4K slight return: Fall back to Earth edition

4K discs have taken over the high end of the home media market. Also known as Ultra-HD the format enhances not only the visual but the audio experience. Here are some of the best releases so far in 2023.

Invaders From Mars

This sci-fi alien invasion movie from 1953 unwinds completely through the eyes of a small boy. Our diminutive hero stumbles onto a secret UFO base, subsequently discovering the unworldly invaders in tunnels underground.

Invaders From Mars was directed by William Cameron Menzies himself a three time Oscar winner as art director, twice for two different films in 1929 and also for his contribution as visual consultant to Gone With the Wind.

A minimalistic and low budget movie was elevated by Menzies into a child’s nightmare utilizing stunning visuals mixed with incredible compositions. The color palette uses an array of hues and tones that to this day have not been surpassed.

Cool extras include a John Sayles’ intro to the film at a recent TCM film festival premiere of the restoration.

The 4K restoration offers the best quality version of Invaders From Mars to date. The release from Ignite Films includes a booklet filled with fascinating details of the production.

Waterworld

A new Arrow Video UHD release includes three discs with three versions of Waterworld along with superb extras.

The three versions of the movie are the theatrical cut; the expanded television cut that includes over 40-minutes of footage not in the original movie; and a version called the Ulysses cut, a fan version that includes scenes not in the original movie like the finale reveal at the top of Mt. Everest.

A extended featurette made in 2018 titled Maelstrom: The Odyssey of Waterworld includes candid interviews along with a step by step break down of some of the film’s incredible stunts.

There’s the mistaken notion that Waterworld was a financial disaster because at the time it was the most expensive film made. In truth, at the time of its release Universal Pictures had been bought from Seagrams by Matsushita, which effectively wiped their slate clean of debt.

Hugo

An amazing film Hugo from Martin Scorsese tells the dual story of a runaway boy living in the depths of the Gare Montparnasse train depot in Paris as well as his relation with visionary filmmaker Georges Méliès, himself retired and working as a shopkeeper at the same station.

The film is based on the book by Brian Selznick, a distance relative to David O. Selznick.

Scorsese shot the film, with award winning cinematographer Robert Richardson, in 3D.  Hugo ranks alongside Avatar for its use of 3D. One opening shot has the camera pushing down a ladder while performing a corkscrew turn. The effect in three-dimension is nothing short of amazing. The entire film is like that. The pièce de résistance are recreations of portions of Méliès films in 3D.

The release of Hugo includes 4K version along with a Blu-ray 3D version.

The multi disc release has some of the best extras ever conceived. The opening three interviews with Selznick, Richardson, and composter Howard Shore are as long as the film itself.

If you’re a fan of silent films Hugo’s extras include multiple featurettes on Méliès contribution to silent films as well as early cinema.

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