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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Comedy > Thriller > Mystery > War > Aliens > Science Fiction > Monsters > Dra > Amazing Spider-Man (2012)/Angels & Demons (2009)/Battle: Los Angeles (2011)/Ghostbusters (1984)/Spider-Man (2002)/Spider-Man 2 (2004)/Taxi Driver (1976)/Total Recall (2012 remake/Sony Mastered In 4K s

Amazing Spider-Man (2012)/Angels & Demons (2009)/Battle: Los Angeles (2011)/Ghostbusters (1984)/Spider-Man (2002)/Spider-Man 2 (2004)/Taxi Driver (1976)/Total Recall (2012 remake/Sony Mastered In 4K series Blu-rays)

Picture: B+/B+/B/B/A-/A-/A-/B Sound: A-/B+/B/B/A-/A-/B/B+ Extras: D Films: B/C+/C/B-/B-/B-/A-/C

PLEASE NOTE: All of these Blu-rays are basic editions with no extras that offer 1080p High Definition like regular Blu-rays, but are from superior master sources and are meant to look great on new Ultra HDTVs as well, especially via what is also known as xvYCC and can only work though newer, higher state of the art HDMI cables (we recommend 1.3 through 2.0 at this time).

Like there popular, defunct SuperBit DVD series, but much better all around, Sony has started to issue key titles under a new series called Mastered In 4K, which they are also using on some titles that are new or in special edition form, but his series is state-of-the-art for playback on Blu-ray and we continue covering a big cross-section of these titles after testing over the last few months and more. Links will appear where we have reviewed the titles before, then we'll add comments. Otherwise, we'll start anew...

Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) was already a terrific release in the Blu-ray 3D package with Blu-ray 2D as reviewed here:


The big surprise here in this 2D-only version is not only is it superior to the 2D version form that set (free of sharing the Blu-ray disc with extras), but the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix offers more detail, warmth and depth than either version from that set. A remarkable relaunch of the character and still my favorite film based on the character to date (though I really enjoyed the easy-to-underrate Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) we look forward to covering soon) that goes all out, you can appreciate this film more here and shows just how much hard work went into it. This is one of my favorite in this new Mastered In 4K series and is as much a demo as anything on this list.

Ron Howard's Angels & Demons (2009) is the sequel (based on the prequel novel to) The Da Vinci Code, but was not as big a hit in the U.S.; we reviewed the Blu-ray and DVD when it came out at this link:


The two cuts of the film made no difference to me then and this theatrical version only very marginally and slightly looks better than the previous Blu-ray, so unless you love this version, you are better off with the older Blu-ray. However, very large HDTVs and Ultra HDTVs might benefit slightly more.

Jonathan Liebesman's Battle: Los Angeles (2011) is part of an underdiscussed cycle of war porn action films that were unintentionally launched by Paul Verhoeven's underrated Starship Troopers (1997, reviewed elsewhere on this site and deserving of a Mastered In 4K edition of its own) and occasionally matched in irony and intelligence by films like District 9, but usually as bad as Battleship or other horrid such films like it.

Despite some money on the screen, some good sound (if not visual) demo moments and a cast that includes Aaron Eckhart, Michele Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Pena and Ne-Yo, this is not a total bore or run-of-the-mill disaster, but doesn't do much of anything we have not seen before. In addition, this is one of those de-colored films, so any color improvements to the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image are very minimal and definition is good, but we never saw the older Blu-ray, so who knows by how much. However, there are no major issues and fans will be mostly interested in this case, plus the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix is at least consistent throughout if not offering many demo moments.

Ivan Reitman's Ghostbusters (1984) has come out in so many sub-standard releases from the letterboxed old 12-inch Criterion LaserDisc with bleeding colors, to many a disappointing DVDs to a Blu-ray with noisy, fuzzy image playback that if any classic Columbia blockbuster needed the help and upgrade, this one is it. The result is a 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image that is finally clean, color-correct and looks like the film that arrived in theaters in 1984, including in 70mm blow-up prints. A little more work could be used in a few shots and Sony is already using this transfer for a new anniversary special edition Blu-ray, but that might be compromised by extras on the same disc, so you'll want to get this basic edition either way, especially if you are a fan and one fed up with the lame past copies.

Originally issued in 4.1 magnetic Dolby stereo sound exclusively in its 70mm presentations, the lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound upgrade is a little towards the front channels as expected, but this is also the best the film has sounded in decades, so we definitely recommend this one.

Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) were already very impressive in two different Blu-ray edition we reviewed in Trilogy box sets as follows:

First Box with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes


Second Box with DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mixes


The 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition transfers look like the same masters with the same great definition and color, but very slightly better, while the first film has Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and the second, DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound. Maybe this would help on very large HDTVs and HDTVs, but maybe not by much since the first sets looked so good and these films are visually top rate to being with, VistaVision visual effects work included. Fans will ant them and Spider-Man 3 was recently issued as a Mastered In 4K release, so we hope to get to that one soon.

Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976) is an all-time classic and one of the last of the cycle of original, serious Vietnam Vets coming home films with as much power as any of them. Robert De Niro cemented his big screen cinematic immortality as Travis Bickle, a down-on-his-luck loner who decides to take on a new job to make money, but has many opinions and sees the world to himself as very rotten and rotting despite trying to be a nice guy. However, the more we see his behavior and bad judgments, the more we realize the war experience has damaged him and seeing the country he was fighting for continuing to spin out of control and downward to him, starts to come up with some ideas of his own on what to do about it.

The film is a masterwork by a Martin Scorsese in his early prime. There is hardly anything here that does not work and this is off of the 4K reissue supervised by Scorsese himself in a restoration that not only received a critically acclaimed reissue, but was used on a spectacular special edition Blu-ray with a ton of extras including his classic Criterion 12-inch LaserDisc audio commentary. The film (in 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition) looked and sounded great on that edition, but here in comparison, is even more stunning like a film print someone left in an attic for 4 decades and somehow remained untouched, pristine and stunning. Director of Photography Michael Chapman helps provide even more impactful visuals and a superior use of color, while the mighty Bernard Herrmann delivered another stunning, classic, unforgettable score. It would be his last.

I recommend this version to see the film at its best and the special edition for the extras, but if you have never seen the film, get this version first.

Finally we have Len Wiseman's unfortunate remake of Total Recall (2012) here only in its theatrical cut. We reviewed the original Blu-ray with that cut, plus a longer version that was barely better at this link:


Like Battle: Los Angeles, any improvements in color is highly minimal since this has very limited color to begin with. Detail is hardly better either, but the older Blu-ray had some sound clipping issues, it turns out. Those who think the longer version was better is out of luck sonically, but the Dolby True HD lossless mix here has been reduced from 7.1 on the older version to 5.1 here!

That makes no sense either, but little has since this was greenlit a few years ago and so far, any sequels (they did not do as much with the original book as Paul Verhoeven did in his original 1990 film) have been put on the back-burner. Let's hope it stays that way.

Though the discs have no extras, out copies offered Ultraviolet Copy (now called Digital Copy) for a limited time.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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