Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide: September 20

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This edition of the Buyer’s Guide is definitely unique. A couple of anniversary edition releases are in the mix, and my edition recommendations may surprise you.

Here are my picks for September 20, 2016.

145722_frontLabyrinth (30th Anniversary Edition)
TriStar / Lucasfilm, Ltd. / Jim Henson Company
Written by Terry Jones
Based on a story by Dennis Lee
Directed by Jim Henson

Jim Henson has always been one of my heroes of not just film, but art and entertainment. He was a genius, period. His magic was a mix whimsical imagination and wry sense of humor.

What Henson began with the Muppets culminated in two filmic fantasies – Labyrinth being one of them.  This film, the last feature Henson actually directed, used all of the tricks and talents that were available to him and his team at the time – puppetry, creature effects, and so much more. It is a modern (for 1986) Wizard of Oz, with an astonishingly detailed world of fantasy. The late David Bowie chews the scenery, but is an absolute delight. The songs he wrote are 1980s glam rock strange, which is to be expected with the man who at one point called himself Ziggy Stardust.

Labyrinth received a digital restoration for this release, which is the main reason why I’m excited for it. There are also several new bonus features.

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Amazon: Collectable gift set with exclusive packaging.

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Best Buy: SteelBook edition (4K Blu-ray only).

My Pick: This is one of the few instances where I’m going to stick with the regular edition. For me, there is nothing content or exclusive that justifies the difference in cost. The Amazon edition is currently $75, and all that is different is the packaging – and it seems to be made of cheap plastic and cardboard, hardly worth the up-charge. I would get the SteelBook, but it is $10 more than the regular edition with no discernible difference in content, and an extra disc that I’m not going to use.

158280_frontBeauty and the Beast (Walt Disney Signature Collection / 30th Anniversary Edition)
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Written by Linda Wolverton
Based on a story by Roger Allers, Brenda Chapman, Chris Sanders, Burny Mattinson, Kevin Harkey, Brian Pimental, Bruce Woodside, Joe Ranft, Tom Ellery, Kelly Asbury and Robert Lence
and the original fairy tale by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and Jean-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale

While The Little Mermaid began the second Golden Age of Disney Animation, it was Beauty and the Beast that solidified it. Not only was it a box office success when it was released, but it also garnered the attention of the critical and Hollywood elite. It was the first animated feature to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar!

The film itself is beautiful – classic modern Disney. The animation is great, the songs are top notch, and the story is very compelling. It’s not my favorite Disney feature, but it’s certainly up there.

I won’t actually be purchasing this edition, as the previous Blu-ray edition of the film has more bonus features (from what I can tell), and it wouldn’t be worth it to “upgrade” to this edition. However, if you don’t already have Beauty and the Beast, be sure to pick this up.

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Target: Storybook included in packaging.

My Pick: This is another instance of me choosing the regular edition. The storybook is just not very compelling to me. In fact, I really don’t understand why anyone would want a storybook in their Blu-ray case.

Other Notable Releases

159571_frontHigh Noon (Olive Signature Edition)
United Artists
Written by Carl Foreman
Based on the short story The Tin Star by John W. Cunningham
Directed by Fred Zinnemann

This is one of my favorite films of all time. Gary Cooper gives the performance of his career as the beleaguered Will Kane, the outgoing Marshal of Hadleyville. Though simple on the surface, there is much going on in the subtext. Kane is torn between his new life as a husband and farmer and his overwhelming sense of duty to the townspeople. Whether it’s cowardice, selfish ambition, or fatigue, everyone has a terrible reason not to fight the dastardly Frank Miller, except Kane. It’s a fascinating introspection of the western genre, and an interesting look at what true bravery is.

Hopefully this edition from Olive Films will be better than their first version, which I never purchased. This “Olive Signature” edition is being touted as being from a new 4K transfer, which sounds promising.

That will do it for this week’s edition of Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide. Happy watching!

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