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Frankenweenie Blu-ray Disc Review $49.99

Frankenweenie Blu-ray Disc Review

Author
  • THE FILM
  • VIDEO
  • AUDIO
  • EXTRAS

FRANKENWEENIE
(2012, Blu-ray released January 8, 2013 – MSRP $39.99)

THE FILM:

    From Disney and creative genius Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare Before Christmas) comes the hilarious and offbeat Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life – with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town learn that getting a new ‘leash on life’ can be monstrous. Complete with electrifying bonus features, Frankenweenie is alive with enchanting fun for the whole family in eye-popping Blu-ray 3D.
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Dark Shadows Blu-ray Disc Review $35.99

Dark Shadows Blu-ray Disc Review

Author
  • THE FILM
  • VIDEO
  • AUDIO
  • EXTRAS

DARK SHADOWS
(2012, Blu-ray released October 2, 2012 – MSRP $35.99)

THE FILM:

    From the wonderfully warped imagination of Tim Burton comes the story of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), a dashing aristocrat who is turned into a vampire by a jilted lover and entombed for two centuries. Emerging from his coffin into the world of 1972, he returns to his once-majestic home, only to the few dysfunctional descendants of the Collins family who remain. Determined to return his family name to its former glory, Barnabas is thwarted at every turn by his former lover – the seductive witch Angelique (Eva Green) – in this wildly imaginative” (Sam Hallenbeck, NBC-TV adventure).
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The 83rd Oscar Winners on Blu-ray

The 83rd Oscar Winners on Blu-ray

I can’t believe I actually sat through the entire Oscar ceremony this year. Urgh. So awkward. So time consuming. I could’ve spent those wasted hours calibrating my projector, or working on that screenplay I’m always going on about or brushing my teeth or something. Anyway, it wasn’t actually all that painful as, at its core, it’s a celebration of the movies. And we all love the movies, right? More importantly, we all love watching said movies, looking and sounding great on Blu-ray in the comfort of our own homes. Thankfully, most of the winning films are already available on Blu and those that aren’t show signs of turning up in stores soon.

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Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of September 7

Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of September 7

All right, this week is completely out of control! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many quality titles released at one time. Especially by a single studio! Warner Home Video must be trying their best to set a record here! They alone have something like twelve or thirteen titles newly available today. Have the holidays come early or something? Crap. I can’t afford all these discs…


1. FORBIDDEN PLANET

Forbidden Planet Blu-ray


Ten years before Star Trek would revolutionize space-man storytelling on the boob-tube and more than twenty-years before George Lucas‘ swashbuckling laser-sword saga took movie-goers by storm, Fred McLeod Wilcox‘s Cinemascope epic, Forbidden Planet hit the big screen and changed the face of celluloid science-fiction forever.

A modern genre-bending re-telling of Shakespeare‘s The Tempest, Forbidden Planet is a unique film to have been released during the b-movie era of the 50s. It takes its premise quite seriously, presenting the story of the crew of the lost space craft, Bellerephon and the team who are sent to recover them. Leslie Nielsen, most well known for his comic roles, leads a cast that features heavyweights such as Anne Francis, the incredible Walter Pidgeon and, the most famous member of the cast, Robby the Robot!

The wonderful cinematography is well represented in this detailed and vibrant high-def presentation. It really looks much better than you’d expect a film of its age to, with a nice veneer of film grain and bold, quite accurate colours. And the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is slouch either. While not quite up to today’s bombastic standards, the audio presents a solid, pleasant sonic experience, highlighting Louis and Bebe Barron‘s classic electronic score, which has most likely never sounded better!

Special Features:

  • Deleted scenes and lost footage
  • 2 Robby the Robot guest appearances
    • The Invisible Boy feature film
    • The Thin Man TV series episode Robot Client
  • The Watch the Skies! Science Fiction, the 1950s and Us TCM documentary
  • 2 featurettes
    • Amazing! Exploring the Far Reaches of Forbidden Planet
    • Robby the Robot: Engineering a Sci-Fi Icon
  • Excerpts from The MGM Parade TV series
  • Theatrical trailers of Forbidden Planet and The Invisible Boy

Amazon: $17.49


2. STARDUST

Stardust Blu-ray

I’m still bowled over by how much I truly loved Stardust. What a fantastic film on a really great Blu-ray disc. Do yourself a favour and grab yourself up a copy as soon as you can!

Read my full review here: Stardust Blu-ray Disc Review

Amazon: $19.99


3. THE PLAYER

The Player Blu-ray

I can’t wait to get my copy of Robert Altman‘s The Player. The famous director is certainly responsible for his fair share of classic films (M*A*S*H, Nashville and Gosford Park among them) but this is the film that really stands out for me. I love just about everything about it but I think, for me, it’s all about Tim Robbins‘ incredible performance as Hollywood producer Griffin Mill. I’ve never found it as easy to sympathize with a sleaze-bag murderer as I have with Mill. For all of his greasy, evil deeds I just want things to work out for the guy. I guess that’s Robbins’ charm getting to me, huh?

UPDATE: I’ve watched the Blu-ray and can report that it is a welcome upgrade from the previously available DVD but not by leaps and bounds. While colours are more accurate, the image is generally soft despite the increase in detail. The excellent special features have thankfully made the transition to this new Blu-ray edition.

Special Features:

  • Commentary by director Robert Altman and writer Michael Tolkin
  • Additional scenes

  • Featurette: One-on-One with Robert Altman
  • Theatrical trailer

Amazon: $18.99


4. IN COLD BLOOD

In Cold Blood Blu-ray

Forget about the real-life events this story is based upon. Forget about the famous Truman Capote book of the same name. Hell, you can even forget about the brilliant performances here by creepy Robert Blake and Scott Wilson as killers Perry Smith and “Dick” Hickock. All you need to know about Richard Brooks‘ 1967 adaptation of In Cold Blood is that this is some of cinematographer Conrad Hall‘s absolute best work and outside of seeing it projected on the big screen from a 35mm print, this Blu-ray disc is your best chance of appreciating it as it was meant to be seen.

Amazon: $14.99


5. POLTERGEIST

Poltergeist [Blu-ray] (1982)

The first and best of the Poltergeist series of films is co-written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre auteur Tobe Hooper. It’s well worth a look for anyone who likes a good scare or a good, classic 80s film doing its best to serve up a good scare. I haven’t seen the Blu-ray yet but I’m crossing my fingers, hoping that WHV will deliver a solid, detailed transfer.

Amazon: $18.99


WARNER HOME VIDEO SCI-FI ON BLU-RAY: Mars Attacks!, Lost in Space, THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director’s Cut), A Scanner Darkly, Matrix Reloaded

Mars Attacks! [Blu-ray] (1996)Lost in Space [Blu-ray] (1998)THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (1971)A Scanner Darkly [Blu-ray] (2006)


All right, Warner…what’s the deal?! Counting this weeks number one pick, Forbidden Planet and the first-time-single release of Matrix Reloaded, WHV is busting my wallet with a whopping six catalogue sci-fi titles new to store shelves this week. And a lot of them are pretty great! I’m most excited to get my hands on the THX 1138 disc to see how Lucas’ restoration looks in high-def. Also, I’m a closet Mars Attacks! fan. Honestly, I think it’s one of the better Tim Burton films.

Amazon: $18.99, $15.99, $19.99, $15.99, $18.99


TV SEASONS ON BLU-RAY: Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season, Supernatural: The Complete Fifth Season, Chuck: The Complete Third Season, The Office: Season Six

Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season [Blu-ray] (2009)Supernatural: The Complete Fifth Season [Blu-ray] (2009)Chuck: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] (2010)The Office: Season Six [Blu-ray] (2009)


Amazon: $46.99, $45.99, $45.99, $37.99


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:

Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam - Extended Edition (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo +Digital Copy)Killers [Blu-ray] (2010)MacGruber (Unrated Edition) [Blu-ray] (2010)Tommy, the Movie [Blu-ray] (1975)



Solitary Man [Blu-ray] (2010)Wonders of the Solar System [Blu-ray]It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown [Blu-ray]The Phantom [Blu-ray] (2009)



Hatchet [Blu-ray] (2006)A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving [Blu-ray]The Skeleton Key [Blu-ray] (2005)The Black Dahlia [Blu-ray] (2006)



That Evening Sun [Blu-ray] (2009)The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond [Blu-ray] (2008)Pulse [Blu-ray] (2006)Numb [Blu-ray] (2007)



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James and the Giant Peach Blu-ray Disc Review

James and the Giant Peach Blu-ray Disc Review

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (1996, Blu-ray released August 3, 2010 – MSRP $39.99)

James and the Giant Peach Blu-ray DiscJames and the Giant Peach quite often reminds me of the best intentioned but ultimately flawed Terry Gilliam films – films which craft beautiful, imaginative moments that hit all the right notes, only to shift tone at the drop of the hat, sacrificing pacing and an overall sense of cohesion. But like Gilliam’s work, the parts that really shine are like the finest diamonds. Or in this case, the ripest Peach.

I’ve been waiting to see Henry Selick‘s adaptation of James and the Giant Peach for almost 15-years now. And I would be lying to you if I told you that I wasn’t disappointed. Unlike most who saw it in theatres back in 1996, I wasn’t expecting a repeat of his very successful Nightmare Before Christmas – another Selick outing produced by (and in that case, conceived and designed by) Tim Burton. To his credit here, it’s Selick’s fully animated scenes that are the highlight of the picture. Some of the stop-motion work is truly inspiring – a showdown with a giant mechanical shark and underwater battle with pirate-skeletons come immediately to mind. But the film, sadly, falls apart in its clunky, live-action opening and closing scenes.

The first act of this adaptation of the famous Roald Dahl novel feels off kilter, as a live-action James loses his parents and moves in with his abusive aunties who make him work day and night, with only left over fish heads to eat. It isn’t until a magical giant peach grows in their yard that the film comes to life. James and his world become stop-motion animated as he meets a group of insects who join him on a journey over the wild seas to New York City in their giant-peach mobile, flown through the air by a flock of captured seagulls. Sadly, after all the wonderfully rendered scenes of high adventure, it ends as it began, with real-life actors on real-life sets and some really stiff, uncomfortable-looking performances. Perhaps Selick just isn’t comfortable directing actors. He should stick to animation.

Clearly, the animation is the highlight of James and the Giant Peach. That’s why this Blu-ray disc presentation will be such a disappointment to most who’ll pick it up. It appears quite soft and aged, like a film from a much earlier decade, rich with grain and a seemingly colour-shifted palette. Disney has cleaned the film up and granted it a great transfer for this new Blu-ray. I’m certain that most of the gauzy haze that seems to overpower some scenes here (notably the live-action ones) is intentional and part of the style of the picture. The image may not appear clean and modern here but the dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack goes a long way toward making the film feel fresh. This is a powerful, explosive mix that is sure to please.

I enjoyed the film well enough and was pleased with the vintage look of the Blu-ray image but the big let-down of this new James and the Giant Peach disc release is the lack of engaging bonus features. There’s a brand new, Blu-ray exclusive “Spike the Aunts” interactive game that’s probably all right for the little ones in the family. Leaving me only the 5-minute long, EPK style featurette, a Randy Newman music video (blech!), a still frame gallery, and the film’s original theatrical trailer to enjoy.

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