A Few Words About A few words about... Van Helsing -- in High Definition

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    While viewing Universal's new HD release of Van Helsing, I realized that Joe Kane needs to create a test disc for HiDef.

    Somehow, some time before my viewing, certain settings in my system were "readjusted."

    There's no getting around the fact that Van Helsing is a dark film, but I had lost shadow detail. Without a test disc, or a film that I knew intimately, I would have been quite on my own. Fortunately, I was able to get advice as to precisely what the film should look like from a gentleman who would know it better than anyone.

    Several hours later, and back within visual control, I was able to finally view Van Helsing properly.

    Universal's Stardard Def disc was beautifully produced, but comparing the two from viewpoints of overall resolution, color, contrast and black levels, the new HD version is a stunner.

    The added depth and clarity gained by virtue of the HD system is not only remarkable, but awe inspiring.

    Universal has done a beautiful job bringing Van Helsing to HD.

    There are some who don't find the film up to "high cinema" standards, but taken for what it is -- a roller-coaster ride through the history of Universal's horror genre -- the film is not only remarkable, but can easily become a guilty pleasure.

    High on the list of its many pleasures is Mr. Daviau's brilliant recreation of 1930s style Universal cinematography -- to absolute perfection. From the opening shot of the Universal globe through to the end of the prologue sequence, the film opens on a joyful note to anyone steeped in Universal horror lore.

    For those with a bent not only for the history of the cinema, but for just having fun, I cannot recommend this film more highly.

    And now in High Definition, the film simply shines.

    RAH
     
  2. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Robert, If you were viewing this on the Ruby- did someone actually go in and muck up the settings or was it possible that the bulb is losing lumens?
    I hate to fiddle with the picture controls once I have my pj tuned in, but it finally dawned on me recently that I had to go in and try to compensate for the natural bulb ageing and lumen loss- and afterwards I was amazed at the difference. The decline had been so subtle, andd over such a long time, I just took it for granted.


    My copy of VH came in from Amazon yesterday, but I'll wait until I'm in the proper mood to see it again. I know this was one of the phrases that was used to slag the film in reviews upon its release, but I thought this movie captured a 'cartoon spirit' (ala Chuck Jones or Avery) better than the film The Villan ever did- and it felt to me like that was purely intentional- not an unintended consequence, or the result of poor storytelling values, or what have you.
    Just like The Hulk, it amazes me how many people seem to violently detest this film. And I have to wonder, as in the case of the former, if it wasn't poor marketing by Universal that led people to expect something entirely different, and that that may be the source of some of the antagonism?
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I'm not at all certain what the public felt that they were getting into with this film. I do wish that more would give it a chance.

    As far as projection, in my case, it wasn't decline of output from the lamp. I probably don't have fifty hours on the unit.

    RAH
     
  4. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I have to agree with Mr. Harris both to the picture quality and the entertainment value of this movie, and have never understood the hatred for it. But then I enjoyed Wild Wild West immensely too.

    In any case many people have reported problems playing this disc--freezing and stuttering particularly. A firmware update has been completed by Toshiba, has already made it's way into some new players and should be available on disc from Toshiba (you did mail in the card that came with the player?) or via the player's ethernet connection very soon.
     
  5. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

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    After installing the firmware update in the Toshiba, I've had no problem playing the entire Van Helsing HD DVD. This is one of the few discs I have played often since I purchased it on release day (5/23/06).

    One of the reasons I think I grew to like this movie, was the fact that it encompassed so many of the classic horror characters; Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Jekyll & Hyde and as Mr. Harris so aptly put, "a roller-coaster ride through the history of Universal's horror genre".

    To be able to look at this dark movie in high definition and with the contrast of all the extraordinary colorful and detailed costumes that 1080P high def allows you see, is a real eye-candy treat. Kind of like getting in the mood for Halloween by decorating your heart out![​IMG]

    Paul
     
  6. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    Van Helsing played like a champ on my non-patched Toshiba this past Sunday evening. ( Zero problems to date.)

    While the darkest scenes didn't look the best on my display (notably the weakest aspect of my LCD FP - Panasonic AE700U) I was impressed with the overall look of the film on HD DVD. (The inspired homage during the opening sequence of the film looked fabulous, to the point that I wish the entire film had been shot in that style.) All in all, very beautiful on HD DVD.

    For me, the film works best as a campy, guilty pleasure. I re-read Roger Ebert's review of the film, after the Sunday viewing, and my mindset is very close to his published review.

    - Walter.
     
  7. Paul Anthony

    Paul Anthony Stunt Coordinator

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    Steve, thanks for the heads-up on the mail in card for the firmware update (didn't know about it till I read your post). I too have had problems with VH stuttering and freezing (same with POTO). Funny, how the black and white scenes looked better than the color scenes.
     
  8. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i was dissapointed by the movie and may have been expecting more after seeing sommers two previous mummy movies.

    i do look forward to seeing the hd version though.
     
  9. John Milton

    John Milton Second Unit

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    Loved the movie, love the HD DVD disc!
     
  10. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I remember this as being one of the best looking "flat" shot films I ran in my stint as a projectionist from 2003-05. A beautifully sharp image with a great stylized colour palette. This is making it mighty hard to resist upgrading to HD.
     

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