Blu-ray Importing: Aug 2009 Buying Guide

Ben takes a look at the latest and best overseas titles for Aug 2009.

Published Sat, Aug 15 2009 1:43 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:03 PM CST
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TweakTown Blu-ray Import Buying Guide Update

Long time readers may recall the 'Guide to Buying Blu-rays from Overseas' from late last year. Whilst I originally intended the articles to become a regular series, the spectacular crash of the Australian dollar compared to the greenback meant imports were no longer as financially feasible as they were. Well, the good news is that the dollar has recovered somewhat and we have a massive amount of titles to catch up on!

So welcome to the next instalment, covering some of the best import titles to have been released over the last few months. Pending some other financial meltdown, I'll endeavour to do a few more as the release schedule heats up in the final two quarters of 2009.


Coraline Blu-ray

Studio: Universal
Country of Origin: United States
Region: A, B, C

Released to Australian cinemas a matter of less than a fortnight ago, director Henry Selick and author Neil Gaiman unleash their first collaboration, the dark fairytale Coraline. Utilising the craft of stop motion, which Selick used to great effect with the classic Nightmare Before Christmas, the 2002 novella comes to life, with every frame bursting with the highest quality of craftsmanship. Whilst the film may not be suitable for the youngest of audiences, older children and above will enjoy. The technical quality of the film's presentation and audio track is second to none.

The Blu-ray release also comes with a wealth of high quality extra features, including picture-in-picture video tracks featuring artists recording the voice tracks and storyboard comparisons. However, the best feature is the 3D version of the film (also included in the package are four pairs of 3D glasses). Unlike most 3D features that use anaglyphic 3D (red and blue glasses), Coraline uses pink and green glasses which is far more suited to the colour scheme of the film and makes for the best 3D experience in the home that I've yet seen.

Audiences that enjoyed the aforementioned The Nightmare Before Christmas should definitely apply.

Watchmen: Directors Cut

Watchmen Blu-ray

Studio: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment
Country of Origin: United States
Region: A, B, C

When I recently took a look at the Australian Blu-ray release of the theatrical cut of the film, I made reference to the fact that the import version featured a 24 minute longer 'Directors Cut' version, which Australian audiences are being made to wait for. Well, not if you have a credit card.

Overall, I found the directors cut to be a slightly more satisfying film, despite an objectionable (at least to me) length of just over 3 hours. Character motivation is somewhat elaborated upon and the film is allowed to breathe a little more, even though I found that it exacerbated a film that already slumped somewhere in the middle. One of the major boons for this version of the Blu-ray is the beefed up extras package, including the technically stunning picture-in-picture commentary track hosted by Director Zach Snyder, missing off the Australian version.

Watchmen fans owe it to themselves to pickup this version of the film, probably in combination with the local release.

TweakTown Blu-ray Import Buying Guide Update - Cont.

A Bugs Life

A Bug's Life Blu-ray

Studio: Disney Home Entertainment
Country of Origin: United States
Purchase: DVD Pacific
Region: A, B, C

I imagine choosing your favourite Pixar film is akin to choosing your favourite child, but I have always held a soft spot for A Bugs Life. Whilst Pixar have learnt a lot about storytelling since and the film is not without flaws, there's a lot to love in the film, including some fantastic CG animation that hasn't aged despite being 11 years old. The Blu-ray is technically brilliant, with a direct digital transfer, with nary a blemish or fault to be found. Likewise, the DTS HD Master Audio track is spot on and makes for a great demo.

Porting over almost all of the DVD features and adding a few more, this film deserves to be in all Blu-ray fans collections. New to the Blu-ray release is a retrospective round table discussion which reunites the major players in the production, in addition to a storyboarded alternate version of the film.

For a family friendly film which also entertains the older folk, you can't really go past Pixar and A Bug's Life is no exception.

Monsters Inc.

Monsters Inc Blu-ray

Studio: Disney Home Entertainment
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Region: A, B, C

Monsters Inc. marks the fifth Pixar film to be released on Blu-ray, despite only three having been released in Australia. Upon release in 2001, the film was a runaway success and heralded massive advances in CG animation, including previously impossible fur and clothing simulations. However, all the tech would be nothing without a heart warming story and this is something the film has in spades. The films ending is perfect and tugs my heart strings every time. The Blu-ray again features a direct digital transfer which is the very definition (no pun intended) of perfection.

Disney have again provided the vast majority of extra features from the previous DVD (so you can safely eBay that - I just did) and again include a directors retrospective roundtable, which for the first time in a Disney animated film, features the utterance of a naughty word that starts with the letter 's'. It's probably worth it for that alone.

So, that's a look at some of my recent recommendations. I've got some big orders on the way, so we will be sure to do this again in the coming weeks! Until then...

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Ben is based in Australia and has been writing entertainment based news and reviews since 2002 and for TweakTown since 2007. A student of film, Ben brings a wide understanding of the medium to the latest happenings in entertainment circles and the latest blockbuster theatrical reviews.

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