Another week, another fine selection here at the now-teetering-on-monthly Blu-ray Report. But in all seriousness, I am working on getting this one to you in a more timely manner, dear friends. It’s just become difficult with my recent move to Austin and new found alcoholism, among other things. But I am here this week and I’m ready to rock your world with a tasty selection of high definition movies. It’s a good week for the Blu-ray connoisseur, as there are a few really great titles hitting shelves — but I am certainly disappointed in the fact that Howard the Duck was re-released on special edition DVD and did not actually make the jump to HD. That would have just brought it all home for me. Alas, there are some titles to be excited about, so lets jump right into it.
Reminder: Just click on any of the titles below to check out the release over on Amazon.com
Creme of the Crop:
This week’s best of the best in Blu-ray…
First of all, you should have seen Role Models already. It is quite possibly one of the most genuinely funny movies of last year. Sean William Scott and Paul Rudd deliver the comedic performances that we’ve come to expect and director David Wain helps us forget The Ten and remember the glory that was Wainy Days. That, and it is a movie in which Jane Lynch spends her precious monologue scenes talking about living in a cocaine addicted existence — what could be more fun than that?
And on Blu-ray, Role Models is yet another win for the folks at Universal Home Entertainment. If you’ve been reading my ranting about the various HD formats over the years, you may remember that I was constantly enamored with Uni’s ability to put out a great HD-DVD. And even though they had a few hiccups during the first few rounds of authoring Blu-ray releases (Baby Mama), they are right back on track delivering tons of BD-exclusive special features that add value for those of us who’ve chosen to spend $30 per disc. Role Models has a bunch of BD-exclusive extras, including 15 additional deleted scenes and alternate takes, many of which are pretty funny. There is also the patented U-Control picture-in-picture that includes cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage. Of course, you can only access these features while watching the Unrated version of the film (which is surprisingly more than just one or two scenes longer), but I doubt you’ll really mind.
My final verdict on Role Models is that it is more than worth it on Blu-ray. If you had a chance to see and enjoy the film in theaters, you won’t be disappointed with a Blu-ray purchase. And if you haven’t seen it, I would suggest a minimum commitment of a rental. Trust me, it’s worth your time.
Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997
If you are a die hard, unabashed Batman fan like myself, then you probably already own this particular anthology edition of the original movie franchise on regular DVD. It was released, and subsequently added to my collection in 2005 and has been a staple of my collection ever since, even with Chris Nolan’s Batman series blowing it out of the water. And while I would agree that none of these movies (especially Batman Forever and Batman and Robin) don’t hold a flame to the most recent franchise, there is still something that I do love very much about Tim Burton’s original two films. No matter how good Christian Bale has been, Michael Keaton will always be the original big screen Batman in my mind. And no one will ever be able to fill out that leather like Michelle Pfeiffer did back in the day.
Which brings me to what I love about this Blu-ray set: the two Tim Burton directed films, Batman and Batman Forever, look absolutely beautiful in high definition. Burton’s somewhat gaudy, gothic sets still jump off the screen the same way I remember them from when I was 7 years old, sitting in a movie theater in Cleveland, Ohio, seeing them for the first time. These two movies helped lead me down the path toward where I am today, and seeing them in such vibrant, crisp HD is certainly worth the price of admission.
Beyond that though, I will admit that there is something definitely lacking here. There aren’t any additional features to this collection, just an upgrade in resolution. Additionally, many of the special features are still in standard definition, which may annoy any attentive Blu-ray owner. So my final verdict must be that this is a Blu-ray purchase that should be reserved only for die hard collectors or fans such as myself. The movies look good, but the special features don’t exactly stack up, especially if you’ve already purchased this anthology once.
South Park: The Complete Twelfth Season
We’ve had this discussion more than once here at Reject HQ, and we’ve decided that Matt Stone and Trey Parker are the last great parody makers that Hollywood has left. Their gift for satire is second to none, with their ability to inject pop culture references, societal themes and sometimes not so subtle movie references into the world of four fourth graders from Colorado. And over the years — twelve seasons, to be precise — they seem to have perfected their craft.
So as you might expect, season twelve is quite possibly the best season of the show. Who can resist the two-part epic that was “The Startling” or the episode where Cartman and Kyle get aids? Then of course, there is the Heavy Metal inspired episode “Major Boobage.” These are essential episodes that fit, at least in my mind, right up there with “Scott Tenorman Must Die,” the “Sh*t” episode and the three-part epic that was “Imaginationland.” So to say that you should own season twelve is an understatement. Now the only question is whether you should spend the extra dough and have it on Blu-ray. And that’s really the tough question. This is the first South Park season to get a Blu-ray release, and when it comes to the visual quality achieved with the 1080p format, this show has never looked better. The special features aren’t much to write home about, as they are all shared with the DVD release, but I can’t deny that the show looks great.
If you are a big South Park fan like myself, the verdict here is easy — this is the first time that the show has made it onto Blu-ray, so you might as well give it a chance. Sure, the special features on that special, but as I mentioned — South Park has never looked better.
Easily one of the most talked about movies of the year, Milk is definitely one of those flicks that you should see. But then again, based on what happened on Oscar night with Sean Penn bringing home the Best Actor award and Dustin Lance Black bringing home the best original screenplay award, you probably already knew that.
Then again, whether or not you should see it on Blu-ray is another story. Lets just say up front that it isn’t one of those visually spectacular films. Sure, there is some great costume design at work here and the rebuilding of 1970s San Francisco is very cool, but none of that needs to be seen in HD. And the special features on this disc don’t provide much additional support, either. The only BD-exclusive feature is the BD-Live “My Scenes” feature that allows you to tag your favorite scenes from the film and send them to your friends. And lets face it — very few people would actually use that.
My recommendation — go rent Milk on Blu-ray or DVD, it doesn’t matter. You should see it, but you shouldn’t necessarily spend $30 to do so.
The Rest of the Pack:
And now onto the selection of Blu-ray that I was either not able to review, or that were so poor that I just couldn’t muster the strength to recommend them…
Let the Right One In
Unfortunately for me, I was not able to review Let the Right One In on Blu-ray, but a little research and my general love for the movie tell me that this one is going to be worth your time and money. A rental at the very worst.
Rachel Getting Married
Like Milk, this is another one of those great films of 2008 with one of the year’s most astounding performances (that of Anne Hathaway). But the Blu-ray isn’t exactly going to knock you off your sofa. So I would suggest renting it on any format.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I already have two copies of Brokeback Mountain on DVD, a regular release and the special edition that was released early last year. And that second, special edition is a really good one. Even better in the special features arena than this Blu-ray release. Therefore I’d be confused by anyone who really wanted to pick this up, beyond those people who need to fill their shelves with dust-collecting releases.
Yet another potentially solid release that I haven’t even seen yet. What is wrong with me? I need to lay off the sauce. What I do know is that the features on the Blu-ray appear to be very solid and this is a Transporter film, so the visuals are likely to be solid as well. So it might be worth a rental if you haven’t seen the film yet.
Battle in Seattle
Yes. Check out Cole Abaius’ rave review for more reasons why you should see this movie.
Synecdoche, New York
Really great film that was solid on DVD, but another one of those films that isn’t necessarily worth the jump to Blu-ray unless you are a format purist.