Buy or Rent? Six Blu-ray Discs reviewed

Here’s where we look at six Blu-ray Discs and vote on whether or not we think they should be purchased or rented. As a rule, we always suggest watching a Blu-ray Disc vs. streaming HD from Netflix or other service.  Movies that have been compressed to stream or download are hard to fully appreciate when black levels are crunched and bit-rates sampled down to reduce file size. Here are the votes this week.

Robin Hood (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)

Buy! 2 Votes

This Ridley Scott film is a must-own and looks 10-times better than Scott’s Gladiator does on Blu-ray (although the  Gladiator re-release was an improvement). Why start with comparing Robin Hood to Gladiator? Two reasons. Besides both films being directed by Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe is almost the same person in both films. But that’s not a deterrent if you liked the Crowe/Scott magic found in Gladiator. This is a great looking film (along with most of Ridley Scott’s works) that payed extreme attention to historical accuracy. And, the BD set of three discs is loaded with extras that are worth every penny — plus a digital copy!

American Beauty (Sapphire Series)

Buy! 1 vote | Rent! 1 vote

[HTML1]As part of Paramount’s Sapphire Series American Beauty you’d expect a perfect transfer (especially given the amount of time it took to release) but the Blu-ray Disc does have some inconsistencies. And, the footage shot in standard-def video looks pretty bad. However, the film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), and Best Director (Sam Mendes) and is full of details that you wouldn’t see in the standard DVD copy.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Collector’s Edition

Buy! 1 vote | Rent! 1 vote

You’ve seen it over the years on broadcast television (in standard-def) and maybe own the first Blu-ray Disc (2008) or DVD copy. Nevertheless, seeing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1.75:1 widescreen format at 1080p is a real treat. Couple that with stellar performances by an A+ cast lead by Jack Nicholson and you’ve got a film for the hi-def library. Unfortunately, they didn’t upgrade the audio track to lossless, (it’s still the same Dolby Digital 5.1 as the 2008 release). Buy it, or at least rent it one time on Blu-ray.

Last of the Mohicans: Director’s Definitive Cut

Buy! 1 vote | Rent! 1 vote

For some people director’s cuts are not as good or memorable as the original theatrical versions but for others director’s cuts bring new life into films that may been seen several times over. We are divided on this Blu-ray release as far as Buy vs. Rent but the new interviews with Daniel Day-Lewis, commentary by director Michael Mann, and documentary on the making of The Last of the Mohicans make this a must-watch either way. Another great film from the director who brought Heat to theaters.

Mad Max

Buy! 2 votes

Even if you’ve seen Mad Max a bunch of times on television or DVD, the Blu-ray version will just blow you away. The details revealed in 1080p make watching Mad Max on BD a completely new experience. If you’ve never seen the film, Mad Max is a postapocalypic sci-fi thriler that Time Magazine called “pure cinematic poetry,” – a film that is every bit as raw as the nasty looking vehicles and empty desert landscape that brand the film. Documentaries and commentaries make Mad Max a must-see for fans of Mel Gibson (as crazy as he is) and the genre it helps define.

Letters to Juliet

Rent! 2 votes

OK, OK, a chic-flick no doubt but this film is suprisingly funny and looks great too in 1080p. Set against views of Verona, Italy (of which it could have used more shots) Letters to Juliet is a comedy with a slightly predictable but interesting plot. The interaction between Amanda Seyfried who plays an aspiring writer and Vanessa Redgrave could be the most dynamic parts in the film. The disc features commentaries from both Seyfried and director Gary Winick, deleted and extended Scenes, and “The Making of Letters to Juliet: In Italia; A Courtyard in Verona.” A great looking and sounding disc but unfortunately we don’t think we’ll watch it more than once.


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HD Report provides news, commentary, and information about 4k & HD channels, programming, digital media, gaming, apps, Blu-ray, hardware, and technology related to home entertainment. Find us on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

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