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BLU-RAY - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
on 9 February 2013
As usual with my Blu-ray reviews I am not going to go into great detail about the films content, as most of you wishing to buy this version of The Last Of The Mohicans will already know what a classic the film is. Unlike another reviewer here however, I can not report that this Blu-ray transfer is a classic. I have been awaiting this Blu-ray release for some time, as the films appearance on DVD was never particularly pleasing. Unfortunately neither is its appearance on Blu-ray.
To get the technical details out of the way, the film itself looks probably better than it ever has, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, framed closely to its original 2.39:1 aspect ratio, that sits on a dual-layer disc and runs at an average bitrate of 38 MBPS. The films inherent grain structure is intact and there's no evidence of any overt digital tweaking, including DNR, edge enhancement, or drastic colour modifications. To put it simply, this is a faithful reproduction of the original material and definitely retains its cinematic appearance. However, these days, especially on Blu-ray, a cinematic appearance often means blurred images and a lack of sharpness, and such is the case here. Sharpness is nowhere near as refined as it is with contemporaries such as Rob Roy, for example, the 1995 MGM and Twentieth Century Fox release, and in appearance often feels more like a DVD than a Blu-ray. Lacking is textural definition, especially on the characters faces and military uniforms that one has come to expect in HD. The exception is with the gold beading and epaulets on the uniforms of the British officers, which, oddly in comparison, does appear pleasingly detailed. Never is the image sharp though, and this is especially noticeable in the distant shots of mountains and tree lines when one would expect to see breathtaking clarity.
Much of the action takes place in darkness and here, amidst muddy-brown depths, detail is particularly lacking. Rarely do blacks appear totally black, except, once again on the uniforms of the British officers, which appear oddly vivid and saturated with pleasing colour when all around them appears diluted. Colour is the transfers one strong point, candle-lit interior scenes feeling pleasantly warm and rich, though some of the exterior scenes tend to have a yellowish hue that does not suit the coldness of the mountain terrain. Only once in my view, in the scenes of the escaping Mohicans in the canoes of their foes the Hurons, did the picture come close to a top-notch, high-def' appearance: The colours of the tree-line and the water looking natural; the ripples on the water almost sharp; the sky a clear powder blue and the vivid paintings on the prows of the hide canoes almost popping out of the screen in glorious colour - almost being the operative word.
the sound too seemed subdued. I had the volume turned fairly high, for much of the dialogue is spoken in hushed whispers or muted, intimate voices, but never did I feel the need to turn the volume down again during the battle scenes. The pop of flint-locks and the explosion of cannon fire never gave my sub-woofer much of a run for its money.
I don't mean to sound totally negative about this Blu-ray release. It was a joy to see the film again, and it did look better than I have ever seen it before. But it did not astound, as did the Blu-ray transfer of Zulu, for example, which was truly stunning visually.
My recommendation then. Certainly buy this Blu-ray if you are a fan of the movie, as I doubt it will ever look better, but don't buy it if you are looking for a full HD experience in the wilds of Colonial America as you might be left feeling slightly underwhelmed.