Updated: October 07, 2013
VOYAGE MOVIE BLU-RAY (RELEASE OCTOBER 2013)
Starring: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Peter Lorre, Robert Sterling, Michael Ansara
Director: Irwin Allen
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.36:1. This is another generally very commendable looking transfer of a 'Scope film that benefits from elements in very good shape. The image, while not razor sharp, is well defined and precise, with excellent fine detail showing up in things like Fontaine's tufted dresses and some of the props aboard the Seaview. The higher resolution of the Blu-ray does reveal some of the literal seams in some of the process photography, but even the use of heavy filters in several sequences doesn't materially affect the detail in the image, though that said, many of the underwater sequences are understandably very murky looking, with little depth or detail. Contrast is solid and stable throughout this presentation. My one niggling qualm with this presentation is the color. The elements may have faded, if only slightly, and there's a somewhat pallid look to the film. This is a matter of degrees, and perhaps pretty minor degrees, but the film just does not look overly vivid. I'm not privy to what efforts Fox went to to prepare this for Blu-ray release, but I couldn't help but wonder if a little judicious tinkering by a skilled telecine colorist working with an appropriate reference might have ameliorated some of these issues. The good news is that there doesn't appear to have been any over aggressive digital tweaking here, and I personally spotted no signs of edge enhancement or DNR.
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 track which quite faithfully reproduces the film's original 4 track stereo mix. The film's soundtrack has been somewhat problematic on previous home video releases, and while most of those issues have been dealt with, there's still a slightly brittle sound to some of the dialogue, if only at times. The best part of this track is the wonderfully consistent surround activity with regard to the great sound effects. The "ping" of radar and gurgling sounds of water wash through the side channels, and even routine dialogue moments are given great spatial clarity and directionality. I know many people are actually fond of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea's theme song (crooned by Frankie Avalon), and its Paul Sawtell-Bert Shefter score, and for those folks, the good news is the music sounds fine and in fact also is splayed nicely through the channels. Personally, I find the theme song a really silly attempt to mine the title of the film (perhaps second only to another hapless Fox theme song evidently required to work the film's title into its lyric.