Thursday, January 19, 2012

Son of the Blu-ray Dossier

There has been a lot of talk about piracy as of late with SOPA & PIPA.  I don’t stream movies or check into the pirated versions of films still in the theater for the simple reason that I absolutely love the clear, crisp picture and sound reproduction that Blu-Ray provides.  When delivered in a proper 1080p format with surround sound a lover of film is in for a treat.  The format, while stunning and wonderful is woefully underutilized in that motion picture companies and film studios could pack some great things into their releases but most of the time they don’t so that they can reap the most return on their dollar from the public which starts with the theatrical release and moves to the DVD / Blu-Ray release, the steaming release (cable & Netflix), the cable television release and the hotel & airplane versions of the film.  Hey, that’s showbiz.  Still it is a pet peeve of mine that some movies hardly get a Blu-Ray release worthy of the format. 

Speaking of pet peeves I’ve got two more things that I find highly annoying.  First, when companies disable the ‘fast forward’ through the trailers.  Look, I love a good trailer as much as the next movie-geek but one of the advantages to seeing a movie at home is to be able to plow through any unwanted commercials.  Many companies these days are opting to take that ability away from the consumer – the person who rented or bought their product.  Annoying?  Yes, very much so.  Secondly, and I sincerely hope this is not a new trend, the disabling special features on Blu-Ray rentals.  I recently rented, “Cowboys and Aliens” (reviewed below) and after watching the movie I scrolled to the ‘Special Features’ section of the menu where I got a message that told me that if I wanted to see the special features then I should go and buy the special edition Blu-ray package and not be a shmuck and just rent this movie.  All right, I made up the part about the “shmuck” thing but still the intent is apparent.  Really?  You want to restrict this content because I rented your movie instead of buying it?  There is precious little that would make me desire to purchase ANY Blu-ray set if the very company who produced it pulls the rug out from under the viewer.  You see you’ve restricted me thus far why on earth would I enable you to continue to do so?  This should be filed in the “Dumb Idea” drawer and the motion picture industry would be wise to steer far and away from such practice in the future.  Just how long do you think you can treat the public like pirates before they take you at your accusing word and start acting like them?

I don’t know.  I’m not a pirate.  I am; however, a lover of the Blu-ray format and of film so, without further ado here is the latest edition of The Blu-ray Dossier!  I rate film on a two tier scale; first for story and secondly for the Jaw-Dropping Blu-ray effect.  5 is good, 1 not so much.  Here’s what I’ve been watching…

THOR – 3.8 / 4.  This past summer THOR and Captain America paved the way for this summer’s Avengers movie.  I am a Marvel Zombie so it was a pretty good summer for yours truly.  THOR delivered.  I don’t exactly remember where I read it but I heard it said that the wonderful thing about THOR is that none of the actors were told that they were in a “comic book movie”.  The performances are wonderful.  Epic Norse god, superhero stuff aplenty.  The Blu-ray is nice with the Destroyer and with the World Tree at the end.  If you are not familiar with the Destroyer or the World Tree then you should probably rent THOR before the Avengers hits. 

Evil Dead 2 – 25th Anniversary Edition – 4 / 3.5.  I am a HUGE fan of Sam Rami’s Evil Dead series.  Evil Dead 2 is unique in that it is a remake and a sequel all in one movie.  There are some horror staples here but there is also something almost unheard of – the horror movie hero.  Bruce Campbell makes this horror / comedy movie his own.  I just can’t believe it’s been 25 years since I first was introduced to Ash and the rest of the Deadites in a darkened movie theater in Pleasantville, New Jersey.  I’m really looking forward to the special edition Blu-ray release of “Army of Darkness” the sequel to Evil Dead 2.  If you are a fan than you know the simple joys of a good ‘Boomstick’.

Hangover – 3.5 / 4.  Not for those who are easily offended.  This is a ‘men behaving badly’ movie that fires on all cylinders.  You will laugh and when you begin to realize how WRONG this movie is you will laugh harder.  There are some wonderful, crisp, Blu-ray moments surrounding the city that is Las Vegas.  The disc is full of extras; which is a refreshing change of pace.  It made bank at the box office so I suppose it was a good idea for the studio to stack the deck.  You will laugh – you’ll cringe too, but you will laugh.

Bridesmaids – 4 / 3.  Not for those who are easily offended.  This is a ‘women behaving badly’ movie that fires on all cylinders.  Ready for more déjà vu?  You will laugh and when you begin to realize how WRONG this movie is you will laugh harder.  Bridesmaids is a movie that is for both women and men.  Do not be bamboozled into thinking otherwise.  The wonderful surprise about this film is the amount of heart that it brings to the table.  You really feel for the woman that Kristen Wiig portrays.  It is tragic to watch her character do the things she does.  You know what they say about tragedy?  Yeah, ‘they’ are right.

Serenity – 4 / 4.  I came to the whole “Firefly” party late.  Joss Whedon and company had lightning in a bottle and were just getting their running shoes tightened when FOX pulled the curtain on the show.  Enter, “Serenity”, the movie.  Not to give anything away but Whedon took that old writing quote, “Kill your darlings” to heart on this one.  The Verse is a dangerous place and Captain Reynolds and his more than motley crew are wonderful to watch.  I can only hope that the future smiles on this property once again.  Very shiny.

The Frighteners – 4 / 4.  This is a fun movie from the man who would go on to sweep the Oscars a few years later.  “The Frighteners” was the film that Peter Jackson made just before, “The Lord of the Rings – the Fellowship of the Ring”.  The storytelling is taught and Michael J. Fox really delivers as a man who can communicate with the dead.  I do not know why this film didn’t launch as it should have.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  You’ll have a good time at the movies.  Some of the shots of New Zealand are worth the Blu-ray look-see.

The Walking Dead: Season One – 5 / 4.  Hands down, Frank Darabont’s, “The Walking Dead” is the best thing on television.  It is based on the graphic novel series of the same name.  The story is riveting.  It puts a human face onto the zombie apocalypse.  You will care for these characters.  The storytelling is fierce and the acting is second to none.  There are only six episodes in the first season.  After the first 5 minutes the hook is set and you will have to know what happens next.  Simply amazing.

Cowboys and Aliens – 3.5 / 4.  John Favreau took a lot of grief for this film but I gotta tell ya, I enjoyed it for what it was.  He got James Bond and Indiana Jones to work for him in a western that happens to involve aliens.  Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford chew up the screen together.  It’s a shame that this didn’t perform at the box office because it works.  I like movies to throw me a curve or to mix things up ~ this does so in spades.  Rent it.  You’ll like it.  You won’t be able to see any of the special features that would endure the film to an audience that it has not truly discovered yet but you’ll see the movie.  I hope such decisions don’t alienate potential cult-movie status fans.  That would be a shame.  Oh well, rent it.  It was fun storytelling and I had a good time.  Perhaps you will too.

Keep on, keepin’ on my fellow internet users and Blu-ray fans.  These are interesting times, Gentle Reader.  I’ll see you in line at the Redbox machine. 

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