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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Romancing the Stone

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted October 11 2008 - 04:50 AM

Blu-ray Disc Review


Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 1984
Film Length: 106 minutes
Genre: Romance/Action/Comedy

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

BD Specifications:
Resolution: 1080/24p
Video Codec: AVC @ 36MBPS
Disc Size: BD-50

  • English DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 mono

    Subtitles: English, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese
    Film Rating: PG

  • Release Date: October 14, 2008.


    Starring: Michael Douglas (Jack T. Colton), Kathleen Turner (Joan Wilder), Danny DeVito (Ralph), Zack Norman (Ira), Alfonso Arau (Juan), Manuel Ojeda (Zolo)

    Written by: Diane Thomas
    Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

    She's a girl from the big city. He's a reckless soldier of fortune. For a fabulous treasure, they share an adventure no one could imagine... or survive.

    Romancing the Stone stars Kathleen Turner as Joan Wilder, a romance novelist who can’t seem to find a spark for another man. She lives alone and buried in her writings, dreaming up adventure/romance stories women shed tears over.

    It’s not until she receives a desperate phone call from her sister from Columbia when her own adventure begins. Joan’s sister has been kidnapped and in order to save her, she needs to bring a mysterious treasure map to Columbia and hand-deliver it to her captors.

    Joan finds herself in a story worth writing about while getting entangled in jungles, mudslides, bullets, and crocodiles. With the help of Jack T. Colton, a wanderer deep in the Columbian jungles, they will escape the bad guys, search for the treasure, and save her sister.

    I wasn’t expecting this: Romancing the Stone looks fantastic in HD! It was a relief to see that the DVD was improved over the previous release, but this BD puts the rest to shame. Image contrast, colour, and resolution all sparkle on this release. The opening scene shows just what we’re in for – beads of sweat are clearly seen rolling off the female’s flawless body, black levels reaching deep while still maintaining some shadow detail, and the warm colours never looking like they are bleeding orange or red. It almost looks like a new film! The opening sequence does look different from the rest of the film in terms of contrast and I imagine it is intentional because it’s the book we’re watching (the top of the picture is a bit darker). As the film moves on, the image does stay consistent. The depth seen and the detail shown of the trees and the mountains in Columbia are excellent. The green is alive without looking over saturated. Flesh tones are dead on. The image is bright and whites never appear clipped. The squished shots that I complained about on the DVD (when it looks like the image needs to be unsqueezed) don’t seem to be here – but then, I wasn’t looking for it either and if it happened I blinked and missed it. Also, while no edge enhancement is present, there does appear to be a bit of grain reduction involved. Take a look at the opening credits while Joan is walking around in her apartment for tissue. There seems to be a mild veil of grain that appears frozen over the image and to watch the movie you have to look “through it”. The resolution is also reduced during this sequence. It’s a bit distracting but thankfully not noticeable anywhere else except possibly near the end of the film. I noticed a puff of smoke around Douglas look like it was masked by a similar issue, but these scenes are also at night so it’s harder to see if that was the problem. Regardless of those few moments, the rest of the film does look good. By the way, those out of focus shots seen on every broadcast and home version at the end of the film are still out of focus here. I will assume it's the original photography and nothing can be done about it. It's fine though and I'm happy no one tried to sharpen it up artificially.

    Something different has happened since 2006; this must be a newly created 5.1 presentation. The previous DVD was a Dolby 2.0 Surround soundtrack that had some issues with keeping dialogue firmly planted in the center channel. This DTS-HDMA 5.1 encode of the soundtrack has dialogue centered and the soundstage opened up a bit more. I also felt that dialogue wasn’t as distorted and strident as the DVD’s soundtrack. It sounded warmer and had better tonality on this go-around. Sound effects sound equally dated and many are stereotypical catalogued sounds. Gunshots sound weak and rarely shake up an ambience with the environment they are shot in. Some sound effects are emphasised too much such as the mud during the mud slide – too loud!! Bass is limited but has a bit more depth than the DVD did. The music track is the better performer, despite having the obvious ‘80s synthesizer sound and the DTS-HDMA encode reveals the limitations of the recording. The brass instruments sound like they want to reach out but have restrictions on dynamics.

    Surround presence is limited – there are no discrete sounds and you’d hear similar information back there as you would from decoding 2.0 surround, albeit less presence. The 2.0 soundtrack is also included on this disc and I imagine it is the same one that appears on the DVD although I did not evaluate it to confirm.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround presentation is adequate but not all that exciting. Dialogue sounds thin and weak throughout the frequency range and occasionally comes out of the left and right channels rather than being focused in the center channel. It can also be distorted and a bit strident depending on how loud the person talks/yells.

    TACTILE FUN!!: 1.5/5

    Some bass has been sent to the LFE channel from the music as well as some sound effects. As light as it is, I found those moments to be effective enough to use a transducer. A welcomed enhancement!

    The features included on the special edition DVD two years ago are included here except for the Hidden Treasure featurette, which was of Douglas remembering screenwriter Diane Thomas who died tragically in a car crash.

    The eight deleted/alternate are in high definition (AVC encoded). Some scenes are clearly deleted and others feature similar conversation that already appears in the movie, just with a different setting. Most of these deleted scenes are in the first half of the film when Joan is walking through the jungle with Jack. The mood of the alternate ending is also less romantic. They slow the film down and it was wise not to include them in the film. I did enjoy viewing them as a special feature. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is intact and the quality is good but not as polished as the final film.

    Three featurettes follow and are of both recent interview clips and pieces from 1984. They are 4:3, SD, and encoded in MPEG-2.

  • Rekindling The Romance: A Look Back (18:58) features Douglas, Turner, and DeVito remembering the days when the film was made.

  • Douglas, Turner and DeVito: Favourite Scenes (3:56) is basically what the title implies. The three actors point out their favourite scenes with them in it.

  • Michael Douglas Remembers (2:23) is another looking back featurette.

    IN THE END...

    This BD is a worthy upgrade for DVD owners who want the HD edition. The image and sound quality upgrades are the trumpeting upgrades while the special features stay relatively the same. No big complaints with this release.

    Michael Osadciw
    October 11, 2008.

    Review System

    Michael Osadciw

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

    Video Contributor

    CANADA HiFi Magazine

    #2 of 10 OFFLINE   CRyan



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    Posted October 11 2008 - 06:09 AM

    I have no idea why but I have always loved this movie. One of those I can pop in on a Saturday and have going on in the background. Thanks for the review.

    #3 of 10 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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    Posted October 11 2008 - 07:59 AM

    Another title that will have to wait for a sale due to its high purchase price of $25.95 from Amazon while the SD DVD SE with the same artwork is $7.49 which really illustrates the differences in pricepoints. Crawdaddy

    #4 of 10 OFFLINE   Matt Butler

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    Posted October 15 2008 - 05:07 AM

    Did they fix the subtitles?
    My Blu Rays
    http://www.blu-ray.c...ol...=Dj Matt B

    Favorite films of all time in no order
    1. Zodiac 2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) 3. The Good The Bad and The Ugly 4. Blade Runner 5. The Warriors 6. Dark Knight 7. The Godfather  8. Bullitt 9. Experiment in Terror 10. Raiders of the Lost...

    #5 of 10 OFFLINE   Cassy_w


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    Posted October 15 2008 - 05:16 AM

    I am hearing NO. Posted Image Perhaps they will never be fixed.
    Death to PG-13! And now death to DVNR too!!

    #6 of 10 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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    Posted October 15 2008 - 05:28 AM

    I just read a different review that said the featurette about the deceased screenwriter is still available on this Blu-ray, and the screenshot of the back of the case at DVDEmpire has it listed. Are you sure you didn't miss it somehow?
    Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
    --Det. William Somerset, SE7EN

    http://www.dvdanthol...-movielist.html), http://LDDb.com/coll....user=Filmmaker

    #7 of 10 OFFLINE   Matt Butler

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    Posted October 15 2008 - 07:47 AM

    A buddy bought the 2 pack SE in 2006. I watched Stone and the lack of subtitles ruin 2 different scenes/jokes. Im usually not as picky as some on HTF as far as mistakes on releases go but for me I will join the "NO SALE" bandwagon for this release. Too bad too cause this is an old fav of mine
    My Blu Rays
    http://www.blu-ray.c...ol...=Dj Matt B

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    #8 of 10 OFFLINE   Ed St. Clair

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    Posted October 15 2008 - 10:05 AM

    Yes! A nice surprise A/V-wise. Too badd, bout the special features; anyone smell a "DD"? Thanks for the review.
    Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
    HD should be for EVERYONE!

    #9 of 10 OFFLINE   Ric Easton

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    Posted October 15 2008 - 10:15 AM

    What exactly was the subtitle mistake? Whatever it is, is it safe to assume they knew about it for two years and still though it not worth fixing? I have never picked this movie up and thought now may be the time... finally an older film I'm not double dipping on. Now I don't know.

    #10 of 10 OFFLINE   Matt Butler

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    Posted October 15 2008 - 11:18 AM

    Ric, Taken from an old thread on this topic: -------------------------------------------- There's a glitch that's driving me crazy, and I haven't seen anybody mention it. The subtitles are missing, and it ruins one of the best jokes in the movie when Joan and Jack are about to get killed in the Colombian town and Juan saves them when he realizes that Joan is Joan Wilder, the novelist---whose books he reads to all the drugrunners every Saturday. But the subtitles explaining the Spanish are not there. They are also not there for another joke where the bad guy (Zolo?) asks Ralph (Danny DeVito) if he's French. What just kills me is that if you watch the "Rekindling the Romance" doc, the subtitles are there in the clip. Furthermore, the subtitles were missing on the original RTS dvd, and I was really looking forward to the SE correcting this egregious oversight.
    My Blu Rays
    http://www.blu-ray.c...ol...=Dj Matt B

    Favorite films of all time in no order
    1. Zodiac 2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) 3. The Good The Bad and The Ugly 4. Blade Runner 5. The Warriors 6. Dark Knight 7. The Godfather  8. Bullitt 9. Experiment in Terror 10. Raiders of the Lost...

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