Saturday, June 2, 2012

Five reasons to upgrade your movie library to Blu-Ray

I was one of those people that resisted Blu-Ray for awhile.

Not because I don’t love technology – because I do.

I was just wanted to wait and see whether Blu-Ray or HD would win the format wars.

Even when it became clear that Blu-Ray was going to trounce HD, I still held off, though.

I knew from past experience that players would initially come out at a much higher price than I wanted to pay. Just like anything else, Blu-Ray players have plummeted in price and most patrons can get a nice machine for less than $100 now.

When I first started building my Blu-Ray library, I held off upgrading any titles I already had. It’s not that I didn’t believe that the picture would be better, it’s just that I didn’t want to waste unnecessary money.

Sure, when given the choice now, I always buy Blu-Ray vs. DVD – but I resisted upgrading older titles.

That resistance didn’t last long. Here are the best titles to upgrade. Trust me, they’re worth it.

5. Harry Potter and the Dealthly Hallows (Part 1 and 2): It’s a shame Blu-Ray wasn’t really popular for all the movies. The transfer of the earlier films looks beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but the final two movies have it all over them in the special effects department. In what is probably my all time favorite special feature, the final two Harry Potter movies have a an interactive feature where viewers can watch as characters, special effects coordinators and behind-the-scenes personnel “interrupt” the movie to share a special memory, a special filming note or even deleted scenes. The actors also read directly from J.K. Rowling’s final book to highlight certain aspects of the films. The Harry Potter films weren’t perfect – and you were never going to make all of the readers happy – but this special feature made me giddy with happiness when I discovered it. Also, special shout out to the interview between Daniel Radcliffe and Rowling on the final movie. Very well done, and very informative.

4. Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy: The second and third movies in this trilogy don’t have the magic the first film did. They’re not bad films, though. I think the true fault with the third film lies in the fact that they kept having to make bigger and badder dinosaurs. That pterodactyl apiary, though, was a great addition. I was a teenager when the first ‘Jurassic Park’ came out, and I will honestly never forget the moment of sheer movie magic I felt when I caught sight of that first dinosaur along with Dr. Alan Grant. The Blu-Rays allow the viewer to experience that moment all over again. They’re well worth the money.

3. Alien Anthology: This is a case of two great movies, one mediocre movie and one truly awful movie. They all look great in the transfer, though. Clearly, when you’re dealing with ‘Alien’ movies – the first two are what you care about. That being said, the Blu-Ray transfer is worth giving the other two films at least a cursory glance. This set proves that no matter how old the movie, if you put the effort in you can make the visual aspect of the film relevant in today’s higher technology world. Sure, the storylines in the third and fourth movies still leave something to be desired, but you can’t say the film transfer isn’t truly spectacular. Plus, the packaging of the set is gorgeous -- and includes two special feature discs. Bring on ‘Prometheus.’

2. The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Extended Editions): Quite frankly, these are probably the best science fiction and fantasy films ever made. The casting was spot-on and the emotionally driven movies couldn’t have been done any better. Peter Jackson essentially forged a love letter to J.R.R. Tolkien when he made the movies – especially since the ‘Lord of the Rings’ tome was long considered to be un-filmable. The sweeping landscape of the world he created was breathtaking on the big screen and it is on the small screen on Blu-Ray as well. I honestly can’t wait to see what he does with ‘The Hobbit’ later this year. As far as the extended editions go, a true fan has to go this route. Not only are cut scenes re-edited back in seamlessly, they all managed to add something to the overall narrative. If you’re a true ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan – this is the only way to go.

1. Star Wars (The Complete Saga): As far as the movies go, everyone knows that the first three are vastly superior than the three prequels. That being said, no one can fault George Lucas’ vision. When I received the set, I popped the first disc in – which of course was ‘The Phantom Menace.’ Even though the movie isn’t the best Star Wars offering – and Jar Jar Binks is the most annoying character ever put to film – I literally gasped when the movie appeared on the screen. The transfer is amazing. Sure, it still irks that Lucas felt the need to tweak the movies a little more with the new release, but you can’t fault the end product. Even the first three films are visually breathtaking in their scope and appeal. On Blu-Ray, it's almost as if you get to discover the movies all over again.

Honorable mentions go to ‘The Dark Knight,’ ‘Band of Brothers,’ ‘Star Trek: The Original Series,’ ‘Wall-E,’ ‘The Godfather Collection,’ ‘Star Trek,’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast 3-D.’

What do you think? What are the best Blu-Ray transfers?


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