Most helpful critical review
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2012
To put it in short... very disappointed with this Blu-ray release of Manhunter.
Perhaps it's because I'm such a huge fan of the film, or perhaps it's the fact that Optimum (the studio who released this version) aren't. I'm not an expert on these matters -- and don't pretend to be -- so I won't presume to know who is responsible for this transfer. Howevever I do know that Optimum is the studio responsible for the release of this Blu-ray.
Apparently, there have been numerous versions of Manhunter. I was unaware of this until recently, because the only version I have owned is the 2001 Momentum release, which I am going to go out on a limb and say is the definitive version. I say this not because it is the best picture quality -- not that there's anything wrong with it -- but because it is presented the way that Michael Mann intended. And what is even more infuriating and bewildering is that Dante Spinotti, the director of photography, talks about this in 'The Manhunter Look', which is included in the extras on the Blu-ray disc. Spinotti explains that certain very vibrant colours -- such as 'purple violet' -- were used in Manhunter to convey certain emotions. And, as I have said, he discusses this in the extras which are included on this disc. So it would seem that no one at Momentum has bothered to watch this documentary. I really don't understand how you can cock a film up in such a monumental way. The mind boggles.
One perfect and soul-destroying example is when Will Graham is sitting in Doctor Lecktor's room, having just handed him some files, and he looks in his cell: the camera pans along past the books and the sink, and the sink should be, as Spinotti says, 'purple violet,' but it's not! It's devoid of colour! This was an intentional decision made by the director to convey a certain emotion -- and it has been removed! These people are altering art. They are altering a very special movie that means a lot to a lot of people. I am not going to deny the fact that the picture is a lot more crisp, but that does not justify altering vital parts of the movie. However, I fear that this is not a problem particular to this Blu-ray version. For I have checked the 'Directors cut', which I am assuming is the same as the 'Director's Cut' DVD, and this is also atrocious and practically devoid of any of the deep, vibrant colours that make Manhunter such a standout piece. Therefore, I assume what has happened is Optimum have used the completely wrong source material for this transfer. They have used a deplorable version of this amazing film which, I am guessing, was also awful on DVD. So, I guess what I am saying is, it's not the Blu-ray's fault -- although I am starting to have my reservations about said format.
Unfortunately, this is not where the problems end. The version they have used -- although not the awful 'Director's cut' which I wasn't aware of until now -- has redundant scenes added and important ones omitted. Yes, you heard right, this version is not only flawed in that it is practically devoid of the colour that made Manhunter the cult classic that it is, but it is also a different version content wise. For example: the scene at around fifty minutes or so in, where Will is in a hotel room with Molly, and you see his horrific scar, has been omitted, and also the subsequent scene between the two where she asks Will if he remembers when they first met. As any fan of Manhunter who is reading this will know, that is a very poignant scene -- and they haven't included it. WHY?! The first thing that made me realise that something was amiss was the 'purple violent' sink which just does not exist in this Blu-ray version. Also, which is perfectly shown in the documentary 'The Manhunter Look', the extremely bright green glass in Dollarhyde's house; and also the 'purple dawn' -- as Spinotti states -- near the end of the film when Will Graham is escorting Reba out of Dollarhyde's house.
To sum up, this is definately NOT the definitive version of Manhunter. Until they release a blu-ray version of the 2001 Momentum DVD release, the definitive version is still the 2001 (to repeat myself) Momentum DVD release, advertised here on Amazon as 'Manhunter [DVD] '. To reiterate, the best version is the 2001 Momentum DVD. I am not going to lie and say that the picture quality is not sharper in this Blu-ray, because IT IS, but if the film itself, and the experience, is not as good, then what is the point? Who in their right mind would sacrifice substance for picture quality? I would sooner watch a grainy image (which the Momentum release is not. It's great) of a brilliant version than a glossy image of a subpar edition. I really wish I hadn't bought this version. You have been warned.