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[VIDEO] The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Blu-ray

[VIDEO] The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Blu-ray

Can you believe this? To this day, I have yet to see a single film in the Twilight series. It’s true. So the trailer above means very little to me. Nor does the release of the Blu-ray disc of the penultimate film, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1. It’ll be on store shelves in a few weeks, which I take to mean that the final installment of the series will be hitting cinemas shortly thereafter. At this point, I think I’m just going to wait ’till this whole things is wrapped up before I dive in and experience sparkling vampires for myself.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I [Blu-ray] (2011)


THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN – PART 1
(February 11, 2012 – MSRP $33.99)
Video: 2.39:1 1080p
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Special Features:

  • 6-PART MAKING-OF DOCUMENTARY
  • WEDDING VIDEO
  • JACOB’S DESTINY
  • EDWARD FAST FORWARD and JACOB FAST FORWARD
  • AUDIO COMMENTARY by director Bill Condon

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Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of November 30

Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of November 30

My head is still buzzing from the Black Friday/Cyber Monday madness! I spent waaaay too much money on Blu-ray discs over the last week (like I really needed more.) I should learn to exert a modicum of self control with these things. Anyway, I think you’ll find this weeks new releases to be a somewhat calm return to normalcy, with a bunch of underwhelming new titles and some surprising catalogue ones. But all in all, nowhere near as crazy as the last month or so of new releases. Dig in!


1. FANTASIA / FANTASIA 2000

Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)


Once again, Disney blows its competition out of the water with this stunning new release of their family-favourite film, Fantasia on Blu-ray – the high-def debut of the studio’s signature collection of animated vignettes set to classical music. Joining Fantasia in this double-feature disc set is its sister film, Fantasia 2000, an aesthetically different but conceptually identical, modern take on the idea.

Both films look incredible and sound nearly perfect on Blu. Fans of the films will enjoy the new special features on the 4-disc set – including the home video premiere of the Disney/Dali team-up, Destino – but might want to hang onto their DVD editions as all the previously available extras are only accessible via BD-Live network connection, not on the discs themselves.

Fantasia

  • DisneyView
  • Audio commentaries
  • Disney Family Museum
  • The Schultheis Notebook: newly discovered document revealing movie secrets
  • Interactive Art Gallery

Fantasia 2000

  • Audio commentaries
  • Destino: 2003 animated short debuting on Blu-ray
  • Dali and Disney – a date with Destino: documentary
  • Musicana: Walt’s inpiration for a sequel
  • BD-Live
    • Disney’s Virtual Vault

Amazon: $28.99


2. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Single-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2010)

Here we are, a good couple of years into the madness that is the Twilight phenomenon and I still haven’t seen a single one of these films. Missed them all in the theatre and missed out on all three as review discs. One of these days, I’ll give the whole series a rent and see what all the hubbub is about. From what I understand from my peers, this third film in the series, Eclipse, is the finest of the bunch. Should I just start watching from here?

The disc contains a Blu-ray exclusive picture-in-picture commentary track, as well as cast and creator commentaries, deleted and extended scenes , a six-part “making of” documentary and some music videos.

Amazon: $24.99


3. SPACE 1999: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE

Space: 1999: The Complete Season One [Blu-ray] (1975)

Have you seen the restoration job on Space 1999? Comparing the stills and watching the promo videos (which you can find in our previous post, here) leaves one with the impression that souls have been sold and miracles have been performed here. These do not look like episodes from a 1970s tv show. I can’t say I was ever a huge fan of the show, myself, but I have friends who swear by it. And who can possibly argue with this premise:

In the year 1999, a spectacular explosion at a lunar nuclear waste dump sends the moon out of Earth’s orbit. In this seminal sci-fi series from producer Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, UFO), the men and women of Moonbase Alpha are suddenly propelled on a treacherous journey across the universe in search of extraordinary new worlds. Left with no way home, the Earthling citizens are forced to embark upon the greatest adventure of their lives, encountering bizarre life forms and strange phenomena as they struggle to survive among the awe-inspiring wonders of outer space.

Amazon: $64.49


4. KILL ZONE

Kill Zone (Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray] (2005)

Dragon Dynasty (a Weinstein label) releases some amazing films, from classic Shaw Brothers fliks from the seventies to modern Hong Kong action extravaganzas. Kill Zone, otherwise known as Sha Po Lang (or Saat Po Long on IMDb) stars Donnie Yen as a valiant cop and Sammo Hung as a violent crime-boss, in a very Woo-inspired city noir tale that exchanges the master’s famous slo-mo gun-play for martial arts and sword-play. The film is fantastic but the Blu-ray fails to impress, as is the standard for DD titles. Wait a while and this will drop in price. It’s a worthy buy for the film alone. Includes commentary track, almost two-hours of interviews and a trailer.

Amazon: $17.99


5. THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo) [Blu-ray] (2010)

Well, this was a toss up. As far as I’m concerned the number five slot this week could have equally be handed to this film, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz action/rom-com Knight and Day or the straight up Drew Barrymore rom-com, Going the Distance. I’m not particularly into any three of these films but I recognize that they’re all major releases from major studios and that they all have their audience. That said, though I’m not a fan of the film, Sorcerer’s Apprentice nudges out the competition by having some genuinely fun action scenes.

Meh.

Amazon: $19.99


ALSO AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY THIS WEEK
Clicking an image will take you to Amazon.com where you can learn more about and purchase the Blu-ray disc:

Knight and Day (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo+ Digital Copy) (2010)Going the Distance (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2010)Vampires Suck (Extended Bite Me Edition) [Blu-ray] (2010)Cairo Time [Blu-ray]



Meet the Parents [Blu-ray] (2000)Meet the Fockers [Blu-ray] (2004)Make-Out with Violence [Blu-ray] (2008)Floored [Blu-ray]



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The Runaways Blu-ray Disc review

The Runaways Blu-ray Disc review

THE RUNAWAYS (2010, Blu-ray released July 20, 2010 – MSRP $34.95 US, $32.99 CAN)

The Runaways [Blu-ray] (2010)Director Floria Sigismondi made me feel weird. The Runaways, her first feature length film after mostly directing music videos, is a rock-biopic that flirts around the end of the ’70s when the titular teenaged all-girl band took over the world of rock and roll. Dakota Fanning stars alongside fellow teen, Kristen Stewart, playing lead guitarist Joan Jett. Casting Fanning as Cherie Currie, the lead singer of the band, was a great idea. Not because she is a good actress (I don’t think she is) but the former child star is fantastic as a sexualized-creepy-teen. Currie ends up being the youngest old-dirtbag ever. One look at old Runaways images in a Google search will confirm that. Stewart is admirable as Jett with her angst-ridden desire to be something other than what she is and Jett the true embodiment of the music she played. Michael Shannon is the sleazeball manager Kim Fowley who keeps spurting out sexist slogans such as “Jail-fucking-bait! Jack-fucking-pot!”, “I wanna see the scratch marks down their fucking backs! Now, do it again. Again. Like your boyfriend just fucked your sister in your parent’s bed.” Judy Blume this is not.

The story line, loosely framed around Currie’s book Neon Angels, plays out like all rock-ographies – how the band met and formed, their early struggles, their rise to stardom, dealing with said stardom, lesbian make out sessions, the drugs, the drugs the drugs and managerial problems (Fowley keeps yelling at the five ladies to think with their cocks – I would have a problem with that too) and the inevitable breakup. Oh, yeah, the ubiquitous Japanese teenage soft-core-porn shoot is in there as well. Isn’t that getting a little old? Obviously poetic license has been used. Viewers who previously knew the band’s tale won’t see the rape, Fowley having sex in front of the band or more of the ambiguous romance between Jett and Currie.

It’s a nice looking film, grainy with well composed shots, that are accurately translated on to the Blu-ray disc. That means, however, that the image isn’t exactly of the slick home-theatre demo disc variety. There is some slight blocking to be seen but otherwise this is a stellar high-definition presentation of Benoît Debie complex photography. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack, on the other hand, is the sound of virtual perfection, highlighting the rock-and-roll music at the centre of the film while providing a solid, enveloping ambiance for environmental effect.

The Runaways comes to Blu-ray with a fairly lackluster collection of supplements including a very, very dry commentary track with the real Joan Jett and actresses Stewart and Fanning. A couple of brief “Making-of” featurettes and some trailers round out the bonus features.

My thoughts are convoluted after viewing the film. Its message about sexism and sexuality felt mixed – is it exploitative or empowering? However, rock’s youthful energy and rebellious spirit overcome that, making it a decent film. It also made me take a closer look at some of the band’s back catalogue: http://amzn.to/bjSTdj

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Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of July 20

Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of July 20

We’re back! You might have noticed a lack of posts in the last few days. Well, we’ve been out west in Winnipeg attending the wedding of our good friends Angie and Tyson (see the incredible photos here: http://kampblog.com) and have just returned back to Montreal. It was a fantastic trip with some really fantastic people. But now we’re back and there’s a shit-ton of Blu-ray news and reviews to catch up on. And since this Top 5 New Release column is now officially a day late, I’ll just blast through most of the commentary and give you a quick overview of all the goodies now on store shelves…


1. THE RED SHOES


This is it. This is the disc I’ve been waiting all year to get my hands on. And after you watch that trailer above and check out the features of Criterion‘s new The Red Shoes Blu-ray disc, if you don’t dash out right away and grab up a copy for yourself…well, there’s nothing more I can do for you. You’re beyond film-fan hope…

Okay, in all seriousness, this release is a landmark one for Criterion, for Blu-ray fanatics and for film fans everywhere. The print used to create this transfer, the restoration work that went into making every perfect detail and colour ring out is absolutely beyond reproach. This is what the format is all about – presenting film as film, as best and true as it can look and sound in a home theatre environment. The Red Shoes is the best thing going this week, potentially this year on Blu.

Special Features:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary by film historian Ian Christie, featuring interviews with stars Marius Goring and Moira Shearer, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, composer Brian Easdale, and filmmaker Martin Scorsese
  • Introductory restoration demonstration with Scorsese
  • Profile of “The Red Shoes” (2000), a twenty-five-minute documentary
  • Video interview with Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, Michael Powell’s widow
  • Gallery from Scorsese’s collection of The Red Shoes memorabilia
  • The “Red Shoes” Sketches, an animated film made from Hein Heckroth’s painted storyboards
  • Readings by actor Jeremy Irons of excerpts from Powell and Pressburger’s novelization of The Red Shoes and the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by Christie

Amazon: $29.49


2. BLACK NARCISSUS

Not satisfied with bringing one truly stunning Powell & Pressburger masterpiece to Blu-ray this week, Criterion has seen fit to unleash the auteur duo’s Black Narcissus on an unsuspecting Blu-ray crowd – another truly gorgeous, colour-rich transfer that will make you fall in love with Blu all over again. This is an amazing time to be film fanatic!

Amazon: $35.99


3. MOTHER

My good pal, Matt Forsythe claims that this is the best film of the year. The best film he’s seen in ages. And though I haven’t had a chance to check it out myself, I hold his opinion in such high regard that I’m willing to take a chance on Bong Joon-ho‘s (The Host) Mother – a noir-ish South Korean thriller where a downtrodden mother is tasked to exonerate her mentally challenged son of a murder he didn’t commit.

Amazon: $26.49


4. THE RUNAWAYS

Chris has got a Runaways review coming up for us shortly here in The Blu-ray Blog. It’s director Floria Sigismondi‘s stylish take on the early career of rocker Joan Jett and her pre-solo career band with band-mate Cherie Curry. The disc features a commentary track with Jett and lead actors Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.

Amazon: $19.99


5. THE LOSERS

I’m not sure why The Losers didn’t do better box office. It’s the kind of fun popcorn-y film that audiences generally eat up. Based on the popular DC Comics book featuring some amazing art by illustrator Jock, the film adaptation plays as an entertaining alternative to this summers A-Team, with which it shares a great deal of concept and plot. A great cast and lots of action make this a sure bet for summer movie fun.

Amazon: $19.99


ANIME OF THE WEEK:
RIN – DAUGHTERS OF MNEMOSYNE: THE COMPLETE SERIES

The twisted Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne: The Complete Series Blu-ray boxed set is another collection of extremely imaginative anime from FUNimation, this time with an adult angle. Rin follows the story of an immortal detective who is perpetually and literally dying to solve mysteries. There’s a lot of blood, gore, nudity, torture, alcohol…generally, a lot of nasty stuff you want to keep from the eyes of the innocents. To be honest, it’s not my thing. Rin feels like it’s pandering to that demographic of the comic-store crowd who enjoy a healthy dose of sadistic misogyny in their animated fantasies. It’s got some nice ideas and some great visuals but ultimately leaves me cold.

The Blu-ray is another decent upconvert from FUNimation, appearing quite detailed, with solid colours and deep blacks. It’s not native HD so you’ll notice some aliasing and stair-stepping in the line-work but keep in mind, this is most likely the finest presentation that Rin will ever see on home video.

With two impressive lossless audio tracks (Japanese and English) and a handful of decent extras, Rin puts in a solid showing on Blu, even if the content isn’t for everyone.

Amazon: $34.99


ALSO AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY THIS WEEK
Clicking an image will take you to Amazon.com where you can learn more about and purchase the Blu-ray disc:

Cop Out (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2010)Galaxy Of Terror (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) [Blu-ray] (1981)Forbidden World (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) [Blu-ray] (1982)Being Human: Season 1 [Blu-ray]



Tin Man [Blu-ray]Cats & Dogs [Blu-ray]Evil Aliens (Unrated & Theatrical Edition) [Blu-ray] (2005)Legends of the Dark Kings: Fist of the North Star [Blu-ray] (2010)



Last Chance to See [Blu-ray]Just Another Day [Blu-ray] (2010)Kurokami: The Animation Volume 2 [Blu-ray] (2010)



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Adventureland Blu-ray Disc Review

Adventureland Blu-ray Disc Review

ADVENTURELAND (2009, Blu-ray released August 25, 2009 – MSRP $44.99)

Adventureland Blu-ray DiscI spent three summers working at an amusement park. Two of which I played a Klingon. Yes, that’s right. THAT kind of Klingon. The Star Trek variety. During that time I fell in love with a girl (my boss!), made some incredible friends and had one of the best summers of my life. Adventureland is kind of the story of my life, in a lot of ways. But with significantly less Klingon.

Director Greg Mottola follows up his 2007 hit, Superbad with a less audacious and wantonly comedic (some might say sophomoric) take on youth. Adventureland is…a teen drama? Kind of…I guess…All of the marketing, all of the packaging and everything surrounding this film led me to believe this was going to be another balls-to-the-wall dirty-ass fun fest. Instead, Mottola delivers a fairly sensitive and honest portrayal of his own youth and a summer spent working at an amusement park and falling in love. Man, this is a actually a pretty great movie! Far from perfect but thoroughly enjoyable. And not the kind of film I was expecting to see at all, I have to admit.

Newsflash – Adventureland is NOT a comedy! I mean, it has comedic moments, don’t get me wrong. SNL alums Bill Hader (genius!) and Kristen Wiig (also genius!) play supporting roles as park managers (or maybe the owners? I was never quite clear on that one…) so you know that there are moments that bring the funny. But where this thing really shines is when it decides to be genuine. When it lingers on the nuanced character moments. The comedy bits are all fine and good but I find myself more strongly fixated on the drama here. You know, the awkward moments common to young people struggling to make some money while winning friends and maintaining dignity at a crappy summer job.

Perhaps I just found myself relating strongly to the characters because of…well, you know…the Klingon thing…Either way, it’s a nice blend of styles – comedy and teen drama – that doesn’t always work but manages to maintain a certain charm throughout.

I’ve got to mention the music here. What an amazing soundtrack! All original music in the film is written by Yo La Tengo and supplemented by an incredible selection of random 80s tunes and a bucketload of Lou Reed, who provides one of the films running gags. Worth the price of the disc on its own.

Speaking of the Blu-ray disc, Adventureland looks quite good for a low-budget indie teen-dramedy. Again, like the story, the transfer is a mixed bag. Contrast can fluctuate but black levels are quite deep and seem stable. Colours are generally accurate. It’s not bad. Really nice to look at. It won’t win any awards but I loved it.

The special features are, again…say it with me…A MIXED BAG! Yeah, there’s a lot to like here but some of it honestly felt like filler. The three Blu-ray exclusive featurettes are entertaining but don’t carry much weight. I felt like the “Adventureland Commercials” were doing their best to replicate the style of Kristen Wiig’s fake ads on SNL but, unlike her TV work these spots didn’t make me laugh. It’s weird. I don’t quite get it. It seemed like they did everything right. Maybe they were just trying too hard. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood.

The director and star (Jesse Eisenberg) commentary is the real winner among the extras. These two guys chat like they’re best pals! They have a lot to say about the film and while the conversation is not always illuminating, the commentary provides a great, informal listen. A “making-of” doc, some deleted scenes (with commentary!) and a feature that allows you to skip to your favourite tunes throughout the film are also included.

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