Monsters vs. Aliens
2009 (2010) - DreamWorks Animation (Paramount)
Monsters vs. Aliens was the first Blu-ray 3D title available to own, if only packed in with Samsung's 3D glasses starter pack. Still, this disc represents most enthusiasts' very first taste of what the Blu-ray 3D format has to offer.
2006 (2010) - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
We've all known that cranky old neighbor who screams "Get off my lawn!" at you. But what if he actually a reason for doing so? Mr. Nebbercracker has mysteriously amassed a dragon's horde of tricycles, basketballs and kites beneath his house over the last 40 years, and it's up to intrepid young DJ (whose parents are away for the weekend), and a self-absorbed teenage babysitter, to crack the mystery of how and why.
In this edition of High Definition Matters, I've got 11 reviews for you: Jonah Hex (from Warner Bros.); Toy Story 3 (from Disney); Arn: The Knight Templar, Splice, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, and Love Ranch (from E1 Entertainment); The Pillars of the Earth (from Sony); Life Is Beautiful and Elf: Ultimate Collector's Edition (from Alliance Canada); True Grit (from Paramount); and The Last of the Mohicans (from Fox).
Disney's A Christmas Carol
2009 (2010) - Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Who doesn't know the story of A Christmas Carol by now? The latest silver screen version comes from director Robert Zemeckis' Image Movers Digital, previously responsible for films like The Polar Express and Beowulf. It's also Disney's first trip into Blu-ray 3D.
As anyone who follows my Classic Coming Attractions column regularly will know, I do occasionally include reviews of British TV series there. They don't really fit that column so I've decided to start up The British Beat as a vehicle more appropriate to such material. This column will be a little more wide-ranging than TV series reviews, though. I'll include coverage of classic and recent movies that are quintessentially British - the Red Riding Blu-ray review in this first edition of the column is a good example. I'll also try to alert you to forthcoming British titles that seem worthy of your attention. The column will appear irregularly, at least to start, and its focus will be on North American releases.
Okay... the following should be considered VERY tentative. However, we've now heard it from multiple independent sources, including reliable industry insiders, so.... Sources are telling us that director James Cameron has been (or it about to begin) working on a new high-def transfer and master of The Abyss, presumably for eventual Blu-ray Disc release.
As many of you know, The Abyss is a title that doesn't even have an anamorphic widescreen DVD release (neither does True Lies for that matter) so it's LONG overdue. We've been hearing this might soon happen from industry insiders for a couple of months now, but the most recent report on this comes from a longtime Bits reader (thank you, Jon H!) who actually had the chance to meet Cameron a few weeks ago. He asked specifically about the possibility of The Abyss coming to Blu-ray, and Cameron said that he was about to start work on a new transfer using the same process he did with the Aliens Blu-ray. Cameron then proceeded to say that he was really excited about how good Aliens looks on the format. So... fingers crossed... maybe we'll finally see those remaining Cameron titles on Blu-ray in the next 12 months or so...
As always, none of this should be considered official until the studios make their official yadda, yadda... You all know the drill by now. Stay tuned!
- Bill Hunt
So... for those of you who might be wondering about the release dates for a few of the remaining, as-yet-unannounced Summer films on DVD and Blu-ray, retail sources have checked in with a couple hints.
First, our sources are telling us to expect 20th Century Fox's The A-Team, Universal's The American and Sony's The Other Guys to hit stores on or around 12/14. Sony's Salt is currently expected to follow on or around 12/21. Do keep in mind, these dates could shift a little bit and should be considered tentative until the studios make their final, official announcements.
- Bill Hunt
When Lionsgate recently announced their new 3-disc Full Disclosure Blu-ray Edition of Francis Ford Coppola's legendary Vietnam War film, Apocalypse Now, the news seemed almost too good to be true for longtime fans. The set, which streets on 10/19, is due to include both versions of the film, many hours of bonus features and, at long last, the infamous Hearts of Darkness documentary – the first time the film and documentary have ever been presented together on disc. It also includes – for the first time in ANY home format – both versions of the film in their original 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Given the film's complex history, and the equally complicated history of its past home video editions, fans of Apocalypse Now immediately began to have questions about the Blu-ray release, and quickly began to speculate about the release online. How would the new transfer compare to the 2001 release? How involved were Coppola and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro in preparing the new transfer? What surprises might the new edition bring?
All right... as most of you Stanley Kubrick fans are no doubt already aware, Warner Home Video has released Blu-ray Disc versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut and Full Metal Jacket. Universal recently released Spartacus, albeit in a mediocre Blu-ray edition with a substandard quality HD master. Meanwhile, Sony's done a fine job of Dr. Strangelove on Blu, and Criterion is preparing a Blu-ray release of MGM's Paths of Glory on 10/26. So a lot of you have probably been wondering, where are Warner's Blu-rays of Lolita and Barry Lyndon?
Well... that's a question we here at The Bits have been asking the folks at Warner Home Video for months now. And today, they surprised us with an answer! Yes, both Lolita and Barry Lyndon are currently being prepared for Blu-ray Disc release by the studio in 2011. And here's the even better news: They hinted that the films are going to be available both as singles AND as part of a new Stanley Kubrick Blu-ray Collection! We're waiting on more details, and no doubt it will be a while before the release gets officially announced, but it appears that Warner plans to really do their Kubrick catalog up right on Blu-ray in the new year!
What with Criterion having licensed Paths of Glory from MGM for DVD and Blu-ray release, could they have obtained rights for Kubrick's The Killing and Killer's Kiss from MGM as well? And with so much new Kubrick Blu-ray product on the way, might Universal see fit to give Spartacus a fresh high-def transfer and re-release the title in a better Blu-ray edition? (Believe me, judging by the hundreds of e-mails we've gotten in recent weeks, a LOT of you would love for that to happen. Rest assured, I strongly suggested it to the studio on my recent visit.)
In any case, the next year or so should prove to be very exciting for fans Stanley Kubrick who, like us here at The Bits, are eager to see ALL his films in high-definition!
- Bill Hunt
This is a rare Saturday post with some important breaking news: Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet has reportedly confirmed, during a panel today at the C2E2 comic convention in Chicago, that the company is now working on a Blu-ray Disc box set of all six Star Wars films loaded with extras, for release "in the not too distant future."
We're awaiting any kind of official statement from Lucasfilm - one MAY appear on Star Wars.com in the coming days. Nonetheless, MANY people who were in the panel began Tweeting reports of the news almost the moment the words left Sansweet's mouth. IGN has also reported the news with an actual quote from Sansweet: "We have been at work for a couple of years working on - I won't call it the Ultimate Set because we keep finding stuff - but, a very full set of all six movies on Blu-ray with lots of extra material. We're finding all kinds of scenes from dailies that have never been seen before. Beyond all of those things that you know about... there are some real treasures." There is no other official information at this time, but we'll post additional details when and if they come in. HOWEVER...
Our own industry sources have actually been checking in with us in recent weeks on this very subject. Our latest information is that Lucasfilm tentatively plans the official Blu-ray release to happen in October 2011. Now, we've been hearing reports like this on and off for years, and until now little has come of it. So we've been waiting to say something here on The Bits until we had a hint of more official confirmation. But now that Sansweet has begun talking about the release, we feel more comfortable reporting on the word from our sources. Plans could obviously change and again, even though Sansweet has hinted that it's coming, none of this constitutes an official announcement. But if current plans remain unchanged, our sources say you'll be enjoying The Force in 1080p next October.
Again, we'll post additional updates as they come in. As always, the above information is to be considered unofficial and subject to change until the studios in question make official announcements. Stay tuned...
- Bill Hunt