Even in the midst of the madness that is Fantastic Fest, I’m here to bring you the best high-definition disc buys, rents and well… avoids in This Week in Blu-ray. I wouldn’t miss another opportunity to write about my own favorite super hero, Iron Man, or the chance to talk about the feel-good movie of the year (Babies). And perhaps throw in a few titles from last week’s selection, including that big mess of a film that Ridley Scott put out earlier this year and something about a family, modern or otherwise. It’s a big week in Blu-ray, so lets get started…
…right after the jump, that is.
Iron Man 2
Sure, it isn’t the first Iron Man. The second go-around for Tony Stark as personified by Robert Downey Jr. is far more bloated, convoluted and gaudy than its stellar predecessor, but it’s still a lot of fun. It also looks brilliant in high definition and the sound design, score and soundtrack are a perfect 1-2-3 punch to the gut of that very expensive home theater system you bought. So it’s worth having in your collection. For the comic nerds among us, there appear to be some ready-to-be-unleashed easter eggs all over this release, including a feature (on the movie disc) called the SHIELD Data Vault. It has case files on Project Iron Man, the Super Soldier Initiative, Bruce Banner’s Missing Person Report, and The Avengers Initiative. It also has various classified placeholders for Project New Mexico and Steve Rogers. No word yet on how these will be unlocked, but it is neat. And the Data Vault has a feature that runs along with the movie, pointing out all of the SHIELD easter eggs within Iron Man 2. On disc two we find a four part “Making Of” documentary and six featurettes , two of which reveal the origins of Black Widow and War Machine. On the whole, this box of tin is full of surprises.
King Kong (1933)
Some classics deserve great care and consideration when bringing them from the world of VHS and DVD to the world of Blu-ray. RKO’s King Kong, released originally in 1933, is one of those classics. And to their credit, Warner Bros. has given the big monkey a very nice place to live in your collection. The Blu-ray is dressed with awesome 30’s marketing inspired cover art and comes with a 32-page companion book full of stories and stunning images. The movie itself looks, for the most part, splendid. The shots that involve only one kind of film stock look cleaner than ever. Some of the shots that involve two or more layers include a bit of grain, but that seems due to the original film more than the transfer. It’s not something that’s easily cleared up 70-years removed from the original release of the film. It’s not a perfect transfer, but a nice median between keeping all of the grain and digitally scrubbing it out. The result is a movie that is noticeably improved, but without the doctored feeling. In the world of extras, Kong gets the royal treatment, as he’s done in previous DVD incarnations. A seven-part making of doc here, a doc about Merian C. Cooper there, and a commentary track with tons of archival audio from the film’s stars. Nothing shy of a thoroughly enjoyable experience, thanks to a carefully crafted presentation.
Modern Family: The Complete First Season
“I don’t get it,” I’d sigh time and time again during the first season of Modern Family‘s run on ABC. I wasn’t watching the show, but I chose to sit idly by on the sidelines and question whether or not something so simple (and full of Ed O’Neill) could deserve such a phenomenal response from critics, fans and Nielsen box owners alike. I was wrong to question this show, created by former Frasier scribes Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd. A few episodes into my tour through season one and I was bringing my own laugh-track. It’s very funny, from end to end. The Blu-ray release isn’t particularly note-worthy, at least not for its pedestrian special features selection, but the show does look good (it’s shot in HD). And it has plenty of extras (all shared with the DVD) that extend the experience for a few hours more. Worth it, no matter how you slice it.
Click through to the next page to see the list of titles that I’d rent and avoid…