The Shelf Space Awards: September 2013
Despite my travels to Toronto and Austin this month, I still managed to finish some full Blu-ray reviews of the Friday the 13th Collection, World War Z, Psycho II and III and Iron Man 3. For the rest, I give out the Shelf Space Awards for noteworthy Blu-ray releases in the month of September, and some early ones for October. Since it’s already October as I finish this, I’d better stay current with the Halloween releases!
The “I Called It” Award
At my first Sundance Film Festival in 2011, I discovered the films of Brit Marling, and therefore her collaborator Zal Batmanglij. I predicted she would be the next big star to watch, and The East was their long awaited, by my impatient standards at least, follow-up project. A big, widescreen suspense thriller, The East looks fabulous in HD. There’s plenty of detail to see in The East’s compound and the forest surrounding them. Shots of D.C. look appropriately stark by comparison, and of course Marling is luminous. Look, I stand by my people. I feel her soul every time I look at her and HD only makes her more soulful. There are a few rough digital shots full of white noise, but that’s intentional. When eco-terror groups make low-rent propaganda videos, it ain’t pretty.
The Non-Focker Award
I really liked the parents meeting comedy Peeples when I saw it in May. I thought it would make Craig Robinson a leading man, but maybe people will discover it on Blu-ray. If they do, the Hamptons set comedy will look great.
As a new release, the picture is perfectly clear and sharp, and the northeastern summer setting is gorgeous.
The Hard Boiled Killer Award
Chow Yun-Fat is back in another gun toting badass role, though to be fair to the box art for The Last Tycoon, that doesn’t really happen until the end. I get it, you have to sell the marketable elements.
The period drama does look outstanding though. The colors of the historical era are vibrant, and the picture is exceedingly clear.
The Cannes-Comes-Home Award
I saw The Bling Ring at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and it is the first of those movies to come home on Blu-ray. And, it is a very pretty movie. Four hot girls, celebrity homes and ironic glamour (it is ironic, isn’t it?) all look great in HD. It’s also the brightest movie I’ve ever seen on Blu-ray. Any daytime scene is like the sun is shining right in your living room.
Even Facebook pages look great on Blu-ray.
The Dolph To Video Award
If you keep up with the latest Dolph Lundgren straight to video movies, and I know you do, you’ll be in for a treat with Blood of Redemption. Shot on the Red Epic digital camera, the Blu-ray presentation looks better than anything you could see in a theater.
On top of that, it’s actually shot in Los Angeles, a true rarity for Hollywood these days!
Early October Awards
The Lil’ Franchise Fred Award (Available October 1)
I do have a friend with a 3D television so I’m hoping to go over there and watch Amityville 3D proper. Until then, I just reviewed The Amityville Trilogy 2D. As is usually the case, the original Amityville Horror looks the best. It is not the cleanest print, but the occasional dust and dirt gives it a forbidden ‘70s horror look. Otherwise the picture is solid, and really holds up at night when the scary stuff happens. Amityville II: The Possession looks pretty good too, with the same dirt and dust, perhaps a little less sharp than O.G. Amityville. It also lacks the bushy James Brolin beard of the original.
The 2D version of Amityville 3D, which I guess we just have to call Amityville 3, is really fuzzy and out of focus. It’s like it’s still the version you need glasses for, or maybe 1983 3D just couldn’t stay in focus. It doesn’t matter, no one’s going to watch the third one unless they have 3D anyway. And why stop at the trilogy? Aren’t there five more Amityvilles? I want Amityville: Dollhouse on Blu-ray dammit!
The Batteries Not Included Award (Available October 8)
Chucky: The Complete Collection has every Child’s Play movie, including the new one, but no batteries, because Chucky is alive and doesn’t need batteries.
Child’s Play is the same transfer as the Fox Home Entertainment “20th Birthday Edition” five years ago. It’s good, some gritty streets and bad neighborhoods, but also some digital artifacts. Child’s Play 2 looks solid too, with some highly visible film grain for authenticity, but a very crisp look to the picture. There’s a major quality jump in Child’s Play 3 where the opening shots of the decrepit toy factory look like a Terry Gilliam set, and the military Academy is sharp too, especially those shiny polished shoes.
By Bride of and Seed of Chucky, the dolls are so much more sophisticated, you’re really seeing every articulated movement and subtle crafted detail. The new Curse of Chucky probably looks the best on Blu-ray, since it’s the newest and cleanest. Set entirely in a house, the shadowy lighting totally sets the mood whether you’re watching it at home, or have the privilege of catching a big screen showing.
Lock Your Doors Award (Available October 8)
The surprise hit of the summer, The Purge looks so great on Blu-ray it almost belies its grindhouse aesthetic. The high concept of a single night where all crime is legal is the domain of exploitation, and The Purge used its enticing idea to connect with a large audience.
With a Blu-ray perfectly clear and sharp, above and beyond most other studio movies, The Purge once again rises above the competition.
The 42 Award (Available October 8)
I’m mixing satires here, but Monty Python and the Meaning of Life had a great looking new Blu-ray regardless of whether I name its award after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You can now see every little detail in the Mr. Creosote costume, as well as all the gross stuff which really only makes it funnier. The Crimson Permanent Assurance is such an elaborate set of practical materials, you can now marvel at the complex set pieces on display there too.
Animated interludes look brilliant, as the Brits would say, and every sketch looks sharp and crisp in high definition.