Though I wasn’t able to blog in a review of the last Blu-ray and HD DVD releases, let’s face it— each of these Blu ray releases deserves a spot on the top shelf of your hi-def library: Flags of Our Fathers (DreamWorks), Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner), Mission: Impossible (Paramount) and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Buena Vista). Each of these is top-grade entertainment and looks great in hi-def.
Just as stunning looking, but on the 2nd tier purchase level (depending on how you feel about overly robust and highly confusing sequels as well as Mel Gibson’s unique vision of Mayan culture): Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Buena Vista), M:I-2 (Paramount), Apocalypto (Buena Vista), Closer (Sony), then there’s the cut-out bin items: Freedom Writers (Paramount), Primeval (Buena Vista)… Warner’s releases a classic John Wayne western: Rio Bravo (Warner). Directed by Howard Hawks it’s a true masterpiece of American cinema. They’ve also seen fit to release a minor classic directed by Mark Rydell called The Cowboys (Warner), also starring The Duke.
In addition to Flags of Our Fathers (DreamWorks), Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner), Mission: Impossible & M:I-2 (Paramount) Rio Bravo & The Cowboys (Warner), and Freedom Writers (Paramount) the HD DVD format also saw the releases of that screamingly funny Steve Carell comedy The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Universal), as well as The Skeleton Key (Universal) and that time capsule of CB Radio hipness Smokey and the Bandit (Universal).
The MUST HAVE for HD DVD and the most awesome showcase disc I’ve seen yet for either hi-def format is (take your pick depending on your die-hard fan status): The Ultimate Matrix Collection (Warner), The Complete Matrix Trilogy (Warner). Both releases (offering different goodies, “The Complete” version is the lighter of the two offerings) look incredible, and sound just as beautiful as they look. Seriously, if you’re gonna plop down a few pieces of eight this week, consider The Matrix even though the two sequels kinda suck ass, as candy for the eye and ear they’re a nice addition to the satisfying original film.