Due to the lack of options that Blu-ray enthusiasts were presented with over the last few weeks, it’s been a while since I’ve written a proper column. Though I had originally planned to combine two weeks’ worth of HD titles into one write-up, I ultimately decided against it because, well, even that selection wasn’t very inspiring. It’s a different story today, however, with three must-buy titles and several more worth checking out.
The Blu-ray release of “Watchmen” has been the subject of attention since before the movie even arrived in theaters, but that’s what happens when you adapt something as popular as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ groundbreaking graphic novel. The good news is that after all the legal issues with 20th Century Fox and the film’s less-than-stellar box office performance, Warner Bros. has still come through with one of the coolest Blu-rays of the year. Not only does it feature a director’s cut with over 20 minutes of additional footage, but the three-disc set also introduces the much-publicized Maximum Movie Mode, which is kind of like Universal’s U-Control feature on steroids. Quite simply, this is the future of Blu-ray, with Zack Snyder hosting an in-depth look at key sequences (often pausing the movie to discuss certain details), while other extras — like a timeline comparing historical events from Our World to Their World, picture-in-picture interviews with the cast and crew, and storyboards and comic book comparisons — supplement the experience. Also included are a series of video diaries that you can hop over to while watching the film, as well as a second disc packed with featurettes on the graphic novel, the psychology of vigilantes, and the science of “Watchmen.” If there’s one release that should help convince consumers why Blu-ray is better than DVD, this is it.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” might have the bigger fanbase, but Henry Selick’s latest stop-motion adventure, “Coraline,” is by far the better of the two films. Then again, when you consider that the source material was written by Neil Gaiman, it isn’t at all surprising that the movie would turn out as good as it did. Though it’s debatable whether or not “Coraline” will scare the younger crowds, the film is unequivocally a must-see for any fan of Selick’s past work. The Blu-ray release makes the experience even better, too, with the option to watch the film in 2-D or 3-D (glasses included), as well as a host of awesome extras ranging from a director commentary to an in-depth making-of featurette that might as well have been called Stop-Motion 101. The two-disc set also includes Universal’s standard U-Control feature with a picture-in-picture video track filled with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and the ability to watch the full-length animatic alongside the movie. Were it not for the fact that Warner Bros. was releasing “Watchmen” on the same day, this easily would have been the best release of the week, and possibly the month.