Blu-ray Highlights for 11/2/10: Let’s Hear It for the Toys

The beginning of November is a big week for kids’ movies on Blu-ray. Whether you have children or are just a kid at heart yourself, there’s plenty to spend your money on. Don’t worry, even if you’re a grumpy old adult, you might still be able to find a thing or two of interest as well.

Take a look over this list:

Obviously, the biggest title of the week is ‘Toy Story 3‘, the final chapter in the Pixar’s blockbuster franchise. The movie made gobs of money in theaters, and will no doubt do so on video too. Disney offers up three separate Blu-ray editions, including one in a box set with the earlier two ‘Toy Story’ films, just in case you had enough will power to hold off purchasing them earlier this year. Be warned, though: a 3-D edition is inevitable eventually.

If that puts you in the mood to look back on your own childhood, Fox and Warner hope to cash in with catalog releases of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang‘ and ‘The Goonies‘ respectively. Although it’s not technically a kids’ film, ‘The Sound of Music‘ is a perennial family favorite. (And it has a bunch of kids in it.) I hear that Fox put some effort into remastering that one.

If you’re hoping for more mature fare, I would suggest David Lean’s classic war epic ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai‘. And if that gets you hyped up for more WWII drama, try ‘The Pacific‘, HBO’s miniseries sequel to ‘Band of Brothers‘.

Lionsgate appeals to the cult movie crowd this week with ‘Highlander‘ and its first (legendarily awful) sequel. I’ve never understood the appeal of this franchise, personally. I thought the first one was pretty laughably bad, and can’t believe it spawned so many sequels and even a TV series. I guess this is one of those things you either “get” or you don’t, and I feel left out. If you’re a fan, I’m sure you’ll enjoy all that decapitatin’ action in high-def.

Finally, we turn to the TV front, where Warner gives us the first season of its ‘V‘ reboot. I watched this show when it aired, and recapped it a little here in the blog. Honestly, I’m not sure why I stuck it out through the whole season. It’s not very good, and the terrible CG effects are just plain embarrassing in high definition.


  1. This week I went broke. Two copies of White Christmas (one will be an early Christmas present for my mom), The Sound Of Music Limited Edition and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang should all be arriving today from Amazon. I’ll pick up Toy Story later on discount – Disney just charges too much for individual movies (although it does look like the price came down dramatically from when I checked a few days ago – if it wasn’t for all the other movies, I would pick up Toy Story.

    I REALLY want River at Risk. The demo in the stores is AMAZING! I don’t have a 3DTV yet, but Total Media Theater supposedly does do Blu-Ray 3D, and will apparently export it in anaglyph (I haven’t tried this on an actual 3D Blu-Ray yet, just on 2D to 3D conversions of videos I had laying around).

    • First Impressions:

      Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:

      The disc is housed in an eco-friendly case with a cardboard slipcover. This is one of the worst eco-friendly cases I have seen, with practicly the entire area behind what holds the disc removed. Be VERY careful with this disc.

      There are no trailers or promos before the menu.

      Looks absolutely stunning! Grain is present and consistant throughout, although the Toot Whistle scene seemed a bit like looking at wax figures. The rest of the movie looks amazing, with the scene in the palace with the clown and the music box looking amazing – you can see stitching on the clothing (litterally!), and even see a few snags in the dresses. The beach scene is amazing, and… just lost the ability to describe it in words! Contrast seems like great care was taken to it, as some scenes are REALLY bright – but it never gets overblown.

      The sound is about what you would expect – the 7.1 soundtrack offers no surprises, with the exception of the opening scene, which puts cars coming at you from every single speaker. The rest sounds about how you would expect a 40+ year old movie to sound.

      I have not had time to get to the special features – I had three movies to get to on my lunch hour.

      White Christmas:

      Surprise! No eco-friendly case here! Its a single-disc traditional Blu-Ray case with a slip-cover. No promos or trailers before the menu.

      The video is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I hate to link to another review site, but the screenshots on the review at will start to give you an idea just how amazing this movie looks, but still just does not do justice to how great the actual video looks. I honestly do not know why they only gave it a 4.5 – this is demo material if ever there was it, and definately deserves a full 5 stars!

      Colors! Oh the colors! Is there anything more beautiful on Blu-Ray than technicolor? The opening war scenes, the train scenes, and the closing number, all showing very different scenes, are absolutely amazing! I could go on about the war scenes, or the train scenes, but I want to talk about the closing scene. As many times as I have seen this movie, I have never noticed the design on the white ballerina outfit! The deep red material of the dresses make you feel like you can reach out and touch them!

      Luckily the movie does not seem to be plagued with anything like DNR or edge enhancement – and the grain level is amazing, and gives this a VERY nice film feel.

      The sound is, well, its a 1940s musical. There is only so good its going to sound.

      I haven’t had a chance to check out the extras yet.

      Sound of Music: Limited Edition

      I almost didn’t have time to get to the movie – I was so overwhelmed by the contents of the box I lost track of time. The boxed set comes with a cardboard slipcover (Nice touch – proctects the box) that has the actual number on it (mine was in the 200s of 25,000). This actually came from the manufacturor in its own cardboard box with holders holding the the box snugly in place, so no knicked edges. That box was then placed inside of the box from Amazon. Nice touch! After slipping off the outside slipcover, you are presented with what reminds me of an oversized cigar box. The lid flips open. The inside of the lid says Favorite things, and the top of the box has what looks like a sheet of wax paper with a Certificate of Authenticity.

      Under that lies a collectors book that has the story and photographs of the original Von Traps (including pictures of immegration papers and original performance flyers), pictures from the first Family Von Trapp movie, and pictures from the Broadway show. The book is wrapped covered with a ribbon which comes from the left side of the box, goes behind the book, then over the top front of the book (remember that when you are putting the box back together)

      Underneath this is a felt casing. On the right is a music box that plays My Favorite Things, has My Favorite Things printed on the cover, and opens up a place to store small jewlry or other similarly sized objects. On the left is the Blu-Ray disc.

      Under the discs is a book about the production of the movie. I imagine this is going to be similar to what is included with the Digibook.

      Underneath this is a set of postcards from Salzburg. These are stored in a wax-paper envelope.

      The Blu-Ray discs is a 4 set combo – The movie on disc one, a bonus features disc, a DVD copy of the movie, and a CD soundtrack.

      The video transfer itself looks very similar to previous HD transfers I have seen on TV. The opening few minutes has a few places where there seems to be print-damage (the hill scene has a strange transparent white bar on the right hand side – I have seen this in previous transfers). The opening shots are also much more grainy than the rest of the film. Don’t get me wrong, it still looks great, but I was so hoping that would be cleaned up.

      After the opening scene, however, the quality greatly improves, and takes on a quality consistant with other movies of the era. Some scenes, however, do seem to have color saturation blown way out of proportion – such as the vegitable stand in My Favorite Things, but those are rare. Most of the movie looks fantastic, and its easy to forgive a few shots that just don’t look right.

      Film grain, after the opening song, is extreamely fine, and makes me wonder if it was taken from the Todd-AO masters.

      All in all, it looks great, with just a few nit-picks here and there.

      As for the sound, sadly the 7.1 channel soundtrack seems to add little than how we have heard this movie since it was released on DVD. The movie is 45 years old, so you just cannot expect the level of fidelity that you have on modern movies. This is probably going to be as good as its ever going to sound. It sounds great, just do not expect an immersive sound field.

      I have not had a chance to check out the extras yet.

      • PS – There were a couple of moments in outdoor scenes in The Sound of Music where actors seemed to be surrounded with a black matte or something. Never noticed that before. Possibly some shots that got refilmed later in Hollywood in front of a screen?

      • Note on Sound of Music video transfer – watched the special features. The video transfer was taken from a 70mm negative made from the original Todd-AO print. Lots of work went into print cleanup, and some color correction was done. Part of the problem, they mentioned, was HOW MUCH to saturate or color correct certain scenes. An example was given with the opening field shot – How Green Should the Grass be?

        The film was scanned in at 8k, and all cleanup was performed at 4k.

        The sound elements were taken from both the original 6 track recordings, and from the original studio sound recordings that was used for the film, not from the film itself, to give it more clarity. Part of the problem was that multi-channel sound in the 60s consisted of 5 front speakers and one rear speaker, so tweaking had to be done for a home-theater system.

        • Sound of Music Extras:

          I thought I would point out something that probably most will glance over, but is something I am REALLY excited about. When the movie was originally released on DVD in 2000, it came with 2 video bonus features – one was a 1994 Home Video release, and one was a featurette shot at the same time as the movie, called Salzburg Sight and Sounds, hosted by Charmian Carr. This was in pretty bad condition on the DVD, but was still enjoyable to watch.

          While most of the older vintage stuff is encoded in MPEG2 480i or 480p, Salzburg Sight and Sounds got a full HD overhaul, encoded in AVC at roughly 15Mbps, and on top of that, seems to have gotten a complete restoration as well! You can litterally see stitching, you can read posters in the background on the hotel walls, you can see lint on sweaters, and you can clearly see the faces of people in background scenes – something you could never do before. Colors are vibrant and, what’s that, FILM GRAIN! Yes, the film grain is there, and there is NO hint of any DNR or edge enhancement applied!

          As so many times, features are just ported over from previous DVD releases in SD, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate that effort was put into going back to the original film elements here and doing a complete HD restoration! It would have been nice if they had done this for all material originally shot on film (such as the trailers), but I was VERY excited about this, as, in the past, I have enjoyed this feature almost as much as the movie itself.

          THANK YOU FOX!!!!!

  2. Shayne

    Meh, I’ll no doubt pick up Goonies eventually, but it’s very low on my list of priorities. Toy Story is a renter as far as I’m concerned. I enjoy all of those films, but seldom feel the need to ever watch them again.

  3. matt

    The SALT release, I believe, is actually a photographer’s documentary, not the Angelina Jolie action flick.

  4. HuskerGuy

    Had no idea Goonies was out today. Sadly I’ll be passing for the time being since I don’t want to drop $35 for it.

    My copy of TS3 was delivered early so I got that one yesterday.