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Valentine's Day Blu-Rays

Published February 16, 2009 in DVD News
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
The NotebookThe Notebook
Another holiday, another roundup of Blu Ray movies. One to four stars.

Valentine's Blu-Ray Collection

Caligula – 2 stars. That’s right, I’m calling this Roman orgy a Valentine. Unfortunately, they didn’t do anything special with the transfer. It looks like the film, at best, totally grainy and dead colors. Perhaps Mr. Guccione didn’t spring for a restoration. You could say that preserving the flaws of the original gritty production is authentic, but it’s kind of a disappointment that they didn’t do one of those nifty digital touchups.

Drumline - 3.5 stars. Not only is there the love interest in this but it’s a whole love affair with the team. It’s my man Valentine and it looks mighty clear and shiny with all the band equipment. You’ll see all the detail in the quad, on the field and in all those intense close-ups of drummers’ faces. Colors shine in different lighting between practice times and game days/nights. A few in between shots aren’t spectacular but all the important scenes are.

Little Miss Sunshine – 3 stars. For the whole dysfunctional family, this indie darling holds up well. It is crisp and clear with the filmic touch of some grain, but bright colors all along the road and intimate detail from little Abigail Breslin’s peach fuzz to all the gritty cracks in the rundown locations they hit along the way.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – 4 stars. Something for the kids, maybe to keep them occupied while the grown-ups celebrate. I was of course dumbfounded that of all the CGI movies, Madagascar outshone higher profile ones like Shrek the Third. Whatever they did continues in the sequel with surreal clarity, detail and lighting/shading. If it’s got to play on an infinite repeating loop, at least it’s an awesome demo of your expensive HD setup.

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – 3.5 stars. Ah, a brand new movie released and mastered by Sony itself. This is so crisp that even though there’s grain, it’s distinct. Lighting inside clubs looks magical, not like any horrid dive really looks. New York streets glow with neon touches in the background. There are plenty of gritty details to see, but more importantly, those lovely ladies look spectacular. Especially that soft, smooth, porcelain Kat Dennings.

The Notebook – 3.5 stars. I already reviewed this in January but Valentine’s Day is another chance to give one of my all time favorite romances props. Great Blu Ray transfer with lush color throughout history and crisp detail in the lavish countrysides and emotional old folks.

The Pink Panther – 3.5 stars. For a 45-year-old movie, they did a great job on this. Some of the scenes are four stars, it’s just others show all the grain that was there in the old film. I suppose I should still give it full credit because it’s preserving the film, but of course we’ve seen even more dramatic restorations. Clarity and detail is surreal. Some scenes look like you could reach in and grab things. Only establishing shots with grain remind you that it’s still a movie. Colors pop with fluorescent vibrancy: purple royal palaces, ski sweaters, cars, gowns, evening robes and shower curtains… wow!

Pretty Woman – 3 stars. Finally, a real catalog release from Disney after a year of titles like The Recruit and Coyote Ugly. Well, nearly 20 years later, it holds up well. They’ve taken out the grain and smoothed out the image. It gives the film a soft look but it’s mighty clear and colorful for our newfangled modern TVs.

Sideways – 2.5 stars. The only highlights I could see in this Blu Ray is the close up analysis of the wine. It’s shiny and translucent. Otherwise, this looks about like a film, normal grain, with muted colors despite the lush locations. I will say the wallet scene holds up well with dim light in the trailer trash sex house.

Space Buddies – 3.5 stars. Disney, you’re killing me with these straight to video Blu Ray releases. I mean, I want to keep getting your new releases and I’m hoping you keep putting out catalog titles, but can you give me a break with dogs in space? At least if you’re going to dump your kids in front of the TV while the grown-ups have a real Valentine’s Day, they’ll enjoy some fantastic visuals. The clarity is pure for the film and earthbound locations look like they’re live in front of you. The space stuff look like Star Wars. I mean, this was shot for Blu Ray. Only the cheap talking dog effects remind you that this was a budget production.

Unfaithful – 3.5 stars. So if 2002 was just recent enough to bump up the clarity of this Fox movie, why couldn’t they fix Sideways? Guess it’s a searchlight thing. All the city street scenes are sharp with windy rain soaked debris flying everywhere. The glamorous stars are marvels in this detail. The sex is just raw and hot in the artistically dim light and the scenery is fantastic. Yeah, the scenery.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of respective holders

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