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    The Right Stuff Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Warner

    Nov 04 2013 08:03 PM | Cameron Yee in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Warner Home Video brings Philip Kauffman’s The Right Stuff to Blu-ray, but does the release have what it takes, or will fans find themselves reaching for the "mission abort" button?

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Warner Brothers
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Other
    • Rating: PG
    • Run Time: 3 Hr. 12 Min.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer), DVD-9 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 11/05/2013
    • MSRP: $27.98

    The Production Rating: 4.5/5

    ...it takes a special kind of man to volunteer for a suicide mission, especially one that's on TV.” – Chuck Yeager (as played by Sam Shepard)

    Adapted from Tom Wolfe’s non-fiction bestseller, Director/Writer Phillip Kauffman’s The Right Stuff chronicles the United States’ quest to send a man into orbit around the Earth, an endeavor that took place from 1959 to 1963 and was overseen by then fledgling government agency NASA. As with the book, the film humanizes the ambitious Project Mercury by focusing on the men selected as astronauts, individuals who served as both the project’s public face and ultimate risk takers. The film also highlights the aircraft test pilots who embodied the rare physical and mental qualities required for such dangerous work, specifically Chuck Yeager and his supersonic flights with the Bell X-1 and X-1A airplanes, and of course the long-suffering spouses who constantly lived with the uncertainty of their husbands’ survival.

    The effectiveness of Kauffman’s film, now celebrating its 30th anniversary, is in its combination of shrewd casting and effective storytelling, which hits all the major points in the “space race” timeline without feeling like anyone or anything gets short shrift (though I’m sure some historians will disagree). Most of the actors filling the roles were unknown at the time, but it’s difficult now to see anyone else besides Ed Harris as the principled John Glenn, Sam Shepard as the no-nonsense Chuck Yeager, and Scott Glenn as the jocular Alan Shepard. Dennis Quaid and Fred Ward as Gordon Cooper and Gus Grissom, respectively, also turn in effective portrayals of men willing to risk their lives for the reputation of their country.

    From a technical standpoint, the film also holds up incredibly well – the scenes aboard the experimental aircraft and the Mercury rocket launches remain as tense and visceral as they were when they were first constructed, thanks to skillful special effects, sound design, and editing that bring various scale models and practical effects to life. Of course, the film seems downright simple compared to Alfonso Cuaron's head-spinning film Gravity, but it's also no surprise the film taps Harris to be the voice of Mission Control (along with playing Glenn, he also played NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz in Apollo 13). Just as the astronauts of today owe a great debt to the pioneers of the Mercury Project, so does a state of the art film like Gravity to cinematic forebears like The Right Stuff.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    Framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer provides a lovely presentation of Caleb Deschanel’s naturalistic cinematography, featuring excellent black levels, shadow detail and contrast. Colors are also rich and nicely saturated, particularly in the warm glow of the California desert scenes. Detail is consistently first rate, from close ups of performers to landscapes, and grain appears intact with no signs of excessive manipulation. A few softer shots pop up here and there, but appear inherent to the source.

    Audio Rating: 4/5

    Dialogue in the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track is crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround channel activity is somewhat limited, but instances of aircraft flyovers and other environmental sounds are seamless and balanced. LFE is absent, given the vintage of filmmaking and sound design, but action sequences where rocket and airplane engines have major presence have reasonable and robust low frequency activity.

    Special Features: 4/5

    The second disc containing the bonus material is a re-pressing of Disc Two of the 2003 Special Edition, and thus carries over the most critical extras from the previous release.

    The Journey and the Mission, Audio Commentary with Selected Scenes (24:29, SD): The same 24 minutes of scenes serve as the visual backdrop for two separate, compiled commentary tracks, the first featuring members of the cast (Chuck Yeager, who served as a technical advisor, Dennis Quaid, Barbara Hershey, Jeff Goldblum, Harry Shearer, Ed Harris, Fred Ward, et al) and the second, the filmmaking crew (Caleb Deschanel, Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler, Bill Conti, Philip Kauffman, et al).

    Realizing the Right Stuff (21:04, SD): Retrospective piece catches up with members of the cast and crew 20 years later and covers the film’s development and production.

    T-20 Years and Counting (11:25, SD): The continuation of the retrospective covers the special effects, editing process, film score, premiere, and initial reception.

    The Real Men with the Right Stuff (15:30, SD): The final part of the retrospective interviews Chuck Yeager, Scott Carpenter, Walter Schirra, and Gordon Cooper about the Mercury Project and the events depicted in the film.

    Additional Scenes (10:54, SD)

    Interactive Timeline into Space: Text panels highlight major events in the journey to space, from 1961 to 2012. The information about the James Webb Space Telescope (2010) and the Orbital Space Plane (2012) is now incredibly inaccurate, however.

    John Glenn: American Hero (1:26:31, SD): PBS biography on Glenn, produced in 1998.

    Theatrical Trailer (3:30, SD)

    Collectible Book: Incorporated into the packaging, the high quality printed material includes an overview of the film’s source material, an essay about the film’s legacy, cast and crew biographies, and promotional and production photographs.

    Overall Rating: 4.5/5

    The Right Stuff launches onto Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Home Video, offering a great looking and sounding high definition presentation. The special features carry over the major items from the 2003 special edition DVD, making the Blu-ray a worthwhile upgrade for those looking to jettison the standard definition iteration from their collections. For first time purchasers of the title, the Blu-ray is of course the one to pick up.

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

    • Everett Stallings likes this


    29 Comments

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    Walter Kittel
    Nov 04 2013 10:34 PM

    This is probably an academic question, since this is one of my must have titles on Blu-ray, but I am curious...

     

    The original DVD (and SE if I recall correctly) had a number of what I assume were source flaws.  Specks, dust, grit, etc. that just seemed a bit too prominent and numerous or heavy for a title of this stature and vintage.  While they never just dominated the presentation their frequency and persistence in the transfer called attention to their presence.  

     

    Does the Blu-ray exhibit this same phenomena?  (A preponderance of grit and white specks?)  Of course, I am not talking about the stock footage, rather the footage that was obviously shot for the film.  Thanks.

     

    - Walter.

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    Cameron Yee
    Nov 04 2013 10:45 PM
    I didn't notice any specks of dust or dirt. The image is very clean.
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    Everett Stallings
    Nov 05 2013 05:54 AM
    A must buy!.
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    Carlo Medina
    Nov 05 2013 11:21 AM

    As Walter says the source used for the DVD was not very good. In addition to the specks and dirt I recall one scene where something blipped by and gave me a WTH was that? moment. I rewound and did frame by frame and there was a rather large tear in the film print used that was only there for like a frame or two but really was noticeable even in normal motion. Today's technology would allow that to be fixed without spending for a full on film restoration (i.e. cutting and pasting from the frames before and after to correct for the flaw. I'm hoping they at least did that level of cleanup. My copy is in the mail so I look forward to screening it soon!

    Does this have an intermission?

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    Cameron Yee
    Nov 05 2013 09:55 PM
    No intermission.

    FYI:

     

    Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has become aware of and confirmed that The Right Stuff 30th Anniversary Blu-ray Book released on Nov. 5, 2013 went to market without the 96K upsampling feature enabled. Steps are being taken to resolve the issue at the current time.

     

    And not one reviewer raised a question about this. Here or anywhere else that I've seen on-line. Audio on a 96K up-sampled title should be at 96K.

      • andySu likes this
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    Carlo Medina
    Nov 09 2013 11:14 AM

    FYI:

     

    Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has become aware of and confirmed that The Right Stuff 30th Anniversary Blu-ray Book released on Nov. 5, 2013 went to market without the 96K upsampling feature enabled. Steps are being taken to resolve the issue at the current time.

     

    And not one reviewer raised a question about this. Here or anywhere else that I've seen on-line. Audio on a 96K up-sampled title should be at 96K.

    Im going to guess that because it's a 1983 film that was in stereo, and didn't get the star restoration treatment that other more high-profile titles get, that most people just didn't notice because TBH I'm not sure how much this movie would benefit from 96k upsampling. The limit of sound quality at this point is likely the original source material.

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    Cameron Yee
    Nov 09 2013 11:17 AM

    I'll won't deny that's an oversight, but the only place I've ever seen the 96K mentioned is on the WHV press release, and press releases often change between the time they are written and when product hits the market. The fact 96K is not listed anywhere on the packaging nor in the BD menu doesn't really help matters. 

     

    Attached Image: 27499_slipback.jpg

     

    And not one reviewer raised a question about this. Here or anywhere else that I've seen on-line. Audio on a 96K up-sampled title should be at 96K.

      • JohnMor and andySu like this

    There was a sticker on the plastic wrap on my copy that had the 96K logo on it. But once thrown away, you'd never know - except for the fact the audio would have (should have) been at 96K. As far as whether an older title can benefit from 96K ... that depends on how you feel about digitizing analog audio at different sample rates. For me, when they transfer 35mm magnetic film and digitize it, I'd rather they do it at 96K than 48K to be sure to capture everything on the mag element. Same as doing a 4K video capture rather than a 2K. Although, coming from analog sources, I think 192K would be overkill. Some studios do digitize all their mag audio at 96K, even when the final release is 48K on Blu-Ray.

    There was a sticker on the plastic wrap on my copy that had the 96K logo on it. ...

     

    Some people wouldn't have noticed because their copies didn't have the 96k sticker, not all copies did.

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    Mike Frezon
    May 08 2014 05:09 PM

    Finally got my copy tonight.  It had the 96k sticker.

     

    Does the sticker mean I got a copy of the title with the correct audio?

     

    gallery_286742_34_4015.jpg

     

    gallery_286742_34_31989.jpg

      • andySu likes this
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    Steve Tannehill
    May 08 2014 05:45 PM
    My copy had the sticker but was first pressing, so I just assumed it had the error.
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    Charles Smith
    May 08 2014 06:01 PM

    Mine didn't have the sticker, which contributed to my forgetting all about that when I picked it up at the store.  Just checked, and the Oppo reports it as 96k.

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    Mike Frezon
    May 08 2014 07:09 PM

    Just put my disc in my Pioneer player (Elite 62-FD)...but I can't see any way to find the bit rate.

     

    Oh well. 

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    Charles Smith
    May 08 2014 07:20 PM

    Don't know the Pioneer players, but look for an "info" or "display" button?

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    Charles Smith
    May 08 2014 07:32 PM

    Found your manual.  "DISPLAY" button on the remote.  It doesn't list what info will be displayed, so I hope it's there!    :)

     

    EDIT:  Do it during playback of the film.

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    Mike Frezon
    May 08 2014 07:39 PM

    Found your manual.  "DISPLAY" button on the remote.  It doesn't list what info will be displayed, so I hope it's there!    :)

     

    Thanks for the time and effort, Charles. 

     

    Unfortunately, it just tells me that it is audio track "1/7  English  Dolby True HD  Multi."  And if I advance through the various audio tracks it changes to "2/7  French  Dolby Digital 5.1"

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    Charles Smith
    May 08 2014 07:42 PM

    Oy.

     

    Mine will give that same kind of description, but ending with the 48k, 96k, etc.

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    Mike Frezon
    May 08 2014 08:03 PM

    That's what I get for not getting an Oppo. 

     

    I came close--because I really wanted a multi-format player (especially for SACD and DVD-A)--but cheaped out and got the Pio instead.  I've been very happy with it however.

     

    I wonder if I should compare my disc ID number with yours?

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    Steve Tannehill
    May 08 2014 08:05 PM
    Exchange it just to be safe and you will be guaranteed a correct disc. I don't know if the lady to email is in this thread or another, but if you need the address, I will look it up for you in my sent email.
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    Mike Frezon
    May 08 2014 08:08 PM

    FWIW:

     

    The SKU on my copy is:  883929 180066

     

    I am about going blind trying to read the disc number printed around the inside hub of the disc itself (on the back).

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    Steve Tannehill
    May 08 2014 08:15 PM
    I don't think they changed the sku. When they sent the replacement disc it was just in a round blu-ray case. If I can find it, I'll see if I can read the inner ring numbers.
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    Mike Frezon
    May 08 2014 08:32 PM

    Exchange it just to be safe and you will be guaranteed a correct disc. I don't know if the lady to email is in this thread or another, but if you need the address, I will look it up for you in my sent email.

     

    Thanks, Steve.  Maybe that's what I'll do.  Wasn't an exchange discussed here on the HTF somewhere?

     

    I don't think they changed the sku. When they sent the replacement disc it was just in a round blu-ray case. If I can find it, I'll see if I can read the inner ring numbers.

     

    Be careful, Steve.  You don't need to hurt your eyes, too!  wink_2.gif

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    Steve Tannehill
    May 08 2014 08:35 PM

    Thanks, Steve. Maybe that's what I'll do. Wasn't an exchange discussed here on the HTF somewhere?


    Yes, but I don't think it was this thread...go figure.