Monday, October 26, 2009
Welcome, Gentle Reader, to a new feature here at Chicken Scratch – the Blu-Ray Dossier. It is no secret. I love movies. I love the way stories are told. I love to hear how they came to fruition and I like to see them realized correctly – how the storyteller’s (hopefully) intended. Friends, let me just say that, if you enjoy movies, especially blockbuster, tent pole productions, then you need to get an HDTV (LCD, 1080p, with at least a 128 megahertz refresh rate for the video games), a Blu-Ray player and a surround sound system.
“Why?” you may ask. “Why should I spend the money on such equipment?”
I could explain that HD is now the broadcast standard, I could tell you that a 5.1 surround sound experience is a wonderful way to enjoy a movie, broadcast, or videogame and I could say that Blu-Ray justifiably deserves to be at the top of the heap when it comes to watching film and/or movies BUT until you see and hear it for yourself you would be a fool not to ask and, Gentle Reader, you are no fool. What can I tell you? Bite the bullet and make the jump. You will not be disappointed.
That being said, I have been watching a lot of Blu-ray movies recently. They are crisp, clean, 1080p (that is how movies are filmed) transfers of the films from the original footage. The picture is startling. The sound is astonishing. The movies are, now, taking on a life of their own, even more so than before. Please don’t get me wrong nothing can replace the theater experience, nor should it, but the joy (and yes this is the correct word here); the joy is that it removes the human element. There is no one answering their cell phone, talking, texting or getting up to pee or get more popcorn in your living room (unless that is what you want). NO it is a flawless transfer of a story from the filmmaker to you on your terms. It is worth its weight in gold.
“All right, so what’s this Blu-Ray Dossier that you keep talking about?”
I am so glad that you asked, Gentle Reader. The Blu-Ray Dossier will be not only a review of the film/movie (there is a difference), but it will also be a critique of how good the Blu-Ray Disc delivers. I will be looking for cinematography that makes my jaw drop and when I see it I will let you know about it.
So here is how it works; there will be two star ratings on a sliding scale from 1 to 5, the more stars the better. The first star is a rating for the movie and the second is for the sheer, jaw dropping, awesomeness of the quality of the film in question. With the Blu-Ray Dossier it will be possible for a 1 star movie to have a 5 star rating for the jaw dropping, crystal clear cinematography. The reverse is true too. Since I’m a geek I may ruminate a bit about the film/movie in question and I might recommend it for purchase, rental or to bypass it completely. All right, that’s enough of that; here we go with Volume I…
“The Dark Knight” Rating: 5 Stars / 4.5 Stars. What can you say that has not already been said? This is a great film. The sweeping shots of Hong Kong and Gotham will take your breath away. This is one for your library.
“Batman/Superman, Public Enemies” Rating: 4 Stars / 4 Stars. This is the first animated Blu-ray movie that I have seen and it did not disappoint on story (which is based on Jeff Lobe’s graphic novel) and clarity of picture. One of the best things about this Blu-ray is the special features which include a dinner conversation with the producers, writers and Mr. Kevin Conroy – the voice of the Batman. Just great stuff. Comic geeks may consider adding this to your collection and interested muggles will enjoy the rental.
“Casino Royale” Rating: 5 Stars / 5 Stars. Daniel Craig is the best James Bond since Sean Connery and probably the closest thing to the original intent of Ian Fleming’s books as we will ever see. This is a great Blu-ray Disc and, to date, the finest I have seen. The cinematography is unbelievably beautiful and the exotic locations have never looked so detailed and clear. This is a must see.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” Rating: 4 Stars / 4.5 Stars. I love keeping up with the Jones’s. It is great to see Indiana Jones back in action. It’s not “Raiders of the Lost Ark” but, then again, what is? The Blu-ray action is a crisp, clean transference and worth the rental. It is in my library but you may feel different.
“Quantum of Solace” Rating: 4 Stars / 4.5 Stars. This one takes up right where “Casino Royale” ends. It’s a good one – not as good as “Casino Royale” but certainly worth the rental. If you’re a Bond fan you may want to make it part of your collection.
“Drag Me to Hell” Rating: 4 Stars / 3.5 Stars. I love Sam Rami. He has taken the art form of making movies to another level with his camera angles, sweeps and close ups. He is an exciting filmmaker and always worth a look-see.
“Land of the Lost” Rating: 3 Stars / 3.5 Stars. I liked this much more than I thought I would. As a child of the seventies the idea of Sleestacks on the big screen makes my inner geek smile. Worth the rental for nostalgia’s sake but be prepared to explain a couple of sexual themes to little ones if they happen to be watching.
“Nightmare Before Christmas” Rating 4.5 Stars / 5 Stars. This is an animated, stop motion, masterpiece. Tim Burton’s vision is realized through Henry Selick’s stop motion, directorial, art. Amazing film and it has never looked so crisp and clean. This is one that you should have in your collection.
“The Prestige” Rating: 4.5 Stars / 4 Stars. What a wonderful story. This is one that could stand up to repeated viewings. This is a genre-bending tale that is so incredibly well realized that you will have to watch it more than once. The direction and acting are superb. David Bowie as Tesla! Please. You just may want to make this one part of your collection too.
“Transformers – Rise of the Fallen” Rating: 2 Stars / 4 Stars. Story wise there is not too much that meets the eye. Megan Fox eases it up from a 1.5 to a 2 star rating. It’s pretty awful; it is not designed to be, no, this movie was made to highlight the brilliant computerized special effects laced throughout. Note I only give the Blu-ray factor a 4 star rating. That is because the movie, while in jaw dropping, Blu-ray only highlights a jumbled mess of action on the screen that is pretty hard to decipher. It is a beautiful jumbled mess but a mess, nonetheless. Rent it if you have to.
There’s volume one; volume two will not be far behind. See you at the Blockbuster – I’ll be the one with the worn ID care, the coupons and the box of Raisinettes.
See ya next time.