Blu-ray Highlights for 10/25/11 – An Adventure 65 Million Years in the Making

Another one of those long-awaited “holy grail” titles comes to Blu-ray this week. Of course, I’m referring to master Italian filmmaker Joe D’Amato’s 1977 sexploitation classic ‘Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals’. Wait, did you think I was talking about something else?

Oh, right, some other movies of note might be released this week as well:

A little movie by the name of ‘Jurassic Park‘ arrives on Blu-ray today. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Steven Spielberg’s dinosaurs-run-amok blockbuster ranked as the highest-grossing film of all time for several years (until finally unseated by ‘Titanic’). Unfortunately, Universal only offers it in a box set with the two crummy sequels that nobody wants. I think I’ll hold off until a separate release of just the first film eventually becomes available. While the disc appears to be another of Universal’s underwhelming catalog specials – recycled from an aging DVD master with some digital tweaking – most reviews so far (including ours by E., which is linked above) suggest that the movie looks reasonably decent. Not perfect, but watchable. That’s better than a lot of Universal catalog titles, I suppose.

The biggest day-and-date title of the week would be this summer’s surprise hit ‘Captain America‘. Despite being one of the goofiest superheroes to score his own movie to date, ol’ Cap busted some Nazi skulls and won over the hearts of skeptical viewers. Well, a lot of skeptical viewers, but not quite all of them. Still, it made a whole bunch of money. Now you can own the film in either 2D or post-converted 3D options. I hear that the flinging-his-shield-at-the-camera effect is kind of neat in 3D.

In the mood for a flick about British street hooligans fighting nasty space aliens? Give the import ‘Attack the Block‘ a shot. The movie was a huge hit in the UK, but pretty much disappeared in a blink on American cinema screens. Still, most people who saw it seem to have liked it.

On a completely different note, if you’re looking for something warm and nostalgic to watch with your kids, the new ‘Winnie the Pooh‘ is said to be quite charming. Disney very stupidly opened this against the final ‘Harry Potter’ film over the summer, almost as if the studio wanted to bury it. Mission accomplished. I’m sure the movie will fare better on video.

If concert documentaries are your thing, filmmaker Cameron Crowe returns behind the camera (his first feature since the disastrous ‘Elizabethtown’) for ‘Pearl Jam: Twenty‘, which looks back at the band’s 20-year history. It’s supposed to be pretty good. Crowe was music journalist before he turned director, after all.

The ’70s were truly a golden period for Francis Ford Coppola. The same year that he released his epic ‘The Godfather Part II’, the director also delivered a smaller-scale but equally potent conspiracy thriller called ‘The Conversation‘, which stars Gene Hackman as an audio surveillance specialist whose latest job has much greater implications that he believes at first. The movie flew under the radar when released, but has only grown in esteem over the years. The Blu-ray looks and sounds pretty good for a movie of the era, and comes with quite a number of supplements.

Let’s turn our attention to cult films for a moment. The Finnish ‘Rare Exports‘ is a demented Christmas tale about a group of hunters who discover that the truth behind the myth of Santa Claus isn’t quite what children are told. It sounds like a lot of fun. The controversial ‘A Serbian Film‘, on the other hand, seems to be trying to set a record as the most repulsive and repugnant movie ever made. It’s already been banned in a few countries due to extreme depictions of rape, necrophilia and pedophilia. How charming. I think I’ll pass on that one. Your mileage may vary.

Finally, the Criterion Collection offers up an odd trifecta of titles. First, we have ‘Dazed and Confused‘, Richard Linklater’s attempt to make an ‘American Graffiti’ for the stoner generation. I know that our Mike Attebery is a huge fan of this, but it never did much for me, personally. That’s followed by the 1932 horror classic ‘Island of Lost Souls‘ and Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1982 “anti-romance” ‘Identification of a Woman‘. If there’s some theme at work between these three releases, I’m at a loss to find it.

What will you buy this week?


  1. Have to admit, I’m not that bothered about the Jurassic Parks… I enjoy the first and third as a bit of fun (2nd is a terrible mess), but I find the most memorable and interesting stuff is the making of material for the first film, rather than even the film itself (John William’s soundtrack is superb though, I must admit).

  2. Drew

    I’ve been waiting for Jurassic Park on blu-ray since the day the format was debuted. It is my most highly anticipated title in the format’s history.

    I’m a little bit upset that Spielberg would allow Universal to use an aging DVD master for a film as special as ‘Jurassic Park’, but all signs point to the transfer being at least above average.

    I’m also picking up ‘Captain America 3D’ and ‘Winnie the Pooh’.

    It’s going to be a great week!

    • I agree, I have been waiting for this one for five years now! Sadly, I am going to have to wait a bit longer, funds just do not allow me to pick it up at this time.

      However, I did recieve a movie today, one I forgot I preordered. Its Tom and Jerry Volume 1. I must say, so far, I am extreamely impressed! First, its 284 minutes for only $24! Second, its absolutely beautiful. Third, I love the disclaimer when you stick it in. Its a bit long, but to paraphrase, it pretty much says “We realize that these shows were produced in a different time when prejudices and stereotypes were widespread, and some of our modern day viewers may be offended. Rather than editing the cartoons, we decided to show them in the way they were originally made. To do otherwise we feel would try to pull a curtain over a very real part of our history”.

      I also will probably eventually pick up Winnie The Pooh and Captain America. I saw it in 3D at the dollar theater, and was actually quite surprised. I leaned over to my friends, and said, “You see what a difference it is when a film is actually SHOT in 3D, just how much better it looks!” I was shocked as we were watching the credits to learn that it was a post-conversion! The 3D is REALLY REALLY good!

    • I seem to recall (back in 2007) that there was a clause in Paramount’s HD DVD-only contract that “The Spielberg films weren’t part of the deal”. The why and how was explained as “Spielberg oversees each release and prefers Blu-ray. That’s why Close Encounters will be his first movie on any high definition format”.

      Reading that, I thought “well, any Spielberg movie will be handled with extreme care and precision”.

      Last week, my copy of “Hook” arrived. Decent picture quality and sound, but no special features. Now we get “Jurassic Park” with underwhelming specs.

      So … does Spielberg supervise his releases or doesn’t he?

  3. I preordered the Tom & Jerry blu-ray the day it was announced, and I upgraded shipping last week to reduce the agonizing wait 🙂 I’m very excited about the new hi-def transfers.

  4. I’ve got Jurassic Park arriving today, and I’ll pick up Attack the Block, Zombi, Dazed & Confused and Captain America as finances allow. I highly recommend everyone pick up Attack the Block, so good.

  5. Jane Morgan

    What are they waiting for, Jurassic Park 4?


    How hard is it to make a 5-Star video transfer for one of the most anticipated blu-rays of all time?

    They’ve had five years to work on it. What is it, cost-prohibitive?

    Has Universal ever released a 5-Star blu-ray?

    This does not bode well for Jaws.

    Maybe Paramount will do a classy job with Indiana Jones…

    • Josh Zyber

      Universal’s day-and-date titles are usually excellent. On the rare occasion that they strike a new transfer for a catalog title, that usually turns out great too. Unfortunately, the studio prefers to recycle old DVD masters for the vast majority of catalog titles, and most of their old DVD masters are crap.

      • Jane Morgan

        Is ‘Jurassic Park’ accelerating the death of blu-ray?

        Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, etc… All the catalog tentpoles received flawed transfers, videophile rage, and underwhelming sales.

        This feels like cut-and-run, not an investment in a growing platform.

        I’m concerned this is edging towards a self-fulfilling death spiral.

        What will happen to High-Def Digest when blu-ray dies?

        • Josh Zyber

          This is really just reflective of the fact that most consumers only care about new releases, not catalog titles. That’s not a new trend. If Jurassic Park had received a brand spanking new 100k transfer on Ultra-Supra-Magnum Definition equipment sent back in time from the year 2054, it might sell… what?… 200 additional copies more than it’s selling right now. Less, probably. That would pretty much account for all of the whiny videophile fanboys on AVSForum and similar sites who haven’t yet bought the disc (factoring out those who swore they’d never buy it but did anyway).

          Universal knows this, and is content to shovel out an old master that they’ve already paid for, rather than spring for a new master that will have virtually no effect on sales.

          Meanwhile, new releases from all of the major studios are transferred to the best of modern standards.

          If Blu-ray should ever die, this site will be just fine. You will note that we’re High-Def Digest, not Blu-ray Digest. There’s a lot more to high definition than Blu-ray. Certain of our competitors will face a greater dilemma.

          • They will probably still get some traffic. There is a certain website that “talk”s about “DVD”s, and they are still around. That being said, I haven’t read the site in years, I just now pulled it up to see if they were still around. Looks like they cover HD stuff too.

          • Let me just say that as an HD DVD owner, I really appreciated the focus on highdef over a particular format. I used to read thedigitalbits religiously at the time, (I started using the site in late 97/early 98), and reloaded the front page several times a day, to see if anything new was published.

            After one too many of Hunt’s nasty rants (shortly after WB’s HD DVD exit, I think), I’d had enough, and I haven’t visited the site since.

        • Drew

          Have you viewed the Jurassic Park blu-ray yet?

          It’s not as underwhelming as a lot of people are making it out to be.

          Is it perfect? No. Is it a 5 star transfer? Not hardly.

          However, it does have it’s moments. There are some scenes that are pure perfection. When you see these certain shots, you’d swear that they did strike a brand new master for the blu-ray.

          I kept wondering, “If they can make this shot look so flawless, why couldn’t they do that to the rest of the transfer?” It’s pretty frustrating when a film like this has scenes that are absolutely breathtaking, while other scenes look borderline terrible.

          Regardless, the fact is that it is, at the very least, a 3.5 star transfer, and a lot of discerning viewers will argue that it’s closer to 4 stars or even 4.5.

          You can definitely tell that a lot of time and effort went into it, it just simply required a brand new master in order to achieve a 5 star transfer.

          Everything Josh says is spot-on. It’s not like Universal just put out the shittiest looking transfer imaginable. This transfer will please all but the whiny-est AVS fanboys.

          If Universal would have spent the money to strike a brand new master, it wouldn’t have affected sales like you seem to believe it would have.

          The sobering fact of the matter is that the general public doesn’t know, or give a shit about the use of new masters or how stunning a blu-ray’s transfer is.

          People with money to burn will buy anything shiny and new. They will watch it and think that it looks better than anything they’ve ever seen before. They are utterly oblivious.

          Brand new masters and 5 star transfers are things that only people like us know about and care about.

          We should consider ourselves lucky that some studios must have people like us working in their video transfer departments, and care so much about striking brand new masters and giving us 5 star video transfers.

          They certainly don’t need to do it, and these old catalog titles would sell just as well wihout them doing so.

          Circling back to ‘Jurassic Park’ I will say once again that the effort certainly shows in the transfer, it just simply required a brand new master in order to achieve a 5 star transfer.

          Obviously Universal is never going to spend the money on a brand new master for any of their catalog titles. You can only do so much with a DVD master.

          They definitely overachieved in that sense. They got the most they possibly could out of the existing master.

          When it comes to Universal, that’s all we can ask for.

          • Jane Morgan

            ‘Jurassic Park’ got gangbanged on Amazon by 1-star hillbillies.

            Ignorance spreads like wildfire.

            Because of HDD’s 3.5, I’m netflixing the blu-ray instead of buying, to see with my own eyes whether I want to Santa Clause it for my boys.

            Will this be the same video transfer they use for Vudu, et al?

  6. Josh, does this mean you’ve not seen Srpski Film solely due to hearing what it’s about? Just the subject matter earned a no go?

    I’m uploading the HDD review for it tonite…it’s going to be a doozy. I do expect fireworks. I don’t know many people who have seen the film at all, let alone four times now.

  7. bruce

    picked up winnie the pooh, Jurassic park, tom and jerry, captin, and island of lost souls.. Being spending to much cash the last couple on months..

  8. Picked up Capt America 2D Blu today and the last 3 Featurettes were messed up, causing the disc to skip. I’ll be taking it back for a replacement tomorrow. Just wondering if anyone else was having the same problem….