Last blog I wrote about being addicted to physical media. This blog covers 5 of the best Blu-ray/4K discs that would make anyone an addict. The only rule is no box sets can be on the list. Box sets can likely cause instant addiction with a commentary track on every single episode in the box along with how each episode was made.
When it comes to this list more is usually better, but not always. Some discs have gone through some incredible restorations from dvd to Blu Ray to 4K and others unless you have the highest of high end equipment you won’t even notice the difference. #5 on the list is Francis Ford Coppola The Godfather. The reason this disc is on the list is because fo the magnificent restoration that was done from dvd to Blu Ray. Chances are if you own this it’s as part of a set with one of the trilogy’s, but I could only pick one, so I went with the original. This is one of the exceptions to more being better.
If you buy just the individual disc of The Godfather your are missing a lot of the extra’s that make it so good. In fact, the only extra is a commentary track by director Coppola. This track is loaded with most of the infamous stories you have probably heard about, but here they are first hand from the guy who was there for all of it. We have had lots of discussion about if The Godfather will make it too 4K. If you own the box set and watch the restoration process the first two films have gone through (literally frame by frame) it doesn’t seem like there is a way to make it any better? I would be very skeptical of a 4K box set as being a paramount money grab, but we shall see.
Next on the list #4 is Robocop by Arrow Video. Arrow has recently become a player in special edition videos loading them with more extra’s than the biggest fan could ever want. They are just now adding true 4K UHD to their video’s, but with Robocop is a restoration from a 4K scan, much like the Godfather. They have 2 versions with a limited edition and a regular edition. If you want all the extra’s you can get your hand on for Robocop you want the now hard to find limited edition.
The limited edition includes two discs with a directors cut on the first disc and the theatrical version on the second disc. The directors cut includes an archive commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davidson and co-writer Ed Neumier (originally recorded for the theatrical cut, but re-editied in 2014 for the directors cut). An all new commentary by fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart and Eastwood Allen. The Future of Law Enforcement Creating Robocop, a newly filmed interview with co-writer Michael Miner. Robotalk, a newly recorded conversation with makers of the film. Truth of Character, a newly filmed interview with star Nancy Allen on her role as Lewis. Seven more documentaries including Roboprops, Composing Robocop, 2012 Q&A with the filmmakers, Creating a legend, a panel discussion lead by the director, Villains of old Detroit, special effects Then and Now, Four deleted scenes, raw dailies from the filming of the gore scenes, trailers and tv spots, and more.
Disc two includes the theatrical cut with plenty more extra’s. Commentary with director Paul Verhoeven, executive producer Jon Davidson and co-writer Ed Neumier (originally recorded in 2014). Two isolated score tracks (composers original score and final theatrical mix). Edited for television version of the film, featuring alternative dubs, takes and edits of several scenes. Split screen comparisons between the directors cut and theatrical cut, and the made for tv version. Robocop: Edited for Television, a compilation of alternative scenes from two edited for television versions including outtakes transferred in HD from recently-unearthed 35mm elements. This two disc set is the definitive Robocop experience!
If you like extra’s on your blu ray discs chances are you have heard of the Criterion Collection. They were one of the first video creators to release special editions of every one of their releases starting back in the days of laserdiscs. If you have not heard of them you should check out their site TheCriterionCollection.com to see the movies they have remastered and included some excellent extra’s. I currently own over 250 Criterion blu rays and picking out my favorite is like asking a parent to pick out their favorite kid.
I chose Ernest Hemingways The Killers for my favorite pick from the Criterion collection for #3. It’s a little bit of a cheat because it’s really two movies in one (but not a box set). The first version of the short story turned feature film is by director Robert Siodmak and staring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner released in 1946. The second version is a very different vision from the same source material this time directed by Don Siegel in 1964 staring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and John Cassavetes. There’s also a co-star named Ronald Reagan who turned the role down because he did not want to play a bad guy. Included in the extra’s what I consider a third version of the short story by Andrei Tarkovsky’s short film adaptation made when he was a student in 1956.
Other extra’s a include digital restorations of both films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the blu rays. An interview from 2002 with writer Stuart M. Kaminsky about both films. Audio recording from 2002 of actor Stacy Keach reading Heminways short story. Screen Directors’ Playhouse radio adaptation from 1949 of the 1946 film with Burt Lancaster and Shelly Winters. Interview with actor Clu Gulager from the 1964 version. An audio excerpt from director Don Siegel’s autobiography, A Siegel Film, read by actor and director Hampton Fancher. Plus essays by novelist Jonathan Lethem and critic Geoffrey O’Brien.
Going back to one of the great Sci Fi movies of all time for #2 in a blu ray edition that includes not 1, not 2, but 5 discs including Ridley Scott’s Final Cut. The other four discs include the Theatrical version of the film, a work print of the film, and enhancement Archive of the film, and one final disc of extra’s Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner. Included in this massive 5 disc version of Blade Runner are 9 hours of special features including the making of Blade Runner incorporating outtakes, Deleted Scenes, rare footage and all new material.
In case you did not get enough from this version of Blade Runner there is an all new Blade Runner: The Final Cut 4k version of the film! The Final Cut 4k version has over 7 hours of extra’s including an introduction by Ridley Scott. Three film maker commentaries and over 80 interviews with Cast, Crew and Colleagues. A lot of the extra’s on the Final Cut 4K are taken from the blu ray, but there’s still more to add if your brain has any space left!
Finally at the #1 spot on my must have collectors editions is yet another Sci Fi classic (I had no idea three of the five would be Sci Fi) the all new 4K Limited Edition 2001:A Space Odyssey. 2001: A Space odyssey was stunning when I first saw it on dvd and it got even better on blu ray and they actually went back and restored and remixed the original 1968 theatrical audio formatted for 5.1. This 3 disc Limited Edition from Zavi is simply stunning in every way. As film critic Roger Ebert once put it “2001 is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe”.
Included in this 3 disc version (and ignore the $300 price tag on ebay you can find them on the Zavi website or for a bit more on Amazon) is a 4K version, a blu ray version of the film and a third disc of just bonus features. Included is a commentary track by Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood. Channel Four Documentary 2001: The Making of a Myth. 4 Insightful Featurettes: Standing on the shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001, Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001, 2001: A Space Odyssey- A Look Behind the Future, and What is Out There? 2001: FX and Early Conceptual Artwork, Look: Stanley Kubrick! Audio Only Bonus: 1966 Kubrick Interview Conducted by Jeremy Bernstein.
Those are my top five and I would say should be in every blu ray lovers collection (physical or digital), although you won’t find all those extra features digitally. Spectacular sounds and visuals and enough extra features to last you a solid week. Let us know what your must have blu rays are that should be in everyones collection! Drop us a line above.