Strange Days: 20th Anniversary Edition review (German Import)

English-friendly German import will leave fans of Bigelow's sci-fi-noir feeling Fiennes

It's the dying days of the 20th Century and as L.A. teeters on the brink of chaos, ex-cop-turned-hustler Lenny (Ralph Fiennes) is content to carry on making a living peddling black market 'clips': recordings of other people's memories that can be experienced with the aid of a digital headpiece. But when he comes into possession of a clip showing a rapper/political activist being executed by cops, Lenny finds himself caught up in a conspiracy of silence and pursued by people on both sides of the law.

Written by James Cameron and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Strange Days is a wonderfully concocted piece of gripping sci-fi noir. While the setting may now be a distant memory, the film's major themes (not simply the misuse of technology, but also concerns about race relations and police brutality) remain equally pertinent today.

Add to that some wonderful performances (for our money Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis have never been better) and you can't help but feel that Strange Days is a modern sci-fi classic – albeit one that has never reached the level of acceptance it deserves.

Picture: The cover of this new German Blu-ray release describes it as an 'Ultrabit' release. What, if anything, this actually means is never explained, but the overall impression of the film's 2.40:1 Full HD encode is a favourable one.

While there are some signs of noise correction, it's not aggressive and certainly doesn't impact on the texture and detailing inherent in the image. Where it really succeeds, though, is with the colour saturation, which is every bit as rich and vibrant as it should be. Meanwhile, black levels are stable and there's no noticeable film damage.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: As well as the default DTS-HD MA 5.1 German dub, this import-friendly release also includes a DTS-HD MA 5.1 presentation of the original English soundtrack. The latter mix is a very creative affair that makes particularly effective use of the entire soundstage during memory 'clips' to drive home the P.O.V. experience, where even the dialogue regularly moves around your speakers as the viewpoint shifts.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: The Blu-ray offers up German and English trailers, while a bonus DVD houses a dissection of the opening scene, interviews, a Making of… featurette, two deleted scenes, a music video and the teaser – all with English audio, except for the Making of… (which has a German dub).
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: This provocative sci-fi thriller finally gets the hi-def release it deserves

Strange Days: 20th Anniversary Edition, Koch Media, Region B BD (German Import), £12 Approx