Movie: Picture: ; Sound: ; Extras:
The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo 0.5.3:
The DVD was released in Australia in a 'Pan and Scan' version as one of the very first releases. I think I obtained my copy way back in early 1998. A widescreen version has never been released in Australia, for that reason alone this Blu-ray is welcome.
However, note that 'Pan and Scan' is misleading. The sometimes euphemism 'formatted for 4:3 TV' is actually correct in this case. For most of the movie, the 4:3 DVD shows additional material above and below the 1.78:1 frame of the Blu-ray, while losing a little to the left and right.
In the following examples, at the top of each is the full frame (suitably shrunk down) used in the comparison, with a 250 pixel wide detail from the frame underneath. The left side is from the PAL DVD. The image was captured digitally from the disc, scaled up from its native 720 by 576 resolution to 768 by 576 (to present in the 4:3 aspect ratio), and then, in order to be comparable to the Blu-ray version, from that to 1,440 by 1,080. The detail is from that last scaled version, and has not been rescaled again. The right side is from the Australian Blu-ray. This has not been scaled at all.
Different applications were used to capture the two frames, so I am not normally comfortable comparing the colour between the two, merely the detail and sharpness. However there are overwhelming differences in the black levels and colour balance of the whole movie, with the Blu-ray being far better. These shots do seem to be representative of how things look on the big screen. For those visitors from NTSC lands, generally the PAL DVD is just a touch sharper than the NTSC DVD.
Because of the different aspect ratios and cropping strategies, in general detail will be somewhat larger on the Blu-ray version than the DVD. Nonetheless, one pleasant aspect of the Blu-ray is the lack of obvious compression artefacts:
Cameron Diaz's hair is supposed to be artfully damp, but ends up bit of a rats' nest down at her neck. That's something that can be seen far more clearly with the Blu-ray than the DVD, as can the nature of the chain of her pendant: