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Chinatown Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), Restored English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit), French, Portuguese, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 130 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray )
  • Studio: Paramount Home Media Distribution
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 3, 2012
  • List Price: $24.99

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Purchase Chinatown on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

Chinatown is famed director Roman Polanski’s 1974 reconstruction of the detective/mystery film noir stories of 1930s and 40s. Starring Jack Nicholson as slick hipster private investigator J.J. Gittes and Faye Dunaway as the femme fatale, Evelyn Mulwray, who will lead Gittes down the rabbit hole into a seemingly bottomless investigation tied up in politics, big business, and the local water supply, Chinatown’s glamorous 1930s depression-era façade masks the undercurrent of 1970s American malaise in a post-Summer of Love, post-Watergate hangover headed into economic recession. That the power of one man (Gittes) is helpless against the corruption of corporate avarice and the political juggernaut might have seemed a new concept, but placing the scarred Gittes (having already been assaulted by a knife wielding thug slicing his nose) in a 1930s backdrop offers the story an even more weighted, and hopeless appeal.

Also of note and adding to the film’s glitz and atmosphere are the lush score by Jerry Goldsmith, the vintage style opening credits, lavish set design by Richard Sylbert and beautiful cinematography of John A. Alonzo.

Video Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Paramount has brought Chinatown to Blu-ray in a gorgeous AVC/MPEG-4 1080p restoration that is clean, detailed, and looks completely natural and true to the original 35mm film source. There is a good, thin layer of grain that never becomes overwhelming, deep blacks, and natural flesh tones. A wide level of contrast and good sense of shadow detail and white levels defines the overall imagery that offers great pop on the display.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

For traditionalists, Paramount has included a wonderfully restored lossless version of the original monaural soundtrack in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) that is clean, full, and absent of clipping and hiss. For those who want a more expansive sound experience, there is a new Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix as well. It has wonderfully wide stereo panning, wide dynamics and lots of ambience that one can really hear when gunshots ring out throughout each channel.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

An interesting feature on here shows writer Robert Towne visiting the film’s featured aqueduct for the very first time. Outside of the that, the audio commentary offers the best insight into the film, though most of the standard definition featurettes offer brief interviews with Polanski as well.

The supplements:

  • Commentary by screenwriter Robert Towne with David Fincher
  • Water and Power (1.78:1; SD):
    • The Aqueduct
    • The Aftermath
    • The River & Beyond
  • Chinatown: An Appreciation (1.78:1; SD; 00:26:15)
  • Chinatown: The Beginning and the End (1.33:1; SD; 00:19:28)
  • Chinatown: Filming (1.33:1; SD; 00:25:35)
  • Chinatown: The Legacy (1.33:1; SD; 00:09:37)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

One of the classics of 70s cinema, Chinatown features Jack Nicholson on one of his iconic roles and brilliant direction from Roman Polanski. Thankfully, Paramount has brought this classic to Blu-ray looking and sounding as it should making it easy to recommend.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B006VC3LES[/amazon-product]

Purchase Chinatown on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for More Blu-ray Titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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