New to Blu: May 1-7

Anyone who still thinks 3D is a home theatre dud should reserve final judgment until they’ve seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Life of Pi on Blu-ray 3D.

The Hobbit at last goes on sale here six weeks after the US, where it was was acclaimed for its “demo-worthy video and a reference-quality audio presentation …

“The 3D presentation is all about pulling audiences into Middle-earth with superb dimensionality and separation, creating a wonderfully immersive viewing experience.”

“This is one of those films that seems to work better in 3D than 2D, which is unsurprising given as it was shot as a reference high frame rate 3D movie.

“It is extremely good despite my few reservations and the colourful opening scenes in Bag End will really show off your 3D system at its best.”

But one notable detractor thought it a “schizophrenic stereoscopic experience” and argued: “The crystal clarity of everything in The Hobbit is its 3D downfall.”

“The 3D version of Life of Pi is a testament to film artistry and the appropriate use of a controversial format.

“As Martin Scorsese proved with Hugo, in the hands of an accomplished director, 3D can add magic and a breathtaking sense of in-your-face realism to movies that enhance both their sensory and emotional impact.”

“It’s a gorgeous transfer from beginning to end with wonderful sharpness and colour rich and lustrous when appropriate.”

“This is one of the greatest uses of 3D in a live action film to come along since Cameron’s Avatar.

“Even in 2D, however, Life of Pi, though it loses some of its impact, still looks amazing, with a clean image, crisp detail, and strong contrast.”

20th Century Fox is using Pi’s Oscar-winning profile to release for the first time on Blu-ray Tom Hanks’ 2000 hit Castaway.

“The video and audio can be truly spectacular, but it’s a real shame that Fox has abandoned so many of the materials found on the standard-def DVD two-disc set.”

“The superb SD edition was good but this Blu-ray DVD is obviously superior in every visual regard (colour, contrast and detail) – in fact black levels are remarkably pitch when infrequently used (as black as I can recall ever seeing).”

Also getting dusted off for stand-alone Blu-ray debuts are: The Birds and Rear Window, which originally were released in The Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece CollectionSunset Boulevard (“looks absolutely marvellous on Blu-ray”); The Great Gatsby (“a lustrously beautiful high definition presentation that very ably recreates the original film appearance”); and Timeless Audrey, a collection of Audrey Hepburn movies (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina, Funny Face).

The week’s only other new theatrical release on disc is the black comedy Seven Psychopaths.

“It’s technically flawless from start to finish, delivering a wondrous high definition, film-like presentation that should impress even the most avid videophile.”

“The end result is very, very impressive – a wonderfully detailed and very colourful presentation of a sharp looking film.”

The only TV-on-Blu newcomer, Attenborough: 60 Years in the Wild, is “marred only by the nature of the various video sources utilised in each episode …

“Footage is taken from Attenborough’s entire sixty-year body of work, which is both amazing, in that it offers a rare look at a young, spry Attenborough on the front lines, and less-than-amazing, in that it doesn’t always result in a pretty picture.”

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