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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
James Whale
Cast:
Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Dudley Digges, Una O'Connor
Writing Credits:
RC Sherriff

Tagline:
Catch me if you can!

Synopsis:
A scientist finds a way of becoming invisible, but in doing so, he becomes murderously insane.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA Monaural 2.0
French DTS Monaural 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 71 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 9/2/14

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Rudy Behlmer
• “Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed” Documentary
• Production Photographs
• Trailer Gallery
• “100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters” Featurette


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Invisible Man [Blu-Ray] (1933)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 24, 2015)

Prior to the advent of DVDs, I'd never cared much about the "Universal Monsters" movies like Dracula and Frankenstein. However, those DVDs sounded intriguing so I gave them a shot. To my surprise, I really enjoyed them, and I subsequently decided to check out additional releases from this series.

This includes 1933's The Invisible Man, a film I looked forward to due to its director. James Whale, the same gent who helmed Frankenstein and its sequel The Bride of Frankenstein, directed Invisible. Both were excellent - possibly the best two films of Universal Monsters series - so I had high hopes for Man as well.

While I don't think Man belongs in the same category as Whale's Frankenstein works, I find it to offer a fun and compelling experience nonetheless. Unlike modern pieces like Paul Verhoeven's lousy Hollow Man, the Whale film doesn't concern itself with the science of the machinery of the invisibility experience. Instead, Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) starts the picture in a transformed state; it's only as the movie progresses that we find out what happened to him and see how the character develops.

Personally, I never really understood the idea of an invisible man as a horror role. What's so scary about some dude you can't see? It's just an ordinary guy we who remains unseen by us. I'd think the main advantage to invisibility would be the ability to check out naked babes whenever you want.

This film expands on the threat provided by an invisible man and makes the menace clear and fairly scary. Much of the impact comes from the lead performance by Rains.

For obvious reasons, his role remains vocally oriented, and Rains' voice does wonders with the part. He successfully walks the line between serious drama and camp without ever crossing over to the spoofy side of the street and the result is a terrific performance that does much to make the film work. Rains can be over the top, but wonderfully so.

Surprisingly, the movie's other star - the special effects - hold up pretty nicely. While the flaws appear clear and the techniques well-known, I still think the trick shots seem relatively convincing. Yes, they can look pretty bad to modern eyes, but I think I can modify my disbelief for older movies, so I can see how amazing these effects must have appeared in 1933.

The Invisible Man lacks the depth to live up to Whale's other horror films. We get the sense that our villain was made, not born, but we don't find a whole lot of detail in this domain, as most of the story just has fun with the menace involved.

And that’s fine with me. Whale mixes his usual combination of chills and humor; funny material appears in the middle of spooky scenes, but not to deleterious effect, as the jokes make the whole package work better. Although Man is a modest hit, it's a good piece nonetheless.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Invisible Man appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. I felt quite pleased with this appealing presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed strong. A little softness occasionally affected some shots, but those were minor instances, as the majority of the flick looked pretty accurate and tight. I witnessed no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, and edge haloes were absent.

With a nice layer of grain, I didn’t suspect any heavy-handed digital noise reduction usage, and print flaws remained minor; I saw an occasional small blotch but that was about it. Blacks looked deep and taut, while shadows showed clear, smooth tones. This was a splendid image.

Though not quite as good, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 monaural soundtrack of Invisible Man worked well for its age. Speech could be a bit brittle, but the lines seemed reasonably natural, and they lacked any substantial edginess or other concerns.

Effects came across as decent. Those elements could seem rough in louder sequences, and they never boasted great dimensionality, but they were more than acceptable for their age.

The occasional instances of music showed fair clarity, and the track lacked much source noise; some light popping and background interference occurred, but nothing substantial. This was a more than competent track for an 82-year-old flick.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 1999 DVD? Audio was cleaner and clearer, and the visuals demonstrated enormous improvements. The Blu-way was tighter and smoother, with many fewer print flaws. This was a night and day step up in quality.

The Blu-ray replicates most of the DVD’s extras. First we get an audio commentary from film historian Rudy Behlmer. For this running, screen-specific piece, he details the genesis of the original H.G. Wells novel, aspects of story/characters, cast and performances, visual effects, related films, filmmaker biographies, and some additional production notes.

As a commentator, Behlmer is money in the bank; he always provides thorough, engaging examinations of the films he discusses, and that remains true here. Behlmer seems informed but not stuffy, as he delivers a spirited examination of the movie. I love Behlmer’s work and he makes this another strong commentary.

Hosted by Behlmer, Now You See Him: The Invisible Man Revealed runs 35 minutes and 21 seconds. The program provides notes from actor Claude Rains' daughter Jessica, Gods and Monsters director Bill Condon and actor Ian McKellen, James Whale’s friend Curtis Harrington, and film historians David J. Skal and Paul M. Jensen.

“Revealed” covers the HG Wells novel and its adaptation for the screen, notes about Whale and his career, cast and performances, visual effects, the film’s reception and sequels. “Revealed” moves through its subjects quickly but well, so it delivers a good overview.

For a piece new to Blu-ray, 100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters lasts eight minutes, 18 seconds. It features a slew of movie snippets as a narrator tells us about different roles. It’s mildly entertaining but it essentially exists as an advertisement.

We get Production Photographs presented as a running piece. We find a conglomeration of posters, lobby cards and shots from the set that fills a total of four minutes, 30 seconds. It gives us a good collection of elements.

Within the trailer gallery, we locate promos for The Invisible Man Returns and Invisible Agent. Unfortunately, no ad for Invisible Man itself appears.

Although The Invisible Man isn't a great horror film, it's a fun and clever one that works well eight decades after its original release. The Blu-ray offers excellent visuals, good audio and a small but nice set of bonus features. This becomes a terrific release for an entertaining flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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