True Lies, Aliens, The Abyss 4K | Mixed response greets digital transfers

James Cameron 4K cover artwork Aliens The Abyss True Lies
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James Cameron’s eagerly-awaited remasters of True Lies, Aliens and The Abyss have come in for some pushback…

We’re still some months away from the physical media 4K releases of a bunch of James Cameron films, but the digital releases of the movies in question have caused a few eyebrows to be raised.

This week, in the US at least, the digital 4K remasters of True Lies, The Abyss and Aliens have debuted. The remastering work is set to be the basis of next March’s much-anticipated 4K disc releases. And whilst the file size of the disc version is going to significantly exceed that of a download, there are still a few little niggles that are cropping up.

True Lies is the transfer that appears to be coming in for the most pushback. Over at the forum, there’s a growing thread with screencaps from the release, that aren’t painting the most positive picture of the work that’s been done.

I’ve not seen the transfer myself, so can’t personally comment. This is though a film that people have been waiting for: one that’s not had a formal Blu-ray release in the UK or US, and one where people have been waiting for James Cameron to sign off the new remaster of the film.

The commenters at the Blu-ray forum are suggesting that AI software has been used for part of the work, although again, I can’t comment on that, but it’s worth reading the thread.

The Abyss has fared better. Friend of Film Stories Bill Hunt has been running The Digital Bits website for over two decades. His review of The Abyss argues that the film has never looked better, but he also argues that “The result is extraordinary clarity and detail, so much so that it’s actually a little jarring. The film looks almost modern now as opposed to vintage late 80s, which is obviously Cameron’s intent”.

The full review is here.

He makes a similar point when it comes to Aliens. Of True Lies, he argues that it looks “somewhat processed”.

The reviews are positive, on the whole, but still a slight surprise. One of the reasons we were told about for the long delays in getting these films remastered was that James Cameron was exacting when it came to the process. That they’re not A+ transfers is thus something of a surprise.

The question for me, as someone holding off for the disc releases, is whether these new transfers are the basis for what we’re getting on the 4K. Furthermore, if the greater file size – appreciating the sophistication of compression technologies – will be telling too.

We don’t have these transfers in the UK yet, but the hope is that they’ll hit digital stores imminently. Early signs are that we’re getting an upgrade, but not quite the one that we were hoping for. We’ll be coming back to this topic shortly…

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