A 4K Wish List

The recent release of the 4K Godfather Trilogy boxed set has prompted me to think of other movies from my 4K Wish List. I know it’s deeply uncool to be interested in physical media, the various competing formats for HDR, and so on, though I guess streaming services also benefit from 4K restorations and HDR (even if bitrates can’t really compete with physical, but there I go again with the uncool focus on technical details).

The Godfather Trilogy 4K Boxed Set

Anyway, physical media is clearly in a weird place right now. On the one hand, it’s clearly on the decline. The sheer convenience of streaming can’t be overcome by the marginally better quality of the image, and it makes sense. On the other hand, boutique physical media shops like Criterion, Arrow, Shout/Scream Factory, Vinegar Syndrome, Severin, Kino Lorber, and others are other here releasing special editions ranging from current releases to screen classics to the most obscure exploitation trash from the 70s and 80s that you’ve never heard of…

Even weirder, though, is that while you’ve got pristine, 4K UHD special editions with commentary tracks and other special features of something like Tammy and the T-Rex, lots of popular, classic movies don’t have anything nearly as impressive (please don’t interpret this as a slight against Tammy and the T-Rex, which is great and absolutely deserves the treatment…)

Up until a few weeks ago, The Godfather was #1 on my list, but they finally put out a release aligned with the 50th Anniversary and it looks fantastic. So what else am I pining for? Some of these are just generally unavailable, but some are infamous for having many double-dip releases and so on, so it’s weird that they haven’t made the leap to 4K.

  • The Terminator – This might be the movie I’ve seen the most times in my life, talking at least triple digits here. And yet, even the Blu-Rays that are available are the barest of bare-bones releases. James Cameron movies in general seem to be lagging behind in terms of releases. Aliens is also lacking 4K, though there are rumors that it’s coming sometime in 2022. I wouldn’t mind a 4K of The Abyss or, really, any of Cameron’s other movies. There is a 4K of Terminator 2, but they had done the restoration for a theatrical 3D release a while back, and so the colors are apparently all off from what it should be (and I hate 3D in general, so…) Still, if I could only choose one Cameron, it would be the original Terminator.
  • Pulp Fiction – And again, most of Tarantino’s catalog in general is missing from the 4K world, and I’d probably go for… all of it? I know Tarantino doesn’t want to do commentary tracks on his own movies (and I get it!), but they’re so infused with cinematic references that they could really benefit from one of them film historian commentaries that are common on a lot of these boutique physical media releases…
  • Heat – This was supposed to come out last year, but got delayed. It’s “in limbo, but is still expected to arrive on the format sometime” in 2022. Fingers crossed.
  • Star Wars – Duh. Of course, there are 4K releases of the trilogy, but not on physical media and they’re the whole Special Edition that no one likes.
  • Raise the Red Lantern – And once again, we have a director (Zhang Yimou) whose whole early filmography is largely absent from US releases. Indeed, even the old, poor quality DVDs are out of print and ridiculously expensive. I blame China, but hopefully someday we’ll get some Zhang releases…
  • Sleuth – As far as I know, the rights are all tied up by some gigantic pharmaceutical company who thinks the money to be gained by a release of a good movie like this is small potatoes (which, when compared to the multi-billion dollar drugs they make, is probably true). Not sure why they don’t just sell off their library of films that they have no interest in… (I believe this same company owns the rights to The Heartbreak Kid, which is why there’s no good release of that either).
  • The Driver – And yes, most of Walter Hill’s early filmography (there are some Region 2 Blu-Rays out there, but they’re not great). Dude’s got an interesting filmography, would be great for one of these boutique companies to resurrect. Who doesn’t want a 4K of Streets of Fire?

I’ll stop it here, but there’s tons of movies that could really benefit from that 4K bump in quality, and honestly, there’s lots of stuff (particularly foreign movies) that could just do with any release whatsoever.

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