REVIEW – The ‘Film Vault’ 4K Collectors Edition series is back, and we take a look one of their new titles “2001: A Space Odyssey”
The Film Vault Collection
When the label launched with their initial batch of titles – Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Goodfellas, Scarface, and 1917 – Film Vault – a collaboration between Warner Bros, Universal Pictures and Vice Press – set a new standard for the premium Collectors Edition format.
With newly commissioned exclusive artwork from artists and Vice Press stalwarts Matt Ferguson and Florey, the collections includes each film on 4K and Blu-ray discs, housed in premium packaging and a range of unique collectible items.
After the success of those initial launch titles, four more movies have been given the film vault treatment – The Shawshank Redemption, Jaws (both released on September 4th), Apollo 13, and 2001: A Space Odyssey (both release on October 2nd).
We were lucky enough to get an early look at 2001, and here’s what we found…
Video, Audio & On-Disc Extras
Included in this release, we get the film itself on 4K disc only, with a Blu-ray packed with bonus features.
As is usually the case with Collectors Editions of previously released movies, 2001 utilizes its previous 4K master. This is no bad thing, as 2001 has an almost flawless 4K transfer.
Based on an 8K scan of the original 65mm camera negative, the transfer restoration was supervised by the late, great, and unsung Leon Vitali, who worked side-by-side with Stanley Kubrick since the 70s, ensuring that all theatrical and home video presentations of his films met with the director’s exacting standards. Vitali carried this work on after Kubrick passed away, until his own death in 2022. If you haven’t seen it, you should check out the documentary Filmworker, which finally gave Vitali the recognition he deserved.
Back to the film… It’s no surprise that this is a fantastic looking disc, with tons of fine detail on show. On the whole, 2001 is not a neon-soaked sci-fi adventure, but has a more realistic visual style. Colours look natural, while HDR gives them a nice pop where needed – especially during the iconic stargate sequence near the end of the film – and there’s plenty of detail in the shadows and highlights. All in all, given the age of the film, it’s unlikely to ever look better.
On the audio front we get two main 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options. First up is the 1999 restoration/re-mix, which does a great job of bringing the mix up to date with modern technological capabilities, while not going completely over the top and being out of place. Again, this isn’t a Star War. The other gives us original 1968 6-track 70 mm audio, as heard in cinemas.
Both options sound very nice indeed, with a nicely spread soundfield, clear dialog and well placed atmospherics. The restored track does sound a little cleaner, which is to be expected, while the 1968 the audio does have a few moments of roughness, but it’s a close run thing, and it’s nice to have the option available. Often when older films get an audio remix, the original track gets dropped.
In terms of extras, The 4K disc includes just an audio commentary with actors Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood.
The Blu-ray bonus disc is where all the action is, and features over 3.5 hours of extras, including a 45min documentary, 90 mins of featurettes and a 75 minute interview with Kubrick. All in all, they cover just about everything you need to know about the making of the film.
Of course, this is why we’re here. After some initial scepticism when the original Film Vault titles were announced, I was quickly won over once I saw them in the flesh.
Based on this film, the second series of films won’t disappoint either.
Everything comes presented in a large, sturdy box featuring new artwork by fan favourite artists Matt Ferguson and Florey, itself held in a matching, semi-transparent plastic sleeve.
You can click all the images tomorrow to embiggen for more detail…
Upon up the box, and you get a card envelope containing (depending on the film) art cards, behind the scenes photos, character cards, and a poster.
Underneath this is an individually numbered crystal display plaque, and the film discs, held in a CD-sized digipack with its own cardboard sleeve.
Once again, the presentation and packaging is first class. The whole thing feels substantial and weighty, the box is rock solid, and the artwork and overall design of each component is exceptional.
As I said in my review of their first releases, justifying the cost of some premium editions can be hard, and if anything the situation is worse now for many people than it was back then, but in a world of lazy re-issues, with the same old – or worse, badly photoshopped – art, the Film Vault series remains a high quality range that justifies the price.
All 4 Film Vault ‘wave 2’ titles are available to order now.
Released September 4th:
Released October 2nd: