For those of you who have jumped into the flat-panel, LCD/Plasma TV screen scene, you know what a slippery slope it is. With all those pixels and clarity, the next thing you know you’re upgrading your cable box to HD. Then your audio system to some uber-cool 8 speaker setup with Dolby super-pro-logical sound. And finally the last step to video nirvana, a Blu Ray disc player. DVD?! That’s so 20th century, c’mon now! Go buy that 1080p – HDMI blu-ray player my friend!
So now that you’ve got your ultra high-tech setup, what should you be playing on it? Not all movies are on blu-ray and certainly not all are created equal. You need a movie with lots of details, expansive and glorious backdrops. Deep blacks, rich colors or nuanced color palettes show what HD is about. Graphical details that really come alive on a high-def flat panel. And then throw in a crazy soundtrack with lots of powerful special effects, sound imagery and deep lows that push your sound system a bit. When everything is consideredl, you typically end up with lots of action and adventure films, those subtle comedies and romantic stories just don’t shine on blu-ray. And if you can get the discs at a discount, all the better.
Here are some of my favorites that have made my personal collection or are about to become part of it.
* Transformers- Lots of explosions and Michael Bay’s sumptuous military recreations make it shine on HD. And who can resist robots and Megan Fox? I certainly can’t.
* Dark Knight- Shot in amazing clarity and contrast for IMAX, the Dark Knight is a truly reference quality movie for your setup. Plenty of details and action to push your flat panel’s performance to the limit.
* Casino Royale- The opening chase scene alone is worth the price of the disc. Amazing stunts, soundtrack and beautiful backdrops make Casino Royale a must buy. And the revival of the James Bond franchise starts here!
* 300- Some say the effects and stylistic cues to 300 renders it uninteresting on blu ray. I disagree, the effects are stunning and imagery holds up well under detail. A mindless piece of eye-candy and fun for a couple of hours.
* Letters from Iwo Jima- A very subdued movie portraying the Japanese in WWII from a sentimental and humanistic perspective. Shot in dreary colors and lighting but still wonderfully interesting and detailed.
* Kill Bill, Volume 2- Love Quentin Tarantino or hate him, he can certainly keep you entertained for a couple of hours. Kill Bill has so many little things going on in the movie that makes it perfect for HD. Great sound effects and music make it blu-ray worthy.
* The Untouchables- Love this movie, costuming and sets. Sean Connery’s rebirth and Kevin Costner holds his own in this fantastic period piece. Rich, backgrounds and Chicago details make it fun!
* Pan’s Labyrinth- A rich, rich movie full of imaginative details, beautiful scenery and brutal violence. A true masterpiece told through the eyes of a little girl emotionally shielding herself from the horrors of life. A wonderful movie and extremely satisfying blu-ray disc.
* Planet Earth- You will see footage and details on animal life you have NEVER seen before and will probably never see in real life. A true masterpiece that shines on high def, watch it as soon as you can, your kids will be enthralled too!
* Sin City- Another ultra-violent, stylish thriller similar to 300. There’s plenty of blood, skin and over the top imagery but this movie will push your system to the limit. The color palette used ranges from mono-chromatic to over-saturated yellows and reds. Another must-see on high def.
* WALL-E- Too many great choices from Pixar, I like WALL-E for all its details, simplicity and real-life messages. Don’t insult it by calling the movie a cartoon or even an animation. It’s a wonderful movie made by the geniuses at Pixar, enjoy it!