Over the past few months I’ve received a large amount of older films on Blu-ray to review. Some of them, such as Taxi Driver and All About Eve, are classics that deserve to be preserved and presented in high-definition, while others are downright puzzling choices to see the studios get behind and push in HD (I’m looking at you Barb Wire). Either way, there seems to be a huge surge in catalogue titles coming out, and I’m here to tell you what’s worth adding to your collection and what you should avoid.
Worth owning even if you haven’t seen it
One of my favourite movies of all time, All the President’s Men (1976) is a riveting dramatic real-life thriller about newspaper reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (portrayed onscreen by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, respectively) as they uncover the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon. The Blu-ray release is absolutely a must-have as the image transfer and sound mix are outstanding, and the special features are all worthy of sitting through. Besides many featurettes that dig deeper into the real investigation, there is a great audio commentary with Redford, and a very interesting 36-page booklet is included as well.
If you’re a Robert De Niro fan you must, must, must get the recent release of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976). From the packaging (which comes with some very cool collectible mini poster cards) to the slew of special features and amazing high-def transfer, this is just a stunning addition to any Blu-ray collection. Raging Bull (1980) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984) also have nice Blu-ray upgrades that are worthy of ownership too.
Disney has done a wonderful job cleaning up their classic animated film line, such as titles Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Bambi (1942), which are both must-have titles on Blu-ray. They also just released the original TRON (1982), and considering it was one the first movies to use computer graphics, it looks and sounds surprisingly good in HD.
I know Steven Spielberg’s A.I. (2001) wasn’t well received when it came out, however, I’m a huge fan of the film and seeing it in HD, and hearing it with a 6.1 DTS-HD sound mix, gave me chills and made me fall in love with it all over again. The special features are also worthy of sitting through and might make you appreciate it a bit more (another crapped on Spielberg film, the 2002 sci-fi thriller Minority Report, should also be in your Blu-ray collection). While on the subject of sci-fi, Warner Home Video just released special steelbook collector sets of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Batman Begins (2005), and The Matrix (1999). All of these look gorgeous on Blu-ray and the tin casings look nice on the bookshelf too.
A couple of titles that actually surprised me greatly on Blu-ray include An Affair to Remember (1957) and All About Eve (1950). Both come in slick sets and both have stood the test of time and are preserved wonderfully in high-def. Thelma & Louise (1991) and Fiddler on the Roof (1971) also shocked me, mainly because of how well they sound and not because of how they look (Fiddler on the Roof comes with a 7.1 DTS-HD sound mix). Both movies are also much better than I remember and are definitely great additions to any collection.