My Two Cents

Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits is one that caught the eye of more than a few of our readers in the background of photos I’ve posted of recent Retro Release Day titles. I’m speaking of ADV Films’ 4-disc Farscape: Starburst Edition DVDs!

Farscape, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 19, was a Sci-Fi Channel original series that debuted in 1999 from The Jim Henson Company and Hallmark Entertainment. An Australian-American production, the live action science fiction series was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon and starred Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard, Lani Tupu, and Wayne Pygram.

The series was first released on DVD starting in 2001 by ADV Films in a regular DVD edition (with 2 episodes per set plus extras on one DVD-9 disc). This was followed in 2005 by an initial Starburst Edition release (with 6-7 episodes per set plus additional extras on 2 DVD-18 discs). Both releases presented the series in the original broadcast 1.33:1 (or 4x3) TV aspect ratio, save for Season Four which switched production to 1.78:1 (or 16x9). Audio was lossy Dolby Digital. [Read on here...]

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Today’s Bits postings are a double-header, and this first one will be pretty substantial. I’ve unfortunately come down with the flu, so the last few days my functionality has been limited. But, I’m going to do a couple posts today to make up for it.

Before we begin, though, we’ve posted 4 new Blu-ray reviews here at The Bits in the last few days, including... Tim’s look at The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires from Scream Factory, Ecco and The Forbidden from Severin Films, and the Region B release of Dragonwyck (1946) from Powerhouse Films and Indicator. We also have Dennis’ look at Stan & Ollie on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Enjoy!

So... first things first: We’ve confirmed with Warner Bros. that their new Burton/Schumacher Batman 4K releases will feature new Dolby Atmos audio mixes on both the 4K and the Blu-rays in the package. Those Blu-rays will be remastered too. High dynamic range will be HDR10 only on the 4Ks. And the Blu-rays will carry over all of the previous BD extras with one exception: Don’t expect to find the Batman: The Birth of a Modern Blockbuster featurette from the recent Batman: Diamond Luxe Blu-ray. Beyond that, most everything should be there. (Thanks to Bits reader Anthony DiPaola for spotting that). [Read on here...]

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We mentioned this title a few days ago, but now we can officially confirm that Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Neon will be releasing Todd Douglas Miller’s acclaimed large format documentary, Apollo 11, on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on May 14th.

From the studio’s press release:

“Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future ” [Read on here...]

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has just officially confirmed information we’ve had in our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits for a while now, which is this…

Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) and Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) are officially coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Digital on 6/4. You’ll be able to buy them as single SKU editions that day, and then a 4K Batman Anthology box set will follow on 9/17.

The films have been scanned from the original camera negatives in native 4K, fully remastered, and graded for high dynamic range in HDR10 (there is no mention of Dolby Vision but we’ll try to confirm its inclusion). They’ll also feature new Dolby Atmos audio mixes. [Read on here...]

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Attention all readers of The Digital Bits. This is just a quick announcement to remind you all that The Criterion Channel officially launches in the U.S. and Canada on Monday (4/8).

That means you only have ONE WEEK left to become a Charter Subscriber of the service. Benefits include an extended 30-day free trial (starting April 8), reduced fees for the life of your subscription (for as long as you maintain it), and more.

Specifically, charter subscribers (who sign up before 4/8) will pay just $9.99 for a monthly plan or $89.99 for a yearly plan, following the trial period. After 4/8, the prices will rise to $10.99 for monthly or $99.99 for yearly.

Content includes the complete Janus Films library, plus curated and original content, with special features to supplement it.

You can watch on your desktop right now, and the official app is expected to go live for download on Monday for Apple TV 4 and newer, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, and Android devices. [Read on here...]

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We’ve got a quick Friday post for you guys today...

First up, we have a new review for you. Tim has checked out Arrow Video’s Blood Hunger: The Films of José Larraz – Limited Edition Blu-ray box set. It includes Whirlpool (1970), Vampyres (1974), and The Coming of Sin (1978). Enjoy!

We’re going to be back on Monday with more reviews, as well as a new History, Legacy & Showmanship column from our own Michael Coate, celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Wachowski’s The Matrix. So be sure to check back for that.

By the way, we’ve updated our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits to reflect the fact that Ridley Scott’s Alien: 40th Anniversary Edition is FINALLY available for pre-order on Amazon.com (and–holy shit–for just $15!). [Read on here...]

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Thursday, 28 March 2019 16:58

Retro Release Day: Ben-Hur on DVD (2001)

For today’s Retro Release Day here at The Bits, we’re looking at a 65 mm epic from director William Wyler: MGM’s Ben-Hur (1959), first released on DVD on March 13, 2001 by Warner Home Video.

Winner of 11 Academy Awards, the film stars Charlton Heston in the title role, with cinematography by Robert L. Surtees (Camera 65 process), music by Miklós Rózsa, and a supporting cast that includes Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O’Donnell, and Sam Jaffe.

The film is renowned for its chariot race sequence, which takes full advantage of the 2.66:1 widescreen frame (70 mm prints featured 2.76:1).

Today, Ben-Hur is often considered the second greatest American epic film behind Lawrence of Arabia. [Read on here...]

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All right, we’ve got more reviews for you to enjoy today, including...

My take on James Wan’s Aquaman in 4K Ultra HD from Warner.

Dennis’ review of Dan Bush’s The Vault on Blu-ray from FilmRise.

And Chase’s look at Robert Zemeckis’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand on Blu-ray from Criterion.

More reviews are in the works for tomorrow and Friday, so be sure to check back for them.

Meanwhile, we have some new title news and announcements to report today as well...

We’ve now confirmed the 4/23 release of Captain America: Civil War and Captain America: The Winter Soldier on 4K Ultra HD from Disney. [Read on here...]

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Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits happens to be the very first DVD title I ever purchased and it’s also one of the very first titles released on the format.

I’m talking of course of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut on DVD, released twenty-two years ago today on March 26, 1997.

The film stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, and Daryl Hannah, with cinematography by the great Jordan Cronenweth, and music by Vangelis.

This was not the first time that Blade Runner had been released in its Director’s Cut form for home viewing; it appeared on VHS and LaserDisc in 1993. It would also not be the last version of the film to reach home video. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

All right, quick update today...

First of all, I’m going to be finishing my Aquaman 4K review later today, so watch for that sometime before the end of the day.

Meanwhile, Tim has posted a couple more Blu-ray reviews here today, including his look at Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Color Me Blood Red (1965) from Arrow Video and Dennis’ take on Boy Erased from Universal.

And on Friday, Tim posted his thoughts on HGL’s The Wizard of Gore (1970) from Arrow and Geoff Murphy’s The Quiet Earth (1985) from Umbrella Entertainment.

Also here at the site today, Russell Hammond has updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. Anytime you order literally anything from Amazon after clicking through to them from one of our links (like this one), you’re helping to keep The Bits alive and we really, really appreciate it. So thank you! [Read on here...]

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