Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't be an idiot. Buy the Wizard of Oz on Blu Ray.

Buy The Wizard of Oz on Blu Ray. It's really a no-brainer.

You can buy the whole big package anywhere. Unlike some of the other stuffed special editions that I complain to Warner Bros about, this one actually has worthwhile books and publicity reprints. There's no map of San Francisco or fake detective badge. No, the stuff in the box is actually worth keeping. But if you just want the Blu Ray contents, head on over to Target, which is offering just the discs for just $35. Good on Warner for giving customers the choice (Wal-Mart is apparently also offering a one-disc Blu Ray or $20).

Either way, if you have even the slightest interest in The Wizard Of Oz (and you have a Blu Ray player), you have no excuse for not picking this thing up. It has about 24-hours of extras. You have Oz-related documentaries, deleted scenes, hundreds of photos, trailer campaigns spanning 60 years, and goodness knows more. You have six prior film versions of The Wizard Of Oz and a TV-movie biopic of L Frank Baum. You have a six-hour documentary on the history of MGM which is only a little bittersweet as the once-mighty lion once again seems on its deathbed. DVDTalk did an exhaustive rundown of the complete contents, for those who don't like surprises.

But the real selling point is the video quality, which is in a word 'jaw-dropping'. This is easily the finest high-def remastering of an older film that I've ever seen. Heck, it's a better and more vibrant image than many new releases. You will see every tile in that yellow brick road. You will see the burlap that makes up part of the Scarecrow's face. Yes, there is grain as befitting the original theatrical image, but it in no way mars what is simply an astonishing piece of restoration (which is detailed in a 15-minute featurette). Warner Bros. may be hit and miss when it comes to newer releases these days, but no one puts more money, time, and care into restoring their timeless masterpieces as the Dream Factory.

So whichever version you buy, for goodness sake do not hesitate to pick this thing up. It truly is the 'ultimate collector's edition'.

Film - B+
Video - A+
Audio - NA
Extras - A+

Scott Mendelson

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