Dr Who and the Daleks (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Studio Canal
Review written by and copyright: Adrian Busby (7th May 2013).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Directed by Gordon Flemyng and now fully restored, Dr. Who & The Daleks (1965) was the first big screen film adaptation of British TV's most iconic sci-fi hero, and was the first time Doctor Who was ever seen in colour!

British film legend Peter Cushing plays everyone's favourite Timelord, and having invented the TARDIS, a strange machine capable of travelling into other dimensions, the Doctor and his three young accomplices set forth on a quest through time and space. Their journey takes them into the dark, undiscovered depths of the universe and to the planet of Skaro. A primitive world devastated by nuclear war and populated by two warring species, a peaceful tribe known as Thals and a life form heavily mutated by radiation, encased in protective machines. A merciless force of destruction known as The Daleks!

Video

The film runs a total of 82:57, is presented in the original Techniscope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and has been encoded for Blu-ray at 1080p using AVC.

Like many of the preceding Hammer releases from Studio Canal, this is a wonder to behold with stunning detail and a very clean picture. As hard as I tried, I couldn't find any major negatives to discuss of the image at all, despite being blown up to huge proportions on the wall of my home cinema set up. There is very mild grain throughout, which is natural and expected from anything shot on film. A number of shots are a little soft, but I have no way of knowing if that's as originally filmed or not.

Most striking of all is the glorious 60s colour palette, an obvious choice given the need to promote the film as being in colour (over the still then black and white equivalent BBC TV series). If anything, the crispness of the picture helps to highlight that, whilst the sets are impressive in terms of scale, they're also just as cheap and wobbly as the TV version look no further than some the corridor walls made of corrugated roofing plastic painted pink or others in a ghastly orange and made to look alien by adding what looks like folded sheets of shiny wrapping paper!

A couple of shots of the Dalek's home planet Skaro (I don't recall the name actually being mentioned in the film but don't quote me there) make very obvious use of matte paintings but, having gone back to my DVD copy, these were just as obvious there and probably would have been to any clued up cinema-goer in the 60s!

Audio

There is only a single audio track for the film itself (the audio commentary isn't counted here) encoded as a LPCM 2.0 Mono track in English.

The dialogue is clear and crisp throughout. The sound design is often impressive and the score is surprisingly loud and effective given the small number of channels utilised. Again it's clear that the audio has been lovingly restored with no remaining signs of hiss or drop-outs at all. English subtitles are also provided, something sadly missing from previous DVD releases.

Extras

First up is an Audio Commentary by Actresses Jennie Linden (Barbara), Roberta Tovey (Susan) and Author Jonathan Sothcott. This is a pleasant listen with lots of cherished memories and interesting anecdotes from the two stars. Jonathan Sothcott acts as a very knowledgeable moderator and they all seem to enjoy chatting about the making of the film.

The meatiest extra, in terms of run time at least, is the Dalekmania documentary (57:30). It has been available on numerous DVD releases of the Cushing Dalek films but it's good to see that it hasn't been dropped here (as so often happens with Blu-ray releases). It acts more as a light-hearted making-of companion piece for the films with sound bites and anecdotes from a variety of cast & crew, fans & experts. Of particular interest was Terry Nation's thoughts (in an interview that looks like it pre-dates even this 1995 production) on Cushing's portrayal of the title role an opinion I'm inclined to agree with but doubt Cushing had too much say over given the family orientated nature of the film. There are also some interesting stories on a number of accidents which occurred on the set of Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. - presumably a result of the somewhat more adventurous and action orientated script! Short sections on Dalek memorabilia and a fan film called The Mission Of Doom intersperse the preceding but it's a shame that far too many clips are used to pad out the run time.

A Restoring Dr Who and the Daleks featurette (8:26) is next. It's a little extra which goes into the Techniscope process and the film's production in general. For me though, the title is a little misleading, given there are only a couple of examples of the restoration process (one visual and one aural). The similar featurettes on Studio Canal's Hammer Blu-rays score more points in the restoration featurette department.

An Interview with Gareth Owen (7:41) follows. Gareth is the author of The Shepperton Story and briefly details the background and development of the film in this short, but informative, featurette.

The extras are rounded out with:

- a Stills Gallery, which presents 22 images in all, including publicity shots, posters and images from the press kit, some of which were included as DVD-ROM material on the Warner Bros DVD release.

- a Trailer (3:04), which is an interesting watch, if only for a decent comparison of how bad the film could be looking without any restoration. Even my Warner Bros DVDs look awful in comparison to the main feature here so, again, it's a shame Studio Canal didn't blow their trumpet a bit louder in the restoration featurette.

Overall

A tidy package sporting a fantastic hi-def transfer an achievement Studio Canal should have boasted about more in the extras. All in all though, this is just what the Dr ordered for the 50th Anniversary.

The Film: B Video: A+ Audio: A Extras: B Overall: B+

 


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