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HTF Blu-ray Review: Logan's Run



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#1 of 45 ONLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted November 10 2009 - 07:55 AM

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Logan's Run



Studio: Warner Home Video

Theatrical Release Year: 1976

US Blu-ray Release Date: November 10, 2009

Rated: PG

Running Time: 118 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen

Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), German (Dolby Digital 1.0)

Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Spanish, German



Movie: 3 out of 5

In the year 2274, due to pollution and overpopulation, humans now live alone in a domed city, free to live as they want until the age of 30 (as indicated by the color of the crystal in their palm), when they must submit to Carrousel for the chance to be reborn. Those who do not submit to Carrousel are considered Runners, and are subject to termination by the Sandmen. Michael York plays Logan 5, a Sandman who is approaching his 30thbirthday. After apprehending a Runner, Logan takes his personal effects, including an ankh. That evening, he meets Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter) while surfing the circuit for casual sex, and notices that she wears the same ankh as a necklace. Jessica is repulsed by Logan's advances, and leaves his apartment. The next morning, Logan is debriefed in Sandman headquarters by the main computer, and learns that the ankh is a symbol for Sanctuary, a mythical place where Runners who have successfully escaped the dome now live. The computer changes Logan's crystal, making him now eligible for Carrousel, and gives him the secret task to escape the city, find Sanctuary, and destroy it. Logan convinces Jenny that he wants to run, and as they make their escape, Logan's friend and fellow Sandman, Francis (Richard Jordan), takes off in hot pursuit.


Logan's Run was one of the last big science fiction epics made before Star Wars would revolutionize the genre only a year after Logan's theatrical release. For that reason, the film has a very dated look, particularly in the visual effects department, despite being awarded a Special Achievement Oscar. The miniatures are very obvious, the wires suspending he actors during Carrousel are visible, even more so in high definition, and during close-ups of BOX, you can see actor Roscoe Lee Brown as the mask starts to peel away. The costume design is very 1970s, with bright primary colors and costumes that look like they were made from pillow cases. Also, the MPAA must have been much more relaxed with the PG rating back in 1976, as this film contains quite a bit of nudity and implied sexual situations that would certainly garner an R rating today.


The performances by the leading cast are average, about what you would expect from a science fiction epic from the 1970s. Peter Ustinov, as the Old Man who has taken over the Senate floor with cats, is a hoot and gives the film some much needed humor. My real problem is with Logan 5. We know he is on a secret mission, but we are never given the reason for his change of heart near the end of the second act, to defy authority like a real Runner.


Video: 3.5 out of 5

Logan's Run is presented in a 1080p transfer using the VC-1 codec. There has been some pre-release chatter regarding the transfer used on this Blu-ray release, claiming the image is a bit soft and grainy for a movie shot in TODD-AO. Logan's Run was filmed using the inferior TODD-AO 35 process, similar to 35mm Panavision or Cinemascope, and not TODD-AO 70 (as is assumed). Taking that into account, plus the fact that most film stocks used in the mid-70s and early 80s have proven over to be unstable, this is a fairly good transfer. Flesh tones are accurate, colors are vivid and consistent without bleeding, detail is very good (so much so that it reveals the limitations of the visual effects), and black levels are nice and inky. Film grain is kept in tact, and compression artifacts are virtually non-existent.


Audio: 3.5 out of 5

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is a good representation of the film's multi-channel soundtrack created for its 70mm engagements, but it does reveal its limitations. Jerry Goldsmith's score, spread across all channels, is full and bombastic, with good bass response. It is quite evident in many scenes that much of the film's dialogue was recorded on-set, as the quality fluctuates between shots, and sometimes within the same shot. Some long shots have dialogue that have a muffled echo to them, while some actors voices don't come into focus until they hit their mark. This is obviously more a fault of the film's original sound design than the encoding created for this disc. That being said, dialogue is intelligible.


Special Features: 3 out of 5

Audio Commentary by Director Michael Anderson, Actor Michael York, and Costume Designer Bill Thomas: The three individuals were recorded separately and edited together for this rather dry commentary track where each one discusses their contributions to the film, how they got involved, and problems with the studio and censorship.


A Look At The 23rd Century: A 9-minute public relations piece on the making of the film, including interviews with Michael York and Michael Anderson. Originally produced in 16mm, this 1976 short is in bad shape, with notable scratches, fading colors, and a very grainy image.


Theatrical Trailer: The original trailer (although the WB logo has replaced the MGM logo), presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and standard definition.


Overall: 3 out of 5

Logan's Run is a very dated-looking science fiction film from the mid-70s, but gets an acceptable Blu-ray treatment with a decent audio and video transfer, an informative commentary, and a vintage featurette.
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#2 of 45 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 10 2009 - 09:16 AM

The good news is that I am very happy to see that this catalog 
release sports a decent transfer.

The bad news -- why does Warner have to mess with history and
replace the MGM logo with theirs?


I realize they bought the MGM library, but does that mean they
have to erase the logo in the process?  Just for mere historical
purposes it is my opinion that all movies and trailers should retain
their original logos no matter who now owns them.


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#3 of 45 OFFLINE   BillyFeldman

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Posted November 10 2009 - 10:36 AM

 Okay, let me inject some reality - a) I don't know what Blu-Ray Ron is referring to above, but the Logan's Run Blu-Ray that I have begins with the standard Warners logo BEFORE the film - it is not PART of the film.  When that logo fades out, we then get the film proper, which begins with - an MGM logo, as it should.

b) this is not an "acceptable" Blu-Ray transfer, this is a PERFECT Blu-Ray transfer.  Anyone who doesn't think so has never and I mean never seen this film theatrically.  In fact, the Blu-Ray looks better than the release prints, which were not stellar.  The colors are perfection.  Once you understand that all the effects shots (and there are a huge number of them) are all optically done with all those inherent drawbacks, then you will realize how fantastic this transfer really is.  You really cannot listen to people who have no history seeing this film other than on home video.  Their opinions are, in fact, pretty meaningless as to what the film and this transfer should look like.  When the first images came on my jaw dropped, because all I've read on various boards are complaints - MY JAW DROPPED, because this was so incredible-looking.  Trust me on this - if you happen to like Logan's Run for any reason, do not hesitate to buy this Blu-Ray.  Period.

I have never been shy in my criticism of some of Warners' DVD transfers - off color, always too yellow and brown, and some of their very first HD-DVD and Blu-Rays, which were simply ports of those DVD hi-def transfers, made me want to be critical all over again.  But, as I've mentioned elsewhere, something has changed over there and they now must have someone doing transfers who, at long last, understands color and what it should look like.  I have been more than thrilled with every recent Blu-Ray coming from that studio and I only hope it continues on that high level.  Whoever is responsible for the new person doing transfers, kudos to you.

But to blame a studio for leaving off a logo when the logo is present as it always has been?  Perhaps Ron was just listening to someone else's complaint without having seen the disc?  Again, this is a Logan's Run to be thrilled with, logo and all.  MY JAW DROPPED and my jaw does not drop easily.












#4 of 45 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 10 2009 - 11:03 AM

Billy,

If you read Cameron's review you would have seen
this statement:


Quote:

Theatrical Trailer: The original trailer (although the WB logo has replaced the MGM logo), presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and standard definition.

 
 

If you read the entire review, Billy, you would have noticed
that Cameron Yee clearly states that the WB logo has
replaced the MGM logo.  I don't think I need to watch the
BD to take the word of one of our trusted reviewers.

So now you better understand the reason for my
comments...yes?  Obviously you totally missed the point
of what I was referring to in my post. 

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#5 of 45 OFFLINE   BillyFeldman

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Posted November 10 2009 - 11:36 AM

 Oh, I see now - you were criticizing Warner Bros for changing the logo on the TRAILER, not the film proper.  Is that right?  I haven't watched the trailer.  But your post made it seem like you were talking about the film itself, not the trailer, because you did not quote anything and frankly, since the trailer comment appears at the very bottom of the review, I missed it.

#6 of 45 ONLINE   GregK

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Posted November 10 2009 - 02:01 PM

Todd, does this version retain the original directional dialog audio mix?

#7 of 45 ONLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted November 10 2009 - 05:09 PM


Quote:

Todd, does this version retain the original directional dialog audio mix?
 

I believe it does.

And the MGM logo is intact on the film proper.



#8 of 45 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted November 10 2009 - 07:57 PM

Todd, I really have to agree with you about the transfer revealing how limited these effects really were.

The opening shot of the domes shocked me in that it reminded me of some faux crystal salad bowls turned upside-down on a tabletop!
And I still remember as a kid seeing that shot and being amazed by it in the theater.   Wow, have times changed.  (And wow, have I been spoiled by the guys at ILM over the years...)

#9 of 45 OFFLINE   Ethan Riley

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Posted November 10 2009 - 09:22 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin EK 

Todd, I really have to agree with you about the transfer revealing how limited these effects really were.

The opening shot of the domes shocked me in that it reminded me of some faux crystal salad bowls turned upside-down on a tabletop!
And I still remember as a kid seeing that shot and being amazed by it in the theater.   Wow, have times changed.  (And wow, have I been spoiled by the guys at ILM over the years...)
I thought the sfx looked cheesy back in its dvd days; that too revealed the limitations. The worst shot in the movie is, I think, when Jessica is in the Ice Palace which crumbles around her. Bad, bad! sfx. The other crummy shot is when Jessica and Logan are climbing the stairs and it's an obvious process shot. Actually, I thought it looked bad when I first saw this flick on tv back in 1977 lol. Last time I saw this movie on dvd (probably 2 months ago) I wondered if they'd jigger some of the worst sfx for hi-def; seems they didn't. I didn't expect them to anyway, but it would have been nice if the original filmmakers could have fixed some of that stuff digitally. I guess it doesn't matter--

 

 


#10 of 45 OFFLINE   Heinz W

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Posted November 10 2009 - 11:28 PM

My copy arrived yesterday morning and I still haven't had a chance to check it out. Pure torture!

As an eleven year old in 1976 I was a big fan of this movie. Saw it several times and it was my favorite movie until Star Wars came out. While not aging as well as some other SF films it'll always have a special nostalgic place in my heart, warts and all.

I'm very encouraged by Billy's enthusiastic assessment of the transfer. Being a low-profile title is both good and bad. Bad because it's not likely to get the lavish treatment of films like The Wizard of Oz, and good because it's also just as likely to not get over treated with DNR, EE, and the like. Often it seems like the catalog titles least fussed over tend to look the most natural and film-like.

I like the graphic on the disc, they should of used that for the cover. It's from the original poster art. That's really a minor quibble and doesn't mean much as long as the film looks good.

Looking forward to 'seeking Sanctuary' as soon as possible.

#11 of 45 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 10 2009 - 11:55 PM

After reading Billy's comments, I am even more excited for my copy to arrive from Amazon. Similar to Heinz, I grew up with this film, as well as the subsequent TV series, and have really been looking forward to an improved copy over the SD-DVD that I sold off when the BD was announced.

I would love to see the TV series released, even if it was on plain old SD-DVD.


#12 of 45 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted November 11 2009 - 03:23 AM

I can't see how the transfer could reveal the limitations of the effects. The transfer can't reveal anything that wasn't already existent on the original film element. The effects in this film were cheesy looking when I saw it in the theater during its original run.
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#13 of 45 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted November 11 2009 - 03:28 AM

At the time the movie was released, the effects were not considered to be cheesy.  When I saw the movie at the ripe old age of 7, I remember being impressed by them. 

I may well have noticed the fakeness of the upside-down salad bowls on the table in the original DVD transfer (I still have that DVD), but the added clarity of high definition just makes the situation obvious.  What becomes evident is a total lack of scale. The objects don't look massive at all - instead they look like small objects filmed in close-up.

#14 of 45 OFFLINE   Worth

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Posted November 11 2009 - 03:33 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwin-S 

I can't see how the transfer could reveal the limitations of the effects. The transfer can't reveal anything that wasn't already existent on the original film element. The effects in this film were cheesy looking when I saw it in the theater during its original run.
The effects were always cheesy, but I find that HD is generally much more revealing than original theatrical 35mm prints.

Not long ago, I saw "The Spy Who Loved Me" at a revival house in 35mm. I also had the film on my DVR in HD from a recent cable airing. Comparing the two, the HD version was far more detailed than the film print. Obviously, all of that visual information is on the negative, but much of it gets lost on its way to a release print. And you have issues with film projection - optics, imperfect focus, gate weave etc. HD is much closer to the source.


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#15 of 45 OFFLINE   Jeff Robertson

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Posted November 11 2009 - 03:34 AM

I watched my copy last night and, while not jaw-dropping to me, it was certainly a much welcomed improvement over the heavily artifacted and print damaged DVD version from long ago. I agree that the transfer represents the film in use at the time and wasn't expecting the Oz treatment.

I'm more impressed with the audio. The TrueHD track reveals subtleties not apparent in the more compressed Dolby Digital track from the past. I'm hearing things I've never heard before and it definitely hightens the emotional impact. 

I don't know what it is about seeing the film on Blu-Ray, but I also discovered a moment in the movie that I totally ignored on previous viewings. It is at the point where Logan and Jessica are confronted by the runners with the "steamy spears" beyond the door and we see Logan activate a signal on his belt. It passes quickly, but the reaction from Sandman cental does not. I never absorbed the fact that Logan was still fullfilling his original mission to "destroy sanctuary" by informing the others. I always thought he abandoned that after Jessica confessed that they planned to kill him.





#16 of 45 OFFLINE   Douglas R

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Posted November 11 2009 - 04:31 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyFeldman 

 Oh, I see now - you were criticizing Warner Bros for changing the logo on the TRAILER, not the film proper.  Is that right?  I haven't watched the trailer.  But your post made it seem like you were talking about the film itself, not the trailer, because you did not quote anything and frankly, since the trailer comment appears at the very bottom of the review, I missed it.
I haven't got this disc but surely the trailer voice-over and on-screen text still says "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents" within the trailer. I can see that Warner Bros may have inserted their logo prior to the beginning of the trailer but is Todd really saying that the actual trailer has been altered? Have you now seen the trailer Billy? 



#17 of 45 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted November 12 2009 - 04:58 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas R View Post

I haven't got this disc but surely the trailer voice-over and on-screen text still says "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents" within the trailer. I can see that Warner Bros may have inserted their logo prior to the beginning of the trailer but is Todd really saying that the actual trailer has been altered? Have you now seen the trailer Billy?  
 
I just watched the trailer. The VO and on-screen text has not been altered - still MGM. Just the WB logo at the beginning, unlike the feature itself, which has the WB logo followed by the original MGM lion logo. If Leo was missing before the film proper, I'd be upset, but since it's just the trailer, this one goes into the nitpick category for me. 

I agree wholeheartedly with Billy's assessment - this is a damn fine representation of what this film looked like when I saw it theatrically in 1976, cheesy effects and all. And Jerry Goldsmith's great score has never sounded better (I still have the score album, one of the first I ever bought). 

Trivia - not only did LR win a Special Achievement Oscar for its effects, it was nominated for Art Direction and Cinematography. 


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#18 of 45 OFFLINE   Don Giro

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Posted November 12 2009 - 11:15 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Heinz W 

As an eleven year old in 1976 I was a big fan of this movie. Saw it several times and it was my favorite movie until Star Wars came out. While not aging as well as some other SF films it'll always have a special nostalgic place in my heart, warts and all.
.
Heinz, this is EXACTLY what I wanted to say, right down to being eleven in 1976!!

Every time I watch it, the "flaws" become more and more apparent, but it NEVER takes away from my viewing experience. 

Some more "flaws" not mentioned:
After the "salad bowl" shot, when we see inside the domes, the camera pans the City, and there is a pond with absolutely no "movement."  The maze cars look like Hot Wheels. And my favorite flaw of all: in a City where no one lives past age 30, most of the Sandmen look to be in their mid-40s...and Billy, the leader of the Cubs in Cathedral, looks WAY more than 15...

Jeff: it has nothing to do with HD, the scene where Logan summons the Sandmen has always been a "blink-and-you'll-miss-it"  moment.  I was just more aware of it over the years because I had read the Marvel Comics adaptation SO many times...




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#19 of 45 OFFLINE   RickER

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Posted November 12 2009 - 11:41 PM

 I was 13 when i saw this movie. Love it! Sure its dated, but so are many movies and TV shows from the era.
What this movie has, is the first bare breasts i ever saw. At the age if 12, you remember that kind of stuff. Jenny Auguter was my first movie love, oh yea.

#20 of 45 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted November 13 2009 - 01:47 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by RickER 

What this movie has, is the first bare breasts i ever saw. At the age if 12, you remember that kind of stuff. Jenny Auguter was my first movie love, oh yea.
/img/vbsmilies/htf/laugh.gif  Nominated for "best post of the week!"  Way to go, Rick!  /img/vbsmilies/htf/thumbsup.gif

This automatically puts it in the running to get its very own thread in After Hours! 


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