My Two Cents
Tuesday, 12 March 2019 17:03

The Natural 4K, Captain Marvel, Apollo 11, Bill’s on Inglorious Treksperts & Sergey Bondarchuk’s War and Peace on the big screen

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We’ve got a bunch of news for you today, including both Blu-ray and 4K. But we’re going to start with some new reviews.

First of all, yesterday I posted my thoughts on Sony’s 4K Ultra HD release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The title streets on 3/19, and I’ll tell you... it may be my all-time favorite superhero film, period. That’s saying a lot, but it’s just really fresh, honest, and ingenious in the way it presents the comic book genre on the big screen with groundbreaking animation. It’s a pretty nice 4K release too, so do give it a look.

Also today, Tim has delivered a review of Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet on regular Blu-ray and Dennis has taken a look at Universal’s Mary Queen of Scots as well. Enjoy!

Now then... a couple items before we get to the release news... [Read on here...]

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First up, for you Star Trek fans, I recently had the pleasure of appearing on the terrific Inglorious Treksperts podcast, a freewheeling discussion of all matters Trek-related with producer and occasional Bits columnist Mark A. Altman and illustrator/VFX designer Daren Dochterman, whose work includes the Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Edition. We had a great discussion about the history of Star Trek on home video, which – as I was considering the topic before our chat – is essentially the history of home video itself. We were also joined by our great friend Robert Meyer Burnett, who many of you know as the director of Free Enterprise and one of the creators of the extras on the Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-rays. The discussion was a blast and very interesting; we talked everything from VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc all the way to Blu-ray, 4K, and Digital. Whether you’re a Trek fan or just a home video fan, I think you’ll find it interesting. So be sure to check it out here in iTunes, here on TuneIn, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. And if you enjoy it, you might consider subscribing to Inglorious Treksperts or their related podcasts Disco Nights and The 4:30 Movie (some of you older readers might get the ABC reference there). If you check out Inglorious Treksperts, let me know what you think on social media (here on Twitter and here on Facebook). I hope you enjoy it!

The Inglorious Treksperts

Now then... there was no update here at The Bits yesterday, because I’ve been shaking down my industry sources for news on upcoming 4K titles. And we do indeed have some, both from my sources and actual announcements too.

First the big one: Disney will be releasing Captain Marvel on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 6/11, per retail sources. That’s not 100% official yet, but that is the date that the studio has reported to their retail partners. So adjust your plans accordingly.

Meanwhile, Sony has announced the 6/4 release of Barry Levinson’s classic baseball film The Natural in honor of the film’s 35th anniversary. The 4K disc will include both the theatrical version and the director’s cut, remastered in native 4K from the original camera negative and graded for HDR(10) in a process supervised and approved by DP Caleb Deschanel and Levinson. The film will also now include a newly-remixed Dolby Atmos soundtrack. All the extras from the previous Blu-ray release will carry over. You can see the cover artwork above left.

Speaking of baseball, Universal has now officially set Phil Alden Robinson’s Field of Dreams for release on 4K Ultra HD on 5/14 in hone of its 30th anniversary. The release will be presented in native 4K, scanned from the original camera negative. We don’t get know what the audio format will be.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set Crank for release on 4K Ultra HD on 5/21, complete with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.

It looks like Best Buy will have an exclusive 4K version of the Pandas IMAX documentary on 4/16.

And for those of you who may be fans of Luca Guadagnino’s recent remake of Suspiria (2018), you’re probably disappointed by the fact that Amazon seems to have no plans to release it on physical 4K here in the States. The good news, however, is that Koch Media GmbH is releasing it on physical 4K in Germany on 4/4. Click here for the pre-order link. The included Blu-ray will obviously be region locked, but the actual 4K disc will not.

We’ve updated our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits to include all of these titles and more. Be sure to check it out.

On the standard Blu-ray front today, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Destroyer on Blu-ray and DVD on 4/23, with the Digital release expected on 4/9.

Universal Studios and Neon will apparently be releasing Todd Douglas Miller’s magnificent Apollo 11 documentary on Blu-ray on 5/14. We would certainly hope for a 4K Ultra HD release too, but it doesn’t appear that one is currently planned. But it might become possible if the Blu-ray sells well. You can pre-order it here from Amazon.

Adult Swim and Warner Bros, will release The Venture Bros.: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-ray and DVD on 6/4. The set will feature all 10 episodes, plus audio commentaries on every episode, and a selection of deleted and extended scenes.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will likewise release Better Call Saul: Season Four on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on 5/7. You’ll get all 10 episodes along with audio commentaries on every episode, a gag reel, 6 deleted scenes, a storyboard comparison, 10 Madrigal Security Training Videos with Mike Ehrmantraut, the No Picnic short film, and 3 featurettes (Slippin’ Kimmy, Flashing Forward, Looking Back, and Constructing the Superlab).

Sony will also release Escape Room on Blu-ray and DVD on 4/23, with the Digital release expected on 4/9.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics has revealed that they’re going to be releasing William Beaudine’s Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966) on Blu-ray and DVD in July. The company is also releasing Michael Gordon’s Portrait in Black (1960), David Lowell Rich’s Madame X (1966), and Kevin Connor’s Arabian Adventure (1979) on Blu-ray and DVD on 5/28. And on 5/21, look for Harley Cokeliss’s Black Moon Rising (1986 – with a screenplay by John Carpenter).

And High Octane Pictures is releasing the horror/comedy Alien Party Crashers (aka Canaries) on DVD and VOD this month.

All right, a couple last items today: Many of you may not be aware, but our own Tim Salmons is the curator of Movie & Video Game TV Spots, which is a terrific YouTube archive of rare and vintage TV and radio spots, VHS ads, and other movie tie-ins for classic films. Tim digs these things up from a whole variety of sources, digitizes them, and shares them for free on YouTube. He’s got quite the collection of clips going – over 4,000 and counting so far – so be sure to check them out here.

War and Peace (1966)And finally today, I had the pleasure on Sunday to attend a screening of Janus Films’ new restored presentation of Sergey Bondarchuk’s seven-hour War and Peace (1966) on the big screen at the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. It was an all day affair – the screening started at 2 PM and didn’t finish until after 10 PM. But the house was complete packed (even longtime Stanley Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali was there) and it was perhaps the most extraordinary film experience I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending – and I’ve had some great ones in my time as editor of The Digital Bits. But the sheer scope of Bondarchuk’s epic is singular in almost every way. The film had a nearly unlimited budget, with a cast of thousands (including actual Russian Army regiments to stage their recreations of the War of 1812), and period props and costumes borrowed from the Hermitage and other museums. It was shot in large format 65mm film, and there’s not a single digital effect to be found. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that you have never seen its like before, nor will you ever see its like again. I don’t care how jaded a filmgoer you may be, your jaw will drop more than once while watching this film. Truly, the production eclipses Lawrence of Arabia, Lord of the Rings... you name it. This film has been almost impossible to see in its original Russian uncut version for over thirty years. More recently, it’s only been available on poor quality (unrestored) DVD releases from Image/Ruscico here in the States (long out of print) and Artificial Eye in the UK. Seeing this on the big screen has been on my personal bucket list since I studied film in college. Trust me, it’s just a wonder. This is spectacle on a scale it’s hard to imagine until you see it, all staged for real. This new restoration was done in 2K and the film is screening via DCP in just a handful of cities. The good news is that it appears that Criterion plans to release it on Blu-ray and DVD later in 2019. And if you live in the Los Angeles area, there’s even better news: The Aero screening was so successful that the American Cinematheque has decided to screen it again next month (on 4/27) at the Egyptian Theatre. Tickets are on sale now (click here) and they’re likely to sell out. So if you’re interested, you should act fast. This is, hands down, the cinema event of the year. If you ever get the chance to see this film on the big screen, you should jump at it. Special thanks to my old friend Ed Peters for suggesting the Aero screening to me and for joining me there. It was a very rare and wonderful treat.

All right, that’s all for now. Stay tuned!

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)


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