi HiFi/stereo VCR

     

    31" RCA Colortrak(at the time 35" was RIDICULOUS)

    I still remember, at age 10, seeing the teaser on E!'s Coming Attractions and being absolutely enthralled.

     

    After avoiding the previous Blu-Ray, it's nice to get this one.

    Jeez, I have a hard enough time keeping up with my DVD to Blu-ray upgrades. Now I have to worry about upgrading my old Blu-rays?  :huh:

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    Cameron Yee
    Sep 07 2013 02:27 PM
    This wouldn't be the first time it's happened.

    Jeez, I have a hard enough time keeping up with my DVD to Blu-ray upgrades. Now I have to worry about upgrading my old Blu-rays?  :huh:

     

    Why do you think we joke about Gone With the Wind and Wizard of Oz....(by the way, I proudly have neither movie on any format)

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    Robert Crawford
    Sep 07 2013 04:48 PM

    Why do you think we joke about Gone With the Wind and Wizard of Oz....(by the way, I proudly have neither movie on any format)

    Unless, you don't like either film, another comment I don't understand from you.

    It isn't like I "don't like" either film. It is the "how many versions of it are there"...and what will be out in 6 more months.

     

    They are the poster children for the double/triple/quadruple dip.

    Can't justify going full price on this one, since I have the original release (as poor as that is). I'll wait a while and see what happens.

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    Robert Crawford
    Sep 12 2013 06:19 AM

    Can't justify going full price on this one, since I have the original release (as poor as that is). I'll wait a while and see what happens.

    You can probably get it cheaper months from now, but it's only 12.96 at Amazon right now.

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    Walter Kittel
    Sep 12 2013 06:28 AM

    Revisited the film on the new Blu-Ray on Saturday evening this past week and really enjoyed it again.  Ford and Jones are both so excellent in this film and has been noted, the film feels like it comes from a different era with its use of physical FX.  The Blu-ray does a fine job of recreating the film, but this isn't a title that I will be using as a demo.  (The flat, drab colors of winter in this film just do not lend themselves to that capacity, IMHO.)

     

    I know the 'why' of it, but viewing the feature again I was surprised at how prominent Julianne Moore's name was in the credits.  (Almost all of her scenes were cut of course.)

     

    I've owned a lot of versions of this film and I'm pretty happy with this disc.

     

    - Walter.