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Scanners (Limited Edition Steelbook) [UK] Blu-ray Review

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Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below 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:4/5]

Scanners-UK-BD_01

David Cronenberg’s (A Dangerous Method; Videodrome) 1979 sci-fi cult classic Scanners has all the earmarks of his style – it’s cool, sleek, thrilling, and visceral in its horror and imagery. From the opening shots we are thrust into an alternate cloak and dagger universe of glittering shopping malls and suspicious characters. The story is an unusual one that just about anticipates that bastion of ’90s paranoia, The X-Files, involving a war between two chemical companies who have been covering up the existence of people in the population who have certain telepathic and telekinetic abilities that can become dangerous. These “scanners”, as they are called, have been rounded up by Dr. Paul Ruth (Patrick McGoohan) and experimented on, but when the loose canon, psychotic scanner Derryl Revok (Michael Ironside) and his underground movement of scanners make a play to take over the pharmaceutical company Ruth works for, “virgin” scanner Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack) is brought in, trained, and sent out as a pseudo-spy to hunt down Revok. With the help of one of Revok’s own, the beautiful Kim Oberist (Jennifer O’Neill), Cameron begins to uncloak layers of cover ups that will reveal a past he never realized he had.

Like the best of Cronenberg’s work, Scanners combines the over-the-top visual effects of B-level freak of the week monster movies with high level thrillers like The French Connection or Army of Shadows for something that is wholly unique and riveting. Scanners goes beyond being just your average cult horror film and becomes an involving sci-fi thriller with a quality storyline and strong acting. Mark Irwin’s cinematography, captured on location in Montreal, Quebec, is a marvel of modern imagery. The look, in many ways ahead of its time, straddles the line between 70s grit and 80s gloss, making this a wonder to take in visually.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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Scanners looks surprisingly clean and vibrant in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Second Sight. Primary colors such as reds really pop and contrast is strong. While film softness is at times an issue, the layer of grain looks natural without being overwhelming or showing evidence of video nose. Close-ups look crisp and shadows, while suffering very slight color grading issues, have a good amount of detail.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

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Scanners is provided with an English LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit) stereo track and a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 (48kHz/16-bit) surround track. Both are effective, offer wide stereo imaging and natural sounding atmospheric effects. The difference between stereo and surround tracks is slight, given that the 5.0 mix (there is no “.1” or LFE channel here) does not utilize the surround channels for any discrete effects. On the contrary, it merely provides lots of ambience in those channels. Dialogue sounds a little more forward and boxy in the stereo mix, and is more pinpoint, anchored to the center channel in the 5.0.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

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A decent set of high definition interviews with cast and crew accompanies this cult classic to Blu-ray courtesy of Second Sight.

The supplements:

  • My Art Keeps Me Sane: Interview with Stephen Lack (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:23:46)
  • The Eye of Scanners: Interview with Cinematographer Mark Irwin (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:15:11)
  • The Chaos of Scanners: Interview with Executive Producer Pierre David (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:13:42)
  • Exploding & Popping Veins: Interview with Makeup Artist Stephen Dupuis (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:09:33)
  • Bad Guy Dane: Interview with Actor Lawrence Dane (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:05:18)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

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Scanners, the original and still the best in the franchise, is truly classic Cronenberg, and it comes to Blu-ray with a fantastic transfer from Second Sight. This predecessor to the psychological mind-bender Videodrome is one well worth watching for fans of sci-fi thriller and cult horror.

Additional Screen Captures

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Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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

 

 

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