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True Lies UHD/BD (Blu-ray Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000225308
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 29/4/2024 18:09
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    Review for True Lies UHD/BD

    8 / 10


    I was late to the Blu-ray party, but it’s still been over 10 years since I started collecting the format. Pretty early on, I had managed to fill all my blockbuster upgrade requirements, double dipping on all of the mainstream Hollywood favourites that I already had on DVD. But a couple of titles remained annoyingly elusive, True Lies and The Abyss. Given the geopolitical situation since 2001, you could make an argument that True Lies was no longer a priority, but The Abyss is classic sci-fi, up there with 2001 for genre defining cinema. Ten years of collecting Blu-rays, and these films never appeared on the format. It seems that director James Cameron was far more interested in developing his Avatar sequels than revisiting past glories. And now, in 2024, I finally have bought True Lies and the Abyss... on UHD. Thankfully, they come with Blu-ray discs that I can watch, but that opens a whole other can of worms.

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    I’ve been seeing this a little too much this year, and mostly from Disney. They’re eliminating separate Blu-ray and UHD SKUs and bundling the UHD and HD format discs together for retail. It saves on shelf space in what few stores remain, and Disney save on packaging, and they make more money from UHD fans who have to pay a few pounds extra for a Blu-ray disc they don’t need (although currently standard for UHD), while Blu-ray owners like me have to pay close to twice the price for a UHD disc that they don’t require. But... future-proofing, right?

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    After all this time of living with True Lies on DVD, you’d think that I’d be jazzed to finally watch it in HD... But you have to remember that James Cameron is almost as revisionist a director as George Lucas. I remember seeking out the 2008 Blu-ray release of Terminator 2 after trying to live with the 2009 Skynet Edition drove me to despair. Just to reiterate, I’m watching the Blu-ray disc in the UHD release.

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    Harry Tasker has the perfect life, a computer salesman with the ideal family, with housewife Helen, and teenage daughter Dana. Sure, his work takes him on the road all of the time, and after seventeen years his marriage is safe and comfortable rather than exciting, and Dana doesn’t exactly dote on her father, but that is the typical family. Only Harry has always lied to his family. In reality, he’s an intelligence agent tasked with keeping the free world safe, and he has to deal with all manner of terrorists, not least Crimson Jihad, who thanks to some stolen warheads from Kazakhstan are on the verge of becoming a nuclear power.

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    Harry’s chickens are coming home to roost however, as the tedium of married life has taken its toll on Helen, and to spice up her life, she’s found a secret agent of her own, a mysterious man named Simon. Now Harry’s distracted when he can least afford to be, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

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    The Disc

    True Lies gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on the Blu-ray, with the choice between DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English, DTS-HD HR 5.1 Surround French and German, DTS 5.1 Surround Spanish and Italian, and DD 2.0 Stereo English, and English Audio Descriptive, with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish. For what it’s worth, the specs listed for the UHD disc are HDR Dolby Vision 2.39:1 2160p with Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 English Near Field Mix. Back to the Blu-ray, where the image is clear and sharp, and with consistent colours. This is a brand new master, so obviously no sign of print damage or age, and no visible compression either. Detail levels are excellent, and contrast is good too. Audio is vibrant and well balanced, although volume levels are a smidge low. The dialogue is clear and the music drives the action as required. Subtitles are player generated in this version, but don’t worry, the “Perfect Arabic” gag is still there.

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    And that’s the good, for revisionist James Cameron has revised the movie for this release. I remember the original version on VHS, DVD, and even in the cinema, and I recall a blue steel cool colour timing for the film that really gave it a unique feel. For this release, True Lies has gone orange and teal like so many other action movies. It’s also significantly brighter than the previous transfer, so much so that the opening night time sequence is as detailed as daytime. Reds feel a little desaturated, and worst of all, grain has been significantly reduced, giving the film a wholly digital feel. I think AI has been used to do this, as the effect of this reduction is somewhat targeted, and oddly enough, Tom Arnold alone really suffers from a waxy complexion. And the Art Malik motorcyclist mask that was apparent on VHS, blindingly obvious on DVD, looks ridiculous on Blu-ray.

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    You get two discs in a UHD Amaray style case with one on a centrally hinged panel, wrapped in an o-card slipcover. The extras are on the Blu-ray disc alone, and are as follows.

    Fear Is Not An Option: A Look Back At True Lies (43:27)

    This is a new retrospective documentary with interviews with the director and cast, with some archive interview footage too.

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    Archives: Script, Artwork, Marketing contains the following
    -Theatrical Trailer
    -Original Script
    -Unit Photography
    -Location Photography
    -Poster Gallery

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    Sometimes, the Blu-ray.com forums can be the harshest critic of a particular release, and I had my eyes on the True Lies UHD thread for a long time before I placed an order for this release. The majority of comments are less than complimentary about the transfer on the UHD for the reasons I have listed above. The review on that site stated that those issues were less noticeable on the Blu-ray disc, and that convinced me to take a chance on this release. In the end, if the Blu-ray disc looks like this, how ‘bad’ does the UHD look? I’m almost scared to buy a UHD player to find out. I think the most telling indictment, is that so many people have stated on that thread that they have chosen to import the Spanish Blu-ray release of True Lies instead, and given that is most likely a bootleg release sourced from an HD TV broadcast of the film (it might even be a D-VHS rip, that short lived HD digital VHS format), it feels a little dodgy to opt for that. Regardless, I’m holding onto my DVD, for when I get nostalgic for how the film used to look, as opposed to how it looks now.

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    I don’t like this transfer, but that doesn’t in any way mean that the film is unwatchable as a result. It’s a creative choice, not a fatal flaw, although the DNR does occasionally border on the egregious. And after thirty years, True Lies is still fun, still exciting, and still great entertainment. Back in 1994, True Lies was the spy movie that James Bond wanted to be, a franchise that was then in the doldrums, still a year away from Goldeneye. Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the height of his powers, although following on from Last Action Hero, looking for a hit blockbuster. This action comedy turned out to be that hit, although they are two genres that are notoriously hard to balance successfully the way True Lies did. It helps that the terrorists are played more for laughs, despite their nuclear aspirations.

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    The whole point of the story is the spy hiding his job from his family, and the consequences that follow on from that, distracting the protagonist from his immediate and more pressing duties. That is the joke, the comedic heart of True Lies. Yet, I’m still not a fan of the second act where all of this plays out, in classic farce style, with Helen seeking to spice up her mundane life with Simon, the erstwhile playboy superspy, and with Harry using national intelligence assets to spy on his wife rather than the terrorists. I can always feel my eyes drifting towards the clock before the terrorists crash the party, and the film gets back on track to head towards its action packed conclusion.

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    True Lies no longer looks the way I remember, and I paid £12 more than I should for the Blu-ray, to put up with a UHD disc that I never wanted, and anecdotally looks even less appealing than the Blu-ray. But it is an officially sanctioned release of True Lies in high definition, and if you can rendition the cinephile within you to Guantanamo for three hours, it is perfectly fine to watch.

    Your Opinions and Comments

    Thanks for the review, it brought back memories of the Abyss a brilliant si-fi film, though a bit slow and long in places is my only criticism. The Abyss definitely hit a point about aliens living under the ocean, a good place to hide from us humans. Will now have to get hold of this film again to watch. PS...I have never bought Bluray as I have a large DVD collection and has no intention of replacing at high cost. I remember the same problem when we moved from VHS tape to DVD, That was enough for me. Think this is still the reason DVD format is still around.
    posted by Par Mizan on 1/5/2024 11:42