Wednesday, July 13, 2011

HERCULES DVD Review - US vs French DVDs

Jeffrey asked on my Facebook page if the Image Entertainment dvd of the Steve Reeves classic HERCULES was worth buying. I told him yes, it's the best possible dvd out there from the US. The transfer is not perfect as there's a slight discrepancy that annoys me. Of course, unless you have a stand-alone region free DVD player/dvd-drive on your computer, the option of getting the French dvd is not available for folks this side of the world.

I have multiple dvds of HERCULES, but I'll concentrate only on the ones which are in widescreen, which includes the US version from Image Entertainment and the French version from DVDY Films, which also includes the English and Italian tracks (genius!). Both dvds are basically from the same source. There's almost no difference in terms of length and scenes. The only difference with the French dvd is that it starts with Joseph E Levine opening credit while the US dvd goes directly to the opening credit, which is odd.

Right from the start, you can see the difference between the US and French dvds. The red from the US dvd is much darker than the French one below.

Sylva looks a bit more stumpy in the French transfer below. Though the brightness on the French dvd loses details on Sylva's dress it gains some with the darker parts of the image, including the shrubs in the background and Steve's torso.

cam to gif
You can see the distortion between both versions with this gif animation. The image from the French dvd seems squished compared to the US version. The question is, which one has the right aspect ration?

Another example of the US dvd being much darker than the French version. You can barely see the colour of Herc's tunic.

The aspect ratio between the US and French dvds. Both of them are 720 wide but the height is different. But which one has the correct height? The French one appears to be squished, which is annoying but then maybe it has the correct aspect ratio and the US DVD is stretched vertically. I dunno. You can click on image to view the details.

This is where the US dvd loses out to the French dvd: the image above is clearly too dark in this close up. The image below from the French dvd is squished vertically but the colours seem much better. You can see details  in Steve's beard and hair. The US dvd loses too much details compared to the French one.

So in closing both versions have their faults but the French version edges out the US one. I still recommend the US widescreen version because it's the best one out there for North America. Though the image seems to be vertically distorted on the French dvd, the colours are more vivid because it's brighter than the US transfer. Like I said, both dvds are most likely pulled from the same source it's just that Retro Media tweaked the image a bit more in order to change the screen aspect ratio.

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