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10 Great Discount Blu-ray Movies Under $15
The age old “you get what you pay for” rule doesn’t always ring true when it comes to movies on Blu-ray. There are no doubt an abundance of bad films or good films with poor transfers in the bargain bin. However there are also hidden gems that have been priced puzzlingly low. One of the best ways to get a Blu-ray collection started is to pluck underpriced titles while still available. Better versions may come along later, however if the movie is a recent release or has just been re-mastered it is unlikely the picture and sound quality will be bumped up substantially in less than a decade. In addition, titles reach a sweet spot where the price won’t drop anymore in the foreseeable future. If you wait too long costs often go up again as stock of the item has become scarce.
Here are ten great movies that need to be in everyone’s collection. Admittedly there is some bias towards my personal preferences. However each selection has wide appeal and has garnered a fair share of acclaim.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick is widely considered one of the best directors of all time. This is one of his best films. Although it was released in theatres way back in 1968, the view of the future portrayed here holds up well. In fact, the story may be more relevant today than ever.
As it has been recently restored, the sound and picture quality is jaw-droppingly pristine for a film of its age.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Christopher Nolan has arguably produced one of the finest super hero movies ever made. Although it takes place in a fantasy, alternate dimension (Gotham city), the story seeks to be as plausible as possible. The film runs two and a half hours, yet it never loses momentum.
Everyone with a Blu-ray player needs to own The Dark Knight. Now that the price has dropped substantially there is no excuse not to pick it up.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Every once in a while a picture comes around that breaks all the rules of cinema and makes you question the bulk of cookie-cutter stuff out there. Travis Bickle is the ultimate anti-hero. He is a lonely New Yorker that drives a cab at night in attempt to cure his isolation. After finding that the grimy cityscape has little to offer, something inside of him snaps.
Taxi Driver has been painstakingly restored for release on Blu-ray. Sony could have charged more for such a landmark movie but decided to keep it reasonably priced.
In Heat, one of Hollywood’s premier directors teams up two top-tier actors. I am of course speaking of Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro and Al Pachino. The plot involves a battle of wits between an investor and the leader of a team of savvy thieves. The romance and personal lives of both main characters are investigated as the plot builds up to a final confrontation.
This movie looks and sounds like a premium release, not a bargain title.
Apocalypse Now (1979) - Two-Disc Special Edition
Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the Vietnam War is one of the finest portrayals of modern warfare. Some claim that it goes much deeper than documenting that one specific period. It tells a story of humankind’s descent into darkness.
For substantially less than the Full Disclosure edition you get both versions of the film: Apocalypse Now plus Apocalypse Now: Redux. That is more than enough for everyone except the most fanatical viewers.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Love is nonsensical, complicated and often ends in disaster. Filmed just a decade after talking pictures hit the mainstream, Gone with the Wind tells a romance story that is believable because it is bitter-sweet.
Warner created a new digital master by layering and perfectly aligning three Technicolor strips. The resulting HD picture is more crisp and vibrant than even the original 1939 print.
Serenity isn’t a typical sci-fi outing. It is more dramatic, fun, down-to-earth, and ultimately more engaging than the hard-core stuff that appeals to geeks. The story revolves around a girl that was trained by the Alliance to be an expert fighter. She is taken aboard the ship (called Serenity) as a fugitive. It turns out she is holding a secret that the Alliance will do anything to prevent from surfacing.
Despite the fact this Blu-ray uses the same 1080p/VC-1 encode from an early HD-DVD, it still holds up well. The DTS-HD Lossless 5.1 audio mix is a huge step up from anything that has been offered before.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
True to the vision of Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as an irresponsible drug addict that is moody, sleeps on the floor and experiments on the dog. He also has bad points. The influence of his friend Dr. Watson’s is the only thing that gives him a shred of respectability. The story involves a black magician that comes back from the dead to resume his killing spree. Holmes and Watson of course seek to stand in his way.
The picture is rich in color and detail. It’s stunning to see the English brickwork and cobblestone rendered so meticulously. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is impressive, although it can be frustrating when actor Robert Downey Jr. mumbles his lines at times.
The Thing (1982)
You can barely get through a day of TV viewing without coming across a shape-shifter that takes on the characteristics of the people it murdered. Back in 1982 it was a novel idea. One that was so well executed by director John Carpenter that it is ceaselessly spoofed today.
Judging from the position of the dirt and speckles on screen, the same film master was used on the DVD. The picture quality looks far better than most horror films released during this era.
Princess Bride (1987)
Narrator Peter Falk brings us into a world of swashbuckling heroes, hilarious wordplay, romance and high adventure. Princess Bride is a feel-good movie with vibrant, fairy tale inspired characters that stick with you.
The hi-def transfer is decent as it has been cleaned up more than the previous DVD release. Dialog sounds remarkably clear for a film of its age.