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Blu-ray Review: Universal 100th Anniversary Titles ‘Erin Brockovich,’ ‘Smokey and the Bandit,’ ‘The Sting’

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CHICAGO – Universal has slowly but consistently been releasing an amazing collection of Blu-ray combo packs (BD, DVD, and Digital Copy) throughout 2012. Spanning the entire catalog of this 100-year-old company, movies like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Deer Hunter,” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” have been given lavish, restored treatments and “E.T.” and “Jaws” will come later in the year. By the time it’s done, this will be one of the most important waves of Blu-ray releases in the history of the form. This week’s inclusions feature two Oscar winners and one true ’70s phenomenon.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

What do “The Sting.” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “Erin Brockovich” have in common? Nothing but a Blu-ray release date. The underrated “Brockovich” won an Oscar for America’s sweetheart, Julia Roberts, and “The Sting” was a juggernaut, winning SEVEN Oscars, including Best Picture. I like “The Sting” but it’s a little nuts that it won as many Oscars as it did (the grand prize should have gone to “The Exorcist” that year). Still, people adore this film, one that features Robert Redford and Paul Newman at their charismatic best, and so it’s great to see the film’s fans treated so well. The restored transfer looks gorgeous in HD and the film comes with a number of interesting special features, including a documentary with interviews with the key players called “The Art of the Sting.”

“The Sting” is the most popular of the three but fans of “Erin Brockovich” and “Smokey and the Bandit” should be just as satisfied. Whoever is in charge of the remastering for this wave of releases deserves a raise. I have yet to see one that disappointed in any way. They’re all perfectly mixed, not over-polishing the older films to the point that they look plastic and finding just the right amount of line detail and color saturation. Even films that I don’t adore feel like ones that should be added to any collection just by being a part of this landmark series.

“Erin Brockovich”

Erin Brockovich was released on Blu-ray on June 5, 2012
Erin Brockovich was released on Blu-ray on June 5, 2012
Photo credit: Universal

Synopsis:
A real woman. A real story. A real triumph. Julia Roberts stars as Erin Brockovich, a feisty young mother who fought for justice any way she knew how. Desperate for a job to support herself and her three children, she convinces attorney Ed Masry (Albert Finney) to hire her, and promptly stumbles upon a monumental law case against a giant corporation. Now, Erin’s determined to take on this powerful adversary even though no law firm has dared to do it before. And while Ed doesn’t want anything to do with the case, Erin won’t take “no” for an answer. So the two begin an incredible and sometimes hilarious fight that will bring a small town to its feet and a huge company to its knees.

Special Features:
o Deleted Scenes With Commentary By Director Steven Soderbergh
o Spotlight On Location: The Making of Erin Brockovich
o Erin Brockovich: A Look At A Real-Life Experience
o 100 Years of Universal: Academy Award Winners
o 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
o Theatrical Trailer

“Smokey and the Bandit”

Smokey and the Bandit was released on Blu-ray on June 5, 2012
Smokey and the Bandit was released on Blu-ray on June 5, 2012
Photo credit: Universal

Synopsis:
Get ready to tear up the highway with the Bandit (Burt Reynolds), a fun-loving, fast-talking trucker who takes on his craziest haul yet - delivering 400 cases of beer from Texarkana to Atlanta in just 28 hours. With Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) hot on his trail and eager to teach him some respect for the law, the Bandit joins forces with good ol’ boy Cledus (Jerry Reed) and runaway bride Carrie (Sally Field). Gear up for huge laughs, pedal-to-the-metal action, and some of the wildest car crashes ever filmed!

Special Features:
o Loaded Up And Truckin’: The Making Of Smokey And The Bandit
o Snowman, What’s Your 20?: The Smokey and The Bandit CB Tutorial
o 100 Years of Universal: The ’70s
o 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
o Theatrical Trailer

“The Sting”

The Sting was released on Blu-ray on June 5, 2012
The Sting was released on Blu-ray on June 5, 2012
Photo credit: Universal

Synopsis:
The winner of seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, The Sting stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two con men in 1930s Chicago. After a friend is killed by the mob, they try to get even by attempting to pull off the ultimate ‘sting.’ No one is to be trusted as the twists unfold, leading up to one of the greatest double-crosses in movie history. The con is on!

Special Features:
o The Art of The Sting
o 100 Years Of Universal: Restoring The Classics
o 100 Years Of Universal: The ’70s
o 100 Years of Universal: The Lot
o Theatrical Trailer

“Erin Brockovich,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “The Sting” were released in Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Packs on June 5, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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