Thursday, December 27, 2007

Definitive Blade Runner

This came as my first BluRay gift from a very good friend on Christmas Eve.
This one is a great example of how studios can take advantage of the new format's capacity and resolution to bring a new experience for old fans and make some new ones in the process.

I still remember I saw Blade Runner for the first time on VHS. The movie was released in 1982, and I was too young at the time to go see it in theaters.
So, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the visuals in their full glory.

This BluRay release is the answer to that.
Not only the special limited edition case, which is quite a treat for serious fans of this movie, but the bundle comes with 5 BluRay discs loaded with Blade Runner history.

The first disc has what Ridley Scott calls his "definitive director's cut". It comes in full 1080p in the most pristine quality ever. The film's 35mm footage was scanned at 4K resolution off the original negative, while the visual effects elements were scanned at 8K resolution off the original pristine 65mm elements. The six-track score was re-mixed and is presented in Dolby TrueHD Digital Stereo.

The second disc brings a comprehensive look at the making of Blade Runner, from screenwriting and budget problems to final release and resurrection.
Over 80 interviews with cast and crew, and hours of outtakes and behind-the-scenes material.

The third disc brings both original U.S. and international theatrical cuts from 1982 and the 1992 director's cut version - all in newly transferred anamorphic widescreen scans in full 1080p HD resolution.

The fourth disc brings archival material in 480p or 480i documentaries covering topics from Phillip K. Dick's inspirational novel and its adaptation to become "Blade Runner", through graphic design, wardrobe, screen tests and deleted scenes.

Finally the fifth disc gives fans the rare opportunity to watch the film's pre-release workprint, full of alternate footage, music and a voice-over that was later removed. Also, in full 1080p.
The disc also sports a full range of promotional material, with trailers and promotional featurettes from 1982 down to 2007's "Final Cut" trailer.
There are little documentaries on fans of the movie, the character of Deckard and a final piece tracking the history behind the film's multiple versions and an in-depth look at the creation of this "definitive cut".

It is also worth mentioning that the subtitles are available for all film versions in English, French and Spanish; and the Final Cut has English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese subtitles. The special features have NO subtitles, which I find a little sad but doesn't really bother me.

In short, if you ever enjoyed this movie, you are in for a serious treat!
This is truly a must-have for cinema lovers, sci-fi enthusiasts and yes, Blade Runner fans!

Pixar's HD goodies...

Disney has fully embraced the BluRay format, and is already putting out some titles that just beg for a place on your shelf...
So much so that these two were actually my FIRST BluRay acquisitions!

"Ratatouille" did very well on the box office in 2007, and has become one of my favorite Pixar movies.
The visuals are simply stunning, and what better way to keep enjoying that than actually in full HD 1080p?!
(Ok, ok... the "big screen" still rules of course. I'm talking about "home entertainment" here!)

This disc is full of the goodies we've grown used to in Pixar releases, and the extra featurette about the "history of the rat"
show's Disney's commitment to making good use of what the extra space in this format has to offer.
And yes... you can pause and see SO much more stuff on a full HD screen! Absolute eye-candy!

Now, one of the nicest surprises was this first compilation of Pixar Shorts!
This disc brings you all the shorts up to "Lifted", with nice audio commentaries from each director, plus a small documentary about the history behind Pixar's short films - which turns out to be the history of Pixar itself.

One interesting aspect of the material is that all of the older shorts are presented in their original format, meaning none were 're-rendered' to be presented in full HD.
So, you only have fully 1080p quality from Geri's Game on. This actually allows you to see the evolution of computer graphics technology through the years, both through the commentaries and the improvement in rendering technology and image output.
This is definitely a MUST HAVE on your shelf if you are even remotely fond of animation! Highly recommended!

Story of Stuff

Annie Leonard is an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, with more than 20 years of experience investigating factories and dumps around the world.

She is also the coordinator of the Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, which was founded in 2001 to directly address the harmful environmental and social impacts of current modes of producing, consuming and disposing of material goods.

Annie wrote and narrates "The Story of Stuff", a 20-minute film that takes viewers on a provocative and eye-opening tour of the real costs of our consumer driven culture, delivering a rapid-fire, often humorous and always engaging story about “all our stuff—where it comes from and where it goes when we throw it away.”

DO NOT miss the opportunity to watch this! The 20 minutes go really quickly, and it really helps you make some sense out of this messed-up system we live in!

Plus, I love Ruben DeLuna's simple but quite effective animation style which they chose to illustrate Annie's explanation as she goes on.