General Evans Above Archive for Sep 23, 2022

Paramount Presents The War of the Worlds 4K and When Worlds Collide Blu-ray review

Sep 23, 2022permalink

As part of it’s Paramount Presents line, the studio has released a double feature containing two classic science fiction films from the 1950s: 1953’s The War of the Worlds is presented in 4K, while 1951’s When Worlds Collide is presented as a Blu-ray.

Directed by Byron Haskin, The War of the Worlds is loosely based on H.G. Wells 1898 novel but with its setting updated to contemporary California with Cold War themes. When Martians invade the Earth, a nuclear scientist (Gene Barry) and a USC instructor (Ann Robinson) are two of the Earthlings attempting to stop them. The film was well received by critics, won an Oscar for Special Effects, and in 2011 was added to the US Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, which preserves films deemed to be culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

Directed by Rudolph Maté, When Worlds Collide is based on the 1933 sci-fi novel by Edwin Balmer and Philip Wylie. Scientists discover that a rogue star named Bellus, accompanied by a planet named Zyra, is on a collision course with the Earth in less than eight months. A plan is hatched to build space arks to transport a lucky few to safety on the passing Zyra but, with impending doom approaching, there are concerns that wealth and corruption will invade the lottery process used to choose the passengers. The cast includes Richard Derr, Barbara Rush, Peter Hansen and John Hoyt. The special effects were impressive at the time and earned the film an Oscar.

Let’s look at the video presentations …

The War of the Worlds 2160p HEVC / H.265 encoded native 4K digital transfer with Dolby Vision and HDR10 is presented in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. It was mastered from a previously done 4K scan of the original elements and looks great. Sharp detail on the faces and clothing and a nice grain structure are complemented by the HDR colour grading of the palette with rich green Martian ships and brilliant ray gun shots. The image has vivid whites and deep blacks. This is a fantastic transfer.

As mentioned, When Worlds Collide is included in this presentation as a Blu-ray. The 1080p AVC encoded transfer is presented in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Like it’s 4K companion in the package, this Blu-ray has sharp details on the usual suspects (faces, clothing and sets) and a pleasing grain structure. Though it’d be nice to have a 4K’s HDR, this Blu-ray has a very good colour palette with bright reds, dark greens and pleasing skin tones. Black levels are good and there’s only a small amount of print flaws evident from the source material.

The War of the Worlds gives you an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as well as German and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Dutch. The audio engineers have done an excellent job opening the original mono track into the 5.1 soundscape and moving certain effects into the surround channels. The music is dynamic and the dialogue is clear, centred and well prioritized.

When Worlds Collide offers us an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono soundtrack as well as German, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks. Subtitles are available for English, English SDH, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. Though your surrounds and subwoofer will have the night off, the track does a pretty good job with the audio source material and though the effects are not in the surrounds, they are clear and carry some weight. The music isn’t as clear here but still sounds okay. Dialogue is clear and prioritized in the mix.

Time to take a look at the extras …

First off, if you’re in the US, you’ll get the special Paramount Presents packaging with the fold-out artwork. Those elsewhere will get a standard slipcover.

The War of the Worlds disc comes with a nice variety of extras including commentary from actors Ann Robinson and Gene Barry, as well as film director Joe Dante, historian Bob Burns, and author Bill Warren. There’s a roughly 30 minute look at the production, a discussion on the life and times of H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds radio broadcast from the Mercury Theatre, and an original theatrical trailer.

The When Worlds Collide disc has only one extra, the film’s theatrical trailer.

The War of the Worlds 4K and When Worlds Collide Blu-ray set is a must have for fans of early science fiction films. The War of the Worlds is the gem of this set with an excellent 4K video presentation and updated soundtrack as well as a nice bunch of extras. Still When Worlds Collide has a very solid Blu-ray presentation with good video and sound. I think you’ll enjoy this one.