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A.I. Made These Movies Sharper. Critics Say It Ruined Them.

April 13, 20242 Mins Read

Dan Best, the general manager at Park Road Post, acknowledged the debate around remastering movies. “The thing is, technology is changing,” he added. “People are viewing things at a lot higher resolutions at the moment. Therefore, a lot of recent films are being enhanced for these new viewing platforms.” Traditional home video releases were adequate for the days of tube TVs and 1080p video, in other words. But in the era of OLED screens and 4K smart TVs, restorations need a little more to meet increasingly high standards.

Burdick, who has been dealing with this kind of criticism since the “Titanic” days, seemed resigned to the fact that “you can’t please everybody at the end of the day,” though he accepted that the response to these Ultra HD Blu-rays was especially heated. The dissenters, he argued, were mainly just disappointed that “Aliens,” “True Lies” and “The Abyss” no longer look like they did in the VHS or DVD eras.

“People love these movies, which I think is great,” he said. “And they take that love to heart. So when the movie suddenly doesn’t look like they remember it looking, or the way they think they remember it looking, or it just doesn’t look the way they think it should, they get upset. What can you do?”

It doesn’t help that there is a stigma around the technology: Dissenters not only bristle at the appearance of these restorations — they are also unhappy that it is A.I. being used to make them appear that way.

But, Burdick said, that disapproval is based partly on misconception: “People hear, ‘Oh, they’re using A.I.,’ and they’re thinking about pirate ships and the cup of coffee,” — a reference to a recent viral video of a miniature ship sailing in a coffee mug, all generated with A.I. — “and they’re like, ‘What are you doing to it?’ But nobody is doing that to these movies,” he explained. “It’s not the same A.I., conceptually. It’s more like, this piece of negative looks kind of cruddy, and we can use some software to improve it, carefully.”

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