By Eric Podolsky 8/17/12
As the summer winds down and the brutal heat starts to subside, we find ourselves looking forward to reaping the bountiful harvest of new Blu-ray releases in store for the fall. With such a barrage of first-time Blu-ray releases on autumn’s horizon, our couches are guaranteed to see plenty of action as the days get cooler.
Titanic - 2D and 3D - 9/10
James Cameron’s ambitious blockbuster comes to Blu-ray for the first time, and should look great with its new 3D facelift. Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures - 9/18 The jungles, caves and deserts from all four of Indy’s adventures should take on new life in these Blu-ray transfers. Here’s hoping the films look as good as we imagine.
The jungles, caves and deserts from all four of Indy’s adventures should take on new life in these Blu-ray transfers. Here’s hoping the films look as good as we imagine.
The Avengers - 2D and 3D - 9/25
What more can be said about the highest grossing film of the year? What many claim is the Greatest Comic Book Film Ever Made is making a quick leap to Blu-ray, and it’s dazzling HD effects should translate well to the small screen, whether you’re watching in either 2D or 3D.
Bond 50 - All 22 James Bond Films - 9/25
For the first time ever, all 22 James Bond films will be released in one complete package -- including nine Bond films never before released on Blu-ray: You Only Live Twice (1967, Sean Connery), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969, George Lazenby), Diamonds Are Forever (1971, Sean Connery), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977, Roger Moore), Octopussy (1983, Roger Moore), A View to a Kill (1985, Roger Moore), The Living Daylights (1987, Timothy Dalton), GoldenEye (1995, Pierce Brosnan), and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997, Pierce Brosnan). They’re all here in one definitive collection, from Dr. No to Quantum of Solace. There’s even an empty slot reserved for the upcoming 23rd Bond film, Skyfall. If there was ever a definitive set, this is it.
Cinderella - 10/2
Now that Disney is truly opening its vaults to bank on the Blu-ray craze, we’re lucky to be treated to a remastered release of this all-time classic. Cinderella will be offered in a DVD/Blu-ray package with HD sound, and we can’t wait to see what nuances are brought out of the animation in this new digital transfer.
The first Blu-ray release of one of the most beloved movies of our time has been long anticipated, and this edition should deliver the goods with a 35mm digital transfer in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and hours of bonus footage, including two deleted scenes. There's also a crazy-cool/unnecessary limited-edition, battery-controlled toy spaceship edition of the film available for the collectors. And for those who are worried, this edition will only include the original 1982 theatrical release: Steven Spielberg has thankfully opted to forgo the poorly-received, CGI-enhanced 2002 version of the film this time around. All of this considered, this should be one release worthy of your permanent collection.
To say that this cult favorite has been in need of a re-release for some time is quite an understatement. The directorial debut of veteran Muppets puppeteer Frank Oz, Little Shop of Horrors hasn’t been treated kindly in previous releases. According to the press release, "The footage of the original ending was previously available only in black & white in the extra content of a limited number of copies of a DVD edition released in 1998. Now, with the help of production notes from Frank Oz and others on the film's creative team, Warner Home Video has meticulously restored and digitally remastered the ending, in full color, with the elaborate special effects in tact. Sound has also been rebuilt and mixed in Dolby 5.1. The theatrical version has also been re-mastered." The Director’s Cut ending is much darker than the theatrical version, which was begrudgingly changed at the last minute by Oz due to studio pressure. To see it in its original form for the first time should be a revelation.
Prometheus - 2D and 3D - ??? UPDATE: 10/11
Though we don’t have a date on this one yet, this visual marvel of a film should be out before the holidays so that we can bask in its otherworldly glow. Plot holes aside, the film’s visuals are simply astounding. Ridley Scott’s use of 3D to enhance his elaborate alien worlds is exactly how this technology should be utilized -- Prometheus is one of the best examples of 3D usage in film to date, and we expect that it won’t be any less dazzling in your living room.
I, Robot - 3D - 10/23
I, Robot is the first of many films to be treated to JVC Kenwood’s new 2D3D conversion process technology, which has up-converted the film to 3D from its previous 2D Blue-ray release. While converting 2D footage to 3D is typically extremely labor intensive and expensive for studios, this new technology leaves most of the labor to computers, meaning the whole process will take “three people three months to convert at a third of the price,” according to JVC. What this means for the quality of the 3D experience remains to be seen, but we’re sure excited to see the results.
This massive, 18-disc set contains all eight seasons (96 episodes) of L.A. excess together in one giant package. The set will be the Blu-ray debut of the first five seasons of the show, and will feature loads of bonus features, including twenty-two different audio commentaries with cast and crew on selected episodes. This is the definitive release of this much-loved series, and is guaranteed to increase your couchtime tenfold if indulged.
Finally. That’s what everyone’s been saying about this long-overdue release of one of the greatest cinematic achievements of our time. To many, the breathtaking desert cinematography of Lawrence of Arabia is the ultimate go-to footage for showing off a home theater’s capabilities, and this 227-minute, Director's Cut release should have no problem living up to its heightened expectations, and then some. When remastering the footage, original attempts to use the previous HD scan were shelved in favor of a back-to-the-source capture of the original negative, which was scanned at 8K and digitally color graded and re-mastered at 4K. “The original negative was seriously damaged in a number of ways, some problems dating from the original release and some accumulated over the years.” said Grover Crisp, EVP of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering for Sony Pictures Entertainment. “But, until now, we did not have the tools available to address these issues. We think fans of the film will be as amazed as we are at the detail and resolution in the imagery captured by cinematographer Freddie Young to compliment David Lean’s immaculate direction.” All things considered, it’s safe to say this is one release that is destined for history.
Men in Black 3 - 2D and 3D - 11/30
Hi-tech weapons, bizarre aliens and slapstick chase scenes in 3D HD? If there was ever a franchise suited for 3D technology, Men in Black is it. This is one Blu-ray that should look fantastic in your home theater.
The Dark Knight Rises - 12/9
What is probably the most anticipated Blu-ray of the year hits the market in time for Christmas. The dark shadows and greys of Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City set the tone for Batman’s epic grand finale, and it should look just as good on your HDTV as it did in theaters. You know you’ll be watching this one over and over to get at all those subtle plot points...
With so much in the pipeline, autumn is shaping up to be quite an eventful Blu-ray season. Is there anything we've overlooked? What upcoming releases are you most excited about?