'Best in Blu-ray' is a weekly column that will run on Tuesdays and examine the week's new Blu-ray releases while focusing on recommending titles for both the Blu-ray veteran and newbie.
For Blu-ray Vets:
Twitter Tag Line: A big ball of fun, featuring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward at their zesty best as they fight tenacious underground critters.
New Special Features: None. All the extras, including a "making of" feature and outtakes, are ported over from the previous DVD release and presented in standard definition.
Transfer/Audio: Problematic. DVD Beaver reports that the transfer is "plagued with prominent edge enhancement," though it does look "significantly better" than the DVD edition. The audio is notably potent for the "depth and aggression of effect sounds."
Replay Value: The imperfections of the video transfer will drive purists mad, so if you're in that camp, you best stay away. If, however, you have a degree of flexibility, you'll find that this 1990 release, directed by Ron Underwood, holds up surprisingly well. Much of the film's value comes from the chemistry between Bacon and Ward, two jocular and charming actors who sound like the friends they play in the story. Michael Gross and Reba McIntire add to the fun as well-armed survivalists. But the movie never descends into condescending camp; it treats the dilemma of dealing with "creatures from beneath" seriously, while never taking itself too seriously.
'Ocean's 11' (1960)
Twitter Tag Line: This is your father's Las Vegas heist movie, starring the original Rat Pack, looking cool, stylish and dashing.
Why See It (Again): You might have a strange sense of deja vu when watching the original, since the plot is the same but the execution is so much different from what Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and company pulled off in their modern remake. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop seem to be having a good time even when they're not really doing anything, but that was the point. And Angie Dickinson is, for my money, much better than the rather robotic Julia Roberts in the remake.
What to Look For: Limited in visual style and narrative coherence, the picture is entertaining because of its characters, who may or may not have been playing themselves. Dean Martin sings a song. The Las Vegas Strip on display in the background is long gone, which provides a great contrast to the city's present casino landscape.
Coolest Special Feature:
'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'
Twitter Tag Line: The coolest movie ever made!!!
Details: Not everybody loved Edgar Wright's adaptation of Bryan O'Malley's series of graphic novels -- much of the film's appeal hinged on the viewer's willingness to embrace the video game aesthetic and tolerate Michael Cera -- but for those of us who were on the same wavelength, the "Trivia Track" feature enhances one's appreciation. It's not a new or unique type of feature, but for this movie it sounds especially appropriate. As described by HighDefDigest: "Text pops up during the movie to clue us in on all the movie's many video and comic book references. It even lets us in on who created the awesome 8-bit Universal logo at the beginning of the movie. This is a really cool feature as it allows you to catch pretty much everything you may have missed the first or second time you watched the movie. It's really easy to miss all the little hidden references."
Most Intriguing Rental:
'Runnin' Down a Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers'
Twitter Tag Line: The life and musical career of Tom Petty is delineated in a 4-hour (!) doc by Peter Bogdanovich.
Why Seek It Out on Blu-ray: The film received only a limited theatrical release. Its sheer length may sound excessive or indulgent. Yet this reviewer, admittedly a fan of the musician and the filmmaker, has watched it twice and found it compelling each time. Tom Petty appears to lack the animal magnetism required to be a rock star; on closer inspection, however, his unyielding drive for perfection is revealed. He fights personal demons and the recording industry; band members come and go; musical nirvana sometimes eludes him; fortunes seem to come and go. Always, though, there is the music, and you get the clear sense that Petty will play music until his dying day, as long as it's his music.
Why Rent and Not Buy: This is a snap buy for Petty fans, but most likely a one-time viewing event for all others. Don't worry about the length; slide it into your Blu-ray player, fire up the amps, and watch for as long as you want. Chances are, you'll find yourself intrigued and then fascinated, and the hours will melt away.
More New Blu-ray Releases:
Covered at Moviefone:
'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World'
'Charlie St. Cloud'
'The Dry Land'
'Hunt to Kill'
'Damned by Dawn'