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What a total disappointment of a Blu-Ray! :( There should be laws against treating such a *great* movie like this!
on 25 November 2009
This release truly was a gargantuan disappointment. "Heat" is one of my all-time favorites and Michael Mann one of my favorite directors. I actually did not have huge expectations to this first incarnation of Heat on Blu-Ray--knowing the problems that exist on both the original 1999 DVD release (which I might add was pretty ok at the time, but not by today's standards) and the subsequent 2005 "Special Edition" (which had some interesting extras and commentary, but no change to the feature itself.)
But I mean honestly, I am in awe that not only does this disc have basically _the same_ audio track (re-encoded into Dolby TrueHD)--complete with the same muffled audio which for the most part totally lacks any kind of force, and dialogue which in some places is so low it borders on being ridiculous.
I can honestly say that it had no improvement, whatsoever, over the Japanese DTS edition which was released a couple of years back (which also is far from perfect.)
Ok, granted. The audio is not 100%--that I might be able to live with. After all--this is close to being my favorite movie. However, it also has received a *minimal* upgrade on the video side.
No, I am not referring to the inherent film grain. This disc has many scenes which look like they are taken straight off the original DVD and upscaled to 1080p. The lack of detail is most prominent when pausing the movie at certain scenes. Background detail also varies strongly throughout. Yes, it is a Blu-Ray and obviously it will look better than the DVD but I have a quite respectable stack of older movies which completely puts this release in the dust. The bitrate is for the most part around 15-22Mbit/s, peaking at just under 30 in some cases; but seldom reaching this point.
Just to illustrate that minimal care has been given to the video aspect, note that it even has the _exact same_ color-change problem which occurs after Amy Brenneman's character (Eady) hangs up the phone with McCauley / De Niro (at 54:32)
While this is all bad enough, later on I actually notice that some of the dialogue has been *CUT OUT*. (Why haven't other reviewers noticed this?) Specifically where Diane Venora's character (Justine) is talking to Vincent Hanna / Pacino after the office party has ended. From the passage below, the first part ("you sift through the detritus") has been omitted(!). I actually had to rewind to verify this, as this kind of thing is pretty unusual, and not something I've noticed on any of the previous DVD versions:
"You sift through the detritus, you read the terrain, you search for signs of passing, for the scent of your prey ... and then you hunt them down. That's the only thing you're committed to. The rest is the mess you leave as you pass through."
Just to make it clear--this was not some one-off problem with my disc or equipment causing it to skip ahead at that particular juncture. No drop-outs to the digital audio signal was witnessed either.
To me, cutting out dialogue (especially something as relevant and beautifully phrased) in such a fashion is completely baffling. I don't know what on earth happened to this release while it was mastered on Blu-Ray, but this just topped it all off and prompted me to eject the disc. I could not bear to see what other flaws or edits it might have been subjected to.
I might add that, never once have I not watched this movie to the end. And I have watched it probably 30 times. But this was truly an abysmal experience. Warner, are you listening? You have plenty of other awe-inspiring releases, and some which are decades older than this one which look (and some which sound) a zillion times better--Superman, North by Northwest, The Road Warrior, Bullitt, The Dirty Dozen--to name a few.
After I submit this review I will create a return request for this item. I urge all others who truly love this movie to do the same; and not put up with what is basically a repackaged & cut version of the original DVD.
What a waste of a truly great disc format.