Black Rain appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While parts of the film looked very good, the transfer came with some nagging concerns.
Sharpness varied but usually appeared positive, as the majority of the film exhibited nice delineation. However, wide shots could be a little off, and the presence of light edge haloes created some distractions.
I saw no shimmering or jaggies, but I suspect the image got more noise reduction than I’d like, as the movie could seem more “smoothed-out” than I’d expect. Print flaws remained minor; I saw a couple of defects like a hair that pooped up early, but most of the film seemed clean.
Colors went with a highly stylized palette that mixed amber, orange, blue and purple much of the time. The hues came across with good clarity, as they reproduced the source well. Blacks were dark and dense, and shadows showed the material nicely. Without the edge haloes and other processing issues, this would’ve been a great presentation.
The Blu-ray provided both Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and DTS 6.1 soundtracks. I thought the pair seemed largely similar – I’d give the nod to the DTS track due to a higher bit rate, but the absence of a lossless option meant the audio didn’t fulfill its potential.
Even so, I thought the soundtracks held up well after 28 years. Music dominated the soundfield, as the mix used the score in an aggressive way across all the speakers. For some movies, that might cause distractions, but here it worked well within the tale’s parameters. The active music made sense for the story and fit the action.
Effects also helped create a nice sense of atmosphere and became involving when necessary. Usually they stayed in the realm of ambience, but they spread out well and turned more active during some of the action scenes. In particular, motorcycles zoomed around the room. The soundfield opened up matters in a satisfying and realistic way.
Audio quality also seemed positive. Although speech occasionally betrayed a little edginess, lines remained intelligible and acceptably concise.
Effects sounded clean and tight, with good range involved, and music presented especially solid information. The score was bright and dynamic, and bass response appeared surprisingly full and deep. I thought the audio of Rain worked well for the flick, even though I would’ve preferred a lossless option.
How did the DVD compare to the DVD from 2006? Given the aforementioned absence of a lossless track, audio remained essentially the same. The higher bitrate DTS track worked a smidgen better than the Dolby Digital track – which duplicated the audio from the DVD – but I can’t claim this became a clear step up in quality.
Visuals offered somewhat superior material, mainly due to the stronger format capabilities of Blu-ray. This meant improved sharpness and color reproduction. However, the presence of the small flaws meant the Blu-ray didn’t beat the DVD as much as I’d like – it’s better but not a radical improvement.
The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and these start with an audio commentary from director Ridley Scott. He offers a running, screen-specific discussion.
Scott begins with notes about why he came onto the project and then digs into the nuts and bolts of the production. He discusses shooting in New York and Japan, actors’ relationships and the atmosphere on the set, cinematography and working with his DP, music and audio, production design and editing, stunts, and other production issues.
Some of the commentary’s best parts come from its most general. When Scott chats about his various preferences for working on a movie, the chat becomes a terrific lesson in filmmaking.
The director mixes these more general thoughts with specifics about Rain in a fluid manner. Scott usually offers good commentaries, and this is one of his best.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a multi-part documentary. Black Rain: The Script, The Cast starts things with a 20-minute, 23-second program.. We hear from Scott, screenwriter/executive producer Craig Bolotin, screenwriter Warren Lewis, actor/producer Michael Douglas, producers Sherry Lansing and Stanley R. Jaffe, costume designer Ellen Mirojnik, and actors Andy Garcia and Kate Capshaw.
The show looks at the story’s origins and development, what attracted various parties to the project, how Scott came onto the film, and casting, characters and performances. “Script” covers the pre-production basics well. It offers a tight little look at the issues and benefits from the presence of so many principals.
Next we get Black Rain: Making the Film. Part One of this goes for 28 minutes, 39 seconds, while Part Two fills nine minutes, 16 seconds. “Making” includes notes from Scott, Lansing, Douglas, Garcia, Jaffe, Capshaw, Mirojnick, Lewis, Bolotin, director of photography Jan De Bont, and actor Ken Takakura (from 1989).
“Making” examines issues related to the multi-national crew and different locations, Scott’s working and planning methods, the actors’ research, set and photography specifics, complications in Japan, costumes, some story and character points, stunts, and various scene specifics.
“Making” continues our journey through the production with lots more good information. Inevitably, some of this repeats from Scott’s excellent commentary, but the additional participants help bring out new perspectives and details. “Making” goes through the subjects well and entertains as it informs.
Finally, Black Rain: Post-Production runs 12 minutes, 25 seconds and features Scott, Douglas, Garcia, Lansing, Jaffe, Capshaw, editor Tom Rolf, and composer Hans Zimmer. We learn about editing, music, reactions to the film, and final thoughts about the flick.
“Post-Production” offers a good close to this series of featurettes. It throws out nice details about the various processes and fills in the gaps. All of these components add up to make a solid look at the creation of Rain.
While Black Rain always looks great, the movie fails to ever engage the viewer. It uses clichés and one-dimensional characters without substance and doesn’t manage to ever become anything more than a predictable cop drama. The Blu-ray brings us mostly good picture and audio along with informative supplements. Black Rain hasn’t aged well and it remains a lackluster cop flick.
To rate this film visit the original review of BLACK RAIN