There are actually five Tuesdays in August, today being smack dab in the middle. So August gives me the first ever need for a Mid-month Blu-ray shopping list to keep up with all the Blu-ray releases. We’ve got classic De Niro in Midnight Run, acclaimed horror and modern franchises from fairy tales and video games. Now updated to include Supergirl: The Complete First Season.
Supergirl: The Complete First Season – Out Now
I fell in love with Supergirl when I was seven, and seven-year-old Fred still loves Supergirl the TV series. She still has the same kindness and purity underlying her heroic acts, but now grown-up Fred can appreciate the deeper issues the show can address. It has a lot to say about how we’d rather tear down our heroes than accept they’re genuinely good, and can address how women are expected to behave differently.
We all watch TV in HD now but most of our cable and satellite providers still don’t give us the complete HD experience. On Blu-ray, Supergirl looks, well, super. The picture is flawless with no pixelation or blurring to cloud it up. National City is a bright, shiny version of L.A. as the setting for super fights or flying between buildings, day or night. Occasional diversions to Krypton or the desert are equally impressive, and environmental detail like tracks in the sand make super battles feel even more real.
Some deleted scenes included with the episodes let us see a little bit more of villains vamping or sisters bonding. Bonus features give us some more background on Krypton and the Martian Manhunter. Seeing their first Comic-Con panel is fun because everyone is so happy to be introducing Supergirl to the world.
Shout! Factory turns their attention to the 1988 Robert De Niro/Charles Grodin buddy action-comedy Midnight Run this month. It’s definitely worth having on Blu-ray, but this one is tricky. The new 2K scan seems like it’s got double grain. There’s the grain of the film itself and then all the pixels of the transfer. The picture flares up a little but never displays digital noise. You see texture in De Niro’s leather jacket and the road on the cross-country journey.
It definitely looks more HD than a DVD and you’ll notice the difference between the Blu-ray feature and the clips used during the interviews. It seems like a trade-off though. The clips look smoother but a tad dim, so we’re still waiting for the perfect Midnight Run transfer.
The interviews are great. De Niro’s is heavily padded with a narrator describing the film over clips, because we know De Niro is not a talker. Hey, at least they got him and they made it work. Grodin has dirt about his negotiations, the possibility of Cher getting cast in his role, and gets super personal about his ex-wife. John Ashton is smoking a cigar and tears up talking about director Martin Brest. They only got Yaphet Kotto on the phone so it’s audio only. I also recommend just letting the menu screen play the theme song on a loop. It’s one of Danny Elfman’s best.
I actually liked the gritty action movie take on Snow White and the Huntsman, but even I found The Huntsman: Winter’s War lackluster. Despite its flaws, the original didn’t go two minutes without an action scene, save for one leisurely seven minute stretch in the middle. Winter’s War stretches longer than seven minutes, so it can’t coast on sheer bombast.
It looks good on Blu-ray though. The picture is perfect from the golden evil queen scenes to the bulk of the crisp, icy live-action Frozen scenes and the lush green enchanted forest. You can see all the frosty detail and the visual effects are intricate enough to look real.
Bonus features are a bit lackluster too. The film is extended by six minutes, but meeting more supporting characters only takes up more time. Deleted scenes give us a little bit more of Charlize Theron being evil, and a fight scene with the kids doing very grown-up moves, and a lot more of the heroes trudging through the forest. The gag reel wastes a lot of time assembling clips of the cast waiting for airplanes to fly over. THAT IS NOT A GAG. THAT IS JUST WAITING FOR CLEAN AUDIO. The cast do their duties talking up the film in interviews but it all feels very rehearsed, although they do seem to be having a genuine good time on the set. If only it translated onto the screen.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since this surprising horror film from a then rising talent Brad Anderson (who’d later do The Machinist and The Call) came out. It is about a cleaning crew doing a job at an abandoned mental hospital, and scary things happen. I won’t spoil it if you’re going to discover it for the first time on Blu-ray.
2001 is still recent enough to look like a modern Blu-ray. The picture is sharp and shiny in the daytime scenes as natural light shines through the windows illuminating all the run-down detail of the hospital. The widescreen frame compositions make your eyes dart between characters. Digital noise flares up in the dark hallways. What can you do?
They got Josh Lucas, Brendan Sexton III, Larry Fessenden, Stephen Gevedon, Anderson and cinematographer Uta Briesewitz back to talk about the movie for 49 minutes. Briesewitz planned the sunlight well to shoot each room at the right time. It shows on the Blu-ray, and the early digital footage transfers to HD better than some film. They also discuss freaky occurrence during filming that sound scarier than the actual movie!
While Ratchet & Clank does not quite make the case for a great movie based on a video game, it does have enough fast-paced action to entertain young viewers. It’s rather impressive just how much animation goes into every shot.
The computer animation looks interstellar on Blu-ray. It is full of shiny bright colors with a Star Wars-esque space twist. On the ground you’ll see epic planets, canyons that look like Episode I’s pod race or smoky industrial worlds. Images are full of detail like scuffs on robots and spaceships, and textures of alien skins.
Bonus features are brief. They’re not exactly delving deep into how animated movies are made. Perhaps if the film were a bigger hit, they would give it the Disney treatment, but the short features are enough to explain what the video game was. The movie is presented in fine quality for simple entertainment, nothing more.