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At the Gate of the Ghost Blu-ray Review

at-the-gate-of-the-ghost-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, English Narrative (Titles and Text Only) English SDH, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 1 (1  x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 107 Mins.
  • Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 16, 2013
  • List Price: $29.98

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

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Some films are such towering classics of the cinema that they should be left alone, never to be attempted again. Kurosawa Akira’s Rashomon is just such a film – haunting, beautiful, and enigmatic, the groundbreaking Japanese filmmaker’s work is an enduring treasure for all film lovers that is just inimitable. Now, Thai producer/director/screenwriter M.L. Bhandevanop Devakul has decided to tackle Kurosawa’s work and put his own spin on it. At the Gate of the Ghost transposes the complex tale of a murder mystery and the accounts of the events surrounding it as told from four different perspectives to Thailand in the late 1550s.

A warlord has been murdered in the forest and notorious bandit Singh Kahn is captured and put on trial for the murder. In front of the governor, Singh Kahn tells one tale of how he came across the warlord and his beautiful wife and decided to have his way with the woman, and then kill the husband. But the warlord’s wife, a fetching beauty risen from the ranks of mere servant girl to become a Lady married to the wealthy warlord, tells a story that contradicts the bandit’s. A shaman is also called to testify and channeling the spirit of the dead warlord, tells yet a different version of events that contradicts both the bandit’s and the wife’s stories. Meanwhile, a young Buddhist monk having a crisis of faith had been on his way home to his father’s house when he came across a poor man traveling on the road embroiled in the events. The two heard the testimony, and the poor man testified to having seen the warlord’s dead body. Finding shelter from a storm in a cave, they come across an old beggar who chides them into a debate about the truth of the murder. The monk, uneasy about the events and his faith, begins to weave together a truth, or what he perceives to be one, when the poor man tells the whole tale of events that he withheld from the court.

As much as Devakul captures much of the sense of beauty of Rashomon in the visual style of At the Gate of the Ghost, there is something missing from it that makes it a disappointing re-examination of that original classic. The Buddhist spiritualism that bookends the film as some sort of philosophical counterpoint to the meaning of truth and personal agendas feels too concocted. The film also lacks the sense of ethereal lightness and the paranormal so crucial to Rashomon‘s almost spooky trial sequence. There is no nuance in Devakul’s film; it’s bold and beautiful, but misses the delicate handling of the subject matters which Kurosawa was so adept at.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

At-the-Gate-of-the-Ghost-BD_01

At the Gate of the Ghost is undoubtedly a visually stunning film that is captured superbly here in this 1080p/24 AVC encodement from Magnolia Home Entertainment. Apart from some very slight digital issues that can be spotted, such as some color banding in background, very small amounts of digital noise, and a little posterization that reared its head, this one looks strong, and crisp with superb colors and great contrast.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

At-the-Gate-of-the-Ghost-BD_03

The audio, in Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) dub provided as well, is also rather well done. It presents the score and sounds effects with a natural ambience and dynamic range and offers a lush sense of atmospherics, and wide spread of sounds. Dialogue is crystal clear.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

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There is only the usual fare provided on here, of which the Making Of and Behind the Scenes are rather brief and average.

The supplements:

  • The Making of a Legendary Story (1.33:1; SD; 00:07:16)
  • Behind the Scenes (1.33:1; SD; 00:04:14)
  • International Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • BD-Live

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

At-the-Gate-of-the-Ghost-BD_06

Taken on its own, At the Gate of the Ghost might actually stand as a decent offering, but when compared to the film it is remaking, the mighty Rashomon from Kurosawa, it feels tiny in comparison. If Rashomon is a four course meal at a fancy restaurant, At the Gate of the Ghost is an appetizer at the small place next door to it. It’s worth watching for the splendid visuals and costume designs, no doubt helped along by the modern CG techniques, but one must see the original or one hasn’t really seen this story.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
At the Gate of the Ghost - Widescreen AC3 - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase At the Gate of the Ghost on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

 

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