Disc News: August 29th 2010

In a video interview conducted during the promotion of this weekend’s “Avatar” re-release, James Cameron confirmed he’s done a “complete remaster” of “Aliens” for the upcoming “Alien Anthology” Blu-ray boxset and worked with the same colorist he used on “Avatar”.

In comments that might cause controversy though, Cameron says he went in and “completely de-noised it, de-grained it, up-rezzed, color-corrected every frame”. The film itself is famously heavy with grain because “it was shot on a high-speed negative that was a new negative that didn’t pan out too well and got replaced the following year” says Cameron who adds that “We got rid of all the grain. It’s sharper and clearer and more beautiful than it’s ever looked. And we did that to the long version, to the ‘director’s cut'”

The worry is if the changes have a negative impact, much like the odd color timing on “French Connection” or the recently degrained “Predator” which made the various faces look very plastic (but admittedly didn’t get a full director-supervised remaster). The Digital Bits has posted a piece about this with comments from people who claim to have seen the remaster.

“Everyone we trust who was involved, and/or has actually SEEN the new Aliens HD master for Blu-ray, reports to us that the film looks terrific. To the degree that DNR (digital noise reduction) was used, it was applied carefully and with a light hand, with an eye toward striking the proper balance between maintaining the detail and integrity of the image and the desire to reduce grain and address the deficiencies of the stock used at the time. There is apparently STILL grain left in the image, it’s just no longer excessive or distracting.”

Cameron seems to be getting around to his back catalogue as an interesting comment on Blu-ray.com says that Cameron is about to begin work supervising a similar remaster for “The Abyss”. Will we be seeing that in 2011?

While the upcoming Collector’s Edition Blu-ray on November 16th will contain 16 minutes of additional footage incorporated back into the feature, James Cameron tells The Oregonian that the disc set will also include another 45 minutes of deleted, unfinished footage.

Cameron also confirms the original four-and-a-half minute opening sequence set on Earth will be included in this new 178-minute cut of the film. A look at the cover art for the release can be found online at the end of the featurette.

Baz Luhrmann
The Aussie director’s “Moulin Rouge” and “Romeo+Juliet” are both set to score a Blu-ray release on October 19th. Both will feature new high-definition transfers from the original camera negative, supervised by Luhrmann and colorist Jan Yarbrough who worked on the highly acclaimed Blu-ray editions of “North by Northwest” and “The Godfather” trilogy.

Both releases also contain extensive new extras from featurettes and cut scenes, to commentaries and several strange sounding ‘viewing modes’.

Bridge of the River Kwai
One of the big catalogue title restorations for the Fall, David Lean’s wartime classic will score a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Collector’s Edition on November 2nd.

For the first time since its theatrical release, the film will be presented in its original 2.55:1 aspect ratio (all VHS/DVD editions trimmed it to the more regular 2.35:1 Cinemascope). The print itself has been fully restored and re-mastered from a 4K scan of the original negatives, while the audio is in newly-remixed DTS-HD.

Criterion has announced its November titles with Lars von Trier’s controversial “Antichrist” coming out on the 9th, acclaimed 50’s thriller “The Night of the Hunter” and Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” a week later on the 16th.

The biggest title though is the six-disc box-set “America Lost and Found: The BBS Story” which will include late 60’s and early 70’s American New Wave cinematic classics like “Drive He Said,” “Easy Rider,” “Five Easy Pieces,” “Head,” “The King of Marvin Gardens,” “The Last Picture Show” and “A Safe Place”.

Disney has officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of “Fantasia” and “Fantasia 2000” for November 30th, just a little over a month after the release of “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” on October 5th. Both the two-disc DVD and four-disc Blu-ray edition of “Fantasia” (both films are packaged together) will have 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and a boatload of extras.

Kino have announced the release of “The Complete Metropolis” on DVD and Blu-ray on November 16th. Fritz Lang’s silent 1927 German sci-fi film, considered one of the greatest works of early cinema, has had 25 minutes of lost footage and the original Gottfried Huppertz score restored.

The original (and lost) cut ran at 153 minutes in Germany, a version which was cut down to a mere 90 minutes internationally. A previous restoration in 2001 brought it back to 124 minutes, but in 2008 lost footage was discovered and painstakingly restored – bringing this cut up to a now essentially complete 147 minute length.

The idea of a contemporary take on Holmes sounded atrocious, but Steven Moffat surprised and delighted with this strongly reviewed three TV movie-sized first season which aired last month in the UK and airs on BBC America in the US in October. DVD and Blu-ray editions of the season have been announced for November 9th in the US.

Stanley Kubrick
The Digital Bits reports that Warners is apparently readying Kubrick’s “Lolita” and “Barry Lyndon” for a Blu-ray release next year.

Their release, along with Criterion’s upcoming “Paths of Glory”, leaves only three of Kubrick’s earliest and less well-known features – “Killer’s Kiss,” “The Killing” and “Fear and Desire” – yet to be upgraded to Blu-ray.

Quick Announcements
* Disney is releasing the Dick van Dyke musical/family classic “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in a DVD/Blu-ray combo set on November 2nd.

* The acclaimed and quite dark British thriller “The Disappearance of Alice Creed” will score a DVD and Blu-ray release on November 23rd.

* IFC Films have announced that the controversial “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” will score a DVD and Blu-ray release on October 5th.

* The original “Mad Max” will be coming out in a Blu-ray/DVD combo edition on October 5th.

* 20th Century Fox is rushing Robert Rodriguez’s “Predators” to DVD and Blu-ray with an October 19th release date announced, around 15 weeks after the film’s opening.

* Paramount is releasing the very first VistaVision film, “White Christmas”, on DVD and Blu-ray on November 2nd with several featurettes and a commentary by Rosemary Clooney.

* This year’s Sundance Grand Prize winner “Winter’s Bone” will score a DVD and Blu-ray release on October 26th.

* Sidney Lumet’s 1978 Motown musical adaptation “The Wiz” starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson will score a Blu-ray release on November 30th.