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The latest news on HD DVD and Blu-Ray discs.
By John Sinnott
October 01, 2006
King Kong HD DVD
KING KONG to be Packaged With HD DVD Drive for X-Box 360
: Last week we reported that the HD DVD add-on for Microsoft's X-Box 360 would not have an HDMI output, but we have some good news about the accessory this time around. Microsoft has announced that for a limited time it will bundle the HD DVD version of KING KONG
as well as an Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote Control with the HD DVD drive. There is no price for the add-on drive yet, but it should be available from retailers in mid-November.
The Ang Lee's foray into the Marvel Universe, Hulk
was supposed to be released on HD DVD on November 14th. Universal has unexpectedly removed the title from their release schedule, with no reason given and no future date announced. While I've never been a fan of the movie I will admit that I was looking forward to seeing how the green behemoth would look in HD. When it gets put back on the schedule, we'll let you know.
Lions Gate Postpones Blu-ray Titles: At the last minute Lions Gate has decided not to release its third wave of Blu-ray discs. Originally scheduled for release on October 17th, AMERICAN PHYCHO, FIRST BLOOD, SAW II, AND YOUNG GUNS
have all been postponed until early 2007. No word was given for a reason (though some sources speculate that it was to re-encode the films with the VC-1 codec that has shown to be superior to the MPEG-2 codec that Lions Gate has used for its previous releases.)
Spotlight of the week: THE DEVIL'S REJECTS
Continuing to cater to a primarily male audience, Lion's Gate has released one of the better horror films from 2005 as a Blu-ray disc: Rob Zombie's THE DEVIL'S REJECTS
. This is a sequel to his cult classic HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES
and is just as shocking and entertaining as the first film. This high definition release looks very good and reproduces the film very faithfully.
Set some months after the events shown in HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES
, the film opens as the Texas Rangers descend on the murderous Firefly family's ranch in force. A firefight ensues in which several officers are killed and wounded and three members of the Firefly clan escape: Otis (Bill Moseley), Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), and Captain Spaulding (wonderfully played by Sid Haig). Looking for a place to lay low, the trio meets up at an old motor inn where they take a group of traveling musicians hostage and user them for some sick entertainment.
The officer who led the raid, Sheriff John Quincy Wydell (William Forsythe), is furious that three people got away. That is nothing compared to the rage he feels when he discovers a picture of his brother, murdered, in a scrapbook taken from the Firefly ranch. Realizing that these people are responsible for his brother's death leads the Sheriff down a dark path. Vowing vengeance, the officer of the law slowly goes mad, and becomes just as evil as the murderers he's hunting.
This is not a move for the timid, but if you enjoy very dark humor and a good amount of violence, you can't go wrong with this flick. The humor especially worked well as a counterpoint to the frequent violent acts. A good example of this is when Spaulding's car breaks down and he has to steal another one. He walks up to a lady in a parking lot, in full clown make-up, and says in a sweet and gentle voice: "I'm gonna have to be taking your car today. See I have some top secret clown business that supersedes any plans that you might have for this here vehicle." The fact that viewers know that Spaulding would kill the lady just for fun makes the scene both humorous and a bit suspenseful.
Writer/director Rob Zombie did a great job with the tone, style, and feel of the film. He made the film in a 70's style and he did it quite well. The good guys are morally ambiguous just like Dirty Harry or Charles Bronson's character from the DEATH WISH
films, and the bad guys are likeable in a twisted sort of way. The movie has a washed out look reminiscent of older films and even the outfits and vehicles could have appeared in a 70's classic. The yellow sunglasses that one deputy wears are outrageously funny.
Zombie used music very effectively in the film too, often slowing the action down a lot while appropriate classic rock songs played. These slow motion sequences were some of the most memorable and effective in the film.
This Blu-ray disc presents the film with its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded for up to 1080p playback. The image quality looks very good and accurately reproduces the look that the director and DP were going for. As I mentioned earlier, the colors are intentionally muted and a bit drab looking, which works well in the context of the film. The disc reproduces these colors nicely with a good amount of definition. The picture generally had a good amount of depth, though in some of the darker scenes the image flattened out a bit. The detail was excellent, with fine details being strong, though this wasn't always an advantage. The CGI blood didn't look too convincing in high definition, especially in slow motion such as the ending scene. Not all of the blood was computer generated however, just the effects were something would puncture the skin, so much of the gore looked fine. Overall I was very happy with the look and appearance of this movie. This would make a nice addition to any Blu-ray collection. Upcoming High Definition Discs:
September 26, 2006 HD DVD THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
(1938)DAZED & CONFUSEDTHE DIRTY DOZENEND OF DAYSFEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGASTHE FAST AND THE FURIOUSTHE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFTGRAND PRIXTHE LAKE HOUSELAND OF THE DEADTERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES2 FAST 2 FURIOUS Blu-ray FOUR BROTHERSTHE FUGITIVEHOUSE OF WAX
(2005)THE LAKE HOUSELARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDERLEATHAL WEAPON 2SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROWSLEEPY HOLLOWSPACE COWBOYSSWORDFISHTIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE
October 3, 2006 THE PAT METHENY GROUP: THE WAY UP HD DVD and Blu-ray
October 10, 2006
ARMY OF DARKNESS
FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
THE POLAR EXPRESS
THE ITALIAN JOB
U2: RATTLE AND HUM
October 17, 2006
THE BROTHERS GRIMM
GONE IN 60 SECONDS
October 24, 2006
OUT OF SIGHT
THE THING (1982)
THE ITALIAN JOB (2003)