Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Blu-Ray Dossier 5.0


As I write this, Gentle Reader, there is snow on the ground. No that does not really say it right at all please let me try once again… As I writer this there is SNOW on the ground (2 feet plus).

Yeah, that’s better.

Now I ask you, when is a better time for a movie marathon then one is snowed in? That being said, that’s what I’ve been up to (in between shoveling that is). Welcome to the latest edition of The Blu-Ray Dossier. This is the fifth in an ongoing quest to find the best Blu-ray movies and rate them on a 5 star scale for both story and jaw dropping Blu-ray picture quality. That being said here is what I saw…

Kill Bill Volume I: 4.5 Stars / 4 Stars. Who working in the cinema today is making such consistently great movies as Mr. Quentin Tarantino? He is having too much fun. This is a story of a woman, a man and a cabal of assassins and, oh yes, it is about revenge. Uma Thurman is Quentin’s muse for a reason – she is electric as “The Bride”. The dialogue and the storytelling is what sets this apart from other such fare. Who else would put in an anime flashback into the history of an assassin or use brilliantly choreographed over the top cartoon violence during the battle of the Bride vs. the Crazy 88s? This is a love letter to the 70s kung-fu movies from days of yore and I lapped it up.

The Road Warrior: 4.5 Stars / 3.5 Stars. I remember begging my father to take me to see this on the big screen when it first came to the shores of America. I have loved this movie ever since. After the first film, “Mad Max”, Max’s humanity was put on hold. In “The Road Warrior” Max finds his humanity again. This film set the bar for car chases and all things Armageddon related on celluloid, in the world of video games (see Fallout 3) and in popular culture. The Blu-ray was acceptable but it didn’t have the slack jawed beauty that I look for these days. It’s a good transfer – my jaw just didn’t drop.

Kill Bill Volume II: 4.5 Stars / 4 Stars. Did I mention that this is probably one on David Carradine’s finest performances? Did I happen to say that the music in a Tarantino film is simply spot on the money and that it almost becomes a character itself? Did I mention that the Five Point Exploding Heart Technique of Pai Mai’s is very hard to master or that I want a Hattori Hanz┼Ź sword? Sorry… I probably forgot. BTW, did I mention that Quentin Tarantino is a genius?

John Carpenter’s The Thing: 4.5 Stars / 4 Stars. This is one of John Carpenter’s finest films and a favorite of mine ever since it came out in 1982. This is one of those rare occasions where the remake is better than the original – and, yes, I loved the original too. The Thing copies DNA. If it were to make its way to civilization humanity is doomed. Trust, isolation and sacrifice are at the core of this film – well that and some of the best special effects that could be mustered in the early eighties. Kurt Russell and John Carpenter were able to capture some amazing things (pardon the pun) on film and their collaborations are some of my all time favorite films. If you have not seen it yet you should give it a try… especially if you happen to be snowed in.

Zombieland: 4.5 Stars / 4 Stars. This is a fun movie – bottom line. It is a zombie movie (although technically they are not zombies) and there is gore but all that gives way to the story, the characterizations and the humor. This is a great cast that includes Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee the zombie survivalist in search of a Twinkie and Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus who provides the narrative of their adventures. Columbus also has a running list of “Rules” that would prove beneficial when the zombie uprising happens in 2012 including; “Number 1: Cardio”, “Number 2: Double Tap” and “Number 32: Enjoy the Little Things”. You will have a good time with this movie.

The Shining: 5 Stars / 4.5 Stars. Although Stephen King does not like this version of his story Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film is, as the film’s poster says, “A Masterpiece of Modern Horror”. There is a lot going on with this film and it does not answer all the questions that it asks which is a bit of shining brilliance. Is the Overlook Hotel simply haunted or are certain souls destine to return there over and over and over again? What’s going on in room 237 and is Lloyd really that great a bartender? Who or what was Tony – Danny’s protector, another piece of his psyche or something else? The cast really sells this story. Jack Nicholson is at his finest as Jack Torrance, Shelly Duval as his wife Wendy is perfect and Danny Lloyd as Danny performed way beyond his years. This is one of the greats of psychological horror, which is magnified in the Blu-ray format. The trip to the Overlook Hotel never looked so good. Snow plays heavily into the story and I can’t think of a better film to have in your Blu-ray player if you happen to be snowed in for the weekend. “HERE’S JOHNNY!”

So there you have it. That’s what’s been buttering my popcorn lately. What have you been watching and has it been on Blu-ray? I really cannot recommend the format more highly.

Until next time, save my space in line at Blockbuster!

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