2021 Father’s Day Gift Guide: Best 4K, Blu-ray and DVD movies
WASHINGTON: With Father’s Day celebrations arriving this weekend, here are a variety of last-minute gift suggestions for the dad who loves watching movies in his home entertainment room. And while it may be too late to get them delivered by Sunday, just let him know they are coming. And set a date to watch them together. Your time is the best gift any father could want.
Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection (Paramount Home Entertainment, rated PG, PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 482 minutes, $90.99) —
The most up-to-date cinematic saga starring George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s iconic archeologist finally arrives on ultra-high definition (UHD) for fans and a new generation to appreciate his adrenaline-packed adventures.
Harrison Ford stars as Henry Walton Jones Jr., aka Indiana Jones, a professor turned treasure hunter always on a mission to find the rarest of artifacts as well as save the world from evil forces.
Viewers get 4K remastered versions of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989) and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008).
Battling the Nazis, a tribe of religious fanatics, the Cold War Russians, and even his stubborn father as he searches for the Holy Grail, Indy took viewers around the world to appreciate his thrilling exploits.
Each movie was remastered from 4K scans of the original negatives with visual quality approved by Mr. Spielberg, and all were remixed at Skywalker Sound under the supervision of Ben Burtt to create the Dolby Atmos soundtracks.
The first three films never disappoint while the fourth is worth more for the nostalgia than the plot, but their combined might makes for a potent gift to be enjoyed by dad and his popcorn-munching family.
Suffice it to report that this is the best presentation of Indiana Jones’ adventures using current technological advances.
Viewers get an additional Blu-ray disc in the package offering all of the bonus content from the 2012 “Complete Adventures” Blu-ray extra disc.
That translates into not only the almost hourlong vintage 1981 documentary on the first film but the 2012, four-part retrospective of the films clocking in at 156 minutes.
That’s more than enough but toss in another 14 featurettes (more than three hours in total) covering everything from the stunts, sound, music, effects, women, bugs, props and locations.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Kino Lorber, rated R, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 162 minutes, $39.95) —
The 1966 conclusion of director Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western “Dollars” trilogy returns to home theaters in a meticulously remastered UHD format.
Clint Eastwood and his legendary pursed-lip stars as tough gunslinger the “good” Blondie, aligned as well as pitted against the “bad,” sadistic killer Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), and the “ugly,” Mexican bandit Tuco (Eli Wallach), as they search for Confederate gold during the American Civil War.
The violent film helped set the path to Mr. Eastwood’s rise as a dominant force in action cinema.
Kino Lorber reinvigorates the release by taking more than 30 hours to clean up the movie through extensive shot-by-shot color grading producing a 4K scan of a 1967 tech print that delivers, by far, the best-looking version of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” ever released.
The 4K disc includes a previously released optional audio commentary track with film historian Tim Lucas as he overwhelms with production and casting details.
An included Blu-ray copy of the film comes packed with more than two hours of extras culled from Kino Lorber’s 2017, 50th-anniversary high definition release of the film highlighted by a 20-minute documentary about Leone and his Western films, and a 21-minute look at composer Ennio Morricone and his legendary musical scores for Leone.
Speed (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 116 minutes, $34.99) —
Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock teamed up for director Jan da Bont’s high-speed action thriller that struck box office gold way back in 1994.
Its debut on UHD now gives dads a chance to appreciate the color and clarity of some spectacular stunts in a story that found L.A.P.D. bomb squad team specialists Jack Traven (Mr. Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) hounded by a crazed extortionist bomber (a maniacal Dennis Hopper) looking for revenge after they thwarted his first potential payout.
When unsuspecting Annie Porter (Miss Bullock) boards a bus, she and the passengers become the bomber’s latest lesson for Jack as he must figure out a way to stop the speeding vehicle from blowing up if it goes under 50 miles per hour.
The dynamic story is a nail-biter throughout and has never looked better on home theater screens
Viewers get a pair of previously released optional commentary tracks on the 4K disc — one solo with Mr. da Bont and one with writer Graham Yost and producer Mark Gordon.
However, new to the included Blu-ray version of the film is a collection of six featurettes (roughly an hour-long) covering the production and extended scenes, all not seen since the “Five Star” DVD release of the film in 2002.
John Wayne Essential 14 movie Collection (Paramount Home Entertainment, rated PG, PG-13, 1.78:1, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 1,690 minutes, $61.99) —
One of American cinema’s most well-known Western heroes gets celebrated in a movie compilation bringing back to home theater screens some of his most memorable roles.
Spanning nearly 25 years of Wayne’s work with Paramount Studios (roughly 10 percent of his entire body of work), the set includes “Hondo” (1953), “Island in the Sky” (1953), “The High and the Mighty” (1954), “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962), “Hatari!” (1962), “Donovan’s Reef” (1963), “McLintock!” (1963), “In Harm’s Way” (1965), “The Sons of Katie Elder” (1965), “El Dorado” (1966), “True Grit” (1969), “Rio Lobo” (1970), “Big Jake” (1971) and “The Shootist” (1976).
That translates into enjoying Wayne often as lawman, gunslinger, soldier, pilot, and even big game trapper highlighted by his Academy Award-winning role of Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” his co-starring with legend Jimmy Stewart in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” and a final gritty lead role of a dying gunfighter who has lived past his prime in “The Shootist.”
Although fans of the genre, as well as older dads, will certainly appreciate the films, Paramount did an enormous disservice to cinema connoisseurs by releasing the collection in the antiquated DVD format.
Considering that many of the movies offer a panoramic celebration of the American Southwest, courtesy of directors such as John Ford or Technicolor and Panavision formats, it’s too bad viewers are unable to enjoy these classics in a high definition or UHD format.
Notable extras: The 14 discs are sloppily housed in a clamshell case and offer previously released bonus content on a smattering of the movies such as an optional commentary track on “Hondo” with film critic Western historian Frank Thompson and actor Lee Aaker, scene-specific vintage commentary from Lee Marvin and James Stewart on “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and memories from the cast working with Wayne on “True Grit.”
Despite the collection being a hodgepodge assembled from other sets, fans will be still satisfied with the ton of memories of The Duke in action.
Shrek: 20th Anniversary Edition (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 90 minutes, $29.98) —
The computer-animated shenanigans of a curmudgeonly, gassy ogre gave DreamWorks Studios a blockbuster hit back in 2001.
Viewers can celebrate the movie’s anniversary by watching its debut on the UHD format. This biting homage to the fairytale genre found Shrek the ogre teaming up with a wise-cracking donkey on a mission to help the evil Lord Farquaad rescue the mysterious Princess Fiona.
The now-classic starred the voices of Mike Myers as the ogre, Eddie Murphy as the donkey, Cameron Diaz as the Princess and John Lithgow as the nasty Lord.
The story offers layers of humor to be enjoyed by the grown-ups as well as the kids and makes for an evening of guaranteed laughs.
The 4K disc and pair of Blu-ray discs overlap but are overloaded with a variety of previously released bonus content.
They include an optional commentary track with directors Vicky Jenson and Andrew Adamson and producer Aron Warner; a picture-in-picture commentary track with cast and crew; and an interactive gallery of concept art.
Better yet is the multiple hours’ worth of shorts extending Shrek’s adventures that cover Halloween, the merry holidays, and even, newly released to disc, five episodes from the series “The Adventures of Puss in Boots.”
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Criterion, rated R, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 89 minutes, $39.95) —
Screenwriter Cameron Crowe and director Amy Heckerling’s 1982 inaugural movie-making effort that became a prototype for the coming-of-age teen comedy gets a welcomed high definition cleanup, sourced from a new 4K scan of the original camera negatives, for its latest, definitive release.
Covering the love, angst, and hijinks of a group of Southern Californian high school students during the 1980s, the movie is not only remembered for its cutting-edge laughs but for its up-and-coming stars such as Sean Penn (the surfer burnout Jeff Spicoli), Judge Reinhold (most likely to succeed Bradley Hamilton), Phoebe Cates (love lost Linda Barrett) and Forest Whitaker (high school football star Charles Jefferson).
The musical soundtrack is a nostalgic trip for dads who grew up in the 1980s and stars some of the classic musical artists of the era, including Jackson Browne, Billy Squier, Sammy Hagar, the Cars, the Go-Gos, and Oingo Boingo.
Criterion packs the disc with bonus content led by a 1999 optional commentary track from Miss Heckerling and Mr. Crowe, a new 35-minute socially distanced discussion between the pair hosted by Olivia Wilde, and a 40-minute archival documentary on the film.
Owners even get the slightly longer but censored television version of the movie (95 minutes) to compare and contrast.
The packaging also includes a full-color, 24-page booklet offering an introduction by Mr. Crowe, an essay by film critic Dana Stevens and technical credits.
My Fair Lady (Paramount Home Entertainment, rated G, 2.20:1 aspect ratio, 172 minutes, $25.99) —
Director George Cukor’s 1964, Academy Award-winning adaptation of the beloved Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway musical drama returns to home theaters in a stunning 4K restoration taking advantage of its vibrant Super Panavision 70 origins.
The story finds professorial linguist Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison) wagering with a fellow egghead Col. Hugh Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White) that he can teach a Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) proper English and transform her into a high society duchess ready to debut in King Edward’s London.
Peppered within the culture clash are musical classics such as “The Rain in Spain,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” and all heard in a glorious Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack.
Restored from 8k scans in 2015 from the 65mm film source, the image is immaculate. Just examine the orange-and-purple feathers on Eliza’s hat, the textures of any of her gowns or any room with patterned wallpaper to appreciate the colorful digital clarity of this reference quality release.
The package includes a Blu-ray disc containing all of the bonus material from the 50th-anniversary release of the film on high definition.
Highlights include an hour-long documentary from the 2011 Blu-ray release covering the production as well as the initial restoration and a 23-minute, black-and-white vintage kick-off meeting of the film’s production with interviews by an obnoxious reporter from 1963.
Ziegfeld Follies (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, 1.37:1 aspect ratio, 110 minutes, $21.99) —
It took no less than seven directors in 1946 to create the ultimate Technicolor tribute to mega-producer Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. and his famed Broadway theatrical revues.
For almost two hours, viewers are bombarded with series of extravagant musical numbers and sketches that brought out the best and brightest from the MGM Studios spotlighting high-powered performances led by Judy Garland, Ester Williams, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Fred Astaire and Lena Horne.
Highlights not only include Garland spoofing her stardom in “The Great Lady Has an Interview” but Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire teaming up for the first time in the comedy song and dance number, George and Ira Gershwin’s ” The Babbitt And The Bromide.”
The visual presentation co-stars with dynamic color and clarity that one would expect in a remastered effort, though that could not be confirmed. No matter, “Ziegfeld Follies” is a definite nostalgia trip for grandfathers to show the kiddies what Hollywood used to deliver to the silver screen.
Viewers get a 15-minute overview of the production, the classic cartoons “The Hick Chick” and “Solid Serenade” and 10 unused audio tracks including Jimmy Durante singing “You’ve Gotta Start Off Each Day With a Song” and Fanny Brice singing “Look at Me, I’m and Indian.”
The Father (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 97 minutes, $30.99) —
Anthony Hopkins won an Academy Award this year for his emotionally exhausting portrayal of Anthony, an old man being consumed by dementia while his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman), in a losing battle, attempts to give him a semblance of ordinary life.
OK, it’s kind of a downer considering the above selections of movies for Father’s Day, but the powerfully acted effort written and directed by Florian Zeller (based on his play) is also a dose of reality that unfortunately many families face every day.
Ultimately, the film offers a fateful look at the precipitous nature of time and the fragility of human life as well as a fateful reminder that we must appreciate every lucid day we exist. Go give your dad a big hug today. And tomorrow.
Two featurettes (roughly 15 minutes in total) offer background on the production by the cast and crew, but not enough information on the current plague of dementia.\
• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.