Just in time for Easter, FOX has released the religious epic, "THE ROBE" on blu-ray. Richard Burton stars as Marcellus Gallio, a Roman soldier sent to Palestine as punishment for poor performance. When a girlfriend from his past convinces Emperior Tiberius to give Marcellus a better mission, he's first ordered to command the crucifixion of Jesus. Upon winning Christ's robe during a craps game being played while awaiting Jesus's death, Marcellus is thrown into great depression, and blames the robe and Christ'sbelievers for his pain. He then pleads with Tiberius to be allowed to investigate these "Christians" with the intent of putting an end to them for Rome's sake, as well as his own. Of course, having been adapted from a novel by a minister, Marcellus will find the path to redemption and personal salvation, by becoming a follower of Christ, himself. Unfortunately, for a big film, there's little action in "THE ROBE," and the less than inspired performances only highlight other problems with the film. In spite of a huge budget, many of the sets come across as cheap. And, Burton, Simmons, Richard Boone and most of the cast, aren't too compelling in their roles. Victor Mature, however, as Demetrius, is phenomenal, and it's a shame that the entire film wasn't built around him!
FOX has provided the correct CinemaScope aspect ratio, 2.55:1, for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. As mediocre as the film is, the transfer is the complete opposite. Fox has completely restored "THE ROBE," giving it color correction, digital scanning and more, to make the final resulting image one of the better looking blu-rays available! That's not to say "THE ROBE" is perfect. Blacks aren't inky enough to convey exquisite detail in the darkest scenes, and contrast varies in quality, with some scenes falling flat. But, for the majoirty of the film's 2 hour plus running time, detail is astounding, and with vibrant color.
FOX has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix as well as the 4.0 mix that had been on the previous dvd. The lossy mix is a major improvement in dynamic range, with fuller bass and in emphasizing the great score. Surrounds are restrained, however the front speakers benefit from a wide range of separation effects. Dialogue is always perfectly intelligible and balanced.
FOX has included some great extras as well as some unnecessary ones. While it's always great to see Martin Scorsese, an intro less than 1 minute long, is useless! Why bother to feature someone so full of knowledge and not offer time for a great commentary/discussion? The audio commentary with the son of the original composer and film historians is often interesting, but trying to sit through for the entire duration. A still gallery, interactive press kit and great documentary, are all offered in HD.
Additionally, there are featurettes, interviews, trailers and more, all in HD. But, the best extras are the "BONUSVIEW" ones, especially one that compares the widescreen version with a standard version.