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Published on June 14th, 2011 | by Greg


The Usual Suspects and Terminator: New on Blu-Ray

When we re­ceived the discs in the mail, our im­me­di­ate im­pres­sion was: weren’t these out al­ready? But, it turns out, they haven’t been re­leased in HD be­fore: two of the best movies of their re­spec­tive years (1984 and 1995) are fi­nal­ly out in high-def­i­ni­tion.

The Usu­al Sus­pects was, with­out a doubt, one of the movies that launched the ca­reers of Kevin Spacey, Bryan Singer, Christo­pher Mc­Quar­rie, and Beni­cio Del Toro in­to the strato­sphere. The Os­car-win­ning screen­play and twist spawned a thou­sand im­i­ta­tors, and if you haven’t seen it, you need to. The plot might not hold to­geth­er that well on re­peat view­ings, but the per­for­mances do.

On Blu-ray, the pic­ture looks far bet­ter than any pre­vi­ous ver­sion we’ve seen. For a movie more than a decade old, skin tones are sharp and col­ors nat­u­ral. We didn’t no­tice any sig­nif­i­cant er­rors in the trans­fer- no ma­jor spots or speck­ling or scratch­es. The DTS sound was al­so good- we’ve seen some mediocre, shal­low re-re­leas­es in the re­cent past, but this wasn’t one of them. It’s an in­die film, so there isn’t a lot of depth there, but on a de­cent 5.1 sound sys­tem you get clear front and de­cent bal­ance. There aren’t a lot of spe­cial fea­tures, sad­ly, and noth­ing ex­clu­sive to see here. In fact, that’s the on­ly dis­ap­point­ing note here- we would’ve loved to see more here than a trail­er. At un­der $10, it’s an amaz­ing deal though.

If a bit more ac­tion is your style, then con­sid­er the James Cameron clas­sic The Ter­mi­na­tor. Per­haps the defini­tive Arnold movie, it may lack the whiz-bang spe­cial ef­fects of the se­quel, but makes up for it with an orig­i­nal sto­ry that con­tin­ues to hold up (and spawn se­quels). Sure, the plot might not be wa­ter-tight, but it’s sci­ence fic­tion with plen­ty of guns and gus­to.

The Blu-ray copy, though, leaves much to be de­sired. Un­like the pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned trans­fer, this one is poor- it ap­pears to be no bet­ter than the DVD ver­sion on­ly up­scaled. It looks mud­dy, a bit grainy, and cer­tain­ly un­re­stored. Now, it was shot quite a while ago, and was al­most in­tend­ed to be a B-movie- the star and the di­rec­tor weren’t big shots back then, and few saw this as a big-bud­get suc­cess. There are some ar­ti­facts on the video, though it does feel rea­son­ably sharp and bal­anced, it just doesn’t do jus­tice to the high-def­i­ni­tion for­mat. If you own ear­li­er copies, then you aren’t gain­ing much here. The same is ba­si­cal­ly true for the sound- we found it a bit off-putting at times, and weren’t sure why un­til some re­search re­vealed that dif­fer­ent sounds have been in­sert­ed and a bunch of tweak­ing done al­most a decade ago. It feels dat­ed and awk­ward at times, but al­so un­bal­anced. Yes, there is 5.1, and it’s not bad, but lacks punch or feel­ing, ex­cept for some of the score which can sound very good in­deed.

Fi­nal­ly, and al­so dis­ap­point­ing­ly, the spe­cial fea­tures are min­i­mal. None are new, all are in stan­dard def­i­ni­tion, but the delet­ed scenes are in­ter­est­ing and wor­thy of view­ing and the 20 minute ret­ro­spec­tive is amus­ing (if ter­ri­bly out of date). Again, at $10, it’s a cheap buy and per­fect­ly worth the price if you don’t own an­oth­er copy. But we would’ve been hap­py to pay a bit more for a high­er qual­i­ty trans­fer and up­dat­ed bonus fea­tures.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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