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Australian Blu-ray Importing: June 2012 Buying Guide

Ben takes a look at the latest and greatest overseas titles.

| Australian Import Guides in HT & Movies | Posted: Jun 3, 2012 2:35 pm

Since last time we looked at the Guide to Buying Blu-rays from Overseas last month, the Australian dollar has taken a bit of a battering, with wary investors second guessing the instability of European markets. Despite this, it continues to hover around parity with the US dollar and remains very strong against the pound. With deep discounting in overseas markets, it's still never been better to import Blu-ray releases.

 

So let's jump into the latest instalment of the series, covering some of the later titles released only to import - but safe from the horrors of region coding.

 

Casablanca: 70th Anniversary

 

TweakTown image content/4/7/4728_1_australian_blu_ray_importing_june_2012_buying_guide.jpg

 

Studio: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Country of Origin: United States

Purchase: Amazon.com

Region: A, B, C

 

Whilst Casablanca has previously been released to the Australian market, Warner have introduced a slightly upgraded version to the US market, which will cause long time fans to want to upgrade their previous Blu-ray release.

 

Warner has once again embarked on a fresh 4K scan of the film elements, resulting in a beautiful transfer which leaves the previous release for dead. The image is slightly darker than the previous Blu-ray, but features nary a film artifact and a nice layer of natural film grain. Now Casablanca looks like a film, rather than a shot-on-video release. Upgraded to is the audio track, replacing the previous lossy encode with a mono DTS HD Master Audio track.

 

Warner has released the film in two versions; a one disc version and a 70th anniversary gift set featuring three discs and some trinkets. I opted for the single disc (which is brimming with extra features), but hardcore fans of the Hollywood classic may opt for the larger and naturally more expensive gift set.

 

Tarzan

 

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Studio: Disney Home Entertainment

Country of Origin: United Kingdom

Purchase: Amazon.co.uk

Region: B

 

Whilst Disney have been very aggressive with releasing their animated classics (and not so classic sequels) on Blu-ray, they've been far less judicious about timing their releases around the world. Frequently titles are released significantly earlier in the United States and then in Europe - with no rhyme or reason.

 

Disney's 1999 hit Tarzan is the latest entry in the skewed release schedule. The newly released European version Blu-ray has no release date in the United States, Australia or any other market.

 

The lavish animation scrubs up relatively well, but it is obvious that the same love and attention given to other Disney jewels has not been extended to this. The same goes for the perplexing decision to issue the film with a lossy Dolby Digital track. To my knowledge this is the first Disney release to be treated this way. Gone too are the majority of lavish extra features prepared for the two disc DVD released in 2000.

 

Despite this, Tarzan comes recommended in its Blu-ray debut. The 37th 'classic' in the Disney canon is utterly timeless and in many ways closes the door on the Disney renaissance of the 90's.

 

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

 

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Studio: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Country of Origin: United States

Purchase: Amazon.com

Region: A, B, C

 

Whilst the original was released on Blu-ray way back in 2009, the riotous sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch has been missing in HD action. Not anymore.

 

A reasonable departure from the films predecessor, Gremlins 2 ups the mad cap antics and plays it for laughs with some self reverential gags and music numbers. Whilst many critics baulked at the series new direction, (the satire must have been too much for them to cope with) the sequel is beloved by many, in a completely over-the-top fashion.

 

Warner has prepared a pleasing new transfer for the film and has included all of the extra features from the previous DVD release, albeit in standard definition. At a bargain basement price, this really should be in the collections of many Blu-ray fans.

 

Pocahontas

 

TweakTown image content/4/7/4728_4_australian_blu_ray_importing_june_2012_buying_guide.jpg

 

Studio: Disney Home Entertainment

Country of Origin: United Kingdom

Purchase: Amazon.co.uk

Region: B

 

Released to the Australian market in February with its direct to video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World on the same disc, the original classic has now been released separated from its 'cheapquel' and reinstating the vast majority of copious bonus features from the previous DVD release which are missing from the domestic release.

 

This European releases retains the same superb encode of the new HD transfer, which shines like never before. The film also retains the lossless DTS HD Master Audio track, unlike the aforementioned Blu-ray release of Tarzan.

 

Whilst Pocahontas is a little more serious and earnest (and takes significant dramatic license with the true story) than other Disney classics, the exceptional quality of the animation will perhaps never be topped again.

 

For now, those high paid analysts say that the USD to AUD conversion of currency parity is likely to continue well into the future, so as we approach the bulk releases of the third quarter, we'll be sure to be back with a few more installments of the series.

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