Top Blu-ray summer releases
They definitely will need a bigger boat. Jaws is getting back in the water.
Steven Spielberg has meticulously restored his 1975 classic and the terror film's resurrection promises to become the Blu-ray sensation of the summer.
Actually, it will be Jaws and the debut of Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist. Talk about intriguing counter programming. There will be, of course, hundreds of other releases this summer, including many Blu-ray debuts, but nothing excites me personally as much as these two titles.
The Artist is the little-film-that-could because it won the best picture Oscar at the Academy Awards in February. This was something absolutely no one predicted in May of 2011 when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, with the filmmakers worried that their risky (if charming) musical comedy would land with a silent ... nothing.
Instead, it became its own sensation, albeit in a modest fashion compared to Jaws. Spielberg created a box-office smash. The Artist did OK in theatres -- for a black-and-white silent film made by the French in Hollywood -- but it is expected to be more widely seen on DVD and Blu-ray when it debuts June 26.
It also arrives with a pedigree. The Artist got the prime-time Oscars that eluded Jaws. It won five in total, including that elusive best picture prize and a best actor Oscar for its matinee idol star, Jean Dujardin. Jaws lost in the best picture category, winning three in craft categories. But none of Spielberg's cast was nominated in 1976, which was a crime in the case of Robert Shaw. He played curmudgeonly Quint and wrote his own famous "Indianapolis monologue." One interesting twist, however, is that both films won for best score. In both cases, the music significantly helps make the movie effective.
As for The Artist, I expect the Blu-ray to prove to skeptics that the high definition format can spectacularly showcase a black-and-white film. It is not just colour that pops when the picture is enhanced.
The Jaws release date is Aug. 14. As part of Universal Studios' 100th Anniversary series, it will be a combo pack combining DVD, Blu-ray and digital copy. The pack will carry four hours of bonus materials, including a new doc with the bemusing title, The Shark is Still Working.
The restoration, according to Universal, was done frame-by-frame in tandem with Spielberg and his Amblin Entertainment people "to ensure the integrity of Spielberg's original vision remained intact." The soundtrack goes to 7.1. That means John Williams' minimalist score -- with the shark's approach brilliantly orchestrated through a few memorable notes -- will kick butt in surround sound at home.
Other summer highlights are coming in Blu. Three vintage titles are worth noting:
Yellow Submarine (June 5)
High Fidelity (Aug. 7)
Grosse Pointe Blank: 15th Anniversary Edition (Aug. 7)
Television has its place, especially if you like complete-season sets for repeat screenings:
True Blood: The Complete Fourth Season (May 29)
Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season (June 5)
Hollywood releases its wares, usually within three months of theatrical release. Selected titles:
The Grey (May 15)
This Means War (May 22)
The Woman in Black (May 22)
Red Tails (May 22)
Man on a Ledge (May 29)
John Carter (June 5)
Act of Valor (June 5)
Safe House (June 5)
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (June 5)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (June 12)
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (June 12)
Big Miracle (June 19)