The Valley of Gwangi appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the transfer looked good.
No substantial issues with sharpness emerged. A few wider elements showed some minor softness, but those instances stayed minor. Some effects shots took a hit but those instances resulted from the techniques on display and couldn’t be avoided.
No signs of jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and no edge enhancement was apparent. Source flaws remained absent, as I noticed no specks, marks or debris.
As befit the western setting, colors looked low-key. They were always as full as the cinematography demanded, though, and they appeared solid, with occasional rich reds on display via clothing. The occasional brighter hues seemed vivid and rich within the normally arid confines.
Blacks were dark and full, while shadows usually came across well. Some “day for night” shots were a little murky, but they didn’t cause substantial problems. This was a consistently strong image.
Though adequate, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack aged less well, largely because it tended to seem a bit harsh. This particularly impacted effects, as they could be a little rough and brittle. I don’t think those elements fared poorly, but I felt they could’ve been smoother.
The same went for music, which showed reasonable reproduction but that could seem too bright. Speech varied due to sources. The movie used a lot of dubbing, as some actors such as Gila Golan were “re-voiced”. These instances weren’t done well, so the looped speech stood out in a negative manner.
Still, awkward as those lines could be, they remained intelligible, and the track lacked background noise or flaws. The audio seemed average for its age/era.
A featurette called Return to the Valley runs eight minutes, four seconds and includes remarks from special effects creator Ray Harryhausen, ILM animation directors Tom Bertino and Dan Taylor, ILM lead animators Peter Daulton Glen McIntosh, and ILM visual effects producer Ned Gorman. “Return” looks at the project’s roots and development, story/characters, creatures and effects. We get a few insights from Harryhausen in this decent program.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc includes a DVD Easter egg. Called “Gwangi & Vanessa”, it lasts one minute, three seconds and offers an anecdote from Harryhausen about his daughter’s attachment to the Gwangi puppet. It’s not much of a story.
Due to the still charming visual effects creations of legendary Ray Harryhausen, The Valley of Gwangi boasts occasional moments of delight. However, the story and characters fail to engage, so the effects can’t expect to redeem the project. The Blu-ray offers very good picture along with acceptable audio and minor supplements. Other than Harryhausen’s sublime wizardry, Valley doesn’t do much to entertain.