I have a lot of friends that ask me about the deal with Blu-Ray and whether it is worth switching over formats or is it all a big money grab by the companies? Well let’s get one thing strait IT’S ALL A MONEY GRAB. But saying that, if you are a serious film enthusiast and are in search for the best looking, highest quality video media available then Blu-Ray is probably worth investing in starting now with new release movies or old stuff you’ve wanted to own. I’ve viewed over 400 Blu-Rays at this point and they are all superior quality to any DVD prints.
You still must be choosy as a consumer. Some studios have released Blu-Rays with 5 year old HD masters ( Ridley Scott’ s Gladiator is a serious offender in this category. it looks terrible and unlike the theater viewing of the film. Where the visuals were much more detailed) HD mastering has improved so much in the last 5 years. which is why companies are already “double dipping” ( putting out an early cheaper transferred version of a film with no extras for a low price, then a few years later releasing a upgraded new transferred extra special edition and putting a $30 price tag on it. Usually coinciding with release of a remake or sequel in the theater) sometime it’s worth it for me to spend $5 or $10 dollars on a barebones(no special features) Blu-Ray movie to be able to see it in the best format available ASAP, knowing full well I will most likely replace it when a better updated disc arrives. for most of you this is probably stupidity at its highest level. I totally agree.
The 15 Blu-Ray Discs on this list are all of superior quality and far surpass the view experience of any DVD versions or old theater prints (I’ve seen almost all of these multiple times on 35mm prints at midnight shows and I was blown away by the visual quality of the discs versus those viewings) . If you lucky enough you might catch a viewing of these on a new printed digitally cleaned 35mm or 70mm print, but that is probably unlikely unless you like in L.A. Or New York. Each Blu-Ray after viewing I had to immediately play again to soak up the viewing ecstasy of seeing some of my favorite fiction and non-fiction jump off the screen as if I was seeing it for the first time. I WAS SOLD. here’s #6-#4
- Akira (director Katsuhiro Otomo) 1988- First off if you haven’t seen Akira before and are a sci fi or animation fan you should pick this up. The story is amazing and the technical side of the film stands out as a benchmark in animation 22 years later. The production budget was nearly $10 Million US Dollars, a record sum in Japanese animation film. The movie consists of 2,212 shots and 160,000 single pictures, 2-3 times more than usual, using 327 different colors (another record in animation film), 50 of which were exclusively created for the film. The reason for this statistic is the most of the movie takes place at night, a setting that is traditionally avoided by animators because of the increased color requirements. The Blu-Ray presentation for Akira is nothing short of stunning. I’ve wore out two VHS copies, seen 20+ midnight screenings and also have the pioneer special edition DVD, and the Blu-Ray video transfer slayes them all. As for audio, this is where Bandai Entertainment has really gone out of their way to create a top-notch product. Being audiophiles themselves, the full capacity of the Blu-ray disc was used for the audio. “AKIRA” is the first film on Blu-ray that is released in 192 kHz/24-bit in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound. The highest level of sound quality attainable right now on contemporary media. ( CD’s are sampled in 44.1 kHz and reproduces at 20 kHz.) This Blu-ray is sampled in 192 kHz and reproduces at 96 kHz. CD’s are 16-bit, this Blu-ray Disc, the audio is 24-bit. The original soundtrack of “AKIRA” was originally recorded as a master tape that contained frequencies up to 100 kHz and so, with Blu-ray technology, this soundtrack on the Blu-ray is how the composer intended for people to listen to it. It is not possible for Akira to be completely fulfilling given that its original manga was started in 1980, not fully realized until 1990 and this film saw its release in 1988 and squeezed the complex themes of the nearly-3,000 page manga into only 2-hours. With that being said, however, Akira should still not be passed up by any film or animation enthusiast. Go Check It Out!
- The Godfather Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 (Director Francis Ford Coppola)1972/1974- I guess if you’re really not interested in movies you might not have seen the Godfather series or if you grew up on an island with no cable ,video stores or theaters. If you don’t meet these criteria I would be amazed if you hadn’t seen these. Well be prepared to see them again for the first time. The picture quality is nothing short of stunning, especially Part 2 with it’s sepia-tone flashbacks sequences. The picture comes alive on the screen, and for two films of this age the HD restoration done is phenomenal and comes very close to the color scheme from projected theater versions. I was very happy with this purchase. this is a must replace from you old DVD version. Well worth the upgrade.
- Blade Runner: Final Cut Box Set (Director Ridley Scott) 1982-2008- Well I could write 5000 words+ on this set alone. Blade Runner has been one of my favorite films for more than 25 years. Ever since my father sneaked me to the theater at 5 years old I was hooked. Seeing 30+ midnight shows and owning every version out on VHS and DVD, I figure I’m a good gauge at the relevance of this set and the Final Cut. This is the only film in history to bomb on it’s initial release only to be the highest grossing movie on subsequent re releases (the Directors Cut and the Final Cut were both #1 at the box office per each theater gross for 2-3 weeks after it’s small re releases.) And also I feel it is the only movie to not wreck but improve it by tinkering. This is helped in the Final Cut by staying away from too much use of CG that was way over used in the Original Star Wars trilogy special editions and ET special edition. For any one who knows Blade Runner frame for frame you will notice slight re edits of scenes and slightly different takes and close ups. The wires that held up the full sized Spinner pulling it out of frame in all other cuts have finally been removed , but the biggest fix in replacing Zora’s stunt double with Joanna Cassidy’s face as she crashes through the plate glass window after Deckard shoots her in the back a few times, fixing one of the worst wig matches on a stunt double in history ( even the old stunt guys On the Original Star Trek has better wig matches). The final word is Pick this set up ASAP. Besides 5 versions of the film you get a long awaited documentary on the making of called Blade Runner: Dangerous Days. The purchase is worth it even if you just want to see the Documentary once. The look of this film on Blu-Ray makes my balls tingle upon every viewing. I think I’ll watch it again tonight. LONG LIVE SIR RIDLEY SCOTT.
Till Next Time. Go Watch Something New. Remember, I’ve Got My Eye On You.