A Bunch of Blu
A look at five recent Blu-ray releases: It's Complicated, The Jackal, Leap Year, Traffic, and Out of Africa
The high definition home video technology known as Blu-ray is in an unusual place in 2010. Unlike laserdisc, which failed to fulfill the promise of its expanded aesthetic discussion and preservationist intent (cost kept it from dethroning crappier, more commercial king VHS), it has held steady with its digital sidekick, DVD. There have even been cases when specific titles (The Dark Knight, Avatar) clearly outsell - and outclass - their non-Blu brethren and with 3D advancements looking to make their mark, the format is in a very strange holding pattern. Almost all swear by its improved sound and vision, but some studios aren't willing to invest in the labor-intensive remastering of their movies (which kind of defeats the purpose). So they simply toss out the previous incarnation of a film and hope that the majority of the buyers pay little or no attention to the lack of an update. Most don't.
There are some studios who are trying to keep everyone happy. Disney regularly releases its latest animated efforts in complex combination packages that give both Blu-ray and DVD aficionados something to crow about, and Warner Brothers began a program where you can take your old out of date discs and port them over to the new technology. Universal is even testing the double format idea, releasing a bunch of notable efforts via an intriguing two-side ideal. Again, if the image is not improved and the extras aren't plentiful, there's really no reason for the re-release. Still, looking over the five titles featured in this initial installment of our semi-regular Blu-ray overview, you can see that some distributors are trying their best to buoy sales and maintain a level of consumer confidence. On the other hand, they have to deal with the often uneventful movies as part of the presentation. Let's begin with:
It's Complicated (Score: 4)
(The Blu-ray offers a commentary track with the filmmakers and a Making-of featurette).
The Jackal (Score: 5)
(The Blu-ray adds a commentary track with Caton-Jones, and a Behind the Scenes featurette. On the flip side of the disc is the standard DVD version of the film)
Leap Year (Score: 3)
(The Blu-Ray throws in some deleted scenes - that's all)
Traffic (Score: 8)
(The Blu-Ray gives us 24 deleted scenes and something called "Inside Traffic". Clearly not the equivalent of the Criterion Collection DVD. On the flip side of the disc is the standard DVD version of the film)
Out of Africa (Score: 7)
(The Blu-ray, which goes out of its way to call itself a "25th Anniversary Special Edition" does pour on the added content. There is a commentary from Pollack, deleted scenes, an original documentary on the making of the movie, and a trailer. On the flip side of the disc is the standard DVD version of the film)