I am writing this review to tell everyone just how good this film looks on Blu-Ray. As far as I can see today, there are no other reviews here for the Blu-Ray version of the film (I saw just one review from a guy who seems to think the aspect ratio on Blu-Ray is wrong....it's not....in fact it looks more accurate than the DVD in terms of the anamorphic transfer).
Before I give a few details, I feel I have to say that I just love this film. The 5-star rating is for the film. I also give the Blu-Ray top marks (4+) considering the source material. I have enjoyed this movie since I was a kid and saw it on TV in the late 1960s and 70s. So, naturally, I have a rather soft spot in my heart for the film itself. The day I found it on LaserDisc (about 1990 I think) was a happy day indeed. I bought the DVD when it was released a few years and I was happy with it, too. The Criterion material is almost the same on each three versions (not exactly the same, but I won't recount the details here because if you want to see this move in all its glory, then you will want the Blu-Ray regardless of its lack of a few extras that were on the LaserDisc).
The really good news is that this film has never looked so good! I bet it even looks better than it did when it was projected in theatres over 47 years ago. Yes, the film stock is a bit grainy (just as it was in the DVD format) due to the film stock used in 1963. The picture is much clearer, brighter, and has far better color fidelity than the DVD. The transfer of this old film onto this modern high-resolution format (1080p/24) is rather amazing, I must say. I will even admit that seeing it look this good brought a lump to my throat when I thought of all the times I watched it on a small black and white TV.
I compared the Blu-Ray to the DVD using a Playstation3. The exceptional transfer to Blu-Ray does mean that you can see the small flaws in the optical effects (for example when the fireballs move across the screen or when the character "watches" movies of how to find water on another planet or when he's taking a swim in the underground pool Mona finds). That's a small price to pay, so to speak, for the wonderful look of the rest of the film. The skyline views of Mars are just magnificent--the dark, starry sky against the reddish atmosphere, the daytime shots....wow, in Blu-Ray the film's many wonderful vista shots are almost breathtaking. I know, I know. I sound breathless. I am. Bringing this movie to Blu-Ray so soon after the long-awaited DVD release is a real gift and, I think, a wonderful tribute to this wonderful old film. Of course, the price of both the DVD and Blu-Ray are high (they are, after all, Criterion products). But, if you're a fan of films like this one, you know the high price is justified. If you own the DVD version, buying the Blu-Ray will not be money wasted.
I will also mention that I own a high-end 60-inch rear projection set (Sony's KDS series which is no longer made) and a high-end 52-inch LCD set (Sony's XBR9 series). The film actually looks best on my projection set, but then I'm partial to most films on it rather than on LCD. Oh, and if anyone does review this Blu-Ray and tries to assert that it's not that much better than the DVD, then you can be sure he/she has an inferior TV that is incapable of showing the difference between the two (oh, if I had a nickel for every such review I have read on Amazon I'd be able to buy copies of this Blu-Ray dics for all my friends!).
In summary, if you are wondering whether to buy this film on Blu-Ray, I say the answer is YES. Buy it. Enjoy it. Show it to your family, friends, even the whole neighborhood. There's so much crap being produced nowadays (i.e., repetitive special effects instead of a good story or poor remakes or "reimaginings" like "The Day the Earth Stood Still"). I think it's refreshing to watch a good, old movie that was a valid, even valiant, effort to be a "scientifically-accurate" (with what was known about Mars at the time) adventure tale that was at least loosely based on the famous Dafoe novel. (I do like that "Friday" in this version comes from a more-advanced technology, not a less-advanced one like the novel.)
Oh, and if you want to buy--or even borrow--my LaserDisc, it's not for sale or to lend. <grin>
If you found this review to be helpful, or even amusing, please leave a comment. Thanks.