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Blu-ray Reviews: Full Metal Jacket (Deluxe Edition)

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Last updated 28 June 2009

Full Metal Jacket (Deluxe Edition) cover Full Metal Jacket (Deluxe Edition)
1987 - Warner Bros Entertainment Australia Pty Ltd
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Kevyn Major Howard and Arliss Howard

Fairly early with the introduction of Blu-ray into Australia, Warner Bros Entertainment Australia released Stanley Kubrick's great film, Full Metal Jacket. This release promptly attracted some criticism for its picture quality, especially overseas. While there was some improvement over the DVD version, it really wasn't all that much. My review and Blu-ray/DVD pictorial comparison can be seen here.

Warner Bros responded overseas by releasing a newly mastered version under the title of a Deluxe Edition. This also included some additional special extras. This version presents a marked improvement over the original release.

Here I will be primarily comparing it to the earlier Blu-ray version. The movie is, of course, the same. But it looks a bit different. My comments and judgements concerning the earlier release are rather harsher now than they were the first time I looked at it, since increasing familiarity with high definition content has raised the bar somewhat since those early days.

So let's start.

OriginalDeluxe Edition
CoverFull Metal Jacket coverFull Metal Jacket (Deluxe Edition) cover
Running Time116:30116:30
Video1.76:1, 1080p24, MPEG2 @ 23.70Mbps1.78:1, 1080p24, VC1 @ 17.07Mbps
SoundEnglish, French, Spanish: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbpsEnglish: LPCM 16/48 3/2.1 @ 4,608kbps; English, French, German, Italian, Spanish 1, Spanish 2: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 448kbps; Commentary: Dolby Digital Surround 2/0.0 @ 192kbps
SubtitlesEnglish, French, SpanishEnglish, English for the Hearing Impaired, French, German, German for the Hearing Impaired, Italian, Italian for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish
FeaturesTrailer (1 min)Commentary; Featurette: 'Full Metal Jacket: Between Good and Evil' (480i60, MPEG2, DD 2.0 @ 192kbps - 21 mins), Trailer (480i60, MPEG2, DD 2.0 @ 192kbps)

Here are the video bitrate graphs for these two discs, generated by BDInfo 0.5.2, with the original at the top and the Deluxe Edition below:

Full Metal Jacket video bitrate graph

Full Metal Jacket Deluxe Edition video bitrate graph

Comparison: Blu-ray vs Blu-ray

Now here are some comparisons between the the two Blu-ray versions of this movie. Before getting to the details, we should compare briefly the overall shape and size of the pictures and note a difficulty that arose.

First the difficulty: I always do my comparisons using the same frame from the video. But I couldn't that in this case with all the frames. The capture software I used cannot capture every frame from the Blu-ray video, only the 'I' frames (these are the anchor frames that contain the full picture, whereas the other frames are held by reference to their differences from the 'I' frames). 'I' frames typically occur every 12th or 15th picture frame. With this movie the 'I' frames I captured were in different places between the versions, so I had to grab frames that were not identical. But, by golly, they were very close. I suspect most were just one frame away from each other.

The framing was a little different between the two versions as well. The original Blu-ray seems to have been cropped down by a small amount compared to the 'Deluxe Edition'. In addition, the original had very narrow black bars inserted to the left and right of the picture, reducing the display aspect ratio very slightly to 1.76:1. Here are the differences, the original at the top and the 'Deluxe Edition' underneath:

Comparison 1

You will also notice a better stretch across the contrast and colour gamut in the new version.

Now to compare details, at the top of each of the following is the full frame (shrunk down to 500 pixels wide) from the Deluxe Edition, with two 250 pixel wide details from the frame underneath. The left side is from the original release while the right side is from the Deluxe Edition. Neither of these two details have been scaled at all.

With this frame, from the haircut scene at the start of the movie, it is already clear that greater sharpness and detail is revealed with the new version:

Comparison 2

Our Drill Instructor's ribbons are slightly, but noticably, sharper. Compare, for example, the ribbon of the Silver Star for Gallantry award (top left) between the two shots. The vertical blue bars on it are more clearly defined in the new version. Or look at the Marine Good Conduct award (second row from top, extreme right of picture). On the older copy, the blue block in the middle of the ribbon has its left side truncated, making it look as though the star is misplaced to the left. As the new version reveals, this isn't the case at all:

Comparison 3

Creased and crumpled material is a difficult thing to convey, and the new version just seems to produce a more realistic result than the old one:

Comparison 4

Our background characters clearly receive better definition than the old version:

Comparison 5

Finally, compare Adam Baldwin's cigarettes:

Comparison 6

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