November 2012

And the hits just kept on coming! 2012 was a strain on the pocketbook with a bountiful array of amazing Blu-ray debuts as well as some double and triple dips worth taking the plunge. So here’s my round-up of the best of the year on Blu…

Published in MOS DEF

Well, folks… we come to it at last: Our final post of 2012. I can’t say 2012 has been my favorite year. As some of you will know (if you’ve been reading the site over the past 12 months) Sarah and I have just lost far too many family members and friends to cancer and other illness this year, including our very own Barrie Maxwell. But then 2012 has brought us some great new friends as well and of course a whole new and improved Digital Bits website. So that’s something, I suppose.

In any case… in the spirit of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, we’ve gotten through it somehow with a lot of support from other family and friends, and no small amount of kindness from many of you via e-mail and Facebook. So I’d really like to take a moment to thank all of you very much for all your patience, well wishes and support over the past year. It’s meant a lot to us. Some of you have been Bits readers right from the very beginning way back in 1997, and the fact that you’ve stuck with us all this time – well, you’re like family and that really means a lot.

Anyway, we do have one quick thing for you here at the site today so I should probably get to it: Mark is back again this morning with another new MOS DEF column in which he looks back at his picks for The Top Ten Blu-rays of 2012. As always, it’s a good read so enjoy.

With that, from all of us here at The Digital Bits, we wish you all a very happy and safe New Year! We offer our sincere thanks for continuing to support our work here at the site… and we hope the door doesn’t hit 2012’s ass on the way out!

We’ll be back on Thursday (1/3) to resume regular posts and start looking ahead to all the new title and player announcements from CES.

Here’s to 2013 – may it bring great things. Happy New Year, everyone!

- Bill Hunt

Published in My Two Cents
Friday, 28 December 2012 11:24

The Penultimate My Two Cents for 2012!

Morning, folks! As we head into the New Year’s holiday, there isn’t a lot of Blu-ray or DVD news to report. It’ll likely not be until after the holiday that we heard back from Sony about the Total Recall Blu-ray issue and I wouldn’t expect any major title announcements until right before CES which kicks off the second week of January.

Meanwhile, we do have one thing for you today… our own Mark A. Altman has checked in with a new installment of his MOS DEF column, featuring his thoughts on Fox and MGM’s recent Bond 50 Blu-ray box set with quick reviews of all 22 classic Bond films (and even Never Say Never Again for good measure)! It’s a good read so do give it a look.

And that’s all for now. We’ll be back on Monday with our last post of 2012. In the meantime, may all your favorite NFL teams win this weekend (go Vikings!) and we hope you continue to have great times with your family and friends.

Peace out and see you Monday!

- Bill Hunt

Published in My Two Cents

“I am arrogant enough to claim that these films have made one of the greatest contributions to the cinema in 50 years” – Dr. No director Terence Young

It’s hard to believe the only gentleman secret agent with a license to thrill has turned 50.  With Dr. No’s debut now five decades ago, 007 still looks as good as when he first donned a black tuxedo and we first saw him casually sitting at a baccarat table uttering the immortal words, “Bond, James Bond.”

Over the years, I’ve bought the James Bond movies in a variety of formats ranging from VHS to laserdisc and then numerous times on DVD, but there has simply never been a set that comes close to matching this ultimate BD collection. Bond 50 includes all 22 official Bond movies as well as an empty space for Skyfall (coming on disc early next year), along with virtually all the copious bonus materials that have been created over the years ranging from the giant Goldfinger and Thunderball laserdisc special editions to the original DVD box sets from a decade ago.

Published in MOS DEF

All right… just a quick one today with three things for you:

First, our own Russell Hammond has updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD and Video Game cover artwork and pre-order links, as usual.

And Jeff Kleist has turned in a new installment of his The 3rd Dimension column featuring his thoughts on the theatrical experience of seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in HFR 3D. There are lots of mixed reviews of HFR 3D out there and Jeff does his best to try to puzzle out why. I’ve also added a couple comments on my own HFR viewings. We’ve each seen the film twice now in different display formats (IMAX, RealD, etc) and almost every screening seems to offer a different experience. Gizmodo has a piece up on this subject as well.

Finally today, we’re getting reports from readers that there may be an audio issue on some copies of Sony’s new Total Recall (2012) Blu-ray. Depending on the player used, viewers are reporting audio drop-outs near the beginning of the film and bursts of static around 70 and 105 minutes in. I’ve watched the Extended Cut via my Oppo BDP-83 and had no problems, but others are having issues on select Oppo and Sony units among others. It seems to happen most commonly when the player’s audio is set to bitstream as opposed to PCM. We’ll try to look into the matter and see what’s up – if there’s a firmware issue or simply bad discs in need of a replacement program. When Sony gets back to us we’ll let you know.

Back tomorrow – stay tuned!

- Bill Hunt

Published in My Two Cents
Thursday, 27 December 2012 11:56

The Hobbit Unexpected

Every once in awhile, people try something crazy and new with cinema. From sound, to ultra-widescreen, Technicolor and 3D, to anamorphic projection, digital surround, digital 3D and even smell-o-vision (currently in Korea only), many of these innovations have been great improvements. Last weekend, the first change in close to a century in the frame rate that commercial cinema is projected in came to light with Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.

High Frame Rate (HFR) projection is supposed to bring a more natural look to film, to smooth out the bumps in pans and vista shots, and to improve the 3D experience by having a lot more frames of information to keep the illusion alive. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’ve been really skeptical as to whether this would be an improvement and not a hot mess in an epic film like The Hobbit, especially since I saw a piece of the early test footage about six months back. Was I wrong? I hoped so.

Published in The 3rd Dimension

Afternoon, folks. Hope you all had a great Christmas. I know many of you are still on holiday until right after the New Year, so continued fun to you and yours! Nevertheless we’ve got a couple news items for you this afternoon…

The big news today is that Warner Home Video has finally officially announced Ben Affleck’s Argo for release on Blu-ray Combo and DVD on 2/19 (SRP $35.99 and $22.97). Extras will include a feature-length Picture in Picture viewing option called Eye Witness Account, audio commentary with director Ben Affleck (and others TBA) and 4 featurettes (Rescued from Tehran: We Were There, Argo: Absolute Authenticity, Argo: The CIA & Hollywood Connection and Escape from Iran: The Hollywood Option).

Meanwhile, Sony has set Small Apartments for DVD-only release on 2/19. The film stars Billy Crystal, James Caan and Dolph Lundgren. No I’m not kidding. The studio also has Here Comes the Boom coming on Blu-ray and DVD on 2/5, followed by Chicken with Plums on DVD only on 2/26.

20th Century Fox has announced some catalog Blu-ray titles for early 2013, including French Kiss and One Fine Day on 1/8, Wild River, Gentleman’s Agreement and How Green Was My Valley on 1/15, and Laura on 2/5. As far as new releases, look for Late Quartet on 2/5 and Chasing Mavericks on 2/26.

Dark Sky Films will release Stitches on Blu-ray and DVD on 4/2.

Image Entertainment will release Ghoul on DVD only on 1/8.

Magnolia will release Royal Affair on both formats on 3/26.

Also, AIS in the U.K. has set Disney’s Flight of the Navigator for Blu-ray release on 1/29 (SRP $44.98). There’s a very good chance the disc is all-region. [Editor’s Note: This disc was released in the U.K. in November and is simply being imported for the U.S. market by Amazon.]

And in other news today, I’m afraid we have sad news to report: Actors Charles Durning and Jack Klugman have passed away, as well as veteran British TV producer Gerry Anderson.

Klugman was best known for TV’s The Odd Couple and Quincy, M.E. and also film roles in 12 Angry Men and Days of Wine and Roses among others. He was 90.

Among Durning’s credits were TV’s Evening Shade and such films as Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon, To Be or Not to Be, The Sting and (my personal favorite) O Brother, Where Art Thou? He was also a World War II veteran and was among the first wave of troops to hit Omaha Beach on D-Day. He was 89.

And 1960-70s genre TV fans owe a great debt to producer Gerry Anderson for creating such classics as Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Fireball XL5, UFO and Space: 1999 (note that Season Two is expected to finally be released on Blu-ray in late 2013 or early 2014) among others. The halls of Moonbase Alpha will never be the same without him. He was 83.

One last note: Our own Jeff Kleist posted a Blu-ray 3D review of New Line’s A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas yesterday, so do check it out if you’re interested. We’ll also have a couple of new columns from the guys over the next couple days, so do check back for them.

We’ll leave you today with a look at the final Blu-ray cover art for Warner’s Argo, as well as Sony’s Seven Psychopaths (due 1/29) and Fox’s Laura

Argo (Blu-ray Disc)    Seven Psychopaths (Blu-ray Disc)    Laura (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt

Published in My Two Cents

This is just a quick post to wish you and yours Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas! Cheers and seasons greetings from all of us here at The Bits!

Peace out!

- Bill Hunt

Published in My Two Cents

Well, folks… I hope you’re all enjoying yet another lovely Nopocalypse afternoon! It wasn’t the first time the less scientifically literate among our fellow Earthlings thought the world was coming to an end and it surely won’t be the last. I know the planet’s continued existence today is probably a bit of a surprise to those who’ve been watching The Hysterical (read: History) Channel from the fully-stocked panic bunker, but hey… if they were savvy shoppers all that freeze-dried food will still be good when the next big scare comes along! And I’ll bet the Christmas tree looks great down there underground.

By the way, I don’t think even the Mayans thought the world was really going to end today. If I’m not mistaken, their long-form calendar was just supposed to start over again like ours does on January 1st. But nobody ever sold a lot of books telling that story. ‘Cause you know… zombies!

For my part, I slept in a little bit this morning and then enjoyed my coffee while watching John Sturges’ 1957 classic Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. As some of you may know, I’ve got a real soft spot for a good western... especially those about the infamous Tombstone incident. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas really deliver as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and what I especially like about the film is the slow, deliberate pace Sturges uses to establish the friendship between the two men. It’s a great flick that Paramount should release on Blu-ray one of these days. For that matter, I’d love to see Fox release John Ford’s My Darling Clementine on BD too, but then I’m still hoping against hope that they’ll do more Master and Commander movies, so… you know.

Today’s column headline doesn’t just refer to the total lack of Mayan-themed chaos and carnage, by the way. Near as I can tell, there is almost no Blu-ray, DVD, high-definition or home theater related news to report this afternoon. Hollywood’s a ghost town by now – the studio execs have all flown off to Bermuda with their families and only lowly production assistants and interns remain in the office today to board up the soundstage doors and shutter the windows until after the New Year.

So… really… my only purpose here today is to shout out a friendly hello to all our readers – we hope this finds you well! And of course, all of us here at The Digital Bits wish you and yours safe travels this weekend as many of you head out to visit loved ones for the Christmas holiday. We’ll probably check in from time to time over the next week or so and we’ll be back for sure on Wednesday (and maybe Thursday too) with quick news updates. But in the meantime, all of you have a great holiday, eat lots of fine food, watch tons of excellent movies and just enjoy flat-out yourselves. Given all the crazy politics and tragedy and what have you of the past year, I’d say we’ve all earned a break and a much better 2013. So here’s to it!

Merry Christmas and whatnot! And always know that we’re really thankful to have such fine and admirable folks as yourselves as readers. Peace out!

- Bill Hunt

Published in My Two Cents

Okay, news is definitely slowing down today in advance of the Christmas holiday. But we do have a couple quick things to report today.

First, Warner Home Video and the BBC have set Being Human: Season 4 for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/15. However, Bits reader Brian B. reports (thanks, Brian!) that it’s already available at Walmart as a retail exclusive. Adjust your plans accordingly.

Warner and Viz Media have also set Inuyasha: The Movie - The Complete Collection for release on Blu-ray on 3/26 (SRP $29.99).

20th Century Fox has announced A Late Quartet for Blu-ray and DVD release on 2/5, followed by Atlas Shrugged: Part II on both formats on 2/19.

PBS has set Downton Abbey: Season 3 for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 1/29 (SRP $54.99 and $49.99). This is the U.K. edition with more than 2 hours of bonus content.

Lionsgate has set Abducted: The Carlina White Story, The Bay, Thomas & Friends: Go Go Thomas and Tyler Perry’s House of Payne: Volume Ten all for DVD release on 3/5.

And Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment and Nasser Entertainment will release The Bouquet on DVD only on 2/5.

Finally, all of those newly-announced Criterion March Blu-rays are now available for pre-order on Amazon, including Terrence Malick’s Badlands, Charlie Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux, Robert Bresson’s A Man Escaped, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Fritz Lang’s Ministry of Fear and Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr’s cult classic The Blob.

And that's all for now. Stay tuned...

- Bill Hunt

Published in My Two Cents
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