2010 was quite the year for us purists who still like to actually go out and buy a movie (as opposed to the compromise of compression through the convenience of streaming movies on Netflix).
And y’know, for me, there’s still a satisfaction of running my hands over the packaging, playing with those cool lenticular covers i.e. ‘Inception’ and ‘Disney’s A Christmas Carol’, and having the title sit on a shelf in all of its taking up space and having mass glory.
And this year finally saw the release of some big catalog titles on Blu-ray with ‘Alien’, ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’ all getting the respect they deserve along with theatrical getting those extras-packed Blu-ray/DVD releases that are hard to turn down.
Along with great smaller labels like Criterion, Kino and Blue Underground getting into the Blu-ray game in a big way, this is a heck of a time to be a Blu fan. So what were some of my favorite releases of the year? Let’s check them out!
10. The Goonies 25th Anniversary Edition – While some might raise their eyebrows at the higher-priced 25th Anniversary Edition being the only release option and no new disc content, I was still happy as Chunk with a tub of ice cream with my favorite movie as a kid getting the high-def treatment.
And who would be such a scrooge as to not appreciate the appropriate extra little goodies that come in the box like a reprint of a fan magazine and a full board game!
And that video commentary carried over from the DVD release which collects the full cast years later is definitely worth revisiting and always a good time. Goonies never say die!
9. Inception – This is a tough one for me as I was simply not as taken with the film as everybody else seems to be. There’s no questioning it as a technical marvel and an intricate, clever (too clever for its own good?) mind-warp, but there’s a fine line between intriguing ambiguity and annoying convolutedness.
I’m still not convinced ‘Inception’ falls on the right side of that line. So why is it on this list? Because this film was made for Blu-ray!
Every one of those $200 million dollars spent on the film can be seen in splendid high-def detail and will give you a good reason to take in multiple viewings to try and decipher the film’s labyrinthine plot. To no avail? Perhaps, but you’ll be scratching your head in style.
8. Kick-Ass – One of my favorite movies of the year, the film was unjustly overlooked as a bit of an ultra-violent comic book oddity that couldn’t quite decide on tone. But an undecided tone is one of my favorite things about the pic.
At turns hilarious, tense, gross, controversial, silly and, indeed, ‘kick-ass’, you will not find a better-directed film this year regardless of what those pansies at the Academy say.
This bodes will for Matthew Vaughn’s next film, the X-men reboot ‘First Class’. The first time I’ve been excited about an X-men film in eight years!
7. Avatar Extended Collector’s Edition – Another film made to be enjoyed in high-def, this one would have been a bit higher on the list had it not been for the earlier release with no extras. Sure, we were given a heads up that a bigger release was looming but self-respecting film nerds were powerless.
That being said, this new release is a fantastic package with three cuts of the film and hours of special features to pour through. The only thing that is really missing is a 3D cut of the film which might have been nice for those of us considering a 3D setup but alas, it looks like that will be yet another release.
(Note: Disney has the right idea with their ‘A Christmas Carol’ getting a Blu package that includes a 3D Blu, a Blu and a DVD. Well played.)
6. Bridge on the River Kwai – A David Lean pic getting released on Blu-ray is always a cause for celebration and when it involves one of the big ‘two’ (‘Lawrence of Arabia’ up next I hope), even better.
A new digital 4k restoration, this epic masterpiece has never looked or sounded better all wrapped up in a ‘Collector’s Edition’ package that includes lobby cards and a book for a price that you would expect to pay for a stripped-down movie-only release (seriously, this bad boy is only $19.99 on Amazon!).
5. Seven Samurai – I couldn’t wait for Criterion to get in the Blu game and they haven’t disappointed with solid Blu releases for a couple years now. But they waited a while for their flagship title ‘Seven Samurai’ and it was worth the wait.
Having owned the two previous Criterion DVD releases of ‘Seven Samurai’, this Blu release pretty much mimics the 2006 three-disc set as far as extras but now everything is presented in crisp high-def.
The film itself has been scrubbed pretty well for its high def debut when directly comparing certain trouble spots and looks decidedly fantastic overall.
Fans should have no problem double-dipping (or triple, or quadruple for your laserdisc geezers). After all, ‘Seven Samurai’ is the epitome of cinema.
4. Toy Story 3 – Another year, another Pixar classic. And another must-own Blu-ray. I have to admit that I had my reservations that ‘Toy Story 3’ would work or was even necessary judging by the trailers.
But leave it to Pixar to knock it out of the park and give us one of their best, most poignant films yet.
A great film to cuddle up with the family to and share in the laughs and tears (or in my case, those damn contacts!), the Blu-ray package is as extensive as you would expect.
3. Apocalypse Now Three-Disc Full Disclosure Edition – At close to $40, this might be a bit pricey upon first look, but I actually think this is one of the better Blu deals out there.
Including both the theatrical and redux editions as well as finally including the absolutely fantastic doc ‘Hearts of Darkness’ where you can witness in horror as Martin Sheen has a nervous breakdown.
The HD transfers are personally supervised by Coppola and look great. The package also includes a booklet and hours of special features. The horror! The horror!
2. Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy – A much-ballyhooed Blu-ray release touting the infamous footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly, we mostly just got snippets of scenes rather than the full footage that Stoltz shot over four weeks.
No matter, its fun to finally see these scenes and the most obvious treat here is just to get the trilogy in high-def.
There are quite a few new extras too including a comprehensive doc by noted doc-maker Laurent Bouzereau and a handful of featurettes.
1. Alien Anthology – And here’s number #1, easily the most impressive Blu-ray release of the year, quite possibly ever.
While the major extras content (great then and great now) is roughly the same as the DVD Quadrilogy set, Fox goes above and beyond by offering hours of new information tidbits in the form of ‘Enhancement Pods’ that play through a ‘Data Stream’, a streaming information track for all the movies.
And like the Quadrilogy set, all four movies are presented with both their theatrical and special edition versions. ‘The ‘Mu-Th-Ur’ mode is a cool feature that really gives a taste of what Blu-ray is capable of when given the effort which allows communication between the discs and allows users to tag specific features to watch later – cool stuff.
And of course, the films look and sound great with HD remastering for all films. One of the key iconic franchise holdouts, this is definitely the Blu-ray box set to beat this year.
So there you have it, some of my favorites of the year! Some close runners up were Universal’s ‘Psycho’, Kino’s ‘Metropolis’, ‘Deadwood: The Complete Series’, Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and Criterion’s ‘Night of the Hunter’. Feel like I missed anything? Strike back with your favorites below!