With Father’s Day celebrations this weekend, here are a few gift suggestions for the dad who appreciates watching ultra-high definition movies in his home entertainment room.
The Maltese Falcon (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, 1.37:1 aspect ratio, 101 minutes, $24.99) — Consistently ranked as one of the greatest films of all time, John Huston’s 1941 directorial debut finally arrives in the 4K format and packing plenty of historical extras.
With a screenplay written by Mr. Huston, the crime noir drama starred Humphrey Bogart as Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled private detective, Sam Spade.
The gumshoe gets lured into a missing person case by mysterious dame Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor) looking for her sister. After his partner dies trailing a suspect, Spade not only becomes a suspect for his murder but gets mixed up with international thieves on the hunt for an ancient, jewel-encrusted bird-shaped relic called the Maltese Falcon.
The fast-talking group of tough guys and shady mugs were richly supplemented by actress Lee Patrick as Spade’s spitfire secretary and quirky character actors Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, playing interested parties looking to own the infamous bird.
Dads looking for a black-and-white night’s worth of entertainment get a digital restoration created using the 16-bit 4K scan from the original camera negative that included frame-by-frame remastering and graded for High Dynamic Range enhancements.
Suffice it to report, this is the version of the classic to forever own.
Notable extras: The 4K disc gets a methodical and informative 2006 optional commentary track with Bogart biographer Eric Lax.
The included Blu-ray disc version of the film also offers the track as well as all of the extras from the 2006 DVD special release of the film.
They include a retrospective on the film (32 minutes), a 1996 Turner Classic Movies special exploring Bogart’s career hosted by Robert Osborne (45 minutes), and three vintage radio adaptations of the book (with help from Edward G. Robinson, Greenstreet, Bogart and Astor).
Also, to make a nostalgic family night of it, the disc contains a Warner Night at the Movies package to play before the main feature that offers the trailer for the 1941 movie “Sergeant York” starring Gary Cooper; a newsreel covering a Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt summit; the Academy Award-nominated short, “The Gay Parisian”; and a pair of Looney Tunes cartoons — “Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt” and “Meet John Doughboy.”
Warner Bros. is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year by bringing even more classic movies to the UHD disc format. Dads might also be interested in receiving Cool Hand Luke ($33.99) with Paul Newman and Rebel Without a Cause ($33.99) with James Dean to add to their burgeoning home theater collection.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG and PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 448 minutes, $90.99) — The four films that helped define the legacy of Capt. Jean Luc Picard and his crew’s harrowing adventures in the 23rd century finally arrive in the 4K format in an eight-disc collection.
Of course, the television show “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was a massive hit with sci-fi fans and Trekkies back in the 1990s, and the natural extension was taking the main cast — Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner), Lt. Worf (Michael Dorn), ship’s counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), Cmdr. William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and Capt. Picard (Patrick Stewart) — and bringing them to theaters.
Viewers get the following movies remastered on both Blu-ray and 4K discs: “Star Trek: Generations” (1994); “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996); “Star Trek: Insurrection” (1998); and “Star Trek: Nemesis” (2002).
Despite the triumphant return of Capt. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) in “Generations,” the star film in both plot and the new visual presentation will always be “First Contact.”
The film featured a time-twisting adventure co-starring the Borg and the man who invented the warp drive Zefram Cochrane.
For those who bought Pops the “Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection” in 4K a few years ago, this is the perfect extension to boldly go where no Trekkie has gone before.
Notable extras: This set offers all of previous bonus content from the 2009 “Next Generation” Blu-ray movie boxed set led by 13 optional commentary tracks on both the 4K and Blu-ray discs, four of which are text-only from Trek minutia experts Michael and Denise Okuda.
Highlights of the other extras include the onscreen encyclopedia “The Library Computer Viewing Mode” for each film; four Trek fan media types getting together to discuss each movie in a “Trek Roundtable” (roughly 50 minutes); and a four-part, character dive called “Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond” (roughly 35 minutes).
For those new to the franchise, I also suggest the massive 11-episode documentary series The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek (Mill Creek Entertainment, $19.99).
Viewers get almost nine hours of background on the various shows as well as tons of interviews with the cast and crew including Leonard Nimoy, Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Ronald D. Moore, Nicholas Meyer, Rick Berman, Denise Crosby, John de Lancie. We’ll ignore that it’s presented in the woefully inadequate DVD format.
Rocky: The Knockout Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG and PG-13, 2.40:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 523 minutes, $59.99) — Sylvester Stallone’s iconic boxer finally steps into the UHD ring in a five-disc collection boasting a quartet of his greatest films.
For those unaware of one of the most inspirational characters ever created in cinema, the film starred Rocky Balboa, an over-the-hill, southpaw fighter from Philadelphia who finds redemption and love when given an unheard-of chance to fight the heavyweight champion of the world, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
Viewers can once again appreciate “Rocky” (1976), “Rocky II” (1979), “Rocky III” (1982) and “Rocky IV” (1985). That translates into the legend fighting Apollo Creed twice, Clubber Lang (Mr. T) and Russian powerhouse Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) with his love Adrian (Talia Shire) at his side.
Let’s not mention the odd miscue of not upgrading to 4K and including “Rocky V” (1990) and “Rocky Balboa” (2006) nor adding any of the trio of the extended franchise films featuring the adventures of Creed’s son Adonis.
Arguably, these are the best of the films, but Warner Bros. also tosses into the set, and available for the first time on the home entertainment disc format, “Rocky vs Drago: The Ultimate Director’s Cut” (2021), Mr. Stallone’s clean-up of “Rocky IV.”
All films boast a 4K clarity and rich color afforded the latest technology, and each looks the best ever released to the disc medium.
Notable extras: The Academy Award-winning “Rocky” on the 4K disc includes three previously released optional commentary tracks that will completely deconstruct the production for cinephiles in the family.
First, listen to a solo track with Mr. Stallone. Next, a commentary with director John Avildsen, producers Irvin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, Ms. Shire, Mr. Weathers and Burt Young (Rocky’s friend and brother-in-law) and even Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown. Finally, a track with legendary sports historian Bert Sugar and boxing trainer Lou Duva.
An additional Blu-ray disc contains five previously released featurettes (about an hour in total) on make-up, the musical score, set design, a tribute to Burgess Meredith (who played Rocky’s trainer) and using the Steadicam.
Also, owners get an almost hourlong cut of the documentary “The Making of ‘Rocky vs. Drago’: Keep Punching,” that was actually 30 minutes longer when released for free on YouTube.
The odd part about the set, besides the missing films, is also the loss of many key extras (including a three-part documentary “In the Ring”) that were available on the high definition “Heavyweight Collection” released back in 2016.
However, let’s focus on the positives. Dad gets to watch Rocky in action in the stunning 4K format and taking on his fiercest challengers.
Insidious: Steelbook Edition (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 102 minutes, $45.99) — Director James Wan’s 2010 haunted house film helped set the standard for the modern-era supernatural horror genre, and it befittingly debuts in the 2160p disc format just in time for father’s looking for a fright.
The film focuses on the Lambert family moving into a new home and watching their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) fall into a coma after experiencing a mysterious entity in their attic.
The struggle for good versus evil now plays out as the father (Patrick Wilson), with help from a psychic (Elise Rainier), must try to pull the child out of his sleep — from a realm called the Further — while also keeping creatures from being unleashed upon the living.
The film has been culled from original UHD sources with a final presentation approved by Mr. Wan and adds a Dolby Atmos soundtrack to ramp up the jump scares.
Notable extras: Viewers only get the same trio of featurettes contained back in the 2011 Blu-ray offering, with roughly 25 minutes on the production and its demons.
Now the real bonus: The steel case packaging perfectly complements the creep factor of the film. Start with a cover featuring a stoic Dalton standing in front of the house and a back cover of a hallway leading to a door lit by an eerie red glow.
The interior panels feature a child’s drawings of Dalton with the crayon-scrawled words, “Last night I watched myself sleep and then I flew away.”
Transformers Limited Edition Steelbook 6-Movie Collection (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 1.78:1, 1.90:1 and 2.39:1, aspect ratio, 881 minutes, $153.99) — Stars from Hasbro’s mega-popular converting toy line have been a staple in movie theaters for the past 15 years.
Under filmmaker Michael Bay’s tutelage, the cinematic war between Autobots (such as Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl and Bumblebee) and Decepticons (including Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave) delivered a bombastic blockbuster experience to fans around the world and was box office gold.
For the first time to home theater disc libraries, this collection contains the inaugural six movies from the series “Transformers” (2007), “Revenge of the Fallen” (2009), “Dark of the Moon” (2011), “Age of Extinction” (2014), “The Last Knight (2017) and “Bumblebee” (2018).
Each feature UHD, high dynamic range enhancements as well as enveloping Dolby Atmos sound to turn a home entertainment room into a booming battleground to witness the multistory combatants in action.
Suffice it to report, for any father in love with the Transformers’ mythology and film franchise, this will be a jaw-dropping treat.
Notable extras: The cardboard, book-style package with a magnetic flap, adorned with a blue Autobot logo, contains all six metal cases.
Each highlight one of the Transformers on the front and either an Autobot or a Decepticon logo on the rear. The outer and inner case has some level of faux-damage, and each interior panel offers slightly shredded color photos from the films and a metallic Autobot sticker.
The 4K discs offer optional commentary tracks for the first two films featuring Mr. Bay. Move to the Blu-ray discs for bunches of previously released extras.
Some of the best include an hourlong documentary on the history of Transformers; two hourlong behind-the-scenes overviews for “Revenge of the Fallen” and “Age of Extinction”; and an almost 30-minute look at NASA’s space program.
Additionally, find a database to explore the main metallic stars and hours upon hours of featurettes covering the human cast, explosive special effects, vehicle chases and the intricate production designs.
Superman I-IV 5-Film Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, 601 minutes, $134.99) — A UHD tribute to the best actor to ever portray DC Comics’ Man of Steel, Christopher Reeves, arrives in a 10-disc set covering all of his famed cinematic performances.
I’m biased, but Reeves brought a giddy wholesomeness and blended naïveté with a commanding onscreen presence when needed to the role of Clark Kent and his alter ego in every appearance.
This collection includes the brilliant “Superman: The Movie,” (1978) and “Superman II” (1980), and the not-so-good “Superman III” (1983) and “Superman IV: Quest for Peace” (1987).
Warner Bros. also offers in the box “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut,” that challenges director Richard Lester’s version of the film by cobbling together rough edits and new effects shots but does not pay a visually consistent homage to Donner’s original vision. By the way, he was fired from the production and Lester was brought in which led to the mess in the first place.
The set does deliver as promised with across-the-board upticks in clarity and color to the main theatrical films and will not disappoint the Reeves’ Superman fan in the family.
Notable extras: Not quite a definitive collection when compared to the “Superman: The Motion Picture Anthology” Blu-ray set from 2011, but plenty of bonus content does get pulled from that set to the discs.
All five films get an optional commentary track on both the 4K and Blu-ray discs. The first three films deliver producers Iilya Salkind and Pierre Spengler while the fourth offers the movie’s writer Mark Rosenthal. The Donner cut gets the director himself with consultant friend consultant Tom Mankiewicz.
Other highlights to the collection, all found on the Blu-ray discs, include three “making of” vintage television specials (roughly 50 minutes each) for the first three films; the 50-minute “Superman: 50th Anniversary Special” hosted by Dana Carvey; and the “Superman and the Mole Men,” the first full-length theatrical release starring the Man of Steel played by George Reeves.
For older dads in love with classic animation, toss in Max Fleischer’s Superman (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, $33.99).
Fleischer Studios, known for the creation of Betty Boop and Koko the Clown, was given the great responsibility of bringing the Man of Steel to colorful life back in 1942.
The two-disc Blu-ray set delivers all 17 Technicolor wonders (roughly only nine minutes in length) remastered in the high definition format and packed with hand-drawn excellence under the tutelage of director Dave Fleischer.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 127 minutes, $25.99) — Just in time for the release of the latest saga starring the elderly archeologist are his original adventures now available separately in the UHD format for the very first time.
My pick for perfect viewing for the Father’s Day weekend is the 1989 film directed by Steven Spielberg that had Harrison Ford return in a plot featured Indiana teaming up with his father Henry Jones Sr. (the venerable Sean Connery) on a quest infested with Nazis to find the Holy Grail.
Gifters for the dad-themed holiday will also want to consider buying Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, $25.99) that has Indiana teaming up with a teen son he never knew existed, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), on a quest that involves Russians and extraterrestrials.
Each film has been remastered from 4K scans of the original negatives, all approved by director Steven Spielberg, and the results offer the best-looking versions of the movies ever crafted for home theater audiences.
Notable extras: So, the single 4K discs offer nothing in the way of bonus content, just a few trailers, but viewers do get some incredible adventure movies.
The Manchurian Candidate (Kino Lorber, not rated, 1.75:1 aspect ratio, 126 minutes, $39.95) — Director John Frankenheimer’s Academy Award-nominated black-and-white political thriller from 1962 delivers a twisted “Twilight Zone”-style story and now jumps to the ultra-high definition disc format.
Viewers learn about Sgt. Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), a Korean War veteran returning from combat who was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing his commanding officer Maj. Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) and his platoon during a mission. Sgt. Shaw is also the stepson of a fierce anti-communist U.S. senator.
When Maj. Bennett and another soldier begin suffering from the same nightmare, the narrative begins to twist into an international communist conspiracy with the revelation that foreign operatives have brainwashed Sgt. Shaw with the high stakes plan of conducting an assassination of a presidential candidate.
The casting complements the performances of Sinatra as the investigator and Harvey as the time bomb with Angela Lansbury as Sgt. Shaw’s diabolical mother, and Janet Leigh as Maj. Marco’s unlikely girlfriend.
The film stands as one of the greatest espionage dramas ever created and a nail-biter with a plot uncomfortably relevant in today’s partisan world of politics and new Cold War climate.
The new restoration often stuns especially when examining the various states of the lip and brow sweat of the actors. It was created from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and looks fairly crisp and clean like watching one of Frankenheimer’s episodes’ in the 1950s television show “Playhouse 90.”
Notable extras: The bonus content is all culled from the DVD release back in 2008.
The 4K disc offers an optional commentary track with the director, an informative but understated effort from a soft-spoken creator.
Kino Lorber provides a second Blu-ray disc with the other extras including a 1988, nine-minute interview with Sinatra, Frankenheimer and writer George Axelrod; a 15-minute segment with Lansbury; and 13 minutes with Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”) offering an analysis of the director and movie’s importance.
Also, worth gifting to Frankenheimer fans is the action thriller Ronin (Kino Lorber, $39.95) starring Robert De Niro and now also released in 4K.
Rain Man: 35th Anniversary Edition (MVD Visual, rated R, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 134 minutes, $49.95) — The winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Picture deservedly arrives in the UHD disc format to highlight the performances of two legendary actors in director Barry Levinson’s family drama.
Dustin Hoffman, in an Oscar-winning role, stars as institutionalized autistic savant Raymond Babbitt. After receiving the majority of a large inheritance from his deceased father, Raymond is reunited with estranged, selfish and broke brother Charlie (a bratty Tom Cruise) who kidnaps and drags him across America hoping to extort some of his new wealth but ultimately learning there is more to life than money.
The screen-filling presentation comes to life courtesy of a new restoration composed from a 4K high definition, 16-bit scan of the original camera negative that was approved by Mr. Levinson.
The visuals still seem a bit murky at times but do shine when appreciating Charlie’s 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible and the panoramic scenery of the U.S. as the pair drive from Cincinnati to Amarillo, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
However, no matter the format or visual clarity, the film offers one of the first explorations of autism on the big screen and delivers career-defining performances by Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Cruise as they unravel a budding relationship of brothers. It is a must-own for dad’s 4K library.
Notable extras: Nothing new to report, but the 4K and included Blu-ray versions of the film offer three optional commentary tracks culled from the 2004 DVD Special Edition release: One with Mr. Levinson, one with writer Barry Morrow and a final one with co-writer Ronald Bass.
Also, the Blu-ray contains two vintage featurettes on the production (22 minutes) and an educational segment on autism (20 minutes).