For the first half of March you can pick up the family movie Moana, the Oscar winner Moonlight or some ’80s classics on Blu-ray. Sing a song, have a good cry, get a good scare or kick some butt with these Blu-ray releases.
Let me just say you’re welcome for this blu-ray review. And Disney can say you’re welcome for one of their best looking Blu-rays ever, and after Frozen, Zootopia and the Pixar movies, that’s saying a lot.
All Moana‘s island and ocean visuals that blew you away on the big screen look just as impressive in HD. They must’ve invented a new color of blue to portray the ocean. The detail in all the ripples of the water is unfathomable. and just wait until you see them sail in a magical pink sunset, or the translucent figures at night. Tomatoa’s shiny crab cave sort of becomes a gold disco ball. The mossy green goddess Te Fiti and fiery lava God Te Ka are striking mystical figures.
The new two and a half minute short Gone Fishing looks just as great. It features a new song in island language, and it’s way better than the feature film Gone Fishin’ starring Joe Pesci and Danny Glover.
The bonus features illustrate the island research the filmmakers did and their HD footage is captivating too. I’ve been to Tahiti. This takes me back. Oh my God, the real sunset… The Moana bonuses are extensive and don’t talk down to kids. If you need to know any more about the story, animation or music, directors Ron Clements and John Musker give a full commentary. They give the lighting team a lot of credit and the Moana Blu-ray shows off how subtle their work was.
25 minutes of deleted scenes show some early tangents that got reworked. A deleted canoe race could’ve been a good action scene but there are plenty in the new story. The sexism of Moana’s father preferring her brothers may have been too on the nose so it’s better that she’s an only child and he’s overprotective. Pua is adorable even in pencil sketch form.
Out on Blu-ray two days after it won Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Mahershala Ali, Moonlight is still doing well at the box office. For those who want to own it, Moonlight looks like a modern day real world movie. It’s sharp, but not flashy. The most striking visual is the widescreen frame with an actor dead center in closeup. Although Little (Alex Hibbert) in the ocean in the titular moonlight looks beautiful.
The actors and writer/director BarryJenkins get personal in interviews. Jenkins goes even more in depth on the personal, practical, technical and performance side of the film in his full length audio commentary, although he takes some pauses to let the film speak for itself too. I like composer Nicholas Brittell’s idea that music comes from inside the movie. This is a nice package to commemorate the landmark film.
My biography would be an action movie called Fred Dawn starring Nicolas Cage as me. If you grew up in the ‘80s, you remember Red Dawn (1984, not 2012). At the height of Cold War paranoia, Hollywood made a movie where the Russians attack and only a gang of high school kids can stop them.
The new 2K Blu-ray looks great during the day. The war covers all the seasons so It’s bright and lush out on the mountain or sandy on the ground. The white snow and white winter camouflage suits look like Fargo. It gets very spotty at night in the dark.
New interviews with supporting actors and below the line filmmakers run over and hour and cover a lot of the minutiae of making the film. There are some good John Milius stories there. But the old DVD features had the main cast and Milius. So this was done before his stroke and while Patrick Swayze was still alive. They are not new but still included on the Blu-ray.
When she was only nine years old, Drew Barrymore starred as Stephen King’s firestarter, the child of two participants in a CIA experiment who inherited a different power than either her mom (Heather Locklear) or dad (David Keith) got. Naturally, the government wants her but she won’t let them take her without a fight.
This 2K restoration makes it look like Firestarter was shot this year. They must’ve used Ant-Man technology to make Martin Sheen and David Keith look like they did in 1984, and turn Drew Barrymore into a baby again.
Bonus features focus on the adaptation and filmmaking of all the fire stunts. One stuntman still has his Drew Barrymore autograph and shows her nine-year-old signature. I’m surprised director Mark Lester’s commentary is so sporadic. They got a lot out of him in the on camera interview.