The Princess Bride (1987) – Blu-ray review

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Synopsis: While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride.

What’s it like? ‘The Princess Bride’. It really is in a league of its own.

Film: 10/10. Yes, a perfect score. ‘The Princess Bride’ is the melding of a multitude of genres into a tale that quite literally caters for everyone. Sword fights, comedy, romance, revenge, true love and the addition of a pitch perfect cast make for one of my favourite films of all time. 98 mins.

Picture quality: 8/10. Considering the disc was released 8 years ago the results are quite good. The master used is in good shape with some very nice detail, vivid colours (the lush grass and Buttercup’s red dress are standouts), a light layer of grain and consistent contrast. Considering it likely wasn’t a fresh scan at the time it’s a good result.

Audio quality: 8/10. The film is accompanied by and audio track capable of ticking all the boxes. Dialogue is always clear, Mark Knopfler’s score is perfectly prioritised and sound effects play around the entirety of the soundstage, making good use of the surrounds when needed. Much like the film, this track has a little bit of everything from some engaging action sequences to some subtle ambience.

Trailer: YouTube

Disc reviewed: Country: U.S., Studio: MGM, Region: A locked

Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Andre the Giant

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Ash vs Evil Dead – Season One (2015) – Blu-ray review

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Synopsis: Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.

What’s it like? ‘The Evil Dead’ infused with the CGI violence of ‘Spartacus’ and the comedy of ‘Road Trip’.

Film: 7/10. As a long-time fan of ‘The Evil Dead’ franchise I’d been patiently waiting for more. We’d gotten close a few times and then we got a reboot in 2013 that seemed to close the original chapter. Two years later, Ash is back! The franchise translates reasonably well to series with the over the top violence of the first two films and the comedy of ‘Army of Darkness’. Bring on season two! 294 mins.

Picture quality: 8/10. If you’re a long-time fan of ‘The Evil Dead’ the picture quality might take some getting used to. For starters, there are substantial portions of the series set in the daytime. The digital filming also keeps things quite clean with the exception of some digital noise from time to time so that’s quite a departure from the grainy film stocks of the original films. All the gritty, grimy details are captured wonderfully though and with 2.5 hours of episodes per disc compression is handled well.

Audio quality: 10/10. Here’s where the series really excels. Everything about the audio is top notch – dialogue is crisp and clear, music sounds full, gunshots pack a punch and the various squelching and snapping sounds of dearly departed Deadites make for good, clean fun.

Trailer: YouTube

Disc reviewed: Country: U.S., Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay, Region: Region free

Director: Various
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, Jill Marie Jones

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Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) – Blu-ray review

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Synopsis: A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

What’s it like? James Bond meets Quentin Tarantino.

Film: 9/10. Director Matthew Vaughn amps everything up to 11 in this spy homage/parody and it works… most of the time. The film has a serious dramatic core which occasionally finds itself at odds with the insanity on show in the rest of the film. Aside from that, it’s refreshing to see a film committed to extreme comedy and action and unafraid of going places a lot of “action” films won’t these days. The church scene alone is worth the price of admission! 129 mins.

Picture quality: 9/10. Kingsman is a solid looking disc. There’s plenty of fine detail on show and the colour palette is quite natural save for certain sequences where tones are adjusted for effect. It’s so precise that ultimately the only detractor is that some of the CGI doesn’t quite hold up, but that’s no fault of the technical presentation on the disc.

Audio quality: 9/10. Kingsman is a sonic assault in the best sense. Right from the opening scene we’re treated to deep low end content, plenty of surround activity and a thumping soundtrack. It sets the tone for the film and is the perfect accompaniment for the visuals. Occasionally the dialogue is slightly low in the mix when competing with the heaviest of action sequences filled with sound effects and score. It’s a minor detractor though.

Trailer: YouTube

Disc reviewed: Country: U.S., Studio: 20th Century Fox, Region: Region free

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton

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Slow West (2015) – Blu-ray review

What’s it like? Unforgiven meets The Wild Bunch meets Seraphim Falls.

Film: 8/10. An unusually brisk western populated with an assortment of odd characters. It plays out with a few unexpected twists amongst some confronting violence and subversive comedy. 84 mins.

Picture quality: 9/10. New Zealand fills in for the American West and the results are amazing. Fine detail and depth of field are excellent. There’s a warmth and golden hue to much of the film. Some nighttime scenes have a little noise and crush, but otherwise it’s a looker!

Audio quality: 9/10. A very natural and effective mix. It’s not overtly showy but the dynamics are excellent, especially in the action sequences.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/pFfsTsdJfF8

Disc reviewed: Country: U.K., Studio: Lionsgate, Region: B locked

Director: John Maclean
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Caren Pistorius, Ben Mendelsohn, Jeffrey Thomas

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