Gerard’s Top 10 Bad Ass Blu-rays of 2012

It’s that not-so-dreaded time of the year where I unleash my Top 10 Blu-rays of 2012. This year I thought I’d go against the grain the best that I could and just limit myself on picking Blu-rays that actually made a statement in terms of video, audio, and special features, instead of films that were cool that got the benefit of the doubt because they’re on Blu-ray. I think I cheated last year and did just that. Not this year, though. Some of my selections may have tons of special features and some may not. What can be said is that the TLC that went into the Blu-rays themselves is fairly evident and I have taken notice in that regard. I’ve also got a couple of imports that should be noted, so without further ado…I present my Top 10 bad ass Blu-rays of 2012. Kick it! 

I give you my Top 10 list of the best Blu-rays of 2012. If you don’t see something here that should be here then that probably means I don’t actually own it. I am only listing Blu-rays that I actually own this time out.

10. Drive – There’s a sense of deja-vu in the air but that’s due to the fact that Drive is also on my fellow colleagues Brian White and Gregg Senko’s Top 10 Blu-rays lists, too. What can I say? Sure, the disc isn’t fully loaded to the brim with special features, but once you pop in the Blu-ray and experience that opening intro/credit sequence over DTLA, you will see why the Blu-ray deserves to be on this list. The bass bumps and the violence never looked so beautiful in all its glorious 1080p/DTS lossless resolution. This could have been a barebones release and it would have still made it on this list just for video and audio specs alone. Drive is that epic of a Blu-ray. What’s even cooler is that I hear rumblings of a deluxe set *coughs* possible Criterion release *coughs* in the near future. If that happens then you can guarantee Drive will be back in the Top 10 in a future list.

9. Brazil (Criterion Collection) – Terry Gilliam’s whacked out social commentary/satire/opus has finally made it onto the Blu-ray format from our friends at Criterion, and as is expected, is a real doosie of a package. Brazil features a now classic commentary track by Gilliam, which also includes the “happy ending” version of the film that was not endorsed by Gilliam. There’s the now legendary documentary called The Battle of Brazil, where all the dirt that there ever was on the making of the project (and aftermath) is brought out into the light. This is what documentaries focusing on the inner turmoil of Hollywood versus artists is all about and it’s a wonderful addition to the already packed Blu-ray of the film. The main star, of course, is Terry Gilliam’s full and uncut version of Brazil on Blu-ray and it IS exquisite.

8. The Game (Criterion Collection) – David Fincher’s The Game had propelled itself to almost mythic status in that it had only ever been released in its proper deluxe version way back on laserdisc in  the late 90’s. Not only that, but that laserdisc became a rare and highly sought after item. Even I couldn’t get a copy of the Criterion laserdisc. It was later released in crappy DVD versions with absolutely zero extras and it even made an appearance on HD-DVD. The print used was mediocre and the special features were still missing. Fast forward it 14 years, and Criterion partnering with David Fincher, have finally brought us the fully loaded and restored version of The Game on Blu-ray. Everything that was on the laserdisc collector’s edition has been ported over to the Blu-ray and the video and sound have been tweaked to the highest specs supervised by David Fincher and the late great cinematographer, Harris Savides. The Game has finally come home to roost, y’all.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  – What’s this? A double whammy by David Fincher and company, ey? This Blu-ray version of the film may not be up to Criterion’s “standards” in terms of production, but you’d never know it considering it’s a pretty packed Blu-ray. Just like The Social Network was packed with material, TGWTDT was also given some proper art direction in terms of packaging and design. For laughs, check out the bonus disc of supplements that looks like it was designed to be a crappy DVD-R. It’s so cool. Not only do the supplements kick ass, so does the presentation itself. Video and audio specifications are up to snuff on this one and it is a highly recommended product overall.

6. Sunset Boulevard – I have to throw in one of the most influential life-imitates-art-imitates-life flicks of the past century and that is Cecil B. DeMille’s Sunset Boulevard. Gloriously restored by Paramount Studios and decked out with hours upon hours of special features, Sunset Boulevard was years in the making and more than cracks the Top 10 on this reviewer’s list. Great acting and spectacular video and audio only enhance a great film like this even more. It’s a great throwback of a film in that you get to see the inner workings of the Hollywood machine, and how even back then, talent would get ground up and spat out when it longer had a use for you. It’s a very haunting early look at Hollywood in play.  It deserves to be in your collection for sure. Are you ready for your close up?

5. Repo Man (Masters of Cinema UK Import) – It’s the little things in life that make it worth living. Being region free gives one a leg up in the Blu-ray world when it comes to acquiring classic titles that may never see the light of day in the U.S. due to quirky rights issues. Repo Man is such a title. Finally released in the UK by Eureka! and part of the “Masters of Cinema” collection – this Blu-ray set comes fully loaded with TWO versions of the film. We have writer-director Alex Cox’s version and the standard television version that was released for regular television airings. Along with those versions of the film we get several commentaries by Cox, producers, and some folks that were involved in the making of one of the most acclaimed independent films of the 80’s. With brand new video and audio specs Repo Man should be required viewing for those that like their social commentary with a dash of punk rock thrown in. Repo Man should be one of many reasons why you need to go region free.

Duke: The lights are growing dim Otto. I know a life of crime has led me to this sorry fate, and yet, I blame society. Society made me what I am.
: That’s bullshit. You’re a white suburban punk just like me. 
: Yeah, but it still hurts.

4. Titanic Titanic is my least favorite film in James Cameron’s filmography, but the Blu-ray is on my Top 10 list, because it’s demo material all the way around. You know the story forwards and backwards about the giant “unsinkable” ship…that sank. The question is: are you ready for the unsinkable Blu-ray? Titanic on Blu-ray has stellar video and audio and a plethora of special features that rock the casbah. Every special feature that was previously available on the special edition of the DVD was ported over and several new featurettes and documentaries were added on top of it all. The best one of those special features is the one that features James Cameron sitting down with world renowned Titanic experts as they conclude, once and for all, as to whether or not James Cameron’s film was accurate in its depiction of the sinking ship, or if extreme artistic license was used. It’s a fascinating documentary in that James Cameron really doesn’t have to prove crap. Seeing him actively and excitedly participate in the various discussions was awesome! That documentary is worth price of admission alone.

3. The Dark Knight Rises – We’re winding it down to the final 3 in my Top 10 list. In third place we have The Dark Knight Rises. The mega blockbuster comes to the high definition format with great picture and AMAZING sound. In fact, me and Brian White had a brief discussion about the Blu-ray in that we both agreed that The Dark Knight Rises sounded way better and much more balanced than it did in theaters. We saw the film several times at various places and the Blu-ray clearly won out. The special features are a bit on the light side, but there is a great documentary that focuses on the history of the Batmobile from the very first one that Adam West drove on the television series to its very inception in the comic book way back when. Who would of thought that a documentary based off of the freakin’ Batmobile would be any good? I sure as hell didn’t and I’m glad I was wrong. It’s awesome.

2. Prometheus – I don’t think any other film this year divided audiences as much as Prometheus did. Regardless, if you loved it or hated it, Prometheus on Blu-ray is a thing of beauty. The video and audio are at an 11 in terms of quality, but what seals the deal is the 4-hour documentary by the uber talented Charles de Lauzirika. You know when de Lauzirika is involved in the special features package of your film, that video release will be propelled upwards even if you didn’t like the film itself. The Furious Gods goes through every piece of of the Prometheus puzzle and examines everything from conception to the implementation of everything that you saw on the big screen. If you hated Prometheus then there’s nothing I can do for you except to ask that you give The Furious Gods a shot. Please keep in mind that Furious Gods is only available in the 3-D package.

1. Universal Classic Monsters Collection: Limited Edition Coffin (UK Import) – And now we come to it…the number ONE Blu-ray(s) on my Top 10 list for 2012. As you can see, I have an affinity for monsters. Not just any monsters but classic MONSTERS! Not only does set feature all of the Universal Monsters it also comes in a coffin case. How cool is that?! Limited in quantities and much lower in price than it’s domestic counterpart this lovely set features tons and tons of extra material and includes the films: Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Phantom of the Opera, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Mummy, and The Wolfman. Every single one of these films is bursting at the seams with special features and all of them have been restored to their former glory. The Creature from the Black Lagoon is also presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The cherry on top in this collection would have to be the Spanish language version of Dracula that stars the great Lupita Tovar as Eva Seward and Carlos Villarias as the Count. It’s pretty awesome in that the film was essentially shot twice, sort of how Werner Herzog filmed the English and German language versions of his Nosferatu remake. The cool thing here is that director George Melford directed Bela Lugosi and cast during the day and the Spanish language version was directed at night, with the Spanish cast in tow. The coffin box sweetens the deal even more.

 That’s a wrap folks. Another year of stellar Blu-ray releases gone by. I’d normally reserve a space down here for honorable mentions, but that would just irritate me, because then I would have to go out and buy them, so I will not torture myself with that notion. If anyone wants to donate the limited edition UK Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection I would be more than happy to tackle that assignment for the site and dedicate it to your honor. 😉

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the titles above then all you have to do is click on the artwork thumbnail of each title to be magically beamed over to Amazon. Please note that Repo Man is region B locked and the Universal Monsters set is region free.










6 Responses to “Gerard’s Top 10 Bad Ass Blu-rays of 2012”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    What I like about this list is that I really like-to love every film on it. We will be sharing a few of these selections in lists 😉

  2. Sean Ferguson

    The only one of these movies that I’ve seen on Blu-ray is Titanic and I totally agree with you on that one. I’m sure I’ll agree with you on The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus too whenever I get a chance to watch them. While I didn’t care much for Prometheus, I am excited about the documentary on it.

  3. Brian White

    Great detail, care and consideration were put into writing this list and it shows.
    The only one I’ll go down kicking and screaming about is TGWTDT. Awful. Awful movie. The Swedish version is not flattering either, but I did enjoy it more. Coolest thing about Fincher’s film was the intro and then it was all downhill for me there.
    I just read an article on Prometheus 2 and that the one scribe won’t be returning. You are right. Prometheus is a VERY decided film.

  4. Gerard Iribe

    Well, I did say that more of the criteria used for this list was based on the merits of the Blu-ray itself. It just happened that I actually liked TGWTDT in general, so that helped. Fincher and company always hit it out of the park when it comes to their presentation/special features packaging. Hell, Fincher’s films on Blu-ray are on this list TWICE.

    I enjoyed Prometheus AND The Furious Gods piece was icing on the cake.

    Sean, you’ll totally dig the Blu-ray presentations of both films when you get a chance to view.

  5. Gregg Senko

    If there is a collector’s edition or Criterion edition of Drive, I will buy that before you can put the keys to the ignition and step on the gas. No Indiana Jones on here? Love the coffin edition of Universal Monsters. Didn’t even know that existed! How much is that?

  6. Gerard Iribe

    No, I still haven’t haven’t bought Indy on Blu-ray yet.

    That coffin set was about $65 shipped via Amazon UK. It was such a great deal. The U.S. version without a coffin was way over $100, so it was a no-brainer to get the UK version.