Each week in Blu-or-Not I take a look at the recent Blu-ray releases. This isn’t a review column. If you’re looking for movie reviews, look out for Adam’s This Week in DVD on Tuesdays. Blu-or-Not takes a look at the extra value content — the Blu-ray difference (and yes, this does include Picture and Sound). We decide is it worth buying the Blu-ray version or the plain old DVD.

Eagle Eye
Exclusive to Blu-ray: All the content is presented in High Definition, but none of it is exclusive to the Blu-Ray release.

DVD Features in HD: :

Deleted Scenes: Four and a half-minutes worth of four deleted scenes that had no reason to be in the film in the first place, including a laughable alternative ending with Rachel’s son Sam playing Rock Band (Jerry’s gift) with his friends when the television goes all “Matrixy” and begins to instruct him with a mission. If they had included that ending on the theatrical cut, people would have been laughing out loud.
Asymmetric Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye: A 26-minute making of documentary which opens up with one of the screenwriters/producers talking about how Steven Spielberg came up with the idea for the story ten years ago, and that if the film had been made back then, it would have been “science fiction” and that it would have been “a movie that stretches all plausibility and credibility.” I would argue that the storyline still defies plausibility, but watching this documentary makes you want to like the film and the people involved, even though you know it’s a gigantic mess.
Shall We Play a Game?: The coolest featurette on the set, a 9-minute conversation between Eagle Eye director DJ Caruso and Wargames director John Badham. I’ve always loved conversations between filmmakers, and even while this is more self-promotional than most, its still cool.
Other features include: Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?, A 9-minute featurette exploring the film’s tech-paranoia premise, Road Trip, a too short 3-minute featurette on the film’s many shooting locations, and a Gag Reel which mostly consists of Shia LaBeouf and Billy Bob Thornton flubbing their lines and Michelle Monaghan getting the giggles one too many times.

Video: 4 out of 5
Sound:
4.5 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives:
0 out of 5
Extra Features:
3 out of 5
Price: $39.99 MSRP ($27 on Amazon)

Bottom Line: Might be worth a rental but definitely not worth a purchase. None of the extras attempt to explain the convoluted plot which makes less and less sense the more you think about it, even while you’re watching the film. I’m also disappointed with the lack of an advertised audio commentary from the filmmakers/screenwriters. NOT

Serenity
Exclusive to Blu-ray:

Picture in Picture: Interviews with the cast and crew and behind the scenes footage are spread throughout the film, most of the time scene specific. This is probably the only worthwhile feature added to this edition.
Visual Commentary: This is the same commentary recorded for the collector’s edition, featuring Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion (Mal), Adam Baldin (Jayne), Summer Glau (River), and Ron Glass (Book). But this time around you can watch Joss and the crew sitting on a couch while the joke and share their experiences working on the film. It’s a fun commentary but nothing new.
Alliance Database: A series of menus that let you explore the planets, people and history of the Verse. I’ve never really believed that people actually use these type of features. No one I know likes reading long text segments on a television screen. Too bad it isn’t supplemented with computer animated videos and documentaries.
Mr. Universe’s Compendium: Basically a version of the Alliance Database which comes up with new textual information based on the scenes you’re watching. I found it pretty much useless.

DVD Features in HD:

Deleted Scenes: 13-minutes of 9 deleted 6-minutes of 4 extended scenes, available with or without commentary from Joss Whedon. The scenes are off of an AVID output, not correctly formatted for a 16:9 television, and have time-codes at the top and the bottom of the black letterbox.
Outtakes: 6-minutes of bloopers, presented in the same non-hd condition as the Deleted Scenes.
Featurettes: Future History (4:31), What’s in a Firefly (6:32), Re-Lighting the Firefly (9:40), A Filmmaker’s Journey (19:53), Joss Whedon Introduction (3:41), Take a Walk on Serenity (4:06), The Green Clan (3:07) are all off of the Serenity Collector’s Edition Set. None of the features have been remastered for high definition presentation, and most even contain a letterbox within a letterbox.

Video: 4.5 out of 5
Sound:
5 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives:
2 out of 5
Extra Features:
4 out of 5
Price: $29.99 MSRP ($20 on Amazon)

Bottom Line: I wish that Universal would have spent the extra time cleaning up the extra features for High Definition presentation. The addition of the Visual Commentary and Picture in Picture features are cool, but can’t really be played at the same time. If you play the film with both activated, the player will push you back to the visual commentary when the Picture in Picture segments end, leaving it up to you to switch back over to PinP when another segment begins. Hey, I’m lazy. Truth is this is the type of movie that either you lvoe or hate, and if you love it and have a High Definition television, its a no-brainer. BLU

More after the jump.

Ghost Town
Exclusive to Blu-ray: The Blu-ray release includes all the DVD features in High Definition, but nothing more. Actually, the menu screen was incredibly slow and sluggish on my Samsung P1500. A budget Blu-ray player, I know, but I’ve rarely seen menu issues on other discs (mostly just load time increases)

DVD Features in HD: :

Making Ghost Town: Your standard 22-minute behind the scenes featurette which is a little bit more bearable because of Ricky Gervais.
Ghostly Effects: A 2-minute look at the way the ghost effects were created for the film. Oddly, the visual demonstration isn’t even narrated by a special effects producer, and is instead set to music from the film.
Some People Can Do It: A very entertaining 6-minute blooper reel.

Video: 4 out of 5
Sound:
3.5 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives:
0 out of 5
Extra Features:
1 out of 5
Price: $39.99 MSRP ($28 on Amazon)

Bottom Line: The movie is probably a rental at best, and even if you’re a huge Ricky Gervais fan, the high definition difference is minimal and probably not worth the extra money. NOT

The Duchess
Exclusive to Blu-ray: The Duchess is the extract definition of what I hate: costumed period dramas with pretentious actors/actresses, but I’m not here to judge the movie, I’m here to tell you about the extra value content. As much as I hate period dramas, I love watching how Hollywood creates the elaborate sets and costumes required for such projects. Unfortunately, Paramount has decided to include a barebones set of extras. All the content is presented in High Definition, but none of it is exclusive to the Blu-Ray release.

DVD Features in HD: : The barebones set of extras include a 23-minute “How Far She Went… Making The Duchess” documentary which somehow succeeds at being more dull than the movie itself. “Georgiana in Her Own Words” is a 7-minute look at the letters that inspired the film, a 5-minute Costume Diary, and the two theatrical trailers. Even those who love the film will probably find the featurettes on this set boring.

Video: 4.5 out of 5 – If anything else, this film looks gorgeous in 1080p
Sound:
4 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives:
0 out of 5
Extra Features:
1 out of 5
Price: $39.99 MSRP ($28 on Amazon)

Bottom Line: The film looks great, but the extras are slim, and blu-ray exclusives are nonexistent. It’s hard to recommend that you spend $15 more on the High Definition release unless you really really loved the film. NOT

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