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Friday, November 14, 2008

10 movie releases that can save Blu-ray

The flicks that can revitalise the hi-def format


Will The Dark Knight be the start of something special for Blu-ray?

With DVD still dominating retailer's shelves, and digital downloads and upscaling players pinching some of the limelight, Blu-ray has had a pretty hard run of it of late. All is not lost for the format, however, it needs the right film release to get back on the straight and narrow.

With this in mind we've taken a look at upcoming releases and the films still to make it on to the format to compile TechRadar's list of movies that can, with a little luck, save Blu-ray from a fate worse than Laser Disc…

1. The Matrix

It was the film that gave the DVD format a much-needed shot in the arm when it was released back in '99 and Warner is hoping its forthcoming release will do the same with Blu-ray.

Picture-wise, the movie is 1080p, taken from a VC-1 codec and, thankfully, the whole trilogy is presented in its original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Audio is Dolby TrueHD 5.1.

No matter what your quibbles are about the subsequent sequels, there's no getting around the fact that seeing bullet time in HD will be simply awesome. Couple this with the mountain of extras The Complete Matrix Trilogy has, including some HD-exclusive features, and this will be one unmissable Blu-ray release.

Release date: 24 November

2. The Godfather

The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Collection has been out on Blu-ray for a while now, but its recent win at the High-Def Disc Awards, where it was given the prestigious title of 'Best Blu-ray of 2008' should hopefully make naysayers stand to attention.

The Godfather is not just an old re-release, either, the edition is the closest you will ever get to seeing the film as it looked in the cinema in 1972, in 1.78:1 aspect ratio with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound. If that isn't an offer you can't refuse, then we don't know what is.

Release date: out now

3. Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

Peter Jackson is the king of the home entertainment format. He embraced Laser Disc, giving his comedy horror flick The Frighteners an extensive release, and his King Kong and Lord Of The Rings trilogy are still the best and most comprehensive discs on DVD.

Lord Of The Rings on Blu-ray will undoubtedly be something special. While it will be hard to top the original Extended Editions, just seeing The Shires in HD will be something special. And, who knows, he might slip his recent short film 'Crossing The Line' in as an extra. Shot with the brilliant 4k RED camera, it's one of the best things around in HD.

Release date: TBA

4. The Dark Knight

The best film of this year by a country mile, The Dark Knight has been mooted by many – and now TechRadar – as the film to save Blu-ray. Number crunching analysts are predicting the movie will hit the magical million mark when it is released in December.

The film will suit Blu-ray perfectly, with Nolan promising some hi-def exclusive extras, and you will be able to see the ground-breaking IMAX shots in 16:9.

There's no doubt that The Dark Knight will be huge, and with a release date just before Christmas, it could well be the movie to finally make average consumers take the hi-def plunge.

Release date: 8 December

5. Wall-E

While putting a near-silent movie onto Blu-ray may not sound like the greatest idea, the bleeps, whizzes and coo-ing of Wall-E (voiced by Ben Burtt), Pixar's latest and cutest creation, will sound superb in HD when it's released at the end of the month.

Pixar movies have the added advantage of being loved by children and adults alike, and with the rest of the animation company's creations already superbly transferred to Blu-ray, Wall-E should be the icing on a very lucrative cake. And considering the CGI animation is among the best seen, it won't be difficult for the last robot on Earth to shine on Blu-ray.

Release date: 24 November

6. Sleeping Beauty

This may seem like an odd entry, but Disney finally deciding to embrace Blu-ray with open arms is a fantastic boon to the format. Every time a classic Disney movie was released it was an event, as The Mouse House only allows them to be on the shelves for a limited time (in the UK that is) until the next classic release comes along. This added a limited edition factor that no collector could refuse.

But Disney is holding a different Ace this time around – Profile 2.0. The company is going straight for every parents' Achilles' heel – their kids. With downloadable content including ringtones and games, Sleeping Beauty could well be the disc to show off Blu-ray's interactive capabilities.

Release date: out now

7. Watchmen

Even though Watchmen hasn't even hit the cinema's yet, the movie should still be on everyone's must-have Blu-ray list.

Not only will Zach Snyder's movie be a visual feast – if the trailer and Alan Moore's peerless graphic novel is anything to go by – but the Blu-ray will open up the Watchmen world even more. Rumoured to contain a whole new mini movie, based on 'The Black Freighter', the comic within the comic, it looks as if Snyder will be putting out a Blu-ray disc so good that even Alan Moore might watch it.

Release date: TBA

8. Apocalypse Now

The multiple releases of Apocalypse Now on DVD made a mockery of the film. Light on features, the movie suffered as a result of distributors not seeing eye to eye, so fantastic extras like Hearts Of Darkness weren't released with the main film.

Release the film on Blu-ray in one package, complete with theatrical version, the redux version and uber-documentary Hearts Of Darkness and you will have such a complete set that fans will find it irresistible.

Oh, and if the film is fully remastered and comes with ear-bleeding audio, then that would be an added bonus. We can only but dream.

9. Star Wars

Yes, you bought the remastered DVD release. You probably coughed up for the original version of the trilogy in disc form. And you may even have paid out for Episodes I-III. But even in these credit-crunching times the idea of The Star Wars Trilogy on Blu-ray is an enticing one.

There's been no word about Lucas' plans for Blu-ray, but as the Clone Wars BD is soon to be released on the format, it's definitely more 'when', rather than 'if'.

If you want to hear what a John Williams THX score would sound like on Blu-ray, then the latest Indiana Jones Blu-ray release has been given the THX seal of approval.

Release date: TBA

10. Alien

Ridley Scott's horror monster movie brought unimaginable terror to space, and paved the way for countless imitators.

Its release on DVD as part of the Alien Quadrilogy remains one of the best things on the format. Packed to the rafters with Making Of content, commentaries and even a director's cut, the collection was so good, it even made you forget just how bad Alien: Resurrection was.

Seeing HR Giger's monstrous creation in HD would be a treat for horror fans, though seeing John Hurt's chest explode in 1080p may be too much for some to stomach.

Release date: TBA


Treasures By Brenda November 25, 2008 at 4:05 PM  

A great list of movies, sure to help blu-ray buyers! I like your choices.

I have written a couple of pages about blu-ray discs, including one based on Sound & Vision magazines top ten list of this summer -- 'top' for Sound & Vision of course means the ones with the best quality of picture and sound. You might enjoy checking it out at Top 10 Blu-ray Movies or Discs. From there, you can find my page of Disney Blu-ray Movies and Christmas Blu-ray Movies if you are interested.