So, my copy of NIMH on BluRay arrived in the mail today (along with my copy of Tron: Legacy, yay n.n). Most of you will likely recall my previous review of the 2 disc DVD version[=http://www.thornvalley.com/commons/forum/viewtopic.php?t=692]my previous review of the 2 disc DVD version
they released a few years ago, but if you haven't, take a look at that first. Since the BluRay uses (as far as I can tell) the same transfer, I'd rather focus on the differences than the things that are the same.
But first, let's talk features: You get the same film-transfer, as far as I can tell, just in High Def. The 2.0 audio sounds the same (which is a good thing), and the features match almost exactly with the DVD version: Widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, additional Spanish and French language tracks, the same audio commentary with Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and the same 15 minute "Secrets Behind the Secret" featurette. The only big differences, feature-wise, are that this version includes a copy of the original theatrical trailer, but leaves out the fullscreen version and the set-top games. The games are no great loss, but if you like seeing the open matte 1.33:1 fullscreen version, you'll have to stick to the DVD.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's talk picture quality. The first impression I got was: "Wow, that's a lot of detail." Second thought was, "Huh. They really could've cleaned up the dust and scratches better on this transfer." So yes, you get lots
more detail with the BluRay version. In fact, I guarantee you, you'll notice, or even be able to see things that you've never noticed or seen (or been able to see) on the DVD, like just how textured and detailed the backgrounds are, and that Jeremy sheds some feathers in the scene where he's pushed back from the entrance to the Owl's tree when he hoots, among other things. It is absolutely beautiful and stunning artwork, and it comes through on this version.
However, this extra detail comes at a price. First off, the extra detail means you get to see some rough edges that were almost certainly part of the original movie, but are hard to see on the DVD, like a couple of slight registration errors (where the foreground, background and/or animation elements don't quite line up), or where the cell painting wasn't quite as good. These I can live with, as it adds a bit of character to the film and is really only noticeable to someone who's watched it often. Harder to live with is… well, some of you mentioned noticing some dust and scratches on the DVD. Well, they're in this copy too, but now they're nice and sharp and clear and very noticeable, especially in the darker scenes, and especially on my 40" Samsung HDTV. I don't know why they didn't spare the bit of extra expense to go through it and remove them, but they didn't, so we're left with a subpar experience that is beautiful and stunning on the one hand, and a bit hard to watch on the other. Ironically, one of the first things mentioned in the commentary is that the picture should look so much better now, though they were watching the old DVD to make the commentary, so I'm guessing they didn't know. Side note: I wish I could put up some screenshots of the BluRay so that you can see what I'm talking about, but I unfortunately don't have one for my PC at the moment. I might come back later and add them if I do, though.
So, do I recommend this purchase? Eh… if you don't have the new DVD copy and you have a home theater setup and can overlook some imperfections in the picture, this will do nicely, but you might want to skip it and go with the DVD anyway if you're bothered by obvious dust and scratches in the picture. The DVD has them as well, but the lower resolution makes them much less noticeable. If you already have the newer DVD and an upconverting player, I'd say skip the BluRay version unless you're a hardcore fan that loves sussing out the fine details in the film picture. The BluRay has very little new to recommend itself, unfortunately.
Overall, a somewhat disappointing release, especially considering the reason for releasing a movie to BluRay to begin with: better picture. Perhaps they'll get a clue and do a better release down the road, but I'm not holding my breath.