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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Drama > Politics > Prejudice > South Africa > Crime > Drugs > Comedy > Education > District 9 4K (2009/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2020/Blu-ray w/DVD/*both Sony)/Mr. Topaze (1961/Film Movement Blu-ray)/The Plot Against America (2020/HBO/DVDs**)/W

District 9 4K (2009/4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray*)/El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2020/Blu-ray w/DVD/*both Sony)/Mr. Topaze (1961/Film Movement Blu-ray)/The Plot Against America (2020/HBO/DVDs**)/Waterloo Bridge (1940/MGM/Blu-ray/**both Warner Archive)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B Picture: B-/B & C+/B-/C+/B Sound: B/B & C+/B-/C+/B- Extras: B-/B-/C+/C-/C Main Programs: B-/C+/C+/B/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The Plot Against America DVD set and Waterloo Bridge Blu-ray are now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and all can be ordered from the link below.

These releases could be seen as genre works, but in their own ways, they try to exceed that and often succeed....

Neill Blomkamp's District 9 4K (2009) is now available in a version worthy of how good the film looks and sounds as good as ever. As relevant now as it ever was, we reviewed it on VDD years ago at this link:


Set in South Africa, whose problems are sadly holding steady, no one would have expected the southern border of the U.S. would start to resemble this film at the time of its release, but here we are. I liked how the film built up into its remarkable conclusion and though it was not a gigantic box office hit, it was still a hit with huge critical acclaim. Why after all these years do we still have no sequel or other kind of follow-up? Rumors had circulated about another film, but they soon faded. Another such film would be able to add all kinds of new ideas now.

Extras are the same as the previous DVD, but we get Digital Copy too.

Vince Gillian's El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2020) continues the hit TV show that people still talk about, reference and has only grown in popularity since it wrapped up a few years ago. I thought it was a fairly good show, but was not as big a fan as the following links to my coverage of the series will show:

Season One & Two Blu-ray sets


Season Three Blu-ray set


Season Four DVD set


At this point, Jesse (Aaron Paul, whose star has risen all the more since the show's end too) has made a big escape following the many events of the series and now has to figure out where he goes now and what he wants to do and can do with his life. As is the case with the entire TV show, this comes with its sense of dread that is meant to inform, haunt and make realistic the show and its themes.

I can buy some of this and this is an ambitious continuation, with the energy and money there, plus the makers are serious about making this work. Whether fans will think this or not is another story, but Paul is more than able to handle the lead role and you can see why he remains a very underrated actor. Worth seeing for what does work, but do not expect too much.

Extras in this steel-case packaging include Blu-ray exclusive Feature Length Audio Commentary with Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Gag Reel and Scene Studies with Vince Gilligan, while both discs offer a Super Commentary!: An ensemble audio commentary featuring 46 members of the cast and crew, Making El Camino: A behind-the-scenes documentary featuring never-before-seen interviews with the cast and crew, Snow Globe: A Breaking Bad Short, Skinny Pete in the Box teaser, On the Radio teaser, Rocker Salvage Commercial, Vamonos Pest Commercial, ''Enchanted'' by Chloe x Halle and Visual Effects Design Galleries

Peter Sellers' Mr. Topaze (1961) has the internationally famous movie star directing himself as the title character, a teacher who is happy and satisfied with his life, content to live such a life and proud of its high standards. This is not easy when the school's Headmaster (the great Leo McKern) is more interested in rich parents pumping money into the school or the students themselves keep having problems he can only do so much to help with. He is also more of a conformist than he should be, but one with a moral center.

Tamise (Michael Gough in one of his best performances) is one of his best friends, is at the school and encourages him to be himself in pursuit of the daughter of The Headmaster, Ernestine (Billie Whitelaw in her sexy early years) with mixed results. Things take a turn for the unexpected when a rich schemer (Herbert Lom, a few years before joining Sellers for the hugely successful Pink Panther films) and his sexy, singing mistress Suzy (Nadia Gray) decided to use him to make a fortune while paying him peanuts in a crazy fraud scheme.

Though the film can be uneven, it works well when it works and has a certain sense of joy and honesty we do not see in films (or other media) today. What also helps are little scenes that land up being so much more. Also starring John Neville, Joan Sims, Martita Hunt and Pauline Shepherd, Sellers was trying to make a big statement in subtle ways and often succeeds. Glad the film has been restored as much as possible.

Extras include a nicely illustrated 24-page booklet on the film with notes on the film's rediscovery by BFI curator Vic Pratt and a new essay by Roger Lewis, author of The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, while the disc adds an HD-restored copy of Let's Go Crazy (1951) - a madcap short film starring Peter Sellers (in multiple roles ala Dr. Strangelove) and his Goon Show co-star Spike Milligan, The Poetry of Realism (2019) - Kat Ellinger video essay on auteur Marcel Pagnol, the playwright of Topaze and an excellent Abigail McKern Interview (2019) - Leo McKern's daughter discusses her father's life and career as well as hers and includes some great stories.

The Plot Against America (2020) is based on Philip Roth's book that imagines that Right-Wing leaning Charles Lindberg becomes President of the United States during the WWII era and takes the U.S. in a Nazi-like direction. Told in six episodes, suddenly also more timely than ever, it is well done, consistent and very accurate about what the book considered and what can happen to any democracy that does not take voting and freedom seriously.

The cast is also a huge plus including Anthony Boyle, Winona Ryder, David Krumholtz, Zoe Kazan, Morgan Spector, Michael Kostroff, Azhy Robertson, Jacob Laval, Caleb Malis and John Turturro. Additionally, The Wire's David Simon and Ed Burns produced this and the episodes run very smoothly, playing like a great companion to dystopian series like The Handmaid's Tale. This series deserves much more success than it already has received and it is one of the best shows of its kind in the last few years. Don't miss it!

Extras include two brief behind-the-scenes clips on the mini-series: Invitation To The Set and Why Plot Now?

Mervyn LeRoy's Waterloo Bridge (1940) has Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor meeting at the title locale and falling in love, but just before WWII breaks out. When he is reported dead, she is so angry and distraught, she becomes a 'lady of the night' throwing herself away. But is he really dead?

This melodrama is a very smart production with fine acting that shows Leigh in great form and shows Taylor (later known for his two big TV hits, Father Knows Best and Marcus Welby, M.D.) was a more formidable lead than many remember or have seen enough of late. These two have convincing chemistry and it is the top reason to see this film. But I like the pacing and supporting cast, plus there are some great set pieces, so it is the kind of classic worth revisiting, especially when it is as well-restored as it is here.

Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer and hour-long radio drama adaptation from 9/28/1951 in lossless sound.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p 1.85 X 1, HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on District 9 is the most impressive version we will ever see, a film shot in 4K, finished with plenty of CGI digital visuals in 2K and with plenty of blurring images. This is more stable and color-accurate (like the 35mm print of the film I saw in its first run release) and better than the more motion-blur prone 1080p Blu-ray, so this is the best way to see the film now outside of a quality film print. The 4K version has lossless Dolby Atmos, but the film 0often has simple stereo for the extended TV reporting sequences, so it only kicks in so much and is only marginally better than the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on the regular Blu-ray. The 4K looks as good as anything on this list.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on El Camino looks surprisingly good in an apparent attempt to just outdo the way the Breaking Bad series looked and was produced, yet it still retains some of its style. Some shots are darker than I liked (or bought) and color can be limited, but it is supposed to be that way. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is also impressive, seeming intended for theatrical release and with some real punch (no pun intended) down to some good .1 LFE effects. The combination will please fans, but the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD is weaker, as is the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that accompanies it. This is included for convenience at best.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Mr. Topaze was originally shot in the old CinemaScope format and that in itself presents some flaws and distortions, but this is a lost film and the print they scanned at 2K from the BFI vaults sadly has faded Eastman Color that is partly lost and faded. You can see how good the color was in some shots and imagine it in others based on parts of the frame, but the full color was not totally recovered sadly. Still, this is sharper than a DVD and the PCM 2.0 sound is simple stereo at best, but often sounds monophonic. Guess we're lucky this survived as well as it did, but its near loss is inexcusable.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image transfer on Waterloo Bridge rarely shows the age of the materials used, is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and shows the high quality gloss of MGM's old monochrome film lab work. Detail and depth will surprise at points and the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix can sound good, but only so much can be done for the age of the audio despite the good work at the time here.

That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on America a little soft, stylized and consistent, doing a pretty good job capturing the look of the period. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is also a little weak, but what can you expect from this older format? Bet this would look and sound good on Blu-ray or even 4K, which we hope to see sometime in the future, but this is well done just the same.

To order either of the Warner Archive Plot Against America DVD set and/or Waterloo Bridge Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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