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Grease 40th Anniversary Edition Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Official AVS Blu-ray Disc Reviews - www.avsforum.com
Featuring an explosion of song and dance, as well as star-making performances from John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Grease made an indelible impact on popular culture. 40 years later, the film remains an enduring favorite as legions of new fans discover the memorable moments, sensational soundtrack and classic love story.

The Review at a Glance:

(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

84

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 1978

MPAA Rating: PG

Feature running time: 110 minutes

Genre: Musical/Romance/Drama

Disc Format: BD-66

Encoding: HEVC

Video Aspect: 2.35:1

Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, German, Portuguese, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese, Stereo, Spanish Mono

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin Simplified, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French Canadian, French Parisian, Norwegian, Portuguese Brazilian, Russian, Spanish Castilian, Spanish Latin American & Swedish

Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conaway, Stockard Channing, Didi Conn, Kelly Ward, Jamie Donnelly, Eve Arden, Sid Caesar

Directed by: Randal Kleiser

Music by: Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Written by: Bronte Woodard

Region Code: A

Release Date: April 24, 2018

"Grease is the Word!"

My Take:

I reviewed Grease when it was initially released on Blu-ray back in 2009. I will include my comments from that review along with new ratings for the video/audio, and additional features, if applicable.

Grease is the word! I knew John Travolta from watching “Welcome back Kotter” and seeing him in a movie called “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble”. I became a big fan after seeing Saturday night fever. When Grease came out I was first in line at the theater. My initial reaction was tepid at best as I was expecting something more in line with what I had seen in SNF. Hey I was 14 years old and the disco craze was in full bloom. The 1950’s setting, the corny dialog, and softened romance left me disappointed. What I did like about it was the musical set pieces which showcased the dance routines and choreography. When I really came to appreciate this film is when I was a bit older and it came to cable TV.

Grease is a truly fun musical film that features a wonderful ensemble cast, great music, and the dancing prowess of John Travolta. I am not so sure about his singing, but with Olivia Newton-John co-starring who cares? She has a beautiful voice and together they lit up the screen with their onscreen chemistry and strong song and dance numbers. The theme song by Frankie Valley is still catchy after all these years. The cameos among the cast add a sprinkling of comedic seasoning to the already strong mix of young talent featured in the film. Seeing Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Alice Ghostly, and Joan Blondell again was a treat.

Patricia Birch did a fantastic job with the film’s choreography and the soundtrack is one of the best. Regardless of what year its set in this film has a timeless feel. I haven’t seen it in a long time and had forgotten how good it is. It is filled with colorful characters, great music and has a light comedic/romantic premise that makes it special. I am sure that Grease has a place in the hearts of many. I couldn’t help but have feelings of nostalgia as I watched it. I have been a John Travolta fan for years and seeing him here brought me back. I am glad to see Paramount reaching into their catalog and releasing films like this on Ultra HD Blu-ray. It gives fans the opportunity to re-visit and enjoy them all over again.

Replay Value: 4 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:

REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

- HDR: Dark Highlights:

- HDR: Bright Highlights:

- HDR: Expanded Color:

- Resolution:

- Visual Impact:

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

- HDR: Dark Highlights:

- HDR: Bright Highlights:

- HDR: Expanded Color:

- Resolution:

- Visual Impact:

Audio: 80

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

- Dynamics:

- Low frequency effects:

- Surround Sound presentation:

- Clarity/Detail:

- Dialog Reproduction:

- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Grease 40th Anniversary Edition comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound.

According to the studio the original negative was scanned and received extensive clean up and color correction using previously unavailable digital restoration tools such as high dynamic range technology. The resulting images was used to derive bot the Ultra HD and Blu-ray rendering for this 40th Anniversary release.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Grease has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness we have become accustomed to seeing with many newer release films today. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

Looking at the film's opening sequence on the beach, the improvement in depth, definition and color rendering was immediately noticeable. I was struck by the finer details present in the clothing and backgrounds. The exterior shots of the school, diner, and Thunder Road as well as the variety of earth tones and colors represented in the 50's era clothing, appeared noticeably more vivid and pleasing to the eye. The addition of high dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. The Greased Lightnin’ and The Beauty School Dropout sequences had excellent visual pop. This was the case during brightly lit exterior scenes, such as the infamous song/dance number in the finale.

Dark highlights were rendered with excellent dimension especially when coupled with brighter visual elements such as those that take place at the drive-in and football fields at night. The image isn't razor sharp, and as with every other release of the film on home video, there are intermittent issues with innate softening, but detail rendering is very good overall. As I watched I felt as though I was rediscovering this film all over again. Hands down, this is the best Grease has ever looked on home video. Kudos to Paramount for giving this the treatment it deserves. Hopefully we can expect more of the same from other classic titles from their extensive catalog.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Grease, I found the HDR renderings to essentially be the same. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements are lent to bright color and on occasion, vibrant highlights, however the subtleties that are present lie in the warm accents and reproduction of earth tones. Switching back and forth between the DV and HDR-10 renderings yielded minute differences that are probably more subjective and not enough to warrant a rating difference.

Like the video, the film received an update to the surround mix, and the differences are slight, but noticeable. There is a bit more breadth to the soundstage and the bass has just a hint more punch. Otherwise the presentation is reminiscent of the original, which was decent. Here are my original comments:

I think that this lossless encoding presents this soundtrack in the best light it has seen on home video. Dialog and sound effects are delivered through the front channels. Voices are clear, tonally divergent and hold a position of prominence within the front soundstage. I would have preferred a bit more depth/weight to sounds and voices but that is a limitation of the recording and not the encoding. I would rather have it sound natural than artificially enhanced and hokey. The soundstage opens up during the musical set pieces. The soundfield is front focused, with discernible channel separation, and clarity. Dynamics are solid as the music numbers sound full bodied, and tonally satisfying. The rear channels supply ambient extension that increases aural perspective and broadens envelopment. Bass is proportionate and adequate which provides sufficient response in support of the music but not much more. Compared to today’s soundtracks this presentation is a bit dated however all things considered, I was pleased with it.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 90

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

- Resolution/Clarity:

- Black Level/Shadow Detail:

- Color Reproduction:

- Fleshtones:

- Compression:

Grease 40th Anniversary Edition comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 1080p AVC encoded video.

According to the press documentation the original negative was scanned and received extensive clean up and color correction for this 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release. Comparing it to the 2009 release the image does appear slightly sharper, with improved color rendering, and overall definition. If I had to summarize it I would say that this is a pleasing video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appear better resolved than others although this is related to the photography. Grain is naturally rendered which gives the video texture and a noticeably filmic quality. Contrast is dynamic without being overpowering and blacks are respectable in depth with discernible detail visible in low lighting and shadows. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent.

Bonus Features:

- Disc 1: Grease 40th Anniversary Edition Ultra HD Blu-ray

- Disc 2: Grease 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray

• Commentary by director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch

• Introduction by Randal Kleiser

• Rydell Sing-Along

• The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease

• Grease: A Chicago Story—NEW

• Alternate Animated Main Titles—NEW

• Alternate Ending—NEW!

• Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes with Introduction by Randal Kleiser

• Grease Reunion 2002 – DVD Launch Party

• Grease Memories from John & Olivia

• The Moves Behind the Music

• Thunder Roadsters

• John Travolta and Allan Carr “Grease Day” interview

• Olivia Newton-John and Robert Stigwood “Grease Day” interview

• Photo Galleries

• Theatrical Trailer

- Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Grease is a timeless, entertaining, and memorable musical that was successfully brought to the big screen in 1978. It’s cast, colorful characters, and blend of great music and dance numbers has made it a fan favorite. It hasn’t lost any of its original luster and still makes for a fun film experience. It makes it Ultra HD debut from Paramount Home Distribution in this 40th Anniversary Edition Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring newly restored and invigorating video quality, and both legacy and new bonus material. If you’re a fan Grease 40th Anniversary Edition belongs in your home video library.

Tube

Tube

Ralph Potts

AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector

(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from


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