(Blu-ray/MGM/Fox + 20th
Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set) + Hollow Man (Blu-ray/Sony)
B-/C+/A- Sound: B-/C+/A- Extras: D/B/C+ Films: B+/B+ & B/B
what anyone says, Paul Verhoeven is a very good filmmaker, though he is not
perfect. Robocop is an example of a film of his that has endured and
continues to be so popular, that recent rumors and plans to remake it
(already?) were shot down loudly by fans everywhere. The tale of a cop killed in the line of duty
only to be recycled by a greedy corporation into a robot rings truer today than
when it was first released in 1987. Hollow Man is about a scientist (Kevin
Bacon) taking advantage of corporate/university intervention to become a madman
as his own personal innovations go unchecked.
previously covered both films, more of which you can read about at the
Hollow Man Superbit
happy to see Hollow Man hold up so
well. Many nit-picked the film, but with
that pettiness aside, it is a bolder, smarter, more honest film about madness
(despite its action conventions) than it is often thought of as being. No wonder it is an early Sony back catalog
MPEG-2 @ 21 MBPS 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Robocop Blu-ray and both anamorphically
enhanced cuts (R & X) on the new DVD set come from varied masters and they
are all problematic. The Blu-ray has
color, detail and depth issues that are a shame in their inconsistency and
inaccuracy. The DVD is even worse, with
awful Video Black and color gutting.
None of the three cuts look anything like the memorable cinematography
of Director of Photography Jost Vacano, A.S.C.
Remarkably, the uncut DVD transfer from The Robocop Trilogy is still best, with depth, color correctness,
color consistency and fleshtones that look much more natural. Despite minor grain problems, it is the only
version that looks like the kind of print that Orion would have been able to blow-up
to 70mm. The previous Blu-ray of the
R-rated cut from MGM/Sony on Blu-ray that was cancelled before official release
is also supposed to be bad, so avoid that one and get the trilogy.
the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hollow Man is another story, again shot so well by Vacano. Like Starship
Troopers, the money was really put into the film, including the digital
effects and it is all on screen looking good.
The Superbit DVD was one of the best in that series, but this Blu-ray is
easily its successor and including its smart digital work, is a demo quality
back catalog release.
Blu-ray also had DTS HD Master Audio lossless and it is a mixed bag, not
sounding like the sound from either a 35mm Dolby SR print upgraded or 70mm
Dolby 4.1 mag mix, but a patchwork of sounds of various generations. The new DVD DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1
mixes sound totally compressed throughout and make the film sound older than it
should. Once again, though it only
offered a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, it outdoes the new DTS mixes and continues to
impress with warmth, clarity, soundfield accuracy and comes from
first-generation materials. This
includes clearer, cleaner dialogue, better sound effects and Basil Poledouris’
score shines best here for all music soundtrack and audiophiles to appreciate. Maybe a 50GB SE of the film will get it right
16/48 5.1 mix on Hollow Man even
outdoes the commendable DTS 5.1 track on the Superbit edition, with richer,
fresher and more dynamic as the 7.1 SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound)
theatrical mix was upon original release.
This includes Jerry Goldsmith’s score coming through with the best
possible impact and the combination of sound effects and soundfield being so
good, it can hold its own against just about all of the major sound mixes since
then. I would have always rated the
Superbit sound and picture in between B & B+ at best. This Blu-ray outdoes it with ease. Hope the eventual Starship Troopers Blu-ray has a new mix too.
no extras on the Robocop Blu-ray,
but the new DVD set repeats the extras on the Robocop Trilogy version and adds three excellent new featurettes: Villains Of Old Detroit, Special Effects: Then & Now and Robocop: Creating A Legend. Hollow
Man should also have a Paul Verhoeven audio commentary, but offers an HBO
making of piece, VFX picture-in-picture comparison and 15-minutes Fleshing Out The Hollow Man featurette,
all of which are also worth your time after seeing the film.
Though Robocop is a disappointment, Hollow Man joins three other solid
Blu-rays of Verhoeven’s films we have already covered. You can read more about them at the following
- Nicholas Sheffo