Blu-ray Review The Agony and the Ecstasy Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    I liken it to a movie you can take a 45 minute nap in the middle, and miss nothing.
     
  2. Blu_rayfan66

    Blu_rayfan66 Stunt Coordinator

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    21:9 does not equal 2.35:1 anyway as you still have tiny horizontal black bars. It's just a shame that 21:9 means missing out on picture info on a lot of great movies like 'Lawrence Of Arabia' and other Super Panavision 70 flicks.
     
  3. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    You know you don't have to watch it in zoom mode. You can watch it in the same setting you use for 1.85:1 movies, with bars on all sides. :)
     
  4. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Thanks, Matt. I've never seen this movie so I'll put in on the Netflix queue. Congrats to those who scored the $8 price at Fox Connect.
     
  5. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Congrats. Same thing with me, except mine's slated for an early Monday delivery
     
  6. Blu_rayfan66

    Blu_rayfan66 Stunt Coordinator

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    ha ha I would need to use my binoculars tho as the image would be so small on the screen! I love 21:9 displays but plan to switch back to 16:9 next time tho
     
  7. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    I finally received this yesterday. I felt compelled to order it as I had voted for it repeatedly during that Fox poll we did a while back. I was glad to see that Amazon refunded me because the price went down, so this ended up costing me $16 and some change.

    I haven't had time to watch it, but it does ineed look and sound as great as Matt says. When the story lags, one can simply linger on the sound and visuals.
     
  8. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    The flickering mentioned in the review where Michelangelo is explaining his inspiration to the pope up on the scaffolding, you must note there is a candle in the foreground - I think this was a deliberate effect to highlight the intimacy of this candlelit scene. This is a fantastic transfer. If only all catalog titles could look this good.
     
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  9. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    My copy arrived yesterday, on coincidentally what would have been Rex Harrison's 106th birthday. I'd never seen the film before and really enjoyed it. The Blu-ray is breathtaking.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I concur, what a great looking BD.
     
  11. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    I agree completely, which is why I'm baffled by some folks saying there's DNR and waxy faces. I just must be blind.
     
  12. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    Let me guess where those "DNR" and "waxy faces" comments are coming from... :rolleyes:

    Has Fox had anything to say about the harvest for this release? My TAATE Blu-ray hasn't arrived yet, but just based on those Beaver caps, it looks to me like a pretty recent job and 4k source. Huge improvement in resolution over the DVD.
     
  13. ahollis

    ahollis Lead Actor

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    One word for this release Gorgeous.
     
  14. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Wow. Couldn't agree more.

    Those opening vistas of Italy were enough for my mouth to drop open. Then the film itself kept on keeping on. I am thrilled with how great this release turned out. Just beautiful.
     
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  15. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    Quoting myself here from the other forum about TAATE: Its master has been prepared by the very same company that brought us the first Patton so it is expected that it will look at least a bit funny and grainless - this is something HTV/Illuminate prided themselves in back in 2009, to quote:

    Both digital restorations relied on HTV/Illunimate’s proprietary “deep scanning” process. According to DI artist Mark Nowicki, this hardware/software solution allows the company to use advanced processing to remove grain and dust; - Read more at: http://www.studiodaily.com/2009/07/two-digital-restorations-at-htvilluminate-the-agony-and-the-ecstasy-and-those-magnificent-men-in-their-flying-machines/#sthash.bzqIWfMs.dpuf

    Sounds very much like DNR to me and it was taken down to "only" 2k.

    I will not repeat all of my post from over there but if you take the time to compare TAATE to other Fox releases like the new Patton and Hello, Dolly! you will see a lack of texture in TAATE that is definitely caused by the processing and not due to the movie being so much different from the other two - in their newly struck 70mm prints all exhibted comparable levels of grain under similar conditions.

    While it does not make the Blu-ray unwatchable the abovementioned processing was completely unnecessary and I am happy that the following large format titles from Fox were handled by other companies.

    By the way: 5 extraordinary "clean" Blu-rays of large format films have been brought to us by HTV/illuminate:

    Spartacus (according to RAH clean-up and noise/grain removal performed on the old HD-master)
    Patton (original edition)
    Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines
    The Agony and the Ecstasy
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

    All of them range in look from a bit too clean (CCBB) to DNR'd to death (Spartacus) as some like to say. From having seen all but TAATE projected in a home theater setting on a decent sized screen I would say that issues are far less obvious with the latter three and I can understand that somebody who is sitting 2.5 to 3 screen widths away would be perfectly happy with them. My point is that the same person would also be happy if HTV/Illuminate had not employed their grain and dust/dirt processing that makes the movies less spectacular looking for some of the people who sit closer to their screen.
     
  16. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Second Unit

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    Can we all just agree that DNR ought to be a process sparingly used on ANY movie, merely to 'smooth' out the more glaring imperfections while retaining the quality befitting the look and feel of the original theatrical experience? The Agony and the Ecstasy looks very fine on home video; a staggering improvement over previous home video incarnations. In the past, Fox has been rather notorious for giving us those waxy images (Predator, anyone?!?) that quite simply destroy the original intent of cinematographers.

    Film, as Robert Harris has pointed out over and over again, is an organic-based visual presentation. It has grain. Blu-ray can make that grain look very natural indeed. Home Video consumers, however, need to understand that images with grain are not 'ugly' or 'poorly mastered' but are, in fact, practical representations of the original source material. We've become too accustom to the digital 'clean' look of contemporary product and the whole 'video game' mentality leading to an expectation that every image will be razor-sharp, crystal clear, as in looking at a computer monitor. That is never going to happen with classic movies and decidedly NEVER should.

    In some cases DNR is warranted and actually benefits a movie's presentation on home video; as when Universal 'tweaked' the in-camera zooms in To Kill A Mockingbird to bring the level of grain in line with the rest of the image quality; merely 'evening out' the consistency while neither obliterating nor softening the quality of the image itself. This is precisely why DNR was created. Tragically, someone along the way thought of it as a grain elimination tool; transforming film images into something that looked as though it was shot with a high resolution digicam instead.

    Wrong idea.
    BAD IDEA!!!

    Accept and embrace movie grain and stop applying unnecessary DNR to great movies - period.
     
  17. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    I have now gotten my Blu-ray of The Agony and the Ecstasy that got to Europe via rather unusual means and therefore only arrived yesterday.

    Having peeked into some scenes it is clear that while fine for smaller displays the level of digital tampering and grain reduction employed here is inapropriate for bigger screens and also COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY.

    This movie never had a big amount of grain to start with except maybe for a few select scenes so any tampering beyong that is inexcusable and this is a prime example for a movie that gets a pass because most people have a certain tolerance for grain reduction a long as enough detail remains.

    BUT: On bigger screens and at shorter relative viewing distances it doesn't work and it doesn't work for a variety of people - I have played some scenes of this one, Hello Dolly!, King of Kings and Lawrence of Arabia back to back and the lack of grain and texture on Agony and the Ecstasy is evident while the others show that even large format movies have a fine level of grain on Blu-ray.

    This is not a catastrophe like Patton or Spartacus but there is something missing and there was no need to reduce any texture on the majority of the film. This is really annoying me a lot because as I said above this is one of the greatest looking 65mm titles and that it stll looks so good despite the tampering is a testament to this.

    Not really surprising to see The Agony and the Ecstasy looking like that as the other title handled at the same time by the same company shows similar effects (Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines) but still disappointing.
     
  18. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    Not much of a difference to a b&w digicam on caps like these:

    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=34352&position=1
    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=34352&position=18

    Universal should have left the scenes with normal 35mm grain intact but instead opted for too much grain reduction for the majority of the movie that would have been perfectly fine otherwise. I have no idea what kind of the Blu-ray buying population they want to appeal to here as clearly there aren't too many complaints about other classic titles being too grainy, like for example this little movie:

    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=1195&position=7

    I guess that overall things are still getting better but unfortunately that doesn't help much with To Kill A Mockingbird.
     

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