Top positive review
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A Blu Ray truly worth waiting for...
on 16 June 2011
Finally, one of the greatest ever British war films comes to the format it was destined for. A tense, thrilling war picture and a superbly written and acted character study with career-best performances from some of the finest actors Britain has ever produced, `Ice Cold in Alex' is a film that demands respectful treatment in the transfer to high definition, and Optimum have more than risen to the challenge, providing a simply stunning Blu Ray that doesn't so much push the boundaries of what older films can look like on Blu Ray as it does smash clean through them.
Put simply, this is one of the very finest black and white high definition transfers I have ever seen, with a level of detail and clarity that is simply staggering. Whilst the old standard DVD was very presentable, this new restoration blows it clean out of the water. Gilbert Taylor's razor-sharp cinematography has never and will never look better than it does here. Fine object detail is beyond criticism, with the numerous desert vistas providing a visual treat, and close-ups revealing every pore of skin and bead of sweat, enhancing the gritty feel of the film. Grading is exceptional, with a deep and rich greyscale and no evidence of clipping even in the brighter scenes. Digital tampering is kept to a minimum, with a natural film-like look present throughout. The use of modern `sprocketless' telecine transfer means that there is no evidence of telecine wobble, with the image remaining rock steady from the first frame to the last.
As with Optimum's release of `The Dam Busters', the original BBFC censor card has been retained, another lovely little touch that helps to set this release apart.
Sound is also good, presented as a 2 channel mono PCM track. Whilst the dynamic range is slightly limited by the inherent age of the source material, dialogue is clear throughout and effects such as gun blasts are deep and rich. Leighton Lucas' underrated and stirring score is particularly nice to hear in an uncompressed format. The track is a completely acceptable presentation for a film of this vintage.
An interview with Sylvia Syms, home movie footage by John Mills, a trailer and behind-the-scenes stills gallery round the disc out with the special features.
All in all, Optimum Releasing and the individuals responsible for the transfer itself should be congratulated for putting such extensive effort into the restoration of `Ice Cold in Alex', ensuring its survival in the best possible way for many years to come, and I would recommend this Blu Ray to fans of the film and newcomers alike without reservation. If you want to see the best of British film on the best of British Blu Ray, look no further!