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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Adventure > Mystery > Suspense > Action > WWII > Crime > Murder > Drama > Childhood > Scotla > Incredible Shrinking Man (1957/Universal*)/Inglorious Basterds 4K (2009/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Ratcatcher (1999/Pathe/*both Criterion Blu-rays)

Incredible Shrinking Man (1957/Universal*)/Inglorious Basterds 4K (2009/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Ratcatcher (1999/Pathe/*both Criterion Blu-rays)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B Sound: B-/B+/B Extras: B/B-/B Films: B/B/B-

Here's three high profile releases in special editions you should know about...

Jack Arnold's The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) is a classic that keeps getting referenced and imitated (Marvel's Ant Man movies the best recent example) and remains at the top of the list of Arnolds best films. Based on the book by the legendary Richard Matheson, who also penned the screenplay, a suburbanite (Grant Williams) is exposed to what turns out to be a nuclear could of some sort and slowly, suddenly, surely, he starts to shrink!

It seems impossible at first, but the evidence starts to add up and he tries to get help, but the common world gets more dangerous as he gets smaller. Remarkable visual effects (including many oversized set pieces that hold up really well) were stunning in their time and continue to endure and inspire. Being issued in October 2021 (along with a 4K box of Universal's classic monster movies and (via Kino) a restored edition of Kolchak: The Night Stalker: The Complete Series,) the studio is making this a haunted holiday to be remembered and unless you have seen this in a great 35mm or 16mm print, this will be a revelation and makes the whole thing fun and suspenseful all over again.

William Schallert is the most recognizable actor among the well-cast supporting actors and its great to see such a classic getting its due.

Extras are thankfully many and include a high quality paper pullout on the film including illustrations, tech info and an essay by critic Geoffrey O'Brien, while the disc adds a new feature length audio commentary featuring genre-film historian Tom Weaver and horror-music expert David Schecter, while the disc adds a new program on the film's special effects by effects experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt, a new conversation between filmmaker Joe Dante and comedian and writer Dana Gould, Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal (Director's Cut; 2021,) Interview from 2016 with Richard Christian Matheson, novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson's son, interview with director Jack Arnold from 1983, short, abbreviated home-cinema versions of the film: a Super 8mm version with magnetic mono sound produced in the 1970s and a subtitled regular 8 mm home-cinema version from 1957 and a Trailer and a teaser narrated by filmmaker Orson Welles.

Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds 4K (2009) is a remake of the similarly named (if not exactly as spelled 1976 Enzo G. Castellari hit about criminals brought together to hunt down and kill Nazis. Here, we get soldiers led by a very anti-Nazis leader (Brad Pitt) whose not afraid to get his hands dirty, with a capable crew of helpers and they land up targeting a particularly brutal group of them led by a particularly sadistic leader (Christoph Waltz in an Academy Award-winning performance) who we meet in the opening scene.

From there, Tarantino is able to keep this going with a proper level of energy for 2.5 hours and it never lets up, making all kinds of points that are even more relevant now than when the film was released 12 years ago and counting. The locales are great, production top rate and supporting cast (including Michael Fassbender, Til Schweiger, Diane Kruger, Daniel Bruhl, Melanie Laurent and even Eli Roth, whose performance and presence is mixed here) that brings it alive uncompromisingly well. I was pleased to see how well this held up. Now that Universal has issued it on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, more people will really be able to appreciate what was accomplished in this one.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the disc adds Alternate & Extended Scenes, the film Nation's Pride and a Making Of piece on it, roundtable New York Times discussion on the film with Tarantino, Brad Pitt and film scholar Elvis Mitchell, a Conversation with Rod Taylor plus a second piece with Taylor, poster galleries for this film and the fictional Nazi films in the movie, look at the 1978 original version of this film, teaser/trailer section and a few other surprises.

You can read more about the original film at this link:


Last but not least is Lynne Ramsay's Ratcatcher (1999) about a young man named Da (Tommy Flanagan) in Glasgow, Scotland circa mid-1970s who has a friend drown, making already worse a childhood with poverty and no adult guidance, et al. A local garbageman's strike is making things worse, leaving him going through puberty in this debut feature film. With its paired-down realism and pretty good job of evoking the period, it is successful in bringing the hopelessness alive intended and though we have seen some of this in earlier films here and there, it is one of the key feature films made in Scotland and is remarkable considering its limited budget.

Editing and the supporting cast are a plus, with other characters also often on the lost side and the film uses its silences as well as it does its music, dialogue and sound effects. Once again, we have a film many have trouble understanding the english-language dialogue of because of thick accents, but I rarely have trouble with such films (having viewed more features films and TV series from the region than the vast majority of those living in 'the states') so you do get subtitles to help you out. However, the sound is so good, you might not have those troubles in this case.

Ramsay has a knack for handling this kind of real life material with instinct and a natural smoothness most filmmakers could not begin to possess, so you are in good hands watching this one. A moderate hit in its time, it is more than ready for revisiting and rediscovery, so this remarkably restored and preserved upgrade of the film could not come at a better time.

Extras include a high quality paper pullout on the film including illustrations, tech info and essays by film critic Girish Shambu and filmmaker Barry Jenkins, while the disc adds a new interview with Lynne Ramsay, audio interview from 2020 with Director of Photography Alwin Kuchler, three award-winning short films by Ramsay: Small Deaths (1995), Kill the Day (1996), and Gasman (1997,) an interview with Ramsay from 2002 and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HECV/H.265, 2.35 X 1, HDR (10+; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Inglorious was lensed by the amazing Director of Photography Robert Richardson, A.S.C., for another teaming with Tarantino of some of the best widescreen filmmaking just on a visual level before you realize how incredibly well it is integrated into the narrative. Likely a slightly older 4K master, there are very minor issues (a little motion blur in parts) and maybe a lack of sharpness I remembered from the 35mm version I saw back then, but this is the best presentation you can see outside of a new film print and the regular Blu-ray's 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is still passable too. It just cannot match the color range, detail or depth of the 4K here. The 4K disc here just manages to pass up the impressive regular Blu-rays covered in this review set.

Tarantino has decided to keep the original DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix from the original soundmaster, used for both disc editions, but it has more punch, warmth, impact and a stronger soundfield on the 4K version being a newer transfer.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Shrinking can show the age of the materials used, but the film also has a look that is intended and needs to be retained, so no problem with that here. Universal did a 4K scan form the original 35mm camera negative and it has never looked better in all the years I have seen it. The lossless PCM 1.0 Mono sound (wish it were 2.0 though) is form the original magnetic soundmaster and will surprise and even shock viewers with its fidelity. The combination is great.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1digital High Definition image transfer on Ratcatcher was shot on Fuji photochemical color camera negative (35mm and some 16mm) by Director of Photography Alwin Kuchler and looks remarkably sharp, clear and colorful with amazing fidelity from the new 4K restoration off of its original 35mm negative. I had seen this film a very long time ago, but this even beats that screening. A Dolby System sound release, some sources are listing the film as being in Dolby Digital, but it was actually the older system (maybe older A-type, but if this was somehow an SR (Spectral Recording) release, we would not be surprised. Featured here in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix off of its original magnetic soundmaster, it sounds very clear and detailed. Play it back in Pro Logic or another similar surround decoding format for best results.

The three Ramsay short films here are in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and Stereo.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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