Creature from the Black Lagoon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though a little iffy at times, this was usually an appealing presentation.
Overall sharpness seemed good, but exceptions occurred, as some shots felt a bit soft. A loss of definition during underwater photography became inevitable, but some “above-water” elements also lacked great delineation. Still, most of the movie provided nice accuracy.
The image lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. With a fine layer of grain, I suspected no digital noise reduction, and print flaws stayed minor. I saw a thin line during the “birth of the world” segment and a couple of small specks but nothing more.
Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows were smooth and clear despite the use of “day for night” photography. I wouldn’t call this one of the best-looking Universal Monster Blu-rays, but it still seemed solid.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it worked fine given the era of its origins. Speech remained a little thin but still appeared reasonably natural, without edginess or other issues.
Music showed pretty good range and punch, while effects came across as a bit lifeless but accurate and clean enough. The audio held up nicely over the last 60-plus years.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2000 DVD? Audio showed superior accuracy and clarity, while visuals were tighter, cleaner and more film-like. This became a solid step up in quality over the mediocre DVD.
This Blu-ray includes both the film’s 2D and 3D versions. The picture comments above reflected the 2D edition – how did the 3D compare?
In terms of quality, the 3D compared favorably with the 2D. Definition, blacks and clarity seemed similar for both versions.
As for the stereo imaging, the 3D could be inconsistent but fared nicely most of the time. Depth became the most erratic aspect of the image, partly because the movie used a lot of process shots. 3D foreground elements in front of a 2D backdrop didn’t allow for much dimensionality.
Entirely 3D shots worked better, and those added a nice layer of involvement. Though the inherent loss of definition in the underwater shots impacted the 3D, the way in which the aquatic creatures and elements floated around the screen added an appealing sense of place.
In the movie’s first act, we got a lot of “pop-out” elements, but those decreased as the story progressed. Nonetheless, the image used the 3D components in a satisfying manner, so it became the best way to watch the film.
Most of the DVD’s extras repeat here, and we open with an audio commentary from film historian Tom Weaver. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at the project’s origins and development, story and characters, various drafts of the script and deleted scenes, sequels and influences, cast and crew, sets and locations, shooting the underwater scenes and technical elements, using 3D, and a few additional areas.
Weaver clearly works from prepared materials but he always makes his statements sound like they are being generated spontaneously. He's also not afraid to crack on the film's problems from time to time, though he never seems disrespectful.
Weaver comes locked and loaded, as he rarely takes a breath through this delightful commentary. I like most of the Universal Monsters tracks, but Weaver’s are arguably the best.
Next comes a circa 2000 documentary called Back to the Black Lagoon. Hosted by film historian David J. Skal, the 39-minute, 40-second program features interviews with creature connoisseur David J. Schow, science fiction illustrator/historian Vincent Di Fate, 3D Film Archives curator Bob Furmanek, film memorabilia collector Bob Burns, “Monstrous Movie Music” producer David Schecter, film historian Paul M. Jensen, and actors Ben Chapman, Julie Adams, Ricou Browning and Lori Nelson.
“Back” looks at precursors to Lagoon and its development as well as shooting 3D, cast and performances, creature design, score, and the film’s sequels. It becomes an efficient and enjoyable view of the Creature phenomenon.
Under Production Photographs, we get a running video montage of stills. It lasts a total of 11 minutes, 29 seconds and includes 114 images that mix promotional pics, stills from the set and advertisements. It’s a good collection but it’s too bad Universal didn’t rescan the elements, as these remain the same quality seen on the 2000 DVD.
Within the Trailer Gallery, we find three clips. We get ads for Creature as well as sequels Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us.
With 100 Years of Universal: The Lot, we find a nine-minute, 25-second featurette that gives us comments from filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Peyton Reed, Ivan Reitman, Peter Berg, John Landis, Ron Howard, Michael Mann, Phil Alden Robinson, and John Carpenter, NBC Universal Archives and Collections director Jeff Pirtle, Universal Studios Hollywood tour guide Molly Orr, and actors Dan Aykroyd, Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep.
This one takes us around the Universal Studios locations and tells us a little about movies made there. What does any of this have to do with Creature? Very little.
Midway through a short discussion of Universal horror, we get a quick snippet from the film, but that’s it, as no one discusses the movie flick at all. Despite the featurette’s disconnect from Creature, it seems pretty fun. While it aims to promote the greatness that is Universal, it’s still light and likable.
With Creature from the Black Lagoon, we get the final classic Universal monster. The movie differs from the more psychological chills of the earlier stories, but it nonetheless offers a fun tale that's effectively rendered. The Blu-ray provides largely good picture and audio along with some satisfying supplements. This turns into another nice Universal monsters Blu-ray.