Skip or Double Dip: 'Casablanca,' 'The French Connection,' 'Out of Africa' and More

Skip or Double Dip: 'Casablanca,' 'The French Connection,' 'Out of Africa' and More

Mar 29, 2012

Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Edition

Here's looking at you, Warner Bros., for your unwavering devotion to your classics catalog. The iconic Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman contains so many classic lines that it is not only one of the best movies of all time, it is a revered institution. This 70th Anniversary Edition comes packages with many collectibles, including a reproduction of the movie poster, a 62-page art book and four drink coasters.

What's New?: Warner Bros. has released Casablanca before on Blu-ray as a standalone disc and packaged with different collectibles, including a leather luggage tag. This new version ports over all of the generous extras except for an archive of studio documents but adds some great new bonuses: "Warner Night at the Movies" re-creates what it would be like to watch Casablanca on opening night 70 years ago by showing vintage pre-show entertainment, "Casablanca: An Unlikely Classic" has film historians and filmmakers like Steven Spielberg discussing the movie's enduring impact, and another vintage audio broadcast. The film has also been upgraded with lossless mono sound (not that big of a deal with a movie this old) and a new 4K scan and transfer that, although gorgeous, is not a drastic improvement over the previous Blu-ray editions, which looked fantastic.

Skip or Double Dip?: If you already own Casablanca on Blu-ray, this new version isn't a noticeable leap in audio or video quality for most viewers, so you'd be buying it again for different packaged collectibles and about three new bonus features. Skip it.

 

The French Connection

Fox caught hell from fans when it released this 1971 classic police thriller starring Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider on Blu-ray for the first time back in 2009 with hideous color correction supervised by director William Friedkin that gave the film an inexplicable, unnatural pastel tint that made it almost look like an old black-and-white movie that had been colorized for television.

What's New?: This new remastered Blu-ray consolidates the extras from the previous edition and some material is lost, but nothing absolutely essential. The good news is that the weird Easter egg-colored tints have been removed. The not-so-good news is that colors have been pumped up so much that this grainy film now almost seems too squeaky clean, complete with bright blue skies that weren't visible in the original release.

Skip or Double Dip?: Even though you lose a few bonus features and the film has been polished a little too much, this version is much preferred to the pastel abortion by Friedkin. Fans should absolutely double dip. Note: For now this is a Best Buy exclusive disc.

 

Out of Africa

This beloved 1985 romantic drama starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Universal has released the movie on Blu-ray twice before: once as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and another combo pack that also included a digital copy. Both editions featured video marred by unnecessary edge enhancement that give the film an artificial look and detracted from director Sydney Pollack's majestic imagery.

What's New?: This new version—part of Universal's 100th Anniversary Collector's Series—retains all of the extras from the previous version and comes packaged in a handsome digibook filled with color photos. The big news is that the movie has been completely remastered from the original 35mm film elements and now looks as lush and vivid as possible.

Skip or Double Dip?: The extras might be the same except for the new digibook packaging, but the video quality of this new version is a marked improvement film lovers shouldn't ignore. Double dip.

 

Kevin Smith Blu-ray Triple Feature (Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks)

This triple-feature combo pack contains three favorite Kevin Smith films: Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks. All of the movies have been released on Blu-ray individually before.

What's New?: The bonus features from the individual releases are identical to the ones included in this triple feature. The only difference is the slimmer packaging, which fits three movies in a case the size of an individual one.

Skip or Double Dip?: If you already own all of these movies individually, you'd have to be pretty hard up for shelf space to double dip with this triple-feature combo pack. If you don't have any of these movies and want them all, this triple feature will save you money and storage pace as opposed to buying each movie separately.

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