New to Blu: February 1-7

A Fish Called Wanda at last lands on Blu-ray, along with a raft of back-catalogue collectibles.

But fans of this John Cleese classic risk calling themselves stupid if they rush out to upgrade their two-disc special edition DVD expecting a pr-pr-pr-pristine image from a budget (sub-$20) release.

A Fish Called Wanda looks tired and drab at least some of the time, with a really appalling number of dots, splotches, scratches and other blemishes cropping up with fair regularity … A pretty shoddy looking transfer of a less than stellar print.”

“Some other reviewers have criticised the transfer, but in my opinion the faults lie squarely with the poorly lit — albeit well-staged — cinematography.

“The film has never looked particularly great in any format, but this Blu-ray represents the film as accurately as it can.”

“After sampling most of the chapters, I’m happy with the results. Is it reference quality? Nope.

“However, there’s also very little tampering present and a nicely detailed image that retains a film-like appearance.

“There is some print damage, grain, and dirt present, but I don’t realistically expect every film I like to receive a complete restoration or digital clean-up prior to a Blu-ray transfer. That’s not realistic based on the likely sales volume of titles like Wanda.”

Three Days of the Condor is being re-released on Blu-ray but without the book-like packaging of the original.

While it has been “respectfully transferred” to Blu-ray – “make no mistake, the disc looks very much like a movie shot in the 1970s” — it is the same Studio Canal transfer as the original, and not Paramount’s, which is said to be “superior” (albeit without the comprehensive extras).

Studio Canal’s The Elephant Man, which is also being re-issued in a standard keepcase, looks “absolutely stunning.

“Detail is crisp, blacks are inky, whites are clean with no noticeable clipping, and there is only some slight black crush on occasion, but not enough to damage overall detail.”

Also ripe for collecting on Blu-ray are Blue Velvet, Lost in Translation and Lady and the Tramp.

So new to Blu-ray are Footloose, Johnny English Reborn and Spy Kids 4 — they’ve yet to go on sale outside Australasia — that online reviews of have yet to be posted.

Of the direct-to-disc releases, Texas Killing Fields is the standout, if only to see how Michael Mann’s daughter, Ami Canaan Mann, shapes up as a director.

“While the film’s intentional look is rather drab and at times unappealing, the transfer itself is solid and the style suits the content well.”

“Strong blacks are critical to the movie’s visual structure, and often the Blu-ray does not disappoint.”

Also new are The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption and Love Never Dies.

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