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UHD Review A Few Words About A few words about...™ - True Lies -- in 4k UHD (2 Viewers)

jayembee

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Plenty of movies that seem viewed commonly as "art" are also popcorn entertainment.

"Lawrence of Arabia" is a rousing adventure. "Casablanca" and "Gone With the Wind" are romantic melodrama. Etc.

400 years ago, the plays of William Shakespeare were mass entertainment potboilers. Nowadays, they are considered among the greatest works of Western Literature.
 
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JoshZ

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I finally had a chance to watch True Lies tonight. Setting aside the A.I. processing issues, in no way do I believe this was a new 4K scan, nor even a new color or HDR grade. It looks very much like the HD master that's been circulating since the early 2000s, run through some new upconversion, grain removal, and sharpening.

That said, I found it disappointing but not unwatchable. The zoomed-in screenshots showcasing squiggly lines and weird textures on the actors' faces is not something I found noticeable during playback. The smoothed-over, plastic-y faces are occasionally bothersome but not consistently through the whole movie. (For some reason, Jamie Lee Curtis seems to get it the worst.)

Mostly, it just looks like a dated HD master. The movie deserves better, but I've seen a lot worse.

The Atmos soundtrack is also very weak on bass, which is another bummer.
 

JoshZ

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I'm not equipped to take 4K HDR screenshots, but I ripped the accompanying Blu-ray from the new master and was able to compare it against screenshots I'd previously taken from the HD copy that briefly streamed on Apple TV+ in early 2023 prior to the 4K remastering announcement. Differences between them are pretty minor, mostly amounting to the A.I. detail enhancement and grain removal. (Screenshot comparison on this page.)

This solidifies my belief that, contrary to what the Lightstorm rep may claim, none of these movies were rescanned in 4K recently. Rather, the studio just took whatever existing master they had on hand for each movie and ran it through the new A.I. processing. For Aliens, that was the 2010 Blu-ray master. For True Lies, it looks to be an even-older master that dates back to the 2003 D-VHS.
 

Sam Favate

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I watched this last night, and I thought it looked really good, perhaps a bit too slick in some places, but overall very good. I'm happy with it.

The movie, of course, is fun, especially when you take it as James Cameron's version of a James Bond movie. However, Cameron's old school misogyny and depiction of an entire ethnic group as terrorists sits even less well with me now than it did 30 years ago. There is no way this movie gets made today, even with someone like Cameron attached.

Arnold seemed to have more fun in this performance than any other and Jamie Lee Curtis finds a lot of ways to shine; she saves the movie from being a generic Schwarzenegger action movie. (Was this his first movie with a female lead getting co-billing? First where there was a romantic relationship? I think it was.)

Even though it came out in 1994, more than 30 years after the Bond series started, I find this film full of more anachronisms than the early Connery films (which also have plenty).

Glad it came out of limbo and can join the HD future.
 

Robert Saccone

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I watched this last night, and I thought it looked really good, perhaps a bit too slick in some places, but overall very good. I'm happy with it.

The movie, of course, is fun, especially when you take it as James Cameron's version of a James Bond movie. However, Cameron's old school misogyny and depiction of an entire ethnic group as terrorists sits even less well with me now than it did 30 years ago. There is no way this movie gets made today, even with someone like Cameron attached.

Arnold seemed to have more fun in this performance than any other and Jamie Lee Curtis finds a lot of ways to shine; she saves the movie from being a generic Schwarzenegger action movie. (Was this his first movie with a female lead getting co-billing? First where there was a romantic relationship? I think it was.)

Even though it came out in 1994, more than 30 years after the Bond series started, I find this film full of more anachronisms than the early Connery films (which also have plenty).

Glad it came out of limbo and can join the HD future.
Watch the extras on the disc, there's a lot of compliments paid to Curtis by both Cameron and Arnold. Also nice thoughts about Paxton's performance.
 

Ross Gowland

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However, Cameron's … depiction of an entire ethnic group as terrorists sits even less well with me now than it did 30 years ago.
It’s as relevant as ever, I’d have thought. Skim through the terrorist attacks of the past few years and it’s done in the name of Islam 80%+ of the time. Surely that makes it fair game for fiction.

You could make the terrorists Hindus or Buddhists, but it wouldn’t ring true, would it?


At the time I was grateful that the baddie wasn’t English, which seemed to be the vogue at the time.
 

Jeffrey D

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I watched up until the scene where Jamie Lee Curtis goes to the hotel. I like how it looks.
 

Robert Harris

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Allow me to chime in again, and possibly clarify.

Very much akin to Titanic, these films seemingly were restricted during production based upon accessible technology - be it film stock, optics - whatever.

The original filmmaker, by virtue of newer technologies, has seen fit to update the way that his films are seen only in one specific situation.

Home video.

Even if the textures of the new re-visualizations are recorded back to negative and thereby preserved as a new variant, the original versions as released theatrically are still available, even if slightly different based upon newer duplicating and projection stocks.

Personally, I never had a problem with any of these films, and enjoyed them - especially Aliens. The grain structure never troubled me in 35mm prints. It simply was what it was. I never gave it a second thought.

Years ago, a friend who was an author was asked by an interviewer if he was at all troubled by a film that had been made of one of his novels, as many felt that the written version was better, and had now been destroyed or supplanted by the film.

He commented that it had not, and pointed to a nearby shelf. “It’s right there,” he commented. “No one has touched it.”

The reality here is that while home video variants may have been supplanted by a different version, and the original versions may not be viewable on 4k or Blu-ray Disc, they could be. Any time the IP owner desired to publish them.

Those original versions also still survive in the studio vaults and archives, and can be run as quickly as they can be acclimated.

Creating new 4k masters of any of these films is a simple, and not terribly expensive task.

I’d love to have a 4k copy of Aliens, mimicking the look and textures of the original 35mm prints. It would be interesting to contrast and compare the two. And dependent upon my mood, and the point that I might be trying to make to those around me, I could pop either into a player and enjoy it.

Which would I probably view for myself?

The original.

But that doesn’t suggest that the re-visualization should not exist, as that version better tracks to what the filmmaker may have created were the tools available during production.

Which point further allows the concept of not manipulating grain or color or other textures in some other films, for which those specific attributes were pre-planned and dialed in to perfection.

That is not the case in this situation.
 

Stephen_J_H

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This Up Here GIF by Chord Overstreet

Again, to reiterate, this is not the Star Wars scenario where the director/producer is saying, "the old versions don't exist." There is no evidence that the OCNs and other elements have been junked. Disney is well known for preserving their elements, and unless you have some evidence that Cameron has said, "These are the definitive versions; junk the OCNs," this has become a bit of a tempest in a teapot.
 

JoshZ

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I'm sorry, but I find that to be a disingenuous argument. Even if the OCN still exists in its original form, it's been locked away in a salt mine vault and we as the public are unlikely to ever see it again. Last year's theatrical re-release of The Abyss was not struck from the OCN, but from the new A.I. degrained quote-unquote "restoration" master.

These are James Cameron's new definitive versions of the movies. He has no interest in ever undoing the changes to them. We will not see the movies remastered closer to their original filmic states in his lifetime. It took more than two decades for him to agree to sign off on these versions. He's not going through another round of remasters and approvals.

And even after he dies, it's extremely unlikely that any studio will find enough financial incentive to consider creating new versions that differ from his stated wishes. Hell, I'm sure Cameron has already put something in writing in an iron-clad contract to ensure it never happens, because that's the kind of guy he is.
 
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JoshZ

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We know that George Lucas hacked up the OCN to Star Wars when he made his Special Edition. However, we also know that enough other high quality sources still exist (IPs and INs and answer prints and whatnot) that a proper restoration of the theatrical cut is still entirely possible if only someone had the will to do it.

George Lucas himself is no longer in charge of Star Wars. He sold the whole property to Disney and stepped away. A very vocal contingent of fandom has clamored for a restoration of the theatrical cut for years. So, why hasn't Disney done that?

Quite obviously, from the studio perspective, they don't see enough profit in it. They've done the math, and the number of "Han shot first" purists who want to watch the movie with its original special effects are too small a minority, dwarfed by the multitudes who either: 1) prefer the more "modern" CGI effects (as terribly dated as they are now), 2) are loyalists to "George's vision" at all costs, or 3) don't give enough of a damn to have ever put three seconds of thought into the issue. As far as the studio is concerned, restoring the theatrical cut would be a huge waste of time and money they have no intention of ever doing.

And that's for Star Wars, which had huge substantive content changes, and also has an exponentially larger audience than any of the movies we're talking about here.

If Disney can't justify a proper restoration of Star Wars despite having the ability to do so, how could anyone possibly believe we'll ever see a grainier restoration of True Lies or The Abyss that contradicts James Cameron's explicit instructions for the movies, just to please the minuscule niche of home theater fans grumbling about them in forums like this?

The notion is absurd. So, please, reassurances that the negatives still exist and are just fine don't really mean anything except to the archivist whose job it is to file them away where they'll never be seen again.
 

Robert Harris

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We know that George Lucas hacked up the OCN to Star Wars when he made his Special Edition. However, we also know that enough other high quality sources still exist (IPs and INs and answer prints and whatnot) that a proper restoration of the theatrical cut is still entirely possible if only someone had the will to do it.
We do?
 

Dave H

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We know that George Lucas hacked up the OCN to Star Wars when he made his Special Edition. However, we also know that enough other high quality sources still exist (IPs and INs and answer prints and whatnot) that a proper restoration of the theatrical cut is still entirely possible if only someone had the will to do it.

George Lucas himself is no longer in charge of Star Wars. He sold the whole property to Disney and stepped away. A very vocal contingent of fandom has clamored for a restoration of the theatrical cut for years. So, why hasn't Disney done that?

Quite obviously, from the studio perspective, they don't see enough profit in it. They've done the math, and the number of "Han shot first" purists who want to watch the movie with its original special effects are too small a minority, dwarfed by the multitudes who either: 1) prefer the more "modern" CGI effects (as terribly dated as they are now), 2) are loyalists to "George's vision" at all costs, or 3) don't give enough of a damn to have ever put three seconds of thought into the issue. As far as the studio is concerned, restoring the theatrical cut would be a huge waste of time and money they have no intention of ever doing.

And that's for Star Wars, which had huge substantive content changes, and also has an exponentially larger audience than any of the movies we're talking about here.

If Disney can't justify a proper restoration of Star Wars despite having the ability to do so, how could anyone possibly believe we'll ever see a grainier restoration of True Lies or The Abyss that contradicts James Cameron's explicit instructions for the movies, just to please the minuscule niche of home theater fans grumbling about them in forums like this?

The notion is absurd. So, please, reassurances that the negatives still exist and are just fine don't really mean anything except to the archivist whose job it is to file them away where they'll never be seen again.

I'm just glad Lucas didn't have access to these AI tools when the SE variants of original Star Wars reached UHD BD. They are not perfect given their grain reduction (especially Empire) but at least there is no 'weirdness' and they are consistent in appearance.
 

JoshZ

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Not sure that I believe it, as it would have been totally unnecessary, regardless of who confirmed.

I trust that you'd be in a better position to know something like that than I would. But what I've heard is that, for any other faults he may have, George Lucas was a hoarder who insisted on saving any scrap of film he felt might ever be useful to him again in the future. It's largely because he held onto every negative trim and redundant copy that enabled him to go back and make so many repeated changes and "upgrades" to the movies over the years.

Regardless, I refuse to believe that a proper Star Wars restoration is impossible. Even fans scanning old theatrical prints have managed to produce some pretty compelling efforts. With the resources at the studio's disposal, better results than that are absolutely possible.
 

Robert Harris

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I trust that you'd be in a better position to know something like that than I would. But what I've heard is that, for any other faults he may have, George Lucas was a hoarder who insisted on saving any scrap of film he felt might ever be useful to him again in the future. It's largely because he held onto every negative trim and redundant copy that enabled him to go back and make so many repeated changes and "upgrades" to the movies over the years.

Regardless, I refuse to believe that a proper Star Wars restoration is impossible. Even fans scanning old theatrical prints have managed to produce some pretty compelling efforts. With the resources at the studio's disposal, better results than that are absolutely possible.
There is no Star Wars restoration necessary. Sit back. Relax. Breathe deeply.

All is well.
 

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