Grease (Blu-ray)

After a wonderful summer romance, Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) must end their relationship when she has to return to her native Australia. When her trip is extended and she attends Rydell High, she discovers that Danny isn't the boy she fell in love with; he's the leader of the T-Birds, a leather-clad greaser gang.

The chemistry between Travolta and Newton-John is electrifying and helped make Grease a box-office smash in 1978. To date, it's one of the best adaptations of a Broadway musical to hit the silver screen with its look at the simpler times of the '50s and its musical homage to the age of rock 'n' roll. The supporting cast is fantastic, with Stockard Channing as Rizzo, Jeff Conway as Danny's sidekick Kinnickie, and Eve Arden as the uptight Principal McGee. Grease definitely is the word!

The 1080p AVC encode is an improvement over the previously released DVDs, but unfortunately, the original photography doesn't lend itself to a reference-quality presentation. Cinematographer Bill Butler shot on 35mm film but used heavy filtering, resulting in a blurry print, especially around the edges. The higher resolution on Blu-ray heightens this effect, and it isn't pretty. The center of the image is sharp, but as the camera pulls back, the minor details around the edges look as if Vaseline was smeared on the lens.

But all is not lost—the black levels are vastly improved, and the detail is amazing, especially during the pep rally and when Danny's stranded at the drive-in. Colors are rich and clean, especially the candy-apple red of the car named Greased Lightnin' at the conclusion, and flesh tones are spot-on. It's not anywhere close to perfect, but this is the best I've seen Grease look on home video—bar none.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is exhilarating, especially the music, which has never sounded better. Dynamics are mostly clean and robust, and dialog is always intelligible. The surround speakers provide minimal ambience, which is true to the original stereo recording, but the musical numbers open things up and engulf the room with the tunes of Sha-Na-Na, Frankie Valli, Frankie Avalon, and the magnificent cast.

The bonus features are ported over from the last DVD release and include a commentary by director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch, a "Rydell Sing-Along" version of the film, 11 deleted/extended/alternate scenes, and a promotional piece from the 25th anniversary DVD launch party. Additional supplements include a short interview with Travolta and Newton-John on their memories from the production, two featurettes on the dancing and the cars, and the original theatrical trailer.

Grease is one of my favorite films, and to this day, I still have a crush on Olivia Newton-John. The music is fantastic, the screenplay is a lot of fun, and it stands the test of time. The presentation is solid on Blu-ray, especially the audio. If you're a fan, be sure to upgrade the DVD. Recommended.

Release Date: May 5, 2009
Studio: Paramount

Movie: 10/10
Picture: 7/10
Sound: 8/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics