As the title suggests, this is a great film but has unfortunately been butchered on blu ray. The picture quality is absolutely dreadful, the studio has applied so much DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) to try to remove grain that they have actually removed a lot of detail in the picture itself! Crucially though, Ridley Scott filmed this with the intention of many of the battle scenes being very grainy (it makes them seem for more gritty and real) - so to remove it would surely go against his wishes!
In the opening battle scenes in Germania for example, about half of the flaming arrows fired by the Romans have been erased on the blu ray compared to the DVD. What's worse is that the ones that remain flicker in and out of existence in a really obvious manner. Likewise Roman soldiers have their spears erased or cut in half (I'm not joking - look up AVS Forums and you'll see screenshots of what I mean). But worst of all is that the studio seems to have actually added in some print damage that wasn't present on the DVD! In some scenes (only for a split second mind you) a strange blueish blob (admittedly very small) can flash up - what's up with that?
The real kick in the teeth though is that all these problems only affect the theatrical portions of the film - all of the extended scenes have been left unmolested, and here the picture quality is fantastic. But it is very jarring when watching these scenes as you'll go from blurry to very sharp and then back again - again this is obvious to the "untrained eye" so to speak.
Ultimately it is an absolute travesty that this film has been released in such a state. It reminds me of the first US release of the Fifth Element on blu ray which was so appalling that Sony was forced to release a better version within a year (the re-release was actually very good and is region free for those that are interested).
The point remains, though, that we should not have to wait for a re-release to experience this film in a manner that blu ray is supposed to. Had the audio just been an issue then it wouldn't have mattered much, but to have the picture quality so heavily compromised that an upscaled DVD actually contains more detail is disgusting!
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