While Paramount dominates this 4K coverage, I wanted to start with my favorite 4K UHD disc of December 2020.
Vigilante is the latest killer 4K release from Blue Underground. More than likely, I’ll return with a full movie breakdown later in 2021. For now, I’m way more concerned with talking about the 4K UHD disc. Blue Underground has spent the last year and change going back and bringing their major hits into 4K UHD. It’s impressive when you consider the love and care that Blue Underground usually brings.
William Lustig movies are becoming a personal favorite during the Pandemic. Having watched Vigilante years ago, this is my first time watching the movie in probably a decade. That being said, I loved it. For a film that arrived on the festival circuit in 1982, the presentation pops rather hard in 4K.
Robert Forster kills it in the lead, as I can buy him more as a vigilante than Charles Bronson. Bronson always had that face that seemed like you needed to keep him from going crazy. I can see the everyday schlub in Forster’s face and I buy that this is killing him to stay on the vigilante path. Fred Williamson shows up smoking a cigar because that’s what a badass does.
Woody Strode stopping Forster from getting prison raped was a scene I blocked out. I don’t know why, but it hits out of nowhere past the midpoint of the film. In a way, it plays like a scene out of those old Universal mob movies where they had to find a way to make a life of crime seem bad. But, Forster’s Vigilante gang murdering bad guys seems cool.
When it comes to criminal justice, it’s hard to make a movie that supports the tricky nature of how the legal system works. It just doesn’t play as well as watching a corrupt Judge getting blown up onscreen. Well, that and drug dealers be picked off to make a neighborhood better.
There was a time after Death Wish hit where every other movie that hit Drive-In and Grindhouse screens was aping that man against the system motif. Some modern scholars have found possible race-motived underpinnings to this. Honestly, I think it has to do with age. Think about Straw Dogs for example.
While it doesn’t translate 1:1 due to it being a rural British attack on display, Hoffman plays a much younger man who has to be motivated into reliation. Vigilante’s Forster and Death Wish’s Bronson were older white men who had their world rocked and immediately moved to violence. Something to think about in the coming weeks.
You get a new audio commentary, new interviews and a new bonus booklet on top of all the special features ported from the Blu-ray. The A/V Quality pops throughout the presentation. Plus, you get that sweet Dolby Atmos track that makes 1982 feel like 2020.
Before I move onto the Paramount discs, I just wanted to say how much I love what Blue Underground has been doing on 4K UHD this year. All of the screenshots taken for Vigilante and the Paramount movies are sourced directly from the 4K transfers on disc. Depending on your monitor, the HDR effect might not present properly.
Collateral arrives on 4K from Paramount/Dreamworks/whatever. We had some 4K shots to go along with this one, but our HDR converter went straight to Hell by the time this came up. We fixed it around Coming to America, but here we are. One thing I did notice in between fixing the shot grabber was that Michael Mann shot this film in Gordon Willis levels of darkness.
The sound design really pops for a Paramount 4K DTS-HD 5.1 track. But, the rich colors of the cityscape contrast super hard against the dark colors of the inner buildings and cab. Paramount delivers another winner and one that fans of classic 00s action will want to pick up.
Top Gun is one of those Paramount movies that seems to get a release every other year. While I was never a big fan of the film growing up, I could appreciate what Tony Scott was trying to make. Then, I saw The Hunger and literally every other movie that Tony Scott made. How did he get talked into this movie?
Like most recent 4K releases from Paramount, the main film gets the first disc to control the presentation. Plus, you get a ton of featurettes and related material about the film. The real star of the presentation is the Dolby Atmos track that nearly made me go deaf towards the end. Hell, that was loud.
I dig what Paramount offered up with the Top Gun 4K. But, it did one bad thing. It made me want an entire Tony Scott at Paramount line. Literally all of his films in this period pop.
Coming to America was a movie that I always got in trouble for watching on HBO as a kid. How many comedies had topless nudity in the opening five minutes of the film? Things like that are why I love John Landis and the front 2/3rds of his filmography. Sorry, people. Everything after Innocent Blood can go straight in the trash.
The special features are ported over from the past Paramount Blu-ray releases. Still, what matters is that you get a killer Steelbook case and the cleanest transfer I’ve ever seen this film receive. Paramount needs to dive harder into their past hits and offer up 4K masters for them.
Honestly, I’m shocked that isn’t what they’ve been doing with their Paramount Presents line. Give us the hits in the best possible way available. I’d kill to have Breakfast at Tiffany’s in stunning 4K. White Christmas too! I have to stop now or I could keep listing Paramount movies that need to arrive on 4K.
Beverly Hills Cop is another movie that keeps getting a ton of releases recently from Paramount. It’s kinda odd when you consider that the sequels only had Blu-ray releases in the United Kingdom until a year or so ago. Same thing with The Addams Family too. What was up with Paramount sequels not getting proper releases?
Anyways, Beverly Hills Cop looks great in 4K. True film grain and that rich 80s cop look permeates throughout the film. That being said, I do believe that Beverly Hills Cop 2 might look way better in 4K. Tony Scott movies always had more visual pop when he shot at Paramount.
I do appreciate that the majority of the special features were available in HD. Plus, dedicating the first disc to the 4K presentation of the movie was a genius move. Hopefully, the sequels will arrive on 4K sooner than later. Great work all around.
Cinema Paradiso is one of my favorite Italian movies. This should be one of Arrow’s biggest releases of 2020. However, I feel that slipping in at almost the end of the year might have taken some of the wind out of its sails. Scheduling can be a pain, even without a Pandemic screwing up time tables. Plus, it seems like Italian cinema took the biggest hit on that front.
Foreign films are still hard for a lot of casual viewers to enjoy even in 2020/2021. While a lot of Film Twitter thought Parasite was going to manage to fix the issue, it didn’t happen. Cinema Paradiso arrives with both cuts of the movie, featurettes and a rather informative commentary track.
Tremors came to 4K UHD for the first time in December. While the special features are identical to the Blu-ray release. You get to see graboids making a mess of Arizona in 4K. Plus, you’ve got that stupid guy that thought hiding in a spare tire would keep him off the ground. Ever since I was 9, I watch the film to see that piece of crap be eaten alive.
Hell, I can forgive the stupid local teen for his whining because of that. What’s really funny is that Tremors had a local following because a lot of people around where I live got super into that scene where Reba and Steven Keaton shot the Graboid Worm in the face like it had a poorly filled out search warrant. Pick it up.
Love and Monsters closes out the 4K round-up. While it’s a first week of January release, I figured it was worth bringing up here. Paramount has been killing the 4K releases in 2020. It was one of the most charming films I saw in 2020, but I can’t say it was necessarily good.
Dylan O’ Brien is a decent enough lead, but he doesn’t have that much charisma. I guess it’s because I was born before 2000…but I didn’t find The Maze Runner movies to be that enticing. For a film that was talked about forever and finally got a release, it felt like a big build-up to a so-so affair.
The deleted scenes don’t show how that film could’ve been improved and the same goes for the featurettes. I appreciate Paramount taking a chance on a movie like this. However, I’m not going to call it amazing by any stretch. I’d still recommend a purchase.