I recently picked up a LG Blu-ray/HD DVD drive for my HTPC (model number LG GGW-H20L), along with Casino Royale and Batman Begins to show it off. Blu-ray is indeed a step up from DVD, though not quite the revelation that was VHS to DVD. There is one movie however, which has been acclaimed as the disc to pick up if you want to really appreciate the jump to high-definition: Blade Runner.
Putting the movie itself to one side, Blade Runner is renowned as a visual masterpiece, though notorious for its various cuts and editions. The DVD was one of the first I ever bought, a first generation print that while an improvement, isn’t exactly a massive jump from TV quality.
After years of edits and editions, a ‘Final Cut’ was released. This cut, overseen by Ridley Scott himself, cleans up the picture to a staggeringly beautiful level, without the George Lucas-esque need to replace everything with modern CGI. I first saw this cut on Sky Movies (still in standard definition), though you could still tell that it was a movie born in the eighties, the picture was as crisp as a movie released today. This prompted me to pick it up on Blu-ray.
The final cut is available on DVD and Blu-ray, but in a predictable moment of studio stupidity, the UK Blu-Ray edition contains less content than the DVD, and less content than the US version. Thanks to the fact that most studios aren’t enforcing region encoding on Blu-ray discs, I was able to buy a US copy without any hassle. I picked it up from axelmusic.com, which seems to be a UK based company that imports from the US and through Europe so you don’t get hit with import duties. It did take 10 days to arrive, but comparing costs, it was cheaper to buy the US import than pick it up in the UK!
I’ve included a quickly put together gallery of screencaps, comparing my original DVD and the Blu-ray disc. This is not a fair comparison for two reasons: I’d imagine the DVD of the Final Cut is a lot better quality than my original DVD, and I’ve had to scale down the high-def picture to match the DVD picture. Still it’s useful nonetheless to appreciate how much difference can be seen in the same move, thanks to high definition.