Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Robots > Comedy > Mystery > Documentary > Space Opera > TV > Real Steel (2011/DreamWorks/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)/Resurrect Dead (2011/Focus World/E1 DVD)/Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level (Paramount/CBS Blu-ray)

Real Steel (2011/DreamWorks/Disney Blu-ray w/DVD)/Resurrect Dead (2011/Focus World/E1 DVD)/Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level (Paramount/CBS Blu-ray)


Picture: B & C/C/B     Sound: B & B-/C+/B-     Extras: C/B/C     Main Programs: C-/C+/B-



Intended or not, three new Science Fiction releases revisit some classic territory and the results are more interesting than expected.



Though it was not credited as such much in its theatrical release, Shawn Levy’s Real Steel (2011) is a remake of the great Richard Matheson’s short story Steel that originally was filmed as a dark half-hour Twilight Zone episode with Lee Marvin as the man desperate to boxing in a world where humans cannot box anymore no matter what the cost to him.  It was first shown in the Fifth and last Season of the show in 1963 and is actually now on Blu-ray!  You can read more about it at this link:





DreamWorks has retooled it as a children’s tale that has Producer Steven Spielberg revisiting Twilight Zone – The Movie (reviewed elsewhere on this site) territory and essentially throws in everything but the kitchen sink.  Hugh Jackman takes over for Marvin, but this is more about his son and then wants to be a feel-good Rocky-style film with robots designs that make this more like “Transformers Jr.” than anything else.  The original episode was a man vs. machine tale that was not great, but was serious and ambitious.  The focus here becomes more about his son (Dakota Goyo), how fun technology is (no matter how dark the world gets!?!) and is as formulaic as a package of WD40.  It also imitates the mixed futuristic look of Spielberg’s overrated Minority Report and ultimately is a silly mess.  Jackman is likable and young children’s and maybe early teens might like this, but I was very bored and unimpressed.


Extras include a Blu-ray exclusive featurette on how Sugar Ray Leonard helped choreograph the film’s fighting sequences (one of the only reasons it did any business), Countdown To The Fight featurette, Second Screen function and Deleted & Extended Scenes with optional Levy commentary, while both have feature length Levy audio commentary, Building The Bots featurette, Making Of Metal Valley featurette and fun Bloopers.



Jon Foy’s Resurrect Dead (2011) is a documentary that gives us yet another bizarre incident connected to another Stanley Kubrick film, namely the all-time classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.  You can see more about that at this link:





Here, three men try to find out who is permanently graphing the same strange message in concrete all over the U.S. eventually concerning The Soviet Union, Anti-Semitism, writer Arnold Toynbee’s idea of dead molecules coming back to life and a connection to the film 2001.  These strange plaques are turning up all over and they seem to mostly stay permanently imbedded into the ground.  What are they about?  Who is behind this?  What does it mean?  Is there reason for concern?


The men eventually settle for just finding out the author, but by their own admission, audience after audience has been disappointed they stopped there, though they spent so many years trying to find out what is going on (we will not reveal too much more) and do a pretty good job.  Unfortunately, the obsession gets boring and when they stop short leaving side questions unanswered, it does not help the final result.  Also, they should have considered studying the actual Kubrick film more.  The plaques say the molecules will come alive again on Jupiter like in the film as if it has some deep meaning.  For instance, that is not what happens in the film and even more key, Saturn was the original choice of planet for the final act of the film, but it was abandoned because the Visual Effects people were not sure they could do the rings surrounding the planet, so Jupiter was a substitute.  Yes, there is more to say and it does not get said here, but this is interest8ing and sometimes creepy as expected.


Extras include a half-hour of deleted scenes of interest, gallery with commentary and feature length audio commentary by Foy.



Last but not least is Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level, part of the increasingly and highly welcome arrival of hit TV shows shot on 35mm film making it to Blu-ray, but it is the first of its kind in one way.  Unlike the previous original Trek series (see links below) which was 35mm from beginning to end (and you can add Space: 1999, also on Blu-ray on this site to that list) down to the visual effects, Next Generation may have been shot in 35mm film and even used complex models, but some visual effects, editing and credits were finished on old professional NTSC analog video which is why DVD copies look so soft, especially as compared to the classic 1960s series.


In what I hope with be the beginning of a new trend, CBS/Paramount decided to go back to the original 35mm camera materials and faithfully retransferred those material in HD with other vault footage and produced HD versions of the show no one making them could have ever imagined.  Though fans and purists might have some issues with this, as a non-fan, I was pleasantly surprised what a huge improvement the three key episodes (Encounter At Farpoint, Sins Of The Father, The Inner Light) offer versus all previous analog transfers.  You can see how much better the performances and chemistry is of the cast, you can see the money and effort the production designers pulled off that was only previously visible in promotional stills, you can see what great model work is here and how superior it is after all these years to usually lesser digital equivalents and you can see how Gene Roddenberry as trying to pick up where the 1979 Motion Picture left off on some level much more clearly.


Hundreds of live action and animated series produced on film were finished this way (and this does not in any way include shows (usually from U.K. TV) that shot their interiors on tape and exteriors on film) to their detriment and it eventually pulled down the whole quality look of television for years.  For more memorable shows like this one, you can see how 35mm film made a huge difference and as the Original Series sets sold so well, the company has made an excellent choice in going back and fixing this show up.  All the seasons are due to follow and it is cases like this one that will stun everyone and show what low-def TV made them miss all these decades.  This will be a fun demo until the Season One Blu-ray set arrives later in 2012 and likely beyond that, so get it for the fun of it.  Extras include Season One Blu-ray trailer, featurette on upgrading the shows and promo on a related iPad application.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Steel is often stylized downward to be a little darker than average and that gets in the way of overall playback fidelity and this approach by Director of Photography Mauro Fiore (Avatar) is not as memorable as some of his other work.  This is an HD shoot whose results are generic with a flat consistence that works against the whole affair.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD also included is much softer and makes this much harder to watch.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Dead DVD is as soft, but it is a low budget digitally shot documentary and has that as an excuse.


The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Trek Blu-ray is an extraordinary improvement over the DVD versions we have suffered through all these years with the improved elements noted above.  On the downside is grain, a softness we see in many 1980s and 1990s filmed TV shows that may have been able to shoot in 35mm film, but also used faster film stocks as a way to play it safe, be in line with a generic sense of TV cinematography and save money by not using more challenging stocks.  In this case as seen on all three episodes here, that means more light grain than one migh6t have liked, but I give the restoration crew credit for not trying to erase it as that would have been much worse.


In comparison, the Robin Of Sherwood series Blu-rays reviewed elsewhere on this site exhibit the same thing, but again that is not necessarily a bad thing.  It just makes for a lighter-looking show and for TV in general, that was a look that started to kick in around 1979.  We expect the shocked approval of these shows and the whole series that follows on Blu-ray will not only lead to more shows finished on analog video but shot on 35mm film to be resurrected, but that all the other Trek spin-offs will get the same treatment.  Maybe the classic TV on Blu-ray boom will finally happen as I have been anticipating and hoping for will finally happen this year as to be honest, this Trek disc, Robin Of Sherwood, The Prisoner, Space: 1999, the original Twilight Zone, U.K. import ITC action hit compilations and import (so far) The Persuaders! TV on Blu-ray sets have all been critical and commercial hits so this disc can only bring on more of the same.



Both Blu-rays offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mixes with Steel being consistent and rich, but nothing extraordinary or overly impressive.  It is well recorded and professionally mixed, but the overall result is too safe for its own good, though some will like the use of bass, we have heard the character of this mix before and it is still somehow limited even apparent in the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the included DVD.  Trek is really pushing it for a show that was originally Dolby Surround Stereo at best, but the expansion to 7.1 on the episodes here are not as choppy or soundfield limited as the same on the Original Series Blu-ray sets of Trek including Season Three which we never got for review, but have since caught up with and still had the sonic limits of the first two sets despite the DTS-MA offering the best those shows will ever sound.  Ditto here.  Dead has a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix that includes location audio issues and is practically monophonic at times.



For more Star Trek TV on Blu-ray, try these links for the first two seasons of the Original Series:


Season One



Season Two




-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com