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The Fugitive (20th Anniversary Edition)(blu ray): Vast improvement over 2006 blu ray in both video & audio – A Must-Own!
on September 11, 2013
The Fugitive (20th Anniversary Edition) escapes onto blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 1.78:1 encode. Compared with the completely flawed 2008 BD-25 MPEG-2 (bit-rate at 20.96 Mbps) blu ray release, this new 20th Anniversary Edition is a major step up, and justly placed on a BD-50 disc (with bit-rate 25.29 Mpbs). First of all, there was no distracting use of DNR and edge enhancement, with a natural layer of grain present. The detail is impressive, both in the many closeups of Ford and Jones, and in larger crowd scenes, such as the chaotic chase in the lobby of the Daley Center and the St. Patrick's Day parade. The debris that once littered the film is now absent. All specs and lines caused by dirt and fibres have been removed. The jutter from the 2006 Blu-ray is also missing, with edges of objects now appearing natural and normal. The black levels, which crushed incessantly before, are now deep and rich. This transfer, while not demo-worthy, is vast improvement over its 2006 blu ray counterpart. (4/5)
Just as the video encoding was upgraded for the 20th Anniversary Edition, so was the audio quality. The old blu ray carried a standard 5.1 Dolby Digital track, but now we're blessed to have an impressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track to carry us through the film.
The opening credits kick off this great new remastered track. As title letters spin onto the screen and reveal flashlights in the background, the echoing scored tones proudly ring out through all channels loud and clear. James Newton Howard's score is probably the strongest part about this audio mix. Just like the music, sounds effects are also very well mixed. The roar of the water running through the dam sluices accompanies Gerard's chase of Kimble through the drain tunnels, and the police helicopter that pursues Kimble on the roof of the Hilton in the film's climactic sequence can be heard flying around the room. Dialogue is generally clear. The new "Thrill of the Chase" documentary contains a telling comparison of a scene played with and without the score. (4.5/5)
What is also so fascinating about watching The Fugitive 20 years after it was made is that it comes from a time before widespread CGI, when heroes were ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances, not the other way around. So many big-budget thrillers these days put their protagonists in such over-the-top jeopardy (swinging from flying helicopters, leaping out of exploding buildings in a single bounce, etc.) that they don't seem like flesh-and-blood human beings but superheroes. Watching The Fugitive is still so exciting because for the most part, that's really Ford up there on the screen in physical jeopardy - whether leaping out of the way of a speeding freight train (as you learn in this disc's included supplements) or breathlessly eluding his captors during a crowded St. Patrick's Day parade, this doesn't feel like a comic book - it feels real.
Sharply directed by Andrew Davis and filmed on location in Chicago, everything about The Fugitive works with a clockwork precision. It is one of the last remnants of a now-bygone era - the era of the real-world thriller, one that's exciting and involving and suspenseful not merely because of what the fantastical things its characters do, but who they are. I still have the original VHS tape, plus the 1993 Laser Disc, 2001 DVD and 2006 blu ray disc. Even if you have a repeat dipping history resembling mine (other example being Peter Pan, which I got soundly criticized for by my better half), I still highly recommend picking up this 20th Anniversary Edition. The new 1080p transfer is worlds better than the last edition's and the lossless audio mix is fantastic. All of the original features are included, as are two new Blu-ray exclusive special features. The price is also relatively cheap. This set is a Must-Own.
Finally, as per usual Amazon.ca tradition, reviews of the DVD or the 2006 blu ray are included in the section for this latest version. Please read the date of review carefully before you waste time reading unrelated reviews.