Stanley Kubrick Limited Edition Collection (Blu-Ray Review)

Stanley Kubrick Limited Edition Collection (Blu-Ray Review)
Rated: PG/Region B(Also plays in A)/1080p/Number of Discs 3 (Movies on their own discs)
Available from Via Vision Entertainment

Spartacus (1960)
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons
2:35

Filmed in Technirama, this epic story chronicles one of histories greatest underdogs — Spartacus! He and other slaves are sold to an owner of a school for gladiators. Spartacus excels and is rewarded with a slave woman, Virginia, for his pleasure in which he demurs. However, they eventually fall for each other before a death match for a corrupt Roman senator, Marcus Crassus. After the brutal spectacle, Spartacus is enraged by the death of his friends and the loss of his love. He leads a revolt and bolts. Marching across the countryside to escape over the sea to their homelands, he is elated to find Virginia. Their quest becomes entwined with the political aspirations of Crassus and sets the fate of all three. Spartacus’ saga survives the test of time and has been immortalized by this landmark film.

Before I get into the review here I feel I should note that the disc in this set is the 50th Anniversary disc and has the same transfer as such. So, if you are looking for the perhaps better looking restored edition Universal done here in the states this isn’t it, but this one doesn’t look at all bad. Trust me about that. The story itself is a timeless one and one of the first films that were truly considered to be an epic in my book. We watch as Spartacus is bought and learned the ways of the gladiator. He clashes with the people who now own him and he also meets up with a female he becomes attached to. The story is really interesting as is but when you put it all in front of a camera being held by Stanley Kubrick it just all makes things that much better overall. Kirk Douglas is a timeless actor and this is perhaps the role that made his name in the business. The man carved out such a performance as Spartacus that I’m unsure if anyone at all who has taken over the role since in other forms has ever come even close to matching it. We have a number of cool performances here all together and that is just part of what overall makes the movie what it is.

One thing you’ll notice while watching this is how great looking the sets are. We have more than once when you can be taken back by just how awesome the landscape in the film is. Here in HD, it has a golden tone to it and that makes it just look that much cooler. This is a film that builds character but also builds up to action and much more. If there was ever a movie that could say has it all, this could very well be one of them. It all boils down to a story of a man who is pushed to the limit and then fights back in one of the most epic stories you’ll ever find. Making it even better it is done by one of the greatest directors of all time and that comes together in one of the closest to perfect films you’ll ever find out there. Even if you think it isn’t for you, I’d still give it a chance because it is so good that it could still win you over.

Extras

– Deleted Scene
– Interview with Peter Ustinov
– Interview with Jean Simmons
– Behind the Scenes Footage
– Vintage Newsreels
– Concept Art
– Costume Designs
– Saul Bass Storyboard
– Production Stills

Quality of Transfer: 90%

 

 

 

 

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden
1:66

Stanley Kubrick’s painfully funny take on Cold War anxiety is without a doubt one of the fiercest satires of human folly ever to come out of Hollywood. The matchless shape-shifter Peter Sellers plays three wildly different roles: Air Force Captain Lionel Mandrake, timidly trying to stop a nuclear attack on the USSR ordered by an unbalanced general (Sterling Hayden); the ineffectual and perpetually dumbfounded President Merkin Muffley, who must deliver the very bad news to the Soviet premier; and the titular Strangelove himself, a wheelchair-bound presidential adviser with a Nazi past. Finding improbable hilarity in nearly every unimaginable scenario, Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a genuinely subversive masterpiece that officially announced Kubrick as an unparalleled stylist and pitch-black ironist.

I’m a BIG Stanley Kubrick fan. I always have been. I’m the proud owner of the old Blu-ray box set and once I bought that I had checked out the old Blu-ray of Dr.Strangelove. The thing was, I had stuff going on and I wasn’t giving it the attention a movie like that needs and I wasn’t too high on the flick. Well, that was until I gave it another watch. This time around I watched this satire with will all distractions gone. I saw a Blu-ray that not only looks pretty darn good, but I saw a movie that with the odd and dry delivery sort of showed me a precursor to the style Wes Anderson would become famous for using. Of course, this is Stanley Kubrick and it seems he was a man who could do it all, as he has a movie for basically everything. His trip into comedy here is full of funny and interesting characters. A few even played by the same guy, Peter Sellers. It may not be a movie for everyone, heck it may even take a couple viewings, but once you “get” this movie you will be very happy to watch it again and again. You’ll also have a whole list of funny lines from the movie to repeat that only fans of the movie will be able to make heads or tails of what you’re talking about. It is a very strange movie, but it is a movie that makes a very interesting point as well, especially for the time. A story of nukes being sent off in different directions because some army higher-up goes nuts is the type of subject matter that could make a good thriller. But here, with this tone, it becomes more hilarious than anything else. I think that might be why I enjoyed it so much.

Now, if you love the movie I’m sure I don’t have to say anything else in regards to that. I will instead take the time to talk about the transfer. This time around Strangelove is released in this set, not in 4K scan form like the Criterion disc but I assure yo all that the film does indeed look good because the other scans out there never did look bad at all. This is essentially the same solo disc that Via had released before but it comes with some very nice extras such as interviews and two documentaries about the film. That’s what I call quality content for a very awesome film. I have become such a fan over the years of this movie that I dig owning more than one version of it and this is a great disc to go along with the other two I already own. All in all, when it comes to Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb I’m happy to say that I FINALLY “got” it and this release just confirms that way of thinking. I’m happy now to throw it in rotation with other Kubrick classics such as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining. If you are a fan of this director or this movie, then do yourself a favor and get this disc into your collection ASAP.

Extras

– The Cold War Picture in Picture Bonus View Feature
– Inside Dr. Strangelove
– No Fighting in the War Room
– An Interview with Robert McNamara
– The Art of Stanley Kubrick
– Split Screen Interviews with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott

Quality of Transfer: 90%

 

 

 

 

Fear and Desire (1953)
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp, Paul Mazursky
1:33

A fictitious war in an unidentified country provides the setting for this drama. Four soldiers survive the crash-landing of their plane to find themselves in a forest six miles behind enemy lines. The group, led by Lt. Corby, has a plan: They’ll make their way to a nearby river, build a raft, and then, under cover of night, float back to friendly territory. Their plans for getting back safely are sidetracked by a young woman who stumbles across them as they hide in the woods, and by the nearby presence of an enemy general who one member of the group is determined to kill.

Long thought to have been a lost film that spent years on the trade market as a bootleg, Fear and Desire was the first movie from legendary director Stanley Kubrick and he HATED it. Not only did he compare it to a child drawing something with crayons but he destroyed the print he had and I think he was pretty sure all copies were destroyed, but that wasn’t the case. This black and white film that at times feels like an extra long episode of the Twilight Zone comes to us still looking very good in HD. We have a small group of soldiers who are six miles behind enemy lines. We don’t really know who is the bad guys here or what country they are against but they sure don’t look much different from them. They plot to head back to camp by building a raft and floating to safety at night. We follow along as they kill, kidnap, argue, and more on their way to doing so. It is a strange movie but I still found it to be mostly interesting. It makes you wonder just what will happen next and that is all it takes usually to keep someone watching when it comes to filmmaking.

Stanley Kubrick might not have liked his first movie but that doesn’t mean it is a bad movie. A half way did Kubrick movie still has the ability to be better than most people’s film and I think Fear and Desire is living proof of just that. It has a lot of social commentary over it and makes good points. It is a movie that some could see and just take as it is but if you can pick-up what they are putting down here it can really make you think. This is still at the very core an art film but that is just part of what makes it interesting. I can imagine had Stanley Kubrick lived long enough he’d be too happy with this film being released but I’m happy it was and it looks very good to boot. If you’ve never seen this one before it is very much worthy of you checking out, especially if you are a Kubrick fan and want to see where he started.

Extras

– The Seafarers Short Film
Quality of Transfer: 92%