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"A Fish Called Wanda" Walmart Exclusive Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Cinescott

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This is one of my all-time favorite comedies and I was distressed to read all the bad reviews of the Blu-ray transfer prior to receiving my copy. After sampling most of the chapters, I'm happy with the results. Is it reference quality? Nope. However, there's also very little tampering present and a nicely detailed image that retains a film-like appearance.


There is some print damage, grain, and dirt present, but I don't realistically expect every film I like to receive a complete restoration or digital clean-up prior to a Blu-ray transfer. That's not realistic based on the likely sales volume of titles like Wanda.


The detail present on Wanda is so much better than any previous video version (and I've owned them all) that I have a hard time not being pleased with the results. This was (amazingly) a low budget production shot quickly and economically. The fact that it became an enormous hit in the 80s has little to do with the fact that it's never going to look all sparkly and new unless someone invests a pile of cash to do it and I don't see MGM doing that.


There is no main menu, the film starts right after the copyright warnings. There are 29 chapters and all of the extras from my previous 2-disc DVD have been ported over in SD. Best of all is a running commentary from John Cleese recorded several years ago. It's very informative and has a ton of great inside pieces of information about AFCW that I found hugely entertaining.

This was definitely a low-cost transfer probably done from a 10 year old or older master. Do I wish a complete clean-up had been done? Sure. Barring that, though, this Blu-ray will do for a long, long time. For $10, this was an absolute no-brainer to me.
 

Felix Martinez

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I'm also not too concerned about the visual quality and have also tempered my expectations. However, I also read that the audio is problematic in its repurposing to 5.1. IIRC the previous DVD retained the mono mix but the Blu-ray's 5.1 spread sounds out of phase, etc. and the mono mix is missing. For those that have the disc, what are some thoughts on the audio side?


P.S. all the Wal-mart exclusives are MIA in MIA and in fact in all of South Florida, as far as I can tell...
 

Cinescott

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Originally Posted by Felix Martinez

I'm also not too concerned about the visual quality and have also tempered my expectations. However, I also read that the audio is problematic in its repurposing to 5.1. IIRC the previous DVD retained the mono mix but the Blu-ray's 5.1 spread sounds out of phase, etc. and the mono mix is missing. For those that have the disc, what are some thoughts on the audio side?


P.S. all the Wal-mart exclusives are MIA in MIA and in fact in all of South Florida, as far as I can tell...


I had to order the disc from Walmart.com since my local 24 hr. "superstore" still has none of the exclusives. Regarding the audio, my previous DVD edition did have the original mono mix, but the Blu-ray has a DTS-MA track in English and I believe a lossy DTS track in French. Personally, the mono track doesn't mean much to me provided the DTS-MA track is acceptable and I have yet to find any problems with it related to improper field mastering, etc. Maybe my ear's not as attuned as others, but it sounds just fine to me.
 

Brandon Conway

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At first I was a bit disappointed in the film artifacts present, but then I took a look at the SE DVD, and YIKES! That DVD had terrible EE and was totally oversaturated in its color timing. The caveats of the film source for the HD master used for the Blu-ray are nothing compared to the atrocity of the DVD.
 

GMpasqua

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I watched this over the wekend, and I thought it looked pretty good - not great - but I have never seen this film look great. The dirty ect is more in the first 10 minutes then goes anyway much of the time. Actually looked better when compared to "Hair" which - while it looked good - had a fair amount of white specks throughout the film.


"Wanda" was sharp and stable. The film was not shot with cinematography being it's most important aspect - this was a low budget comedy that became a surprise hit - so I wasn't expecting much, but it was better than I thought it would have been. Looked much better than "Arthur" which was clean but about as sharp as a spoon


Comedies on a whole usually do not look very good when compared to other types of films - just like at the Oscars - very few are nomintaed or even win anything
 

CraigF

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GMpasqua said:
Comedies on a whole usually do not look very good when compared to other types of films
Totally my general experience...for older comedies. Well, not new ones anyway, nowadays (~last few years) they are filmed to look quite good on home video. It is why I am so reticent upgrading my comedy DVDs, too much disappointment. Edit: meaning I don't laugh any harder when the jokes/comedy are in HD. May be easier on my eyes, but good stuff holds up even when it looks like crap, something I wish my hand-to-credit-card brain section would respond better to.
 

Stephen_J_H

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I read the review over on blu-ray.com and while he doesn't give it a thorough drubbing, he compares it to It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World; rather unfairly IMHO, especially when you consider that the usable image area on film for A Fish Called Wanda is .825 x .447", versus IaMMMMW's Ultra Panavison exposed image of 1.913 x .888". Of course IaMMMMW is going to look glorious by comparison, having been through an all-new scan at FotoKem. The caps posted at blu-ray.com didn't look terrible, either, especially considering what crap was passing for film stock in 1988.
 

Cinescott

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Originally Posted by Stephen_J_H

I read the review over on blu-ray.com and while he doesn't give it a thorough drubbing, he compares it to It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World; rather unfairly IMHO, especially when you consider that the usable image area on film for A Fish Called Wanda is .825 x .447", versus IaMMMMW's Ultra Panavison exposed image of 1.913 x .888". Of course IaMMMMW is going to look glorious by comparison, having been through an all-new scan at FotoKem. The caps posted at blu-ray.com didn't look terrible, either, especially considering what crap was passing for film stock in 1988.


I completely agree with this. "Wanda" was shot on a budget of a paltry 7.5 million, which even when adjusted for inflation is pretty low. Comedies in general, particularly those over 10 years old, are rarely showcases for high def cinema. However, AFCW is such a well-written, smart, hilarious comedy that I wanted to have it in the highest resolution possible and I really wasn't disappointed (like Otto).

I think one of the things I particularly like about "Wanda" is that it spares no one with its jokes. If you're looking for a politically-correct movie, stay far, far away from this one:)
 

Jeffrey Nelson

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I didn't realize this was out on Blu; looks like I'll have to order it from Wally World. A pity that Cleese's excellent Schweppes commercial, included on the front of the original VHS release of the film, has yet to reappear on a disc release. Luckily, that great saviour of all video ephemera YouTube has come to the rescue once again:
 

Felix Martinez

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I finally picked this up and I'm returning it. Unacceptable. I found it unwatchable; or rather, unlistenable. The visual quality is as described, and it is what it is - that is, I found the worn element used for the transfer faithfully represented on Blu-ray without DNR, EE, contrast boosting, compression anomalies, and at a high bitrate to boot. This was not a deal-breaker for me.

What is unforgivable is what happened with the audio. Somehow, the repurposing of the mono mix to 5.1 has introduced a boxy, out-of-phase quality to the entire mix. Dialog intelligibility is also compromised. I could not get past the first 2 reels or so and gave up. If the disc would have included the orig (English) mono mix, all would be fine, as again, it is what it is.


I think Fox has done very, very nice work with many of their MGM blu-ray titles, but I have to warn folks about this one. It gives me no pleasure to advise folks to stay far away and spend money elsewhere.


I'm going back to Wal-mart to return this.
 

Brian L

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I note that AFCW is on Cinemax this weekend. I will be curious to see how the broadcast compares to the BR as described here.
 

Matt Stieg

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I agree with the above comment about the audio. The picture quality is what it is and I wasn't terribly disappointed because I wasn't expecting much, and as such I feel it's a worthwhile upgrade over the DVD. But...the 5.1 mix is JUST...PLAIN...AWFUL. The dialogue just sounds so tinny and warbly and like it's been funnelled through a vacuum. I'm in the same boat with Felix, while trying to watch the movie I just gave up...it was almost to the point where the audio was just fatiguing to my ears. Really disappointed that Fox or MGM or whoever would simply just drop the standard DD mono track. Instead we get a ridiculous number of foreign language tracks. Gee thanks, that Russian track is gonna come in real handy.
 

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