Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide: September 6

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It’s another short week here on Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide.  Only two entries this time around, but they are both good ones. And, interestingly enough, they are both classics of animation.

Here are my picks for September 6, 2016.

43501_frontThe Iron Giant: Signature Edition (1999/2015)
Warner Bros. Animation
Written by Tim McCanlies
Based on a story by Brad Bird
and the novel The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Directed by Brad Bird

I have been waiting for this movie to be released on Blu-ray for years – pretty much from the time I was introduced to the format. It is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I gush all about it in my review of the reissue from last year. This film has a lot of heart. It’s sincere, sweet, simple yet though-provoking. The animation is astounding, especially of the giant himself. If you haven’t seen The Iron Giant, you really should.

This new signature edition includes several small new scenes inserted into the film. These scenes, for the most part, are very subtle, and one probably wouldn’t notice them if you hadn’t seen the movie several times before. They are great scenes, and only enhance the story and the characters that much more. In fact, these scenes would have been in the movie, but both time and money were short during production. However, fear not if you’re a purist; the theatrical cut is also included.

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Ultimate Collector’s Edition: Includes The Evolution of The Iron Giant book, Iron Giant figurine, letter from director Brad Bird, and mini-posters.

My Pick: If you’re a big fan of The Iron Giant, you have to go for the Ultimate Collector’s Edition. I’m not usually a big fan of movies that come with physical tchotchkes, but there is generally so little collectable collateral to go with The Iron Giant that it’s a big deal when something like this comes along. I’m definitely going to read the book, and the figurine will probably end up on my desk at work or in our curio cabinet. I think I might even frame the mini-posters; the art looks gorgeous!

Other Notable Releases

159007_frontA Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
Paramount
Written by Charles M. Schulz
Based on the Peanuts comic strip by Schulz
Directed by Bill Melendez

My favorite of the Peanuts animated films will always be the first one. It’s still just as charming, thoughtful and funny as the first time I saw it. The script, written by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz himself, is tight and full of funny moments between the characters (Lucy’s physical and psychological examination of Charlie Brown’s faults is comedic genius). The film is a portrait of Charlie Brown being who he is, which is very endearing. It’s essentially a long-form version of the Peanuts TV specials but clearly made for film. Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy soundtrack is embellished with a full orchestra to give it a more “cinematic” feel. Just an all-around great film.

I was very excited that A Boy Named Charlie Brown was finally getting the Blu-ray treatment. I hope the transfer is good, and that the colors and animation come out more clear than they’ve ever been. However, based on the research I’ve done, it appears that this release is making the same mistake as the most recent DVD releases. The film was produced in the 1:33:1 aspect ratio (the television “square”), but Paramount has cut the top and bottom off to make the film 1:85:1 (the size of a normal theatrical release). This is a great disservice to the artists and filmmakers, and is probably done because they think people can’t handle having black bars on both sides of the screen. I’m really mulling over whether the excellent transfer is worth that.

That’s it for the week’s Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide! Have a blessed day!

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