Blu-ray Review “Scanners (Criterion Collection)”

scannersStarring: Michael Ironside, Jennifer O’Neill, Patrick McGoohan, Stephen Lack, Lawrence Dane
Director: David Cronenberg
Number of discs: 3
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Criterion Collection (Direct)
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Run Time: 103 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

David Cronenberg has really affected up my taste in films over the years. I remembered the first time that I watched “Scanners”, I didn’t know anything about the director but I instantly fell in love.  That is one thing that I have always loved about Croneberg’s films is that they are rather timeless. “Scanners”,”Videodrome”, “The Fly”, “Naked Lunch”, eXistenz”. These are all films that are just as good as the very first time that I saw them.  They are extremely unique and cannot be duplicated. This film has never been released on high-def Blu-ray in the States (though we do already have “Scanners 2 & 3” on Blu-ray, thanks to Shout! Factory). Leave it to Criterion for giving an amazing film like this an even better release. This comes with a brand new, restored 2K digital film transfer, which was supervised by director David Cronenberg and includes an uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

Official Premise: With Scanners, David Cronenberg plunges us into one of his most terrifying and thrilling sci-fi worlds. After a man with extraordinary—and frighteningly destructive—telepathic abilities is nabbed by agents from a mysterious rogue corporation, he discovers he is far from the only possessor of such strange powers, and that some of the other “scanners” have their minds set on world domination, while others are trying to stop them. A trademark Cronenberg combination of the visceral and the cerebral, this phenomenally gruesome and provocative film about the expanses and limits of the human brain was the Canadian director’s breakout hit in the United States.

Instead of telling you all the details, I will let the linear notes tell you the techy details: “Supervised by director David Cronenberg, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from a 35mm interpositive at Vision Globale in Montreal; the color grading was done at Deluxe Toronto. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS and Pixel Farm’s PFClean, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, and noise management. The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm Dialogue/Music/Effects magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 3.

So if you understand what all that technical specs mean, this film looks just amazing. If you disagree, you might catch me starring at you very intently…wait a second…and…BOOM! Unlike the Australian Blu-ray, which has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, this Blu-ray includes an LPCM 1.0 surround track, which is much more impressive. The score is just so outstanding, I would have loved to seen an isolated audio track. This director approved dual-format Blu-ray and DVD, also comes with an amazing illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Kim Newman. I look forward to Criterion releases so much because they really put a lot of effort into these releases and don’t settle for less than perfect. Plus take a look at this cover art, isn’t it just amazing and there is different version inside the case as well!!

Like always Criterion has delivered a jam-packed Blu-ray with amazing extras. “The Scanners Way” is a brand new documentary film and includes interviews with director of photography Mark Irwin, special makeup artists Stephan Dupuis and Chris Walas, special effects supervisor Gary Zeller, and visual effects specialist Rick Baker talking about the production. This was was produced exclusively for Criterion in 2014 by Michael Lennick, a Toronto-based documentarian and visual effects designer and supervisor (Videodrome). “Mental Saboteur” is a brand new video interview, actor Michael Ironside, who plays Darryl Revok, reflecting on his role. This was able produced by Criterion this year.

“The Ephemerol Diaries” is a video interview from 2012 with actor Stephen Lack, who plays Cameron Vale, discussing his work on the film. We get excerpts from the “The Bob McLean Show” from the March 10, 1981 episode with David Cronenberg. A real treat definitely has to be David Cronenberg first completed feature, “Stereo”, is included, which he did in 1969. It stars Ronald Mlodzik, Jack Messinger, and Iain Ewing and runs just over an hour. Lastly there is a trailer and three original radio spots included. If Criterion is reading this PLEASE give Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ”, the Blu-ray treatment next. It has only been given a rather poor Echo Bridge Blu-ray and needs some love.

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