by Aaron Peck
We've been covering some of the best Blu-ray releases this year in our "So Far…" series, but it's important to look ahead. The releases that await as the year continues are some of the biggest the format has ever seen. Yes, we got 'Star Wars' last year, but this year features some of cinema's greatest movies, the ones we simply had to pre-order the moment they were announced...
The following releases are the movies we have to have, no questions asked. The rest of 2012 promises a wealth of highly sought after Blu-ray releases, and here are the top ten in my mind:
I saw this movie at Sundance and was absolutely blown away by its non-stop face-crunching action. The action deserved to actually be called "action" since it wasn't pieced together by lightning-fast editing or clever camera tricks. No, these fights are brutal, real, and they look great on screen. I will say that the film is inherently gritty, so it's not going to have a pristinely clear picture when it comes out on Blu-ray. However, this will be a piece of your collection that you'll revisit again and again, showing it to as many of your friends as possible. 'The Raid' simply must be shared.
Okay, everybody take a deep breath and say it with me one more time, "Finally!"
Universal sat on this one for quite a while, but the 100th Anniversary celebration is a good a time as any to release one of cinema's most beloved movies. I'm not as excited for the video, which I'm sure will be great (although it might shine a brighter light on the outdated shark effects), as I am for the audio. We're getting a remixed 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track with this. Hearing cinema's most recognizable theme music (dun, dun, duuun, duuun, duuuun, duuuuun) booming through all seven channels is going to be a treat. At least, this fan hopes so.
I'm glad that Criterion will usher 'The Royal Tenenbaums' into the Blu-ray world. Based on past successes I think we can safely say that Wes Anderson's defining film is in good hands and will likely be a stellar high-def release if all goes well on the Criterion front.
I really didn't think I'd like 'The Hunger Games' as much as I did. I haven't read the books, and I went in without any expectations. I came away from a movie I rather enjoyed, which was much darker (kids killing kids!) than I ever imagined it would be. It's true that the shaky-cam gets to be a bit too much at times, but I felt like I'd been sucked into the story. Like I'd been grabbed by its narrative and I wanted to know more about these characters. Plus, if we didn't get this movie my wife would kill me.
'The Rescuers/The Rescuers Down Under' (August 21st)
I practically wore out the VHS tapes of both of these movies when I was young. They were, for a time, my favorite Disney animated movies. I do wish that they were both getting their own standalone releases, but the thought of having them both in high definition is enough for me to forgive Disney packaging them together. That said, I just really, really hope this isn't a shared disc release like 'The Fox and the Hound' was.
'The Avengers' (September 15th)
Out of all the big-time superhero movies that were released this summer I'd have to say that 'The Avengers' was the one that gave me that giddy feeling that one should get when going to see a gigantic, bigger-than-life summer blockbuster. Much like the way I felt when I first saw 'Jurassic Park' on the big screen opening weekend. It has that "We're going to the movies!" vibe to it. Sure the aliens at the end are simply there to provide a faceless force which the Avengers can beat down, but the movie itself is pure fun. The way Joss Whedon was able to piece together every character and give them the amount of screen time they deserved was nicely done.
I can't wait to hear what this baby is going to sound like in skull-crushing 7.1 audio. If this doesn't shake the pictures off my walls I'm going to be extremely upset.
'The Cabin in the Woods' (September 18th)
Not all of the impending awesome releases this year are huge box sets of classic movies. Sometimes they're simply a fun standalone sleeper hit. 'Cabin' was one of the most enjoyable times I had at the movies this year. The best part is I don't have to use the caveat, "big dumb fun" either, because 'Cabin' is witty in its skewering of horror films. It goes all out and has a blast doing it. To top it all off this is a movie that has almost infinite rewatch value, at least for me. I can't wait to pair it up with 'Tucker & Dale vs. Evil' for a horror-comedy double feature night.
'Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures' (September 18th)
Besides 'Star Wars' has there been a more sought after franchise to get the Blu-ray treatment? Haven't we all been waiting, rather patiently I might add, for the day when we could own all of the 'Indiana Jones' movies (and not just that ridiculous fourth one) on Blu-ray?
The moment this was announced it moved to the top of my personal wishlist. We just got done talking about that special feeling you get when you go to the movies, but these movies are why you have that feeling in the first place. 'Indiana Jones' embodies the exciting, adventurous summer blockbuster. I can't wait to see what they look like in high-def.
'Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection' (September 25th)
Don't act like you're not excited for this collection. Fifteen movies in all. Among those 15, 13 of them have never been released on Blu-ray: 'Saboteur,' 'Shadow of a Doubt,' 'Rope,' 'Rear Window,' 'The Trouble with Harry,' 'The Man Who Knew Too Much,' ' Vertigo,' 'The Birds,' 'Marnie,' 'Torn Curtain,' 'Topaz,' 'Frenzy,' and 'Family Plot.' Depending on your affections for the great director, there are anywhere between four to six (maybe more) genuine Hitchcock classics in there that haven't been treated with high definition. Of those classics, 'Vertigo' and 'Rear Window' are two of the greatest thrillers ever made.
There really is no denying that this set holds some of the best films cinema has to offer from one of its most revered and prolific directors. Just the thought of having 'Vertigo' and 'Rear Window' in high definition, on the same day(!), is enough reason to pre-order this incredible set.
'James Bond 50' (September 25th)
Rounding off the most expensive release week in recent memory (wallets are going to be sad on September 25th) is another hefty collection of movies, but movies that we've been waiting forever to get on Blu-ray. The 'Bond' film catalogue has gone through all sorts of standalone and grouped releases, but there were always a number of films left out. Finally, here's the 'Bond' set to end all 'Bond' sets. All 22 films have been included here. Every single one! It's pretty exciting to see this set finally get its due.
I can just feel my bank account revolting against me in the coming months. September is going to be a tough one on all of us, but at least we're in for a slew of highly-anticipated movies hitting the format, just in time to get us through Fall and Winter. What about you? What are your top pre-orders for 2012? What releases are you really looking forward to so much so that you've logged onto Amazon and already placed your order?
Let us know by following the forum link below.