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Hairspray Blu-ray

United States
Shake and Shimmy Edition New Line Cinema | 2007 | 117 min | Rated PG | Nov 20, 2007

Hairspray (Blu-ray)
Temporary cover art

Codec: VC-1
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

English SDH, Spanish

50GB Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (2 BDs)

Slipcover in original pressing

Region A (locked)

List price: $14.98, Price history

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Movie rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Blu-ray rating
Video 4.4 of 54.4
Audio 4.6 of 54.6
Extras 4.6 of 54.6
Based on 25 user reviews

Movie appeal 



Hairspray Blu-ray delivers great video and superb audio in this exceptional Blu-ray release

It’s 1962—the '50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore's Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion—to dance. She wins a spot on the local TV dance program, "The Corny Collins Show" and, overnight, is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. But can a trendsetter in dance and fashion vanquish the program's reigning princess, win the heart of heartthrob Link Larkin, and integrate a television show without denting her 'do? Welcome to the '60s!

For more about Hairspray and the Hairspray Blu-ray release, see Hairspray Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.

Director: Adam Shankman
Writer: Leslie Dixon
Starring: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Nikki Blonsky

» See full cast & crew

Hairspray Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

The disc starts with a new New Line logo announcing New Line Home Entertainment on High Def and then we're on Baltimore going from its slightly brownish palette town streets to the colorful TV studio candy bright sets and pastel dancer dresses. Color is one of the more satisfying aspects of this transfer, specially appealing. Look at those costumes, ranging from Baltimore crab blues, to Royal Latifah Golds, going through Seaweed's totally solid red and Travolta's shimmering one, encompassing all kinds of varieties of greens pinks magentas and pastels, all this this in an almost completely grainless transfer made from a Super-35 negative (For a fascinating exercise, compare to the deleted scenes in the supplements which are grainier but seem slightly more detailed). Having not seen this movie at theaters I don't know if it was or wasn't grainy there but the disc's polished look seems to suit the movie's high gloss musical story.
The lasting impression one gets from this transfer is spotless and shiny.

Now for the one negative. Please read the following completely carefully before reaching your own conclusions, as this might affect only those with the biggest screens. The transfer's approximately 15 Mbts/second VC-1 image is sharp and contrasty up to a point. For anyone watching the movie's Scope 2.35 ratio image letterboxed inside a 16:9 display from normal home or 2/3rds back of the theater viewing distances (2.5 PH/1 screen widths or farther away) the transfer will look perfectly sharp. But if you zoom the "Scope" letterboxed image filling a CinemasScope constant image height screen viewing it at middle of the theater viewing angles (2PH/ 0.85 screen widths or closer) it might make the image look a little less solid and lacking a small bit of detail, unlike some of the better high definition transfers around, and make for a slightly less satisfying experience. I think this is the result of the way this almost grainless 1080p master was transfered (see my comment about grain on the deleted scenes and trailer). It's not that the image looks blurry at those viewing angles, but sometimes it looks a little more 'video look'-like giving you the impression that there's not enough info (detail), unlike when you watch film, which is a thing you notice more while looking at some medium and long shots of faces and the like, As this wasn't totally satisfying to me (I like viewing my movies big, like on a theater), investigating further, I switched from 1080p one to one (1:1) viewing, to upscaling the image into a resolution higher than 1080, and nudged the sharpness/aperture correction setting a bit, and there the resulting image looked more solid and satisfying, finally achieving an acceptable compromise between film-like smoothness vs the clean and sharp-but less detailed video look. It's interesting to watch the trailer and the deleted scenes on the supplements and compare. The trailer, obviously made from a different transfer (for example some of the early Baltimore scenes on it have an almost b/w sepia look) but having a much higher bitrate (sometimes up to 100% more: double) does not seem to suffer from this lack of detail as much and I don't feel the need to upscale the 1080 image to find it pleasing. At large maginifications you could also see some grain clumpling/ splotching, probably from the grain smoothing, in some of the scenes. Mainly in wall backgrounds. (I think I saw it on Travolta's face on one case (Or maybe it was some CGI make-up smoothing? ).
Judging from the visibility of this and from the normal size/viewing angles where the image becomes excellent, I'd calculate maybe it's shy just a 1dB or 2 difference of extra detail/ smoothness away from optimum, basically between about 30% to 60% more detail encoded would've done the trick. I want to stress, again, that for most people's viewing angles and display sizes the image looks truly excellent, and unless you view your movies at big Cinema viewing angles or huge screens; you won't notice, say "Damn it looks good", and you'll be scratching your heads wondering what I'm talking about . The disc's image certainly looks better than the image quality I've seen in non-IMAX theaters that I've gone lately.

I discovered another quirk of the transfer when looking at Cinema viewing angles that made me go double check if my player was indeed sending a 1080p signal. I found that if I looked closely, I could see some combed frames sporadically, as if from interlaced content on some of these frames, which I confirmed by still stepping them one by one. Seemed to me that of the resulting frames are weaved from adjacent frames. If you want to check for yourself, one place is when Tracy goes to detention in chapter 5. Look closely at the shiny metal vertical tubes in the desk/chair behind cool dude in the middle of the image at 21:20-21:22. As the camera pans slightly to the side following Seaweed, you see the chair's tube comb. But if you're not looking closely on a big screen you'll probably not see it.

Now, do I think these minor anomalies are reason not to buy this movie? Hell no! They'd have to pry my spray can from my dead cold fingers . 8 or 9 out of 10 image parameters close to perfection, this movie looks great.

Hairspray Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  4.5 of 5

Well, for a musical, the audio is very important. And I'm very happy to say that from the first strains of music, down to the little castanets, by the time that bicycle sound crosses the screen from left to right you can tell this is a soundtrack that sounds good. Having a very enveloping soundstage, where you can hear clearly every percussion instrument, guitar strum, footstep, clap, bell or ring, appreciating all the layers of sound, orchestra, dialogue, singing, and sound effects is effortless and fully satisfying. One thing in particular that struck me was how natural the singing voices of the actors, some of whom we have been listening talk in soundtracks for years, sounded. With great fidelity, sometimes I would have the feeling as if almost they might as well be recording right there. (which I enjoyed all the more by further experimenting later by playing the center channel isolated a couple of times). The film's mix blends the transitions from straight dialog to singing part perfectly. The general design has the main vocals in the center channel with musical instruments and background vocals spread all across the front stage naturally, sometimes with interesting effects being emphasized like when they say the word CinemaScope. I also found a couple of instances where the center singing moved slightly to the left or right following the actors on screen but that was very subtle. The surrounds were more enveloping than anything but it really worked on this film because it made the music and sounds feel natural and occurring in the space in front of you. Sometimes there would be very directional placement like the TV animators voice offstage to the right for effect on the dance contest, etc. Bass was appropriate and solid (hear the drums announcing Edna's entrance to the TV stage for example) or markings Tracy's hips. Even with the individual sounds sounding so detailed and the voices loud and clear at no point I thought anything sounded strident or harsh. All this coming from the basic 5.1 DTS 1.5 Mb/s core track, as my PS3 has not yet the ability to transmit the higher-quality lossless DTS HD Master Audio sound. I can only imagine it'll sound more detailed and with more ambiance and wetness on that track, but that will remain to be heard till the PS3 acquires that ability. I'll update this opinion when that happens.

Don't miss the songs on the end credits, as the fun continues there, and one of the songs has the 3 actresses that have played Tracy singing on it. Note: this song seems to be in 4.0 and not have a center channel so don't start worrying about your center speaker.
And besides, you got cooties.

Apart from listening to the soundtrack in 5.1 discrete, I also listened to it downmixed to plain stereo, where it's basic natural qualities remained but then the enveloping soundstage wasn't really panoramic and detailed. And just for kicks I listened to several of the musical numbers with only the left and right discrete channels playing (so they became basically instrumentals versions) which made me appreciate all the more the multiple layering of instruments, orchestra and background voices. One of the advantages of multichannel recording and delivery on a home video format.

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