Monday, July 20

Bitches Leave, Sony's Unreleased ROBOCOP Blu-ray

.French Canadian cover

Back in the infancy of Blu-ray (2006), Sony held MGM's catalog under its umbrella and slated Robocop for a Hi-Def release. They had already debuted such lion's roar studio titles as The Terminator and Species; so this release seemed natural and was slated for August 26th 2006. That is until MGM's video division was brought into 20th Century Fox's fold. Ultimately, Sony's Robocop BD was canceled within days of its release. So close to its date some retailers already had stock waiting to be thrown onto shelves and a few DVD/HD review websites were sent copies to critique.

Sony recalled the remaining and did who knows what with the stockpile, but a scant few escaped termination. I have one of them so I figured I'd bring some detail on the situation. Review sites like DVDTalk (see here) and High Def Digest (see here) published harsh comments regarding the picture quality, but I've always been suspect of these two reviews. Both sites have praised digitally filtered transfers and cast off fantastic ones with middling assessments before-and-since.


Fox/MGM went on to release their own Blu-ray pictured above with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer with lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio over a year later with the unrated cut yet no extra features. The Sony release is the R-rated cut encoded with MPEG-2 with lossless 5.1 PCM; but features the audio commentary, Flesh & Steel featurette, and deleted scenes found on the 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD.

The Sony's picture quality isn't great, though nowhere near DVDTalk's "U-G-L-Y" remark, and does manage to hold advantages over the Fox BD. The grain structure appears intact as opposed to the Fox which went through some noise reduction giving the image a more smoothed bland appearance. The Sony's contrast ratios seem off with super blown out white levels. Any light source with illuminated signs, window light, and even the sky burn with white hot intensity. That's the most problematic issue with Sony's transfer being so bad at times pure white overpowers what's immediately in front of the light:

vanishing window grate / white hot street sign

Besides that, the Sony picture can seem a bit dark, but at the same time the Fox picture has obviously been brightened. Also the Sony's ancient MPEG-2 encoding method does the presence of grain no favors. It's a tough call, but the grain does make the Sony "pop" with dimensionality much more than the vanilla Fox presentation despite the obvious issues. Sadly, a definitive Robocop HD disc remains elusive.

Sony Blu-ray photos taken with a PowerShot A570IS in Aperture Priority from a PS3 on a Samsung HLP-5085W 720p DLP in 1:1 Pixel Mapping Mode.

main menu w/ ED-209 animation

scene selections


1 comment:

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