A Few Words About A few words about...™ Spy Game -- in HD-DVD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Universal's High Def release of Tony Scott's 2001 Spy Game must be one of the more difficult productions to technically make its way to HD.

    With an image that has been modified in many ways, this is a film that could have been a technical disaster waiting to occur.

    And it wasn't. The transfer is beautiful.

    What it turned out to be was yet another very, very film-like release from Universal's HD unit.

    There are shots with deep rich blacks broken by shafts of light that have reveals of incredible shadow detail and depth. Color is extremely accurate to the original film production.

    It has been noted elsewhere that there is some dirt on the element.

    True.

    I noted a few, and by that I mean literally three or four over two hours of "sparkle," or negative dirt printed through to the IP. If you want to see "sparkle" pop Rear Window into your DVD player.

    This is nothing, and as I've noted before, adds to the film look.

    There are also a couple of passages, generally with bright skies (one around the 49 minute mark) that have a quick run of positive detritus, and then is gone.

    I'm wondering if the final QC is viewed on a home theater size monitor, or a professional grade studio monitor of 30" or thereabout. If this is the case, the problem will be extremely difficult to spot.

    Should it occur. Probably not.

    Does it damage the viewer perception of this film.

    Not in the slightest. My perception is that this is not a new film element.

    Watching Spy Game, which was produced before, but released just post 9/11 brings to mind, two other films that are heroic, intelligent and cause the audience to think.

    The first, concerning honor and chivalry goes back just prior to WWII, Jean Renoir's 1937 Grand Illusion, available from Criterion, that small indie label. For those unaware, this is one of the greatest films ever made.

    The other, and which I feel now forms an interesting bookend to Spy Game, is Stephen Gaghan's Syriana, a film so literate and involved that it can make the unwary viewer's head hurt.

    Spy Game is a beautifully rendered HD-DVD, a great entertainment, with some known talented actors, that also serves to make the audience think about precisely what and how a modern government deals with the needs of the public, and the loss of those who are now retiring, who manned the walls in more civilized and personal times.

    Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Great review Robert. [​IMG]
     
  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Mr. Harris, I respect your opinion greatly! Can you check the level of dirt and scratches on The Bone Collector and tell me if you find the level in THAT film also acceptable? TBC is definitly worse in my opinion than Spy Game, but both came out the same day and both exhibit much much much worse dirt and grime than any other movie I have viewed that are of the same time frame.

    Thanks!

    Sam
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Every video master can be cleaned up to a point of perfection, eliminating all of the tiniest pin-points of both positive and negative dirt, as well as any processing flaws.

    In reviewing and considering film-based product, as opposed to those derived directly from digital media, I tend to examine them in comparison to what would be acceptable on a new 35mm print.

    To answer your question directly, I didn't have a problem with the dirt on Bone Collector. As I noted, it reminded me that I was viewing a film-based product, based upon a film element that had seen some use over its lifetime.

    What did disturb me was the constant barage of dirt that I noted even on just the first couple of minutes of Capote while viewing on a 30" monitor in standard defintion, and based upon a brand new film element.

    No. A bit of "sparkle" or IP dirt doesn't really disturb me.

    BTW, Sam, you note, regarding dirt on BC and SG, that they "both exhibit much much much worse dirt and grime(?) than any other movie I have viewed that are of the time frame."

    What other HD releases are you using for comparison?

    RAH
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Hmm, guess you've got a point there, most of the films I've seen have been much newer or much older =) Still, none of them had the sparklies jump out on me as dramatically as these two films.

    I've got Capote here in SD, will give that a look tonight and see how it rates against these two. I've never seen it before.

    Sam
     

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