Air America/Cujo/Near Dark/Red Heat
Picture: B-/B-/C+/B Sound: B-/B-/C+/B- Extras: C-/C/C+/C+ Films: C-/C/C+/C+
continues to issue key back catalog titles on Blu-ray and four of the more
talked about titles they hold rights to.
We have covered two of the four previously and links to their DVD
coverage are included.
Air America (1990) is Director Roger
Spottiswoode’s awful Vietnam
comedy with no laughs co-starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr. as the
pilots of the secret flying service of the title. It was awful, has not aged well at all and is
from Spottiswoode’s worst period, which is ironically among his most promoted
films. Loosely based on a book, it has
all kinds of errors, parachutes from the 1980s, hit records by America form
the 1970s, yet it is supposed to take place in the late 1960s. Burt Kwouk (the original Pink Panther series) even shows up in this sad mess. At least the leads’ careers recovered.
shot in Super 35mm by the great Roger Deakins and even blown-up into 70mm
prints with a 4.1 Dolby magnetic surround mix and SR (Spectral Recording) Dolby
noise reduction, but the look is one of the only things watchable here. On this Blu-ray, that sound is stretched to
DTS HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 7.1, the only 7.1 mix on all four Blu-rays
here, but I give the remixers credit for trying to stretch the sound out. It sometimes works, but other times it does
not and the sources they use show their age.
Extras include the original trailer, three making of featurettes and
feature length audio commentary track by Co-Writer/Co-Producer John Eskow.
Near Dark (1987) is Katherine Bigelow’s
breakout independent vampire film that turned out to be as influential as Lost Boys the same year and marked
elements of the Professional Western becoming pretty much a permanent fixture
of the genre since. Adrian Pasdar (Top Gun) plays a seducer who falls for
the wrong gal (Jenny Wright), who happens to be a vampire, part of a rogue team
of killers with issues traveling the country.
Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein and James LeGros (all
good actors) also star in this fan favorite that has some good moments, but was
never a film that stayed with me despite its ambitions.
of Photography Adam Greenberg (Terminator
2, Ghost) does some of what is
still the best work of his career here, but despite how clean the image can be,
the print looks very aged and transfer soft.
This was originally recorded in the infamous (and infamously distorted)
analog Ultra Stereo system, presented here in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless
5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo mixes. It is
distorted throughout and the DTS only shows that all the more. Extras include feature length audio
commentary track by Bigelow, Deleted Scenes with her commentary, trailers and a
making-of piece called Living In Darkness.
Red Heat (1988)
2.35 X 1 image (save 1.78 on Heat
and 1.85 on Dark) all disappoint and
do not look like a new film print by any means, though Red Heat is the
best-looking of the four by a small margin.
Cujo also looks too soft and
old for a recent anniversary upgrade. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 on Cujo
comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and are still all better than just having old
Dolby Digital from the DVDs, but are not always spectacular here. Extras on the DVD versions of the previously
reviewed titles are included on the Blu-rays.
- Nicholas Sheffo