Blu-ray disc news, reviews, opinions and deals. Everything that's fit to print about the world's favourite HD format!

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Disc Review $99.98

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Disc Review

Author
  • THE FILMS
  • VIDEO
  • AUDIO
  • EXTRAS

INDIANA JONES: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES
(1981-2008, Blu-ray released September 18, 2012 – MSRP $99.98)

THE FILMS:

    From the award-winning duo of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, experience every heart-pounding thrill like never before with “Indiana Jones(TM): The Complete Adventures” on Blu-ray! For the first time ever, all four unforgettable films are offered together on Blu-ray, featuring brilliant high definition picture quality and 5.1 audio presentation. This five-disc collection boasts fully color corrected digital master versions of “The Temple of Doom” and “The Last Crusade”, and the highly anticipated frame-by-frame full restoration of “The Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Dive into the unforgettable adventures and spectacular action of the Academy Award(R)-winning “Indiana Jones” series with hours of special features including new content created exclusively for this release. Only one name defines the ultimate hero… only one format delivers the ultimate experience! Includes: “Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark”, “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom”, “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade”, and “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull”.
Full Review
Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of August 2

Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of August 2

GAK! It’s almost Wednesday and I’m just getting around to publishing the list of new Blu-ray releases. There’s no real stand-out disc this week but there are a lot of very watchable films and some really great catalogue releases. Of note, and not in the list of Top discs this week, are individual releases of the other two “Man with No Name” Sergio Leone films (Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More) and the three Spy Kids movies. Good times.

As always, clicking the Blu-ray package art will zip you over to Amazon where every purchase you make through our links helps the site stay on its feet. We appreciate every single click and thank you again for continuing to read The Blu-ray Blog.


1. RIO

Rio (Blu-ray/ DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)


    Feel the rhythm…hear the beat…and let your spirit soar with this 4-Disc Edition of “Rio” – with more music, more dancing and more fun for the whole family! This high-flying animated comedy from the makers of “Ice Age” features an all-star cast that includes the voice talents of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, George Lopez and Jamie Foxx. Blu (Eisenberg) is a rare domesticated macaw who believes he’s the last of his kind. But when his owner learns about Jewel (Hathaway), Blu’s female counterpart in Rio de Janeiro, they set out on the adventure of a lifetime. Even though he’s never learned to fly, Blu befriends a group of wise-cracking, smooth-talking city birds who help him find the courage to spread his wings and follow his destiny.

If you didn’t know better, you could easily be fooled into thinking Rio was the newest CGI animated Pixar release, what with it’s strong sense of design and reasonably funny (even to adults), smart script. But this charming little fish-out-of-water tale comes to us courtesy of Fox and they’ve done a bang-up job here. While the story itself is terribly predictable, the gags are fresh and fun and, along with a bright cast who really deliver (seriously, Eisenberg could be the new everyman of voice actors and don’t get me started on the juice that Tracey Morgan brings to the party), keep Rio as entertaining as a night at Carnival. Speaking of which, could the creators of the film have chosen a better location to highlight? The city comes alive in a somewhat idealized, colourful rendition of Rio’s most famous time of year, highlighting the grand spectacle of the floats, costumes and parades of Carnival to great effect. Bossa Nova sounds play a big part in the film (they should, with Sergio Mendes on board as Executive Music Producer) and often call to mind the famous songs and sounds of the celebration captured in Marcel CamusBlack Orpheus. This is a great looking, extremely entertaining family film.

Rio not only looks spectacular in it’s design but also in it’s digital-to-digital Blu-ray transfer. This is a reference quality disc, near perfection, that you can proudly use to show off your new HD screen. Prepare to be blinded by the most radiant colours you’ve ever seen from a Blu-ray disc. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 equals the image presentation, with a soundtrack that can rival the best of them. Bonus features are plentiful but provide less insight into the filmmaking process than fans will ultimately desire. The 10-minute “The Real Rio“, a look around the locations that inspired the film, and 13-minute “Sounds of Brazil“, interviews with Mendes and the crew regarding the music of Rio, are certainly worth checking out, though, even if you normally give extras a pass.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Explore the World of Rio – Beach, Jungle, City, Stadium
  • Blu Shows the Way – Introduction
  • Boom-Boom Tish Tish: The Sounds of Rio featurette
  • The Making of Hot Wings featurette
  • Saving the Species: One Voice at a Time featurette
  • The Real Rio featurette
  • “Welcome to Rio” Music Video
  • Deleted Scene: “Fruit Stand”
  • Postcards from Rio featurette
  • Carnival Dance O Rama – Intro, Blu, Jewel, Luiz, Monkeys, Nico and Pedro, Raphael, Samba Line
  • Rio de JAM-eiro Jukebox
  • Taio Cruz – “Telling the World” Music Video
  • Angry Birds Rio – Trailer
  • Angry Birds Rio – Nigel Mash Up
  • Angry Birds Rio – Instructional Video
  • Live Lookup Powered By IMDB

AMAZON: $25.99


2. CONAN THE BARBARIAN and CONAN THE DESTROYER

Conan the Barbarian [Blu-ray] (1982)Conan the Destroyer [Blu-ray] (1984)


CROM!! Just in time to promote the release of the new Conan the Barbarian film, Universal is releasing the original pair of Conan films from the ’80s, both starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his best and most appropriate roles. I haven’t seen either disc (that’s right, still no screener love on the Universal front) but my love for John Milius‘ brilliant, original Conan the Barbarian will see me upgrading to the Blu-ray, which carries over all the previously available special features. I may even pick up the sub-standard, PG-rated Conan the Destroyer, which I’ve avoided watching since my initial letdown with the film way back when it was released. Yes, I’m that old…

AMAZON: $20.24 each


3. THE NAME OF THE ROSE

The Name of the Rose [Blu-ray]

    The Name of the Rose” is a gothic medieval mystery thriller set in a 14th-century Italian monastery. Franciscan monk William of Baskerville (Sean Connery) and a young novice (Christian Slater) arrive for a conference to find that several monks have been murdered in mysterious circumstances. To solve the crimes, William must rise up against the Church authority and fight the shadowy conspiracy of monastery monks using only his wit and intelligence.

I hate to say it but the only element of The Name of the Rose that stuck with me from my pre-teen viewing of the film is the sex scene – a very young Christian Slater being stripped of his novice’s robes and getting it on with some random village girl, who can barely rub two intelligible syllables together, but who knows her way around a naked body. I guess fixating on the nudie bits is to be expected at that age. To be fair, though, I recall clearly enjoying the mystery and the general gothic dreariness of the mysterious thirteenth-century abbey that provides the setting of the 1986 film. There’s so much more to The Name of the Rose than meets the eye. It’s Sherlock Holmes by way of The Da Vinci Code (Umberto Eco wrote Rose long before Dan Brown had conceived of Code but you get the point), wrapped in some of the grimiest, most authentic-looking production design this side of a Ridley Scott film. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud keeps things dark, both in his shooting style and in adapting the tone of the book. The script is dense, layered with historical fact, literary allusions and theological philosophizing but not to the extent that it compromises the thrill of following along in William of Baskerville’s investigations. Great stuff!

As I said, The Name of the Rose is a dark, dreary film and it shows in this honest, film-like transfer of Warner‘s new Blu-ray disc. You’ll never demo the power of your new HDTV to pals using this bad boy but it really looks great, considering how it was shot. Moody, soft images don’t exactly pop off the screen in 1080p but they do look like film and appear untouched by digital nastiness. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid but, without any of the bombast of modern soundtracks, doesn’t offer any ‘wow’ factor.

Extras aren’t as plentiful as a full-on Special Edition might provide, but there’s some nice stuff to be found on the disc. Annaud offers two commentary tracks here, one in English, the other in French both loaded with facts and production info. There’s also a German television “making-of” that runs almost 45-minutes in length. The disc is rounded out with a “Photo Video Journey” and the theatrical trailer.

AMAZON: $13.99


4. SLEEPERS

Sleepers [Blu-ray] (1996)

    The judicial system is supposed to protect them. But when a youthful prank in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen spins out of control, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Sentenced to the Wilkinson School for Boys, four pals are mistreated at will by a cadre of sadistic guards. Now, 15 years later, they have an unexpected opportunity to use that system – for revenge. Friendship. Loyalty. Retribution. The powerful themes and startling events of the controversial bestseller come to the screen in the electrifying thriller “Sleepers“, written for the screen and directed by Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”, “Disclosure”). Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Bruno Kirby, Jason Patric and Brad Pitt headline the ensemble of the compelling movie that “reminds us what superb acting is all about” (Pat Collins, WWOR-TV). From its telltale opening lines to its stunning courtroom climax, “Sleepers” is spellbinding entertainment. With a vengeance.

Oh man, I had forgotten what a great movie Sleepers is until watching it again on this new Blu-ray disc. This might just be my favourite Levinson film. The story, adapted from the real-life inspired novel by Lorenzo Carcaterra, is a harrowing one of friendship that’s stronger than evil, time or the US judicial system. It moves from from the ’60s, when the four youths at the centre of the tale are incarcerated in a home for boys where they’re raped and tortured over a year and a half, all the way to the ’80s, where it turns into something of a courtroom drama. Both halves are equally compelling, with excellent performances given from all the cast, both young and old. Sleepers is two and half hours well spent.

Warner packs the film onto a single layer disc that can barely contain it. The encode literally couldn’t be any more economic, sporting a fine transfer that’s rich and film-like, that gobbles up every spare bit and byte it can grab. Contrast seems to waver at times but skin tones are accurate and colours vivid. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound track is clean and clear with a nice dynamic representation of John Williams‘ very uncommon (for Williams) but largely effective score. As the feature takes up most of the disc space, the only bonus goodie on the Blu-ray is a trailer, presented in standard-def no less!

AMAZON: $14.99


5. STAKE LAND

Stake Land [Blu-ray]

    America is a lost nation. When an epidemic of vampirism strikes, humans find themselves on the run from vicious, feral beasts. Cities are tombs and survivors cling together in rural pockets, fearful of nightfall. When his family is slaughtered, young Martin (“Gossip Girl’s” Connor Paolo) is taken under the wing of a grizzled, wayward hunter (“In the Cut’s” Nick Damici) whose new prey are the undead. Simply known as Mister, the vampire stalker takes Martin on a journey through the locked-down towns of America’s hearland, searching for a better place while taking down any bloodsuckers that cross their path. Along the way they recruit fellow travelers, including a nun (Kelly McGillis) who is caught in a crisis of faith when her followers turn into ravenous beasts. This ragtag family unit cautiously moves north, avoiding major thoroughfares that have been seized by The Brethren, a fundamentalist militia headed by Jebedia Loven (Tony award-winning actor Michael Cerveris) that interprets the plague as the Lord’s work.

I wasn’t expecting this little gem! Stake Land, a modest vampire-apocalypse film on a tight budget, sure is one hell of a ride. Granted, the vampires here are treated more along the lines of your traditional, mindless, hungry zombie. And the action is somewhat predictable and repetitive. But there’s a unique balance of character, action and tone that keeps it all from feeling too rote. In particular, I found the score by composer Jeff Grace to be a non-traditional choice – often soft and graceful, where most survival-horror films would crank a Fender strat with overdrive. The quiet moments really make you feel like the film is in the hands of an accomplished, self assured director with a vision, instead of the many modern grindhouse splatter auteurs usually responsible for this sort of direct to home video fare. This one might appear a pale imitation of Zombieland on the surface, but it’s only the similarity of title and setup (elder-guardian/younger-pupil protagonists versus the undead) that that these two films share with one another. There’s little to laugh at in Stake Land but there are plenty of fangs and scares to hold your interest through its modest runtime.

Stake Land looks surprisingly slick on Blu-ray considering its low-budget origins. This detailed, vibrant presentation is clear evidence of what the RED camera is capable of in the right hands, even without much a budget to speak of. Blacks are solid and colours seem accurate across the board. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is well-balanced but powerful, with clean and clear dialogue, thumping lows and active surround channels.

The disc is packed with special features that’ll take you quite a few hours to comb through. There are a pair of audio commentaries – one focused on the creative with the writer/director Jim Mickle, writer/star Nick Damici, co-star Connor Paolo, and producers Larry Fessenden and Brent Kunkle and one dealing with more technical aspects of the production with Mickle, producers Peter Phok and Adam Folk, cinematographer Ryan Samul, composer Jeff Grace, and sound designer Graham Reznick. Both are worth a listen for those keen on the film or film production. Those looking for a more jovial, easy listen are recommended to hit up the cast track. It’s a little more fun. If commentary tracks aren’t your thing, there’s an hour-long “making-of” doc and a ton of production diaries to give you peek into the secrets of the production. There are also seven short films on the disc called “Character Prequels” that offer an extended look at the people and plot of the film. The disc is rounded out with the theatrical trailer.

NOTE: I reviewed the eOne Films edition of Stake Land. The Dark Sky Films edition in the US is most likely identical.

AMAZON: CDN$23.12, US $13.49


6. EASTBOUND & DOWN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASONand THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

Eastbound & Down: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] (2010)


    Former Major League pitcher Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) used to have it all: fame, endorsements and a lucrative contract. Now, after hard living took its toll on his fastball, Kenny has found himself crashing with his brother’s family and teaching gym class at a North Carolina middle school he once attended. Wherever he goes, Kenny wreaks havoc with his boorish behavior and even makes a pre-emptive romantic strike on his former high school squeeze, now a teacher engaged to the school principal. Out of baseball, and discarded by the game he abused so well, can Kenny succeed in his plot to triumphantly return to the big leagues?

Argh! This is frustrating. I was sent a review copy of the Eastbound & Down: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray set this past week and have been hustling to get my hands on the first ever since, to no avail. As a result, I’ve yet to see a single episode. But our own Chris Tucker (the Blu-ray reviewer not the actor) assures me that it belongs in the list of Top Blu-ray discs this week. In fact, he claims it should be in the Number One slot! I don’t know about the show itself, but being an HBO Blu-ray disc set, I have no doubt about the quality of the presentation of the episodes. Like every single one of the studio’s releases, this one will no doubt look and sound great. Bonus features on the Second Season set include “Invitation to the Set“, “Big Red Cockfighting“, deleted scenes, outtakes and audio commentaries.

UPDATE: Eastbound & Down: The Complete First Season now in hand! Let the viewing and reviewing begin!!

AMAZON: $26.99, $21.49


7. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN

Magnificent Seven [Blu-ray] (1960)Return of Magnificent Seven [Blu-ray] (1966)


    Spectacular gun battles, epic-sized heroes and an all-star cast that includes Academy Award winners Yul Brynner and James Coburn, together with Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach and Charles Bronson, make The Magnificent Seven a legend among westerns. Spawning three sequels and a successful television series, and featuring Elmer Bernstein‘s Oscar-nominated score, this stunning remake of The Seven Samurai is “a hard-pounding adventure” (Newsweek) and “an enduringly popular” (Leonard Maltin) cinematic classic. Merciless Calvera (Wallach) and his band of ruthless outlaws are terrorizing a poor Mexican village, and even the bravest lawmen can’t stop them. Desperate, the locals hire Chris Adams (Brynner) and six other gunfighters to defend them. With time running out before Calvera’s next raid, the heroic seven must prepare the villagers for battle and help them find the courage to take back their town or die trying!

Just look at that cast – Yul Brynner, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach and Charles Bronson. The Magnificent Seven, a western remake of Akira Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai, is an unadulterated classic of the genre and has appeared already on Blu-ray in the 4-disc The Magnificent Seven Collection released last May. If you were able to spy a copy, you’ll recall that most of the films looked pretty great without much digital tampering. Sadly, there also isn’t any hint of restoration performed on the films. You’ll note the odd bit scratch and fleck here and there but there’s nothing offensive. It’s just a shame that the first film, the original, hasn’t had some work put into it, considering its standing amongst westerns and in film history. Audio is presented in impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks and will surprise you in their clarity and depth.

Fox and MGM are making the first two Magnificent Seven films available outside of the boxed set today, for the very first time. The discs echo the versions in the boxed set, with The Magnificent Seven including extras such as a commentary track by producer Walter Mirisch, assistant director Robert Relyea, and actors James Coburn and Eli Wallach, a 45-minute “making-of” doc, the short docs “The Linen Book: Lost Images from The Magnificent Seven ” and “Elmer Bernstein and the Magnificent Seven” clocking in at around 15-minutes each, a couple of trailers and stills gallery. Return of the Magnificent Seven features only the theatrical trailer.

AMAZON: $12.99 each


8. FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF: BUELLER…BUELLER…EDITION

Ferris Bueller's Day Off [Blu-ray]

    “Bueller… Bueller…?” Sorry, not here! Instead, high-schooler Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara), and his best bud Cameron (Alan Ruck) are off on the spontaneous romp through Chicago known as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” You’ll also enjoy righteous bonus materials that give you an insider’s peek at this hilarious comedy hit from John Hughes (“Planes, Trains & Automobiles”, “Sixteen Candles”). So, barf up a lung, forge a “sick note” from the parents, and tag along on the funniest adventure to ever sweep through the Windy City. What are you still doing here? Save Ferris.

Well, I’m not quite too sure about this one. I mean, I love love love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Who Doesn’t?! It’s one of the John Hughes classics from ’80s. It might be THE Hughes classic. The film most people think of when you say John Hughes (In my family, that film would actually be Sixteen Candles, but that’s another story all together.) But I don’t quite get this new Blu-ray release of the film. You see, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off has been on Blu for over two years now and, aside from the new package-sleeve on this updated “Bueller…Bueller…Edition” of the disc (a sleeve that opens up to reveal a map of locations relevant to Ferris’ hijinks), I can’t see any difference. These things are the same, as far as I can tell. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, both the original pressing and this new release share the same very fine transfer and surprisingly robust Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track. They also share the same collection of special features that falls short of perfection. I’m gathering that this new disc is being released to mark the films 25th Anniversary and as such, I feel it’s a shame that further special features weren’t added. In particular, I really wish there was a commentary track on this thing. I know we’ll never have a Hughes track (the director passed away two years ago this week) but one with the cast would be fun.

But I’m picking nits here. This is a good, solid disc that every fan should have in their collection. If you don’t already own the previously released disc, this one is a safe bet.

AMAZON: CDN$ 15.25

ALSO AVAILABLE: BETTER OFF DEAD

Better Off Dead [Blu-ray] (1985)


“I WANT MY TWO DOLLARS!!” I haven’t seen this film since I was a kid but I used to LOVE it. Bring on the Blu-ray!!

AMAZON: $16.99


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:

Soul Surfer (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2011)Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 5 [Blu-ray] (2011)Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts Season One (Limited Edition) DVD/Blu-ray ComboCopycat [Blu-ray] (1995)



The Final Destination [Blu-ray 3D] (2009)Sands of the Kalahari [Blu-ray] (1965)The Perfect Game [Blu-ray] (2009)Zen: Vendetta / Cabal / Ratking [Blu-ray]



For a Few Dollars More [Blu-ray] (1965)Fistful of Dollars [Blu-ray] (1964)Exporting Raymond [Blu-ray] (2011)Casshern Sins: Complete Series (DVD/Blu-ray Combo)



Spy Kids [Blu-ray + Digital Copy] (2001)Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams [Blu-ray + Digital Copy] (2002)Spy Kids 3: Game Over [Blu-ray + Digital Copy] (2003)Outside the Law [Blu-ray] (2010)



Read More
Top 10 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of June 7

Top 10 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of June 7

It’s another wallet-emptier this week with Warner pulling out all the stops and unleashing a crap-load of must-own Blu-ray titles, including a very highly anticipated superhero boxed set.

As always, clicking the Blu-ray package art will zip you over to Amazon where every purchase you make through our links helps the site stay on its feet. We appreciate every single click and thank you again for continuing to read The Blu-ray Blog.


1. SUPERMAN: THE MOTION PICTURE ANTHOLOGY

Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology (1978-2006) [Blu-ray]


    Soar to New Hi-Def Heights with the Complete Movie Collection in Breathtaking Blu-ray Clarity and Sound! Deluxe 8-disc set with over 20 hours of bonus features!

    Includes:
    Superman The Movie
    Superman The Movie: Expanded Edition
    Superman II
    Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
    Superman III
    Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
    Superman Returns

This is damn near the Superman boxed set I’ve been waiting for! Ever since Superman Returns was released on home video I’ve been waiting for something special. As much as I wanted to pick that film up to view in the comfort of my own home, I held off, knowing I would one day have it in an HD format. But it was damn tempting to purchase that 14-disc Ultimate Collectors Edition DVD tin. That was everything I was looking for – all the films, supplements AND the Fleischer brothers’ cartoons – right there in one convenient package. Tough as it was, though, I held off, waiting for the eventual release of the same content in HD. Well, that day has finally come. And the Blu-ray boxed set is so close to being everything I was hoping for.

All the content is there. All five films – two versions each of Superman and Superman II. All the deleted scenes. The commentary tracks. The documentaries. Everything – and I mean everything – has been carried over from the DVDs. There’s even some new stuff to be found here – some new documentary features and the original, never-before-seen opening of Superman Returns. And, for the most part, everything looks great in HD, with even the previously available original film receiving a brand spanking new transfer that provides it a slight visual uptick from the old disc.

My only real gripe with this whole, beautiful boxed set is that Warner didn’t take this opportunity to upgrade the classic Fleischer cartoons to HD. A criminal oversight, if you ask me. Look, I get it. It’s all about disc space and price point, right? In order to fit all 17 shorts onto one of these discs in anything other than super-compressed standard def the primary feature would take a bitrate hit. Which is actually unacceptable. And to include them on an additional ninth disc would alter the packaging and add cost to the already pricey set. Most likely pushing it beyond a price point the studio deems acceptable. What they might not realize, however, is that those cartoons are far more coveted by fans and collectors than any and all of the docs, featurettes and special features in the set. I would easily have sacrificed the content of the eighth disc in the box – the disc of bonus material – to have the cartoons presented in 1080p (a cruel tease of which can be seen in the HD docs provided on said disc).

Nevertheless, despite my singular issue with the Blu-ray set (and the questionable quality of the third and fourth Christopher Reeve films included within – not the Blu-ray discs, mind you, which are quite handsome, but the nigh-unwatchable films themselves), this is a killer offering from Warner. And most definitely highly recommended. Now we only need sit and wait a time longer for the studio to release those Fleischer cartoons on their own individual special edition Blu-ray. You’ll excuse me, though, if I don’t hold my breath.

FULL 8-DISC SET DETAILS: 8-Disc The Superman Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray box set for June

AMAZON: $89.99


2. TRUE GRIT

True Grit (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2010)

    True Grit is a powerful story of vengeance and valor set in an unforgiving and unpredictable frontier where justice is simple and mercy is rare. Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), is determined to avenge her father’s blood by capturing Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who shot and killed him for two pieces of gold. Just fourteen, she enlists the help of Rooster Cogburn (Academy Award® Winner Jeff Bridges), a one-eyed, trigger-happy U.S. Marshall with an affinity for drinking and hardened Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Academy Award® Winner Matt Damon) to track the fleeing Chaney. Despite their differences, their ruthless determination leads them on a perilous adventure that can only have one outcome: retribution.

I don’t think I have to tell you, at this point, that the Coen brothers‘ remake/adaptation of True Grit is one of the finest films of the last year. I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz. Or have seen the award shows. But if you weren’t fortunate enough to catch the film during its theatrical run, allow me to recommend this Blu-ray disc as a blind-buy. Yeah, it’s that great.

Following the original John Wayne film and the Charles Portis book nearly note-for-note, the Coen’s do a remarkable job making the film their own. Character arcs remain the same but it’s the nuance, the pacing and style that have undergone a modern, quirky overhaul. For the better, I might add. I love the old film but this one just feels so fresh and vibrant. And it doesn’t hurt that the performances are spectacular across the board. Bridges ably stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Wayne’s Oscar winning performance, mumbling and fumbling through the manhunt alongside the remarkable, young Steinfeld. Damon eclipses Glen Campbell‘s clean-cut Texas Ranger here, but to be fair, the script gives him a lot more to play with.

Roger Deacons‘ stunning photography (and my God, it is stunning here) is perfectly reproduced on the Blu-ray. This is a demo-quality disc. It’s gorgeous. Colour, detail and contrast and spot on and there’s a nice sheen of film grain to keep it all feeling real. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 is also beyond reproach, representing the full dynamic range of the soundtrack and Carter Burwell‘s very fine score while providing ample environmental ambiance. Again, this is your new demo disc. Awesome!

If I’m to take issue with the disc at all, I’d take aim at the somewhat paltry helping of special features it offers up. I mean, the featurettes on the disc are just fine and dandy, don’t get me wrong. They cover most aspects of production but are hobbled by the same element missing from all Coen brothers’ home video releases – the Coen brothers themselves. It’s tough to really get the full picture of how the production was put together without the cooperation of the driving creatives forces behind it and without them, the extras suffer. As I said, the featurettes are good unto themselves, but just not quite comprehensive enough.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Mattie’s True Grit
  • From Bustles to Buckskin—Dressing for the 1880s
  • Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western (BD-exclusive)
  • Re-Creating Fort Smith
  • The Cast
  • Charles Portis—The Greatest Writer You’ve Never Heard Of… (BD-exclusive)
  • The Cinematography of True Grit (BD-exclusive)
  • Theatrical Trailer (BD-exclusive)

AMAZON: $17.99


3. ANOTHER YEAR

Another Year (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2010)

    From seven-time Oscar(R) nominee Mike Leigh comes this critically acclaimed slice of life starring Academy Award(R) winner Jim Broadbent (Best Supporting Actor, “Iris”, 2001), Lesley Manville and Ruth Sheen. A happy couple for over thirty years, Tom (Broadbent) and Gerri (Sheen) act as a steady anchor to their unmarried circle of family and friends. But as the seasons change and another year passes, Tom and Gerri’s support is put to the test in this masterful look at life, love and the meaning of friendship.

Argh. This is a tough one for me. Even though I’ve yet to see Another Year I’m awarding it the number three spot this week on the basis of it creative personnel behind the film and the studio releasing the disc. Mike Leigh makes great movies. Often, he makes perfect movies. Did you see Topsy Turvy? Perfect. And Naked. Perfect. How about Secrets and Lies or Vera Drake? You get it. In terms of the Blu-ray disc itself, I expect nothing short of the perfection that Sony is generally known for in their transfers. In short, I have little doubt that this will be a great film that looks and sounds fantastic on Blu. Speaking of blind-buys, this is one for me.

AMAZON: $26.99


4. THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES

The Outlaw Josey Wales (Blu-ray Book Packaging)

    As The Outlaw Josey Wales, five-time Academy Award winner* Clint Eastwood is ideally cast as a hard-hitting, fast-drawing loner, recalling his “Man with No Name” from his European Westerns. But unlike that other mythic outlaw, Josey Wales has a name – and a heart. After avenging his family’s brutal murder, Wales is on the lam, pursued by a pack of killers. He travels alone, but a ragtag group of outcasts (including Sondra Locke and Chief Dan George) is drawn to him – and Wales can’t leave his motley surrogate family unprotected. Eastwood’s skills behind and in front of the camera connected with audiences for its humor and tenderness as well as its hair-trigger action.

Some folks consider Unforgiven Eastwood’s crowning achievement as a director. Others love The Outlaw Josey Wales. And I think I can count myself among them. Where his later effort meanders and is often guilty of wanton artfulness, Wales gets right to business and stays sharp and honest, as befits the former “Man with No Name”. As fine a job as he delivers in the director’s chair here, Eastwood’s performance is what really sells the picture. He’s never better than when he’s got a gun in his hand a serious grudge to take care of. If you dig stories about cowboys out for revenge, you can’t do much better than this film.

Warner has done a bang up job with this Blu-ray. It looks spectacular, drenched in rich, vivid colour that really does Bruce Surtees‘ photography proud. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds somewhat dated but quite strong, all things considered. A healthy helping of extras are provided, including a new commentary track from Eastwood biographer Richard Schickel, a half-hour ‘making-of’ doc, a brand new half-hour look at Eastwood’s history with the Western genre, the vintage 8-minute ‘Eastwood in Action‘ featurette and the theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray is packaged in a great little 32-page, hardcover digibook.

AMAZON: $24.99


5. THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

The Man Who Would Be King [Blu-ray Book] (1975)

    Based on a Rudyard Kipling story and packed with spectacle, humor, excitement and bold twists of fate, John Huston’s film of The Man Who Would Be King earns its crown as “an epic like no other. One of the screen’s great adventure yarns” (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic). Sean Connery and Michael Caine – chins out, shoulders squared and with a sly wink – star as British sergeants Danny Dravot and Peachy Carnehan. The Empire was built by men like these two. Now they’re out to build their own empire, venturing into remote Kafiristan to become rich as kings.

I love this film. I mean, Connery and Caine starring in an adaptation of a Rudyard Kipling book, directed by John Huston with a score by Maurice Jarre – need I say more? I have the only other version of the film available on disc and it’s a pretty disgusting affair. An old flipper DVD from 1997 that looks soft and messy. I’m so happy to finally be able to ditch it in favour of this HD upgrade. Sadly, Warner has once again given the film the short end of the stick, relegating the lush, lengthy film to a single-layer Blu-ray disc that feels like it’s about to buckle under the epic’s weight. Don’t get me wrong, King has never looked better on home video. And there are moments of true awesome-osity in the image. But just as often, the presentation turns soft, complexions appear waxy and things look a little less like actual film than you’d hope. Nevertheless, this is pleasant transfer from a source that’s most likely far from perfect. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is presented in the original mono and is clear enough though overall quite thin, with evidence of hiss lurking underneath.

Extras are slim and amount to a single 12-minute vintage featurette and the theatrical trailer. Just as Warner’s Josey Wales release, the Blu-ray is packaged in a nice 32-page, hardcover digibook.

AMAZON: $25.99


6. THE STUNT MAN

The Stunt Man [Blu-ray]

    It defied all odds to become the most unexpected and acclaimed cult hit of the ’80s, and it remains one of the most slyly subversive and thrillingly original action/comedy/drama motion pictures of all time. The legendary Peter O’Toole – in his iconic Oscar(R) nominated performance – stars as director Eli Cross, a deliciously megalomaniacal madman commanding a film-set circus where a paranoid young veteran (Steve Railsback) finds himself maybe replacing a dead stunt man, possibly falling for the beautiful leading lady (Barbara Hershey), and discovering that love, death and the mayhem of moviemaking can definitely be the wildest illusions of all. “The Stunt Man” now features a stunning HD transfer supervised by Oscar(R) nominated producer/director Richard Rush, plus new interviews and commentaries with Rush, Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback and Alex Rocco, all in the ultimate edition of the classic that the Los Angeles Times calls “as innovative today as ‘Citizen Kane’ was in its time”.

This cult classic is one of the most exciting releases of the week. I haven’t seen the new Blu-ray yet but I’m certain that Severin have provided it a killer, crystal-clear transfer, as they’re known for delivering. Bonus features are plentiful here, including all extras from the old Anchor Bay DVD and tons of newly created goodies. Check it out!

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary with writer/director Richard Rush and stars Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey, Alex Rocco, Sharon Farrell, & Chuck Bail
  • The Maverick Career Of Richard RushExclusive new featurette
  • Peter O’Toole Recounts The Stunt ManExclusive new featurette
  • Devil’s SquadronExclusive new featurette with Steve Railsback and Alex Rocco
  • Barbara Hershey On Nina FranklinExclusive new featurette
  • The Sinister Saga Of The Making Of The Stunt Man – Feature length documentary by Richard Rush
  • The Stunt Man At The New BeverlyBlu-ray exclusive
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Deleted scenes

READ MORE: Severin bringing The Stunt Man to Blu-ray in June

AMAZON: $19.99


7. ROBIN OF SHERWOOD: SET 1

Robin of Sherwood: Set 1 [Blu-ray]

    The centuries-old legend of Robin Hood was never more vividly brought to life than in this acclaimed British series. Combining real history with elements of magic and mysticism, and set against a backdrop of gritty medieval realism, Robin Of Sherwood has captivated fans of all ages. Heading up the superb ensemble cast are Michael Praed (“Dynasty”) as Robin of Loxley, Ray Winstone (“Sexy Beast”) as seething-mad Scarlet, and Nickolas Grace (“Brideshead Revisited”) as the greedy, conniving Sheriff of Nottingham. Shot entirely on location in English castles and countryside, the authentic atmosphere is enhances by an award-winning soundtrack of haunting melodies by the Irish band Clannad. Includes all 13 episodes in Series 1 & 2.

Blargh! This is my guilty pleasure of the week. I loooooooooved this show as a kid. Used to watch it every weekend on PBS (yeah, we see your US PBS stations up here in Canada…AND WE LOVE THEM!) I still maintain that this presentation of the Robin Hood legend is the definitive one. Nothing can touch it. Despite the excess of weirdo pagan mysticism and the eventual switch-up of the leading actor in the series. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

This first Blu-ray set, encompassing Series One and Two of the show, features all the episodes with original star Michael Praed in the title role. And he rocks! The entire cast is young and fresh and bring more energy and authenticity to the roles than ever before or since (why does Hollywood insist on casting Americans in these roles when Brits are clearly the better choice?!)

The 4-disc set (3 Blu-ray discs and 1 DVD of extras) ports over all the goodies from the previously available boxed set and includes a few new extras and a pretty awesome 40-page book. The only issues here are in the high-def presentations themselves. As noted on the packaging itself, the transfers are culled from the best possible sources but are subject to their limitations. And indeed, they’re inconsistent. At their best, they’re a mild (but kind of exciting) improvement from the DVDs, with more detail, deeper blacks and far more vivid colours. At worst, you’ll feel like you’re watching your DVDs again. But I’m happy to report that most episodes look better than not. Sadly, audio is only Dolby Digital. Sigh.

This is still a great set of a classic TV show. If you already own the DVDs, buy with caution. If you don’t, rush out and grab this Blu-ray set. It’s the best Robin Hood you’ll ever see!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL DISC DETAILS AND TRAILER

AMAZON: $59.99


8. GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD KNIGHTS

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)

    SIX LEGENDARY GREEN LANTERNS. SIX INTERLOCKING STORIES.
    ONE GROUNDBREAKING FILM. DISCOVER THE ORIGIN OF THE CORPS.

    With stories by acclaimed writers including Geoff Johns, Alan Burnett and Dave Gibbons, this DC Universe Animated Original Movie explores the rich mythology of the Green Lantern universe through six interlocking chapters. While awaiting a battle with Krona, an ancient enemy of the Guardians of the Universe, Earth’s Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Sinestro and other members of the Green Lantern Corps recount their greatest adventures to new recruit Arisia – everything from tales of the first Lantern to the ominous events that led to the Corps’ Blackest Night! The power-packed voice cast includes Nathan Fillion, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Isaacs, Henry Rollins and Arnold Vosloo.

Just in time to promote the upcoming June 17 release of the big-budget, live-action feature film, Warner releases this animated anthology of Green Lantern tales. And, much like all direct to video DC Comics animated films, it’s a fun little ride. If you’re a fan of the comics, you’ll have a great time watching this. If you have a child who loves superheroes, they’ll get a real kick out of it. Most adults with only a casual interest in the upcoming film, however, will probably find the stories overly involved in a universe they care little about but will enjoy the fairly well animated action sequences.

The Blu-ray disc suffers from the usual core of issues in the DC animated discs – colour banding and slight artifacting. Outside of those niggling distractions, the Blu-ray looks great, with eye popping colours and deep blacks. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is front heavy but full of life and dynamically sound. Bonus features are plentiful but seem more focused on the recent Green Lantern comics and writer (and now Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics) Geoff Johns. I find it strange that the animators and writers of the film itself aren’t as involved in the extras but there you go. At the end of the day, DC cares more about selling you comics than telling you about how the film was put together.

The highlight of the entire disc, for me, is the preview of the next direct to video film – Batman: Year One. Holy crap, this thing looks amazing. Skip the Johns love-fest featurettes and watch the Batman preview over and over again!!

AMAZON: $16.99


9. MGM CATALOGUE TITLES

Posse [Blu-ray] (1993)Hair [Blu-ray] (1979)Long Riders [Blu-ray] (1980)The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert [Blu-ray] (1994)



Vera Cruz [Blu-ray] (1954)Original Sin [Blu-ray] (2001)New York New York [Blu-ray] (1977)Death at a Funeral [Blu-ray] (2007)


This seems to be a regular occurrence every month now – MGM digs deep into their vault and unleashes a torrent of catalogue titles, all on the same day, all sporting honest, no-nonsense transfers that are reasonably film-like and fairly pleasant to watch. I haven’t laid eyes on any of the above but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be picking up Vera Cruz and New York, New York as soon as I can!

AMAZON: Various


10. WARNER 2-MOVIE COLLECTIONS

American History X / A History of Violence [Blu-ray]Wyatt Earp / The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [Blu-ray]Collateral Damage / Eraser [Blu-ray]Firefox / Heartbreak Ridge (2-Movie Collection) [Blu-ray]



Every Which Way But Loose / Any Which Way You Can (2-Movie Collection) [Blu-ray]Scooby-Doo 1 & 2 Collection (Family Double Feature) [Blu-ray]


There’s some pretty decent stuff here, in Warner’s latest batch of double-movie Blu-ray packs. I’ve only inspected the Scooby Doo 1 & 2 set and the Wyatt Earp and Jesse James pack but can confirm that they contain two-discs each – the exact Blu-ray discs previously released by Warner. So really, these are all known commodities – mostly decent to exceptional discs – now available at a 2-for-1 bargain price. How can you go wrong?

AMAZON: Various


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:

Breaking Bad: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray]Just Go with It (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2011)61* [Blu-ray] (2001)Apt Pupil [Blu-ray] (1998)



American: The Bill Hicks Story [Blu-ray]Rome: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]Rome: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray]Shadows and Lies [Blu-ray] (2010)



Blue Crush [Blu-ray] (2011)Blue Crush 2 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)When it Was a Game: The Complete Collection [Blu-ray]Madagascar [Blu-ray]



Happy Gilmore [Blu-ray] (1996)Billy Madison [Blu-ray] (1995)Bulletproof [Blu-ray] (1996)TO (DVD/Blu-ray Combo)



The Company Men [Blu-ray] (2010)Burial Ground [Blu-ray] (1981)The Bridge on the River Kwai [Blu-ray] (1957)Meet Market [Blu-ray] (2008)



Read More
[VIDEO] Highlander 2 Blu-ray Trailer

[VIDEO] Highlander 2 Blu-ray Trailer

Highlander 2 Blu-rayJesus, I hate this movie with a passion. I mean, I’ve actually only seen Highlander 2 once, in the theatre when it was first released but it was so damn unwatchable I’ve never been able to stomach a return to it. But now, in my old age, it’s aroused a morbid curiosity in me that can only be quelled by watching this steaming pile on the up and coming Blu-ray from Lionsgate. To be honest, I think most of my interest in checking out this disc comes from a desire to watch the special features. I’m desperate to hear somebody, anybody involved with the production explain what they were on when they were making it or at least admit how much they screwed up a perfectly good kilt-wearing, head-severing franchise by making all of the sword-swinging immortals come from the planet Zeist. Seriously. Zeist. Zeist-lander. Urgh…

READ MORE: Highlander and Highlander 2 coming to Blu-ray – What’s missing?

Read More
Highlander and Highlander 2 coming to Blu-ray – What’s missing?

Highlander and Highlander 2 coming to Blu-ray – What’s missing?

Once upon a time I wrote an article for The Blu-ray Blog called “Should You Import the Highlander Blu-ray Steelbook from UK, Europe?” Now that Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that they will finally be releasing the first two Highlander films domestically, on this side of the Atlantic, the question has to be asked again.

The HD Room got the scoop and the package art for these two new upcoming releases and while I’m pleased that Highlander will finally be making an appearance in my local optical disc emporium, I’m still considering importing the Blu-ray from overseas. You see, the Lionsgate edition is missing out on all of those great documentary features that can be found on the U.K. and Euro editions of the Blu-ray (with the exception of the 4th part of the documentary, which remains exclusive to German Kinowelt DVD release) and from what I understand, they’re pretty informative and worth owning, clocking in at a run-time of almost 90-minutes when watched together! According to a review of the British disc on Blu-ray.com, the film and all supplemental material are playable on my Region A PS3, which means it’s fair game.

I guess I’ve got some tough, nerdy decision-making ahead of me…



HIGHLANDER
(November 7, 2010 – MSRP $19.99)
Video: 1080p
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Special Features:

  • Director’s cut
  • Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary with director Russell Mulcahy and producers Peter S. Davis and William N. Panzer


HIGHLANDER 2
(November 7, 2010 – MSRP $19.99)
Video: 1080p
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Special Features:

  • Enhanced and re-imagined visual effectsFour featurettes
  • Alternate ending
  • Original Cannes film festival promotion reel
  • Original theatrical trailer

Read More