Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week.
"Super 8" (Paramount) has the DNA of a Steven Spielberg tale: creative kids, a love of movies, an alien visitor, a military conspiracy. mystery, wonder and adventure from the perspective of a child. Too bad that director J.J. Abrams pays more attention to the pyrotechnics than to the kids in the middle of it. But he does get some superb performances from his young cast, especially Elle Fanning. Videodrone's review is here.
"Conan the Barbarian" (Lionsgate) casts Jason Momoa in the role of Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction hero, made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger, for this attempt to reboot the franchise for a new generation. Robert Rodriguez returns to his juvenile James Bond series with Jessica Alba and Joel McHale in the lead in "Spy Kids: All The Time In The World" (Anchor Bay)
Dominic Cooper delivers his breakout performance as Uday Hussein and his civilian lookalike in "The Devil's Double" (Lionsgate), directed by Lee Tamahori. Kristin Scott Thomas stars in "Sarah's Key" (Anchor Bay), a World War II mystery based on the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay.
Plus "Trigger" (Wolfe) is Bruce McDonald's rock and roll indie from Canada with Molly Parker and Tracy Wright, "Carjacked" (Anchor Bay) stars Mario Bello and Stephen Dorff, and "Flypaper" (IFC) stars Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd.
TV on DVD:
"Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series" (BBC) features all 13 episodes plus the Christmas special from most recent series of the erstwhile British sci-fantasy show, now under the creative wing of writer/producer Stephen Moffat and Doctor Matt Smith. It's a season to remember. Videodrone remembers is here.
"The Office: Special Edition" (U.K.) (BBC) is a new edition of the original British incarnation of workplace sitcom with Ricky Gervais as a most insufferably self-satisfied office manager on television. This set features new interviews and a retrospective documentary. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Adventures of Tintin: Season One" (Shout! Factory) is an animated series produced in Europe in the early 1990s and based on the original books by Herge, including two that form the basis of the new Steven Spielberg film. "Perry Mason: Season Six, Volume Two" (Paramount) features 14 more episodes of courtroom brilliance from Raymond Burr's definitive TV lawyer. The documentary "These Amazing Shadows: The Movies That Make America" (PBS), originally produced for public television, surveys the films on the National Film Registry.
Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here
Cool, Classic and Cult:
Henry Fonda calms "12 Angry Men" (Criterion) in the classic 1957 courtroom drama set entirely in the jury room. Sidney Lumet made his feature debut in the big screen adaptation of the original live TV production. The Criterion debut features both versions and plenty of supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
Two D.W. Griffith silent movie landmarks receive newly remastered editions on DVD and Blu-ray debuts: "Birth of a Nation" (Kino), the original American cinema epic (as influential as it is controversial), and the thrilling melodrama "Way Down East" (Kino) with Lillian Gish.
"¡Three Amigos! 25th Anniversary Edition" (HBO), starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short as intellectually-challenged actors in silent movie westerns mistaken for genuine heroes, may be the forgotten John Landis comedy classic. It's certainly the sweetest of the American western parodies, and it is a loving tribute to the innocence of the early westerns. Videodrone interviews John Landis here.
"Rushmore" (Criterion), Wes Anderson's second feature, the original "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (MGM) with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, and the sprawling 1958 western "The Big Country" (MGM) with Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston and Jean Simmons also debut.
The complete calendar of releases this week is after the jump:
|Tags:||Week in review|
50% all Criterion releases ends Monday, November 21
It's a great excuse to peruse the shelves or browse the website. And maybe even pick up a little something for yourself along the way.
And if you're looking for a few recommendations, allow me to steer you toward some of my favorite releases of the past year (new to DVD and/or Blu-ray, or re-released in a new edition), with links to my reviews.
American Classics: Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator," "Sweet Smell of Success" with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, Robert Aldrich's 1955 film noir apocalypse "Kiss Me Deadly,"
Modern Classics: Brian DePalma's "Blow Out," Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild," Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused."
Foreign Classics: Jean Renoir's "The Rules Of The Game," Luchino Visconti's "Senso," Henri-George Clouzot's "Diabolique," Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast," "The Complete Jean Vigo" and Victor Sjöström's silent movie masterpiece "The Phantom Carriage."
Modern Classics (Foreign Edition): Krzysztof Kieslowski's "The Double Life of Veronique" and the sublime "Three Colors: Blue White Red," Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander Box Set" and Olivier Assayass' "Carlos"
Cool and Culty: Roman Polanski's "Cul-De-Sac" and the original 1932 "Island of Lost Souls." Are we not cinephiles?
But you need to act now. The sale ends on Monday, November 21. Happy shopping.
Your guide to our coverage of the new DVD/Blu-ray releases
Here's what's new on DVD and Blu-ray this week as featured on Videodrone
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts Lift 'Larry Crowne'
Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer are 'Beginners'
The New Release Rack: The Indie Grunge of 'Bellflower,' the Grace of 'The Tree' and more
TV on DVD:
'Being Human' in America
MSN Exclusive Clip: Neil Gaiman On 'Neverwhere' at 15
Bargain: 'Crime Story: The Complete Series'
TV on DVD Channel Guide: 'It Takes a Thief' Debuts
The Cool and the Collectible:
Essentials: 'Three Colors: Blue White Red' and 'The Rules of the Game' on Criterion
Gift Guide Spotlight: The Best of 'Looney Tunes' on Blu-ray
MSN Exclusive Clip: 'West Side Story' Turns 50 with a Blu-ray Debut
Weekend Viewing: 'The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover'
'Atlas Shrugged' DVDs recalled, the world shrugs
Coming up next week:
"Super 8" (Paramount)
"Conan the Barbarian" (Lionsgate)
"The Devil's Double" (Lionsgate)
"Sarah's Key" (Weinstein)
"Spy Kids: All the Time in the World" (Anchor Bay)
"The Family Tree" (eOne)
"12 Angry Men" (Criterion)
"The Adventures of Tintin: Season One" (Shout! Factory)
"Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series" (BBC)
"The Office: Special Edition" (U.K.) (BBC)
"Rushmore" (Blu-ray) (Criterion)
"Birth of a Nation" (Blu-ray) (Kino)
"Way Down East" (Blu-ray) (Kino)
|Tags:||Week in review|
Plus 'Farscape,' 'The Mysterious Island,' 'Despair' and a new 'Evil Dead II'
"Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume 1" (Warner) presents the HD debut of 50 of the greatest Looney Tunes cartoons in a three-disc set with commentaries, featurettes and hours of bonus documentaries. Videodrone's review is here. "Three Colors: Blue White Red" (Criterion), the complete trilogy by Krzysztof Kieslowski, gets its Criterion debut on DVD and Blu-ray, and "The Rules Of The Game" (Criterion) is remastered for a new DVD and a Blu-ray debut by Criterion. Videodrone reviews them here.
And a pair of classic, multiple Oscar-winning musicals go Blu this week. "West Side Story: 50th Anniversary Edition" (Fox) is released in two editions with some minor issues that Fox is sorting out. See Videodrone's coverage here.
"My Fair Lady" (Paramount), Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's transformation of the witty George Bernard Shaw play "Pygmalion" into a buoyant musical, also makes its Blu debut, but this edition is even more problematic. Again, I turn to the experts. At Home Theater Forum, Robert Harris (who was involved in the original film restoration of "My Fair Lady" decades ago and is featured on the commentary track, recorded over a decade ago) complains of the weaknesses in the color and stability of the image: "The new Blu-ray, especially with its field problems, is not representative of the film."
And at DVD Beaver, Gary Tooze opens his review with "I have to say that something is 'wrong' here." Both agree that it is an upgrade from the old DVD, but that for an Oscar winner and a beloved film, it is well below the standards set for major studio classics on Blu-ray.
Features all the supplements of the previous DVD release: commentary by art director Gene Allen, singer Marni Nixon and restoration team Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, the 1994 documentary "More Loverly Than Ever: The Making of My Fair Lady - Then and Now," vintage featurettes, archival material from the vaults (including Hepburn’s original vocals for “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “Show Me”) and other extras.
"Farscape: The Complete Series" (A&E) is technically "complete" but practically speaking not quite: it features all four seasons of the wild made-for-cable science fiction series but not the mini-series finale, which was produced after the series was cancelled. The show was the first real trademark hit for the SciFi channel, an original series filled with exotic aliens, marbled worlds, and spacescapes that look ripped from the cover of “Amazing Stories." But it was more than just space opera and pulp adventure. Our heroes are essentially outlaws, escaped from an authoritarian regime and on the run from pretty much everybody out there. The totalitarian worlds and mercenary survivors of this hostile universe are a far cry from the Federation friendly universe of "Star Trek," and the dark art direction and wild, often grotesque creatures (courtesy of Jim Henson studios) made this the most imaginative and unpredictable science fiction show on TV in its day. This series knew how to make an epic on a budget.
As in the previous DVD release from A&E, it features all 88 episodes of the show (on 20 Blu-ray discs) plus the commentary tracks (29 in all), featurettes, interviews, character profiles, deleted scenes, galleries and other goodies seen on earlier releases from show. New to the set is a brand new retrospective documentary: "Memories of Moya: An Epic Journey Explored" featuring new interviews with the cast and crew.
Cy Enfield directs "Mysterious Island" (Twilight Time), adapted from Jules Verne’s sequel to "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," but the creative imagination is provided the Ray Harryhausen, whose intricate visual effects provide the giant bestiary of the island, including a ferocious Dodo bird, a crab the size of an elephant, and a hive of helicopter-sized bees. They are the creations of Captain Nemo (Herbert Lom), who has been stranded on the island but makes his appearance late in the film. The main story involves a group Union soldiers (among them Michael Craig, Michael Callan, and Gary Merrill) who escape form a Confederate prison in a raging storm and crash on the island. The excellent score is by Bernard Herrmann, which is also presented in a separate isolated audio track, as is the custom of the boutique label Twilight Time. This disc marks their first release in a new partnership with Sony to release Blu-ray editions of classics from the Columbia Pictures library.
"Despair" (Olive), adapted from the Vladimir Nabokov novel, is Rainer Werner Fassbinder's first English language production and the first film he didn't script himself (Tom Stoppard wrote this one). Dirk Bogarde stars as Hermann Hermann, a dandified Russian emigree in late 1920s Berlin, the owner of a chocolate factory who plots the escape the monotony of his life by exchanging identities with an unemployed man he believes is his exact double but in fact looks nothing like the man. Fassbinder shot the film simultaneously in English and German language versions for international release. Olive released the film on DVD earlier this year and new offers a restored HD edition of the English language version on Blu-ray along with the new making-of documentary feature "The Cinema and Its Double" by Robert Fischer, which debuts in this release.
"Infernal Affairs" (Lionsgate), the original 2002 Hong Kong gangster thriller that inspired Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," stars Andy Lau as a gangster undercover with the cops and Tony Leung as a deep cover operative in the mob. Andrew Lau’s high concept cat-and-mouse thriller (co-directed by Alan Mak) is like a South Korean crime drama married to the outsized Hong Kong melodrama of loyalty and sacrifice: slick and handsome (it credits cinematographer Christopher Doyle as “visual consultant”), solidly plotted, and satisfyingly cynical. Includes two featurettes ("Confidential File" and "The Making of Infernal Affairs") and an alternate ending.
"Evil Dead II: 25th Anniversary Edition" (Lionsgate) is the second Blu-ray edition of Sam Raimi's cult classic of a horror comedy. Previously released by Anchor Bay, the new Lionsgate edition has been newly remastered from the original negative and includes plenty of new supplements along with the commentary track (by Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero) and featurettes of the previous edition. New to this set are the feature-length, seven-part documentary "Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead II," a comprehensive look at the film from conception to release featuring almost everyone involved in the film except Sam Raimi, and the featurettes "The Road to Wadesboro: Revisiting the Shooting Location of Evil Dead II" and "Cabin Fever," with footage that the film's FX artist Nicotero shot on the set during the original shoot.
The original "Spy Kids" trilogy was released on Blu-ray in separate editions earlier this year. "Spy Kids Triple Feature" (Lionsgate) simply collects them in a single set and a conveniently space-saving standard case with a hinged tray. The review from the earlier Blu-ray release is here.
"WWII in HD: Collector's Edition" (History) is a new edition of the previously-released series which presents the war as seen through rare color film footage, with two bonus programs ("The Battle for Iwo Jima" and :WWI in HD: The Air War") in an olive green case. "Sea Rex 3D" (Universal) presents both 2D and 3D versions of the IMAX documentary.
Plus the Life of Ozzy, 'Assassin's Creed', Renoir and Kieslowski
Criterion has a reputation for presenting the greatest film of world cinema in superb editions, but with week they top even their own high standards. "Three Colors: Blue White Red" (Criterion) offers newly remastered editions of the Krzysztof Kieslowski films, a sublime trilogy given a magnificent treatment. Jean Renoir's "The Rules Of The Game" (Criterion) is rereleased in a new, improved high-definition master with additional supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
After Alex Cox proved himself unmarketable in the US, he went South and toiled in the low budget film industry in Mexico and within the tight restrictions of the Mexican studios he turned out another powerful, personal little film which even received limited theatrical distribution in the US in 1992. "Highway Patrolman" (Microcinema) chronicles the descent of a rookie cop into the morass of corruption and moral self destruction fostered by the very system he works within (an allegory for Mexican politics in general?). Austerely shot on the desolate highways and empty plains of Durango, Cox effectively uses long takes and extended tracking shots to communicate the pace of life while keeping the focus on the young cop and his experiences. Robert Sosa is terrific as the idealistic newlywed ready to make a difference, and every compromise he makes takes that much more life out of the character, replaced with a weary acceptance of… well, almost anything. The DVD debut features commentary by Cox and producer Lorenzo O'Brien and three shorts.
"Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis" (Kino) is the 1984 reconstruction of Fritz Lang's silent classic with (then) newly-discovered footage, lavish tints and a rock soundtrack. Now it is more of a curiosity than a classic, all but displaced by recent restorations, but it was so influential in its day—it was many a film lover's first introduction to the film and it for years it was (for all of Moroder's tinkering) the most complete and best looking edition you could find on home video—that Kino has honored the film and its place in film history with DVD and Blu-ray release true to Moroder's labor-of-love original release. Features "A Personal Message by Giorgio Moroder" and a 1984 documentary about film preservation and the restoration of "Metropolis" produced by Moroder. For more on the film and the DVD/Blu-ray release, read Glenn Erickson's review at Turner Classic Movies.
"God Bless Ozzy Osbourne" (Eagle Rock) chronicles the four-decade career of the heavy metal icon. The DVD and Blu-ray both feature a bonus Q&A with Ozzy and Jack Osbourne, deleted scenes and footage from the Tribeca Film Festival screening.
Ralph Richardson stars as a thinly-veiled version of Dutch war hero Piet Hein, who posed as a Nazi collaborator while secretly sabotaging their fleet, in "The Silver Fleet" (VCI), a British war drama from 1943.
Originally made for the web are "Assassin's Creed: Lineage" (Flatiron), a prequel to the film series based on the hit video game, and "Red vs. Blue: Season 9" (Flatiron), an animated spoof of spun off from the video game Halo.
"The Legacy Collection: Kirk Douglas" (Inception Media Group) presents five features from the public domain ("The Strange Love of Martha Ivers," "My Dear Secretary," "The Big Trees," "Catch Me a Spy" and "The Master Touch") and select DVD appearances and trailers on three discs, and "Dahling: A Tribute to Zsa Zsa Gabor" (Inception Media Group) presents the movies "Mooch Goes to Hollywood" and "Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie" and select TV appearances and trailers on single disc. Don't expect quality; these are cheap public domain prints indifferently mastered for DVD.
Plus the new 'Being Human' and new collections of vintage TV shows
"Being Human: The Complete First Season (U.S.)" (eOne) is the American incarnation of the original British series about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who become roommates and try to live like regular folk. Videodrone's review is here.
"Neverwhere: 15th Anniversary Edition" (BBC) remasters the 1996 British mini-series adapted by Neil Gaiman from his own novel. Videodrone's review is here, with an exclusive clip with Neil Gaiman. And "Crime Story: The Complete Series" (Image) collects the two seasons of Michael Mann’s sixties-era gangster series in bargain-priced edition. Reviewed here.
"It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series" (eOne) comes out of the same sixties cold war culture and American adventurism of shows like "Mission: Impossible" and "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," but in place of the suave superspy is the slick civilian thief and con man drafted into government service.
Robert Wagner is the career criminal Alexander Mundy, sprung from prison in exchange for applying his talents to special assignments. "We're not asking you to spy," explains his agency boss Noah Bain (a wonderfully wry Malachi Throne). "We're just asking you to steal." Wagner is perfect for the role, part James Bond playboy spy and part all-American operator, always with an eye toward the ladies between (and often during) missions, and the show has a great line-up of guest star beauties on both sides of the spy game, including Susan Saint James in a recurring role as a fellow thief who crosses his path more than once. Malachi Throne left the series after two seasons and was never really replaced but the third and final season has its own rewards: it was shot in Italy, which gives the season a real international flavor and glamour, and brings in Fred Astaire in a recurring role as Alexander's father Alistair, the globetrotting master thief who taught Alexander everything he knows.
The 18-disc box set presents the entire three-season run, all 66 episodes, plus the expanded feature version of the pilot that was released to theaters. The image quality, however, is spotty. Apparently mastered from 16mm television prints, the first season episodes I sampled looked fine but the later seasons are mastered from faded and dull and often worn prints, and some episodes appeared to be old, pre-digital video masters. Each season is in a flimsy fold-out paperboard digipak with slipsleeves rather than trays, and the supplements are limited to new interviews with Robert Wagner and producer/writer Glen A. Larson. The box is a little cheap, sad to say. And there's also a set of coasters.
"Aaron Copland: Music in the 20s" (Kultur), produced by the pre-PBS station WNET in 1964, presents a series lecture presented by composer Aaron Copland, who also conducts a studio orchestra. The complete 12-part series of half-hour episodes on three discs.
"The California Raisins Collection" (Hen's Tooth) spotlights the unlikely fame of the stop-motion animated characters created by Will Vinton through two TV specials ("Meet the Raisins" and "Raisins: Sold Out"), four TV commercials and the short-lived cel animated Saturday morning TV series.
"American Restoration: Season One" (History) presents the first 16 episodes in the spin-off of "Pawn Stars." "Half Pint Brawlers: Season 1" (Image) is a reality series spin-off of "Jackass" following the exploits of a group of self-proclaimed hardcore little person wrestlers. Seven episodes. "Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution" (Paramount) features seven episodes of the stand-up comedy showcase.
Criterion releases some of the greatest films ever made in new DVD editions and Blu-ray debuts
Criterion established itself as the gold standard for classic cinema on home video first on laserdisc, then on DVD and now for Blu-ray. This week, Criterion brings out editions of four of the greatest, most beautiful and most resonant films every made in newly remastered DVD editions and Blu-ray debuts: "Three Colors: Blue White Red," the great trilogy from Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Jean Renoir's "The Rules Of The Game."
Reviled and condemned upon its release in 1939, butchered by the studio and declared a rediscovered masterpiece when is was reconstructed and restored in 1959, Jean Renoir’s "The Rules Of The Game" (1939) is at once savage social satire and a compassionate comedy of manners with a fatal, feral undercurrent. Set in the dying days of the 1930s, as the Third Reich cast a long shadow over a seemingly impotent France, the ironic drama of life, love, class, and the social code of manners and behavior --“the rules of the game” of the title -- finds its microcosm of French society in the farcical romantic triangles that play out during a weekend in the country. The defining line of the film -- “Everyone has their reasons” -- is transformed by Renoir from a statement of tolerance to a dismissal of behavior to ultimately an apologist’s impotent excuse for the inexcusable. I'd have a hard time calling this my "favorite" of Renoir's films, as it demands so much and can leave you devastated by end, but I believe that there is not a more perfect, more profound, or more inexhaustible film in Renoir’s amazing career.
Criterion originally released this on DVD in 2004 in what was then a state-of-the-art edition. It's been newly remastered in a high-definition digital restoration, which brings out greater detail, depth and texture. As it is mastered from a reconstruction of a film that was drastically re-edited after its release, from whatever materials survived (the original negative was destroyed in during World War II), the greater detail reveals more of the wear and damage, but that is an honest trade-off. Criterion was able to digitally clean up most of the scratches, grit and wear, and what's left is the legacy of film and time. DVD Beaver compares the new transfer to the previous DVD editions here.
The Blu-ray and the new DVD editions both feature the supplements of the earlier DVD release, including commentary, comparisons between the cut version and the reconstructed edition, featurettes, interviews and archival material. A complete reckoning is included below.
Krzysztof Kieslowski ended his career with "Three Colors: Blue White Red" (Criterion), a trilogy of delicately connected films that many hold as his greatest work. They are the three colors of the French flag and the films reflect the ideals of the motto "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" as Kieslowski-an exploration of the human experience. Liberty is represented "Blue" (1993), starring the luminous Juliette Binoche as a young widow who withdraws from the world after the sudden death of her husband and child. The hushed study in loss, which hovers around Binoche as she tries to live a life of emotional detachment, is a film of magnificent grace, informed by the sometimes soothing, sometimes alienating hues of her blue existence, and the enigmatic production is the richest, most lush visual experience of the trilogy. "White" (1993) couldn’t be more different, an unexpected comedy of rejection and revenge starring Zbigniew Zamachowski as a sad sack Polish immigrant who, after being dumped by his frustrated wife Julie Delpy, returns to the new Poland of capitalism and prepares his plan of wounded vengeance. "Red" (1994), the story of a French model (Irene Jacob) who befriends an embittered retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who eavesdrops on his neighbors’ conversations, is the warmest and most forgiving of the series.
The subtlest of details weave through the three films, flourishes that marry them to the same cinematic universe. “I have said all I need to say on film," remarked Kieslowski after completing the trilogy. ""Red" is my summation.” Revisiting the films 17 years after the release of his summation, I find "Blue" to be the most intimate and poetic of the three and "Red" the most complex and densely woven, reverberating with doubles and disconnected relationships that dance around one another throughout the film until the final scene of "Red," a coda that pulls all three films together in an unforgettable scene of emotional power and beauty.
Miramax released the three films to DVD in 2003. Criterion returns to the original materials for new high-definition masters for a significantly improved presentation on DVD and a much-anticipated Blu-ray debut. DVD Beaver tackles the Blu-ray releases with technical reviews of all three film: "Blue," "White" and "Red."
Criterion includes many (but not all) of the supplements from the Miramax release in their box set (the most obvious omission are the commentary tracks that Annette Insdorf recorded for each film), and adds a few of its own, most prominently superb video essays by Annette Insdorf (on "Blue"), Tony Rayns ("White") and Dennis Lim ("Red"). See below for complete list of supplements.
For more on the supplements, and clips from "Red," continue reading below.
Everything's Blu in America!
Life is all right in America when you can celebrate the "West Side Story: 50th Anniversary Edition" (Fox) with a Blu-ray debut, though there is a production issue that make this edition just "mostly right." Details after the clip.
See below for an MSN Exclusive clip from the Blu-ray
Playwright Arthur Laurents, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein collaborated to turn "Romeo and Juliet" into a modern story of rival gangs on the streets of 1950s inner city New York, where the whites and the Puerto Ricans battle for supremacy. Robert Wise co-directs the screen adaptation with stage choreographer Jerome Robbins, and he gives Robbins a free hand to let dance and movement dominate, while Leonard Bernstein’s score is, simply put, one of the greatest in musical history.
The Blu-ray comes in two editions. The three-disc Blu-ray+DVD features the extras of the previous DVD special editions (the hour-long documentary "West Side Memories," storyboard-to-film comparisons) plus new supplements: "A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy," a half-hour featurette that looks back on the impact and influence of the original show and the film; "Pow! The Dances of West Side Story," a picture-in-picture track that engages for the dance numbers; song specific commentary by lyricist Stephen Sondheim; and a jukebox function to jump directly to the songs. The documentaries are presented in a separate disc.
Here's a clip from "A Place for Us: West Side Story’s Legacy" featured on the Blu-ray.
The Deluxe Edition doesn't offer much more than the regular Blu-ray, and certainly nothing essential. The standard plastic case is replaced by a foldout digibook with slipsleeve trays and includes a bonus CD tribute, but it's limited to a mere 8 songs. The set comes in a box that also features a 40-page hardcover booklet with notes and photos and an envelope with postcard reproductions of film posters from around the world. Fun for the "West Side" fanatic but of nominal interest to everyone else and, by my measure, not worth the hefty price increase.
The transfer is gorgeous and the image and sound is getting high marks from the critics I trust to measure and judge technical quality (see Robert Harris at Home Theater Forum and Gary Tooze at DVD Beaver), but there is a small but significant error in the presentation of the opening credits: The dissolve from the stylized skyline to the Main Title has been replaced by a fade-to-black and then a fade into the Main Titles.
Fox is not recalling the sets but has promised to provide what they call a "running fix" and replace the faulty discs at a later date, which means that if you purchase the set now, you will have to follow-up late and arrange for a replacement to get the correct edition. For more details on the problem (and the blame), check out the research by Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere.
Why does something so small matter? Because the job of a Blu-ray is to honor the film and bring you as accurate a representation of an ideal film screening experience as possible within the bounds of the format. Some issues are simply a matter of the materials available. This gaffe is a production error, however, and is correctable.