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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: A Christmas Story - Ultimate Collector's Edition

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted November 04 2008 - 05:35 PM

A Christmas Story
Ultimate Collector's Edition

Release Date: November 4, 2008
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case housed in a collectible tin with strand of leg lamp lights
Year: 1983
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1h38m
MSRP: $49.99

Video1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1 (closer to 1.78:1)May be in standard definition
AudioDolby Digital: English 1.0, French 1.0Audio standards my vary
SubtitlesEnglish, French, SpanishNone

The Feature: 5/5
Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) really wants an air rifle for Christmas. Well, not just any air rifle - a Red Ryder 200-shot range model air rifle, the only one bearing the amazing comic strip cowboy's seal of approval. But getting it's going to be a struggle. Mom thinks he'll shoot his eye out and Dad's too busy beating down the furnace, admiring his leg lamp or chasing off the neighbor dogs to notice. So what's a desperate nine-year old kid to do? As it turns out, just be a kid. That's who Christmas was made for.

Based on the writings of Jean Shepherd, "A Christmas Story" is one of the true modern, holiday classics. With an endearingly goofy lead actor, colorfully quirky supporting cast and a tongue-in-cheek, yet deeply nostalgic, script, it's a welcomed film every holiday season. It's rare to find someone who hasn't experienced its charm, but as with other classics, I can't help but envy those who get to enjoy it for the first time.

Video Quality: 3/5
Though labeled as 1.85:1 the image fills the entirety of my 16x9 display. Though bearing an aged look consistent with the story and setting, the picture's black levels and contrast vary. Night scenes have a nice, deep inkiness, with occasionally heavy black crush, while daylight and interior scenes sometimes have a slight washed out, hazy quality. Colors are muted but still show good depth. Fine object detail is lacking and there's an overall softness to the picture, but this too could be viewed as consistent with the film's nostalgic elements. Grain structure appears intact though also riddled with noise at times.

Audio Quality: 3/5
Though lacking a lossless or uncompressed audio track, the 192 kbps Dolby Digital mono track sounds suitably clean and clear in this dialogue driven film. Elements of the score can sound a bit lo-fi, lacking the silkiness we'd hear in higher resolution formats.

Special Features: 3.5/5

Commentary by Peter Billingsley and Director/Co-Writer Bob Clark: Billingsley and Clark provide a decent commentary track with some nice anecdotes and back story, though they also have the tendency to watch and describe towards the end of the film.

"Daisy Red Ryder: A History" (5m18s): A look at the history and manufacturing of the Red Ryder air rifle.

"Another Christmas Story" (18m18s): 20-year retrospective of the film, features interviews with Billingsley, Clark, R.D. Robb (Schwartz), Scott Schwartz (Flick), and Zack Ward (Scut Farkus).

Script Pages: A portion of the script that didn't make it into the final cut.

"Get A Leg Up" (4m35s): A tribute to the fine artisans behind the leg lamp.

Theatrical Trailer (2m10s)

"Leg Lamp" Spot (49s): TV commercial on how to acquire your very own leg lamp.

Tin and Leg Lamp Light Strand: Though the strand of leg lamp lights is a piece of nifty kitsch, exclusive to the Blu-Ray "ultimate edition," it's hard not to feel envious of DVD purchasers after seeing what they will be getting in their tin instead. A 48-page cookbook with recipes inspired by the movie, a red chef's apron with "A Christmas Story" logo, and five collectible cookie cutters in Christmas Story-inspired shapes. It makes the Blu-Ray release look far from ultimate and those who have it feel like a jealous sibling on Christmas morning.

A closer look at the light strand:


The Feature: 5/5
Video Quality: 3/5
Audio Quality: 3/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3/5

While getting acceptable high definition treatment across the board, the "ultimate" label feels like a real stretch after seeing the items included in the DVD version. If this Blu-Ray edition amounted to more than a metal tin and a strand of lights it would be easier to recommend, but as it is I suggest simply buying the disc itself.

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Southpaw


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Posted November 05 2008 - 12:09 AM

Cameron...I agree with your comment about the cookbook, apron and cookie cutters. I thought we were getting all those in the BD ultimate edition but nope, just the leg lamp light strand.
My daughter was very disappointed. Posted Image

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

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Posted November 05 2008 - 01:37 AM

I was very confused at first, thinking I was missing items. It didn't help that a review on another site said those things were included.

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted November 09 2008 - 01:22 AM

Count me in as the ONE person, who's never seen this film! However, I expect that to end this holiday season, but I think I'll stick with my SD version for now.
"Music is a magic carpet loaded with oils and other soothing potions, it's just what you need when you don't know what you need, when you've got more questions than answers." - Bob Lefsetz

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