Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
Blu-ray Reviews

Demetrius and the Gladiators Blu-ray Review



This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
38 replies to this topic

#1 of 39 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 11,585 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted March 23 2012 - 09:37 AM

Delmer Daves’ Demetrius and the Gladiators may be a sequel to Henry Koster’s The Robe, but it has a distinctly different tone. There is much less focus on religiosity here (though faith certainly figures into some plot points) and much more concentration on providing a cracking good adventure tale. And the film succeeds because it doesn’t overreach: there are exciting fights in the arena, lots of drama about who’s sleeping with whom, and the mad Roman emperor Caligula chewing every piece of scenery within spitting distance. One couldn’t ask for much more in the sand and sandal genre.


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


Demetrius and the Gladiators (Blu-ray)
Directed by Delmer Daves

Studio: Twilight Time (Fox)
Year: 1954
Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1   1080p   AVC codec  Running Time: 102 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 English
Subtitles: none


Region: 0
MSRP: $ 29.95



Release Date: March 13, 2012

Review Date: March 23, 2012




The Film

3.5/5


When freed slave Demetrius (Victor Mature) fights to protect the hiding place of Christ’s robe now desired by Emperor Caligula (Jay Robinson) for its supposed restorative powers, he’s thrown into gladiatorial school and sent out to meet his end in the arena since he’s made it clear as a Christian he won’t kill another man. He’s such a surprising success in the ring, however, that Messalina (Susan Hayward), the wife of Caligula’s uncle Claudius (Barry Jones), manages to have him installed as one of her guards, and later, after his love Lucia (Debra Paget) appears to be killed, he finds himself on a murderous rampage that allows him to slaughter a host of gladiators and three tigers all in a single afternoon. Having lost his faith after the demise of Lucia, he’s more than happy to accompany Messalina to her seaside villa and be freed there of any association with his former life.


Philip Dunne’s screenplay takes only the Demetrius character from Lloyd Douglas’ book The Robe and has fashioned a completely new tale for him as his faith is continually tested, lost, and regained during the course of the movie. Delmer Daves stages quite well three outings in the arena sometimes taking the camera way up to emphasize the epic quality of the coliseum set with the scene of Demetrius’ going berserk and becoming an unstoppable killing machine perhaps being the most memorable. No, in terms of bloody carnage or acrobatic fight choreography, the tussles can’t hold a candle to something like is seen in television’s Spartacus series of today, but it likely thrilled audiences mightily in its day. With filming commencing only three weeks after the wrap on The Robe, many sets were obviously reused, and they’re splendidly grand in scope. Director Daves continually uses his widescreen frame to emphasize the epic size of the picture, not only in its impressive décor but in the hundreds of extras as guards, citizens, and gladiators while similarly narrowing its focus to about five principal characters whose capricious desires and actions continually keep the audience intrigued.


Victor Mature repeats his characterization of Demetrius from The Robe only now as the center of attention, and he forcefully holds the screen with ease. He can go effortlessly from a passionate embrace to seething rage to eyes brimming with tears in a role that really gives him great range as an actor. Susan Hayward’s Messalina is vixenish and alluring, and while not requiring anything like the extremes of emotion that Mature must generate, she inhabits her role expertly (even if screenwriter Dunne gives her a last reel psychological makeover that is anything but true to history). Jay Robinson’s highly theatrical performance as Caligula is perhaps a bit too plumy, rather monotonously braying his lines too often but certainly a performance that stands out from the pack. Michael Rennie is a quietly powerful Peter and Barry Jones an effective, understated Claudius. Ernest Borgnine as Strabo, the head of the gladiatorial school, was still about a year away from real stardom, but as he was doing quite a bit at this point in the 1950s, he makes his few moments count (though he does disappear quite surprisingly from the second half of the picture). Debra Paget, Anne Bancroft (who plays a girl who “entertains” gladiators), and Richard Egan (as a surly, bullying combatant boasting a very impressive physique) have less to do than their talents warrant. William Marshall lends his beautifully resonant voice as gladiator Glycon who finds his faith during the movie. Look closely and you’ll see Julie Newmar as one of the dancing girls in a couple of scenes.



Video Quality

4/5


The transfer is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.55:1 and is offered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is above average for the movie but only in close-ups could it be called exemplary. (And long shots are sometimes quite soft but likely not the fault of the transfer.) Likewise, color though richly saturated seems bit drab in the early going though the second half of the film seems to find the color more lustrous and impressive. Flesh tones are sometimes a bit on the brown side but again this is not always the case. Black levels are good, but you may find the entire image is a little darker than it needed to be. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



Audio Quality

4/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 sound mix features very extensive use of directionalized dialogue, all of it well recorded and easily discernible throughout. For the most part, Franz Waxman’s score has been spread across the front soundstage channels and only rarely wanders into the rear. There are infrequent ambient sounds in the rear soundstage, but when they happen (a crack of thunder will raise your blood pressure accordingly and the arena crowds are noticeably present), they’re quite impressive.



Special Features

2.5/5


The isolated score track is offered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo, and it sounds marvelous.


The film’s theatrical trailer is not in scope and is offered in 480i running 3 ¼ minutes.


The enclosed 6-page booklet contains numerous stills from the film (in very burnished washes), film historian Julie Kirgo’s always interesting analysis of the movie at hand, and the film’s poster art on the back cover.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


Demetrius and the Gladiators is the very definition of a 1950s popcorn movie: lots of love scenes, action, and spectacle. While the Blu-ray transfer here is merely fine rather than exemplary, the release offers us another 1950s classic in high definition. As part of Twilight Time’s limited availability program, only 3,000 copies of  the movie are available. Those interested in experiencing this Cinemascope melodrama should hop to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. They're also available via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies .




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 39 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

Adam Gregorich

    Executive Producer



  • 14,917 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 20 1999
  • LocationThe Other Washington

Posted March 23 2012 - 10:24 AM

Thanks for the review Matt.  Loved your summary.  Sounds like another great effort and must own from Twilight Time.



#3 of 39 OFFLINE   Virgoan

Virgoan

    Second Unit



  • 321 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 14 2007
  • Real Name:Ron Pulliam
  • LocationOakland CA

Posted March 23 2012 - 10:40 AM

It's a wonderful movie-movie!

#4 of 39 OFFLINE   benbess

benbess

    Screenwriter



  • 1,853 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 07 2009

Posted March 23 2012 - 12:14 PM

Good review, but I personally would rate the PQ at about a 3. I think it's quite a bit weaker than The Robe, which is maybe a 4.

#5 of 39 OFFLINE   MatthewA

MatthewA

    Producer



  • 6,308 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 19 2000
  • Real Name:Matthew
  • LocationSalinas, CA

Posted March 23 2012 - 12:39 PM

In the battle between Twilight Time and my bank account, Twilight Time is winning.


Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#6 of 39 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 11,585 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted March 23 2012 - 02:05 PM



Originally Posted by benbess 

Good review, but I personally would rate the PQ at about a 3. I think it's quite a bit weaker than The Robe, which is maybe a 4.



 It's a tough call and, of course, subjective. I thought through the first half that a 3.5 would be appropriate, but I did feel the last 40 minutes or so was quite strong, so I (as I always try to do) gave the benefit of the doubt to the higher score if I'm torn.



#7 of 39 OFFLINE   Mark Collins

Mark Collins

    Screenwriter



  • 2,140 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 21 2008

Posted March 23 2012 - 04:31 PM

I feel the same way as Matt said this. the battle between Twilight Time and my bank account, Twilight Time is winning. I am glad I purchased the movie and will look forward to more. The owning of the dvd that is released on Blu is my quandry. i struggle as to where I draw the line.

#8 of 39 Guest__*

Guest__*
  • Join Date: --

Posted March 23 2012 - 05:35 PM

On my copy, the sound is completely out of sync.



#9 of 39 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 11,585 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted March 24 2012 - 12:39 AM



Originally Posted by eric scott richard 

On my copy, the sound is completely out of sync.



I knew others were having sync problems so I watched very closely while mine played. I had no problems with sync. I used a PS3 for the review.




#10 of 39 OFFLINE   mark brown

mark brown

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 104 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 20 2005

Posted March 24 2012 - 01:03 AM

Grainy, washed out, dark and soft and a real disappointment. For this price Fox should do some minimal clean-up!

#11 of 39 OFFLINE   dana martin

dana martin

    Screenwriter



  • 1,954 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 28 2003
  • Real Name:Dana Martin
  • LocationNorfolk, VA

Posted March 24 2012 - 01:14 AM

Received mine in the mail yesterday, just before having to leave for work so should be able to watch sometime today. Thanks for the great review Matt, as always very to the point and agree with all here that TT is taking a beating on my bank account as well. I only have one small complaint already, I got stiffed on my damn magnet, or did they not do one on his release?


Playing at the Drive In

Quote:Welles, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Spielberg, Jackson, Wood ?? a true Auteur should be one who follows his artistic vision

#12 of 39 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

Joe Caps

    Screenwriter



  • 1,934 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 10 2000

Posted March 24 2012 - 01:20 AM

Around the 56- 57 minute point,there is a scene where Anne Bancroft goes to find Debra Paget. Paget says the shop is closed for the day - when, at high noon. Just like the regular dvd, this is a day for night scene, mistakenly transferred as day. Only the old Laserdisc got this scene right.

#13 of 39 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

Peter Apruzzese

    Screenwriter



  • 2,630 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 20 1999
  • Real Name:Peter Apruzzese

Posted March 24 2012 - 03:46 AM

On my copy, the sound is completely out of sync.

On my setup (Panasonic player and Denon amp) it goes out of sync badly at the beginning of the gladiator school scene and stays that way for a long time. It seems to be back in sync by about the two-thirds mark. Anyone else having this issue?
"What we're fighting for, in the end...we're fighting for each other." - Col. Joshua Chamberlain in "Gettysburg"

 


#14 of 39 OFFLINE   Mark Collins

Mark Collins

    Screenwriter



  • 2,140 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 21 2008

Posted March 24 2012 - 08:51 AM

I watched the movie again last night. I guess I am lucky too no problem in the area of sound that people are having. I wonder if they would give you a second copy? I have wondered about this question and what a person would do in the case of a bad dvd or blu-ray. I suppose SAE would replace it for you. I read today from TT that this will be the last master to be done on Demetrius. I am still glad I purchased the movie.

#15 of 39 Guest__*

Guest__*
  • Join Date: --

Posted March 24 2012 - 08:59 AM

The colors look weird as well. For example, during the opening scenes, the night sky is purple...on the dvd it is dark blue. It's almost as if a red tint has been placed over the image. Oh well.



#16 of 39 OFFLINE   Paul Penna

Paul Penna

    Supporting Actor



  • 531 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 22 2002

Posted March 24 2012 - 05:40 PM

Just watched this tonight via an Oppo BDP-93 and noticed sync problems coming and going. Also noticed how much of the dialog is looped, both in exteriors and interiors, and that often the sync problems coincided with this. Also agree that the image never achieves the quality of the best sections of The Robe Blue-Ray, and that in general it has something of the appearance of an image that's been edge-enhanced, even if that's not actually the cause of it. Finally, I can't seem to get the theme out of my head now. Way to go, Franz.

#17 of 39 OFFLINE   Clayking38

Clayking38

    Auditioning



  • 8 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 16 2011

Posted March 25 2012 - 12:35 PM

The audio was badly out of synch beginning with the first scene at the gladiator school. The audio almost caught up about three quarters into the film. I think the video was only marginally better than the standard dvd. A reall disappointment.

#18 of 39 OFFLINE   TheVid

TheVid

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 82 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 10 2011

Posted March 26 2012 - 03:13 AM

I was looking for sound synchronization problems after reading the posts here, and they're there, as most have stated. It's goes slightly off kilter during the gladiator scenes, and was particularly noticeable to me during the clanging in the arena. Too bad, as these are the best bits in the movie. It seemed to be OK by the time Demetrius goes to the dark side with Messalina. I didn't notice them too much during the boring pious parts. I think it's an overstatement saying the sound is badly out of synch, as the delay is very slight. That said, the movie looked vivid and crisp enough for me, but for the price, I'd want a replacement if the sound issues are correctable. I find this hokey epic so much more enjoyable than THE ROBE, that I'd like to have it at its very best.

#19 of 39 OFFLINE   Mark-P

Mark-P

    Screenwriter



  • 2,366 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 26 2005
  • Real Name:Mark Probst
  • LocationCamas, WA

Posted March 26 2012 - 06:37 AM

Badly out-of-sync to one person is barely noticeable to another. It's interesting how some people are hypersensitive to lip-sync and others aren't. I can notice it when I concentrate on it, but for the most part my brain just locks in it, unless of course it is way off.

#20 of 39 OFFLINE   dana martin

dana martin

    Screenwriter



  • 1,954 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 28 2003
  • Real Name:Dana Martin
  • LocationNorfolk, VA

Posted March 26 2012 - 09:13 AM

had the chance to watch this this weekend, yes had some of the same sync issues, for those who are saying it's really bad, it's not Godzilla dub bad, but it is noticable, and somewhat distracts. presentation is not on par wih The Robe, but close enough, although some of the day for night was off, but if you want it with no sync issues, just watch with the isolated score, i know it doesnt fix the issue, but it is a good score as somone else mentioned. i like the rest wait to see what TT has to say, and Eric i see you posted the question on there facebook page so, they do know of the issue.



Playing at the Drive In

Quote:Welles, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Spielberg, Jackson, Wood ?? a true Auteur should be one who follows his artistic vision