Among all of the catch-up titles on high-def disc, this week's re-release of "Transformers" is the biggest.
The 2007 summer blockbuster was the No. 1 title on HD DVD, selling about 240,000 copies in 2007 before that format bit the dust in January. On Tuesday, former HD DVD backer Paramount Home Entertainment finally releases the film on Blu-ray, the format that won the high-def disc war.
The move gives "Transformers" director Michael Bay a reason to crow. He had criticized Paramount last year for solely releasing the film in a high-def format he felt was inferior.
"I've been waiting for 'Transformers' to be released on Blu-ray for a long time, and it was worth the wait," he said in a statement recently issued by Paramount. "This is the complete high-definition package for fans of this film -- it looks stunning and really allows you to engage with this movie in new ways. Remember, I told everyone Blu-ray is the best."
Ironically, the two-disc set ($40) largely reproduces the HD DVD's contents. But that's not a bad thing: The previous release was a model of what the high-def format has to offer, and that remains true of the Blu-ray version.
Extras include engaging commentary by Bay, oodles of background documentaries and a picture-in-picture option to see making-of footage while watching the movie. There also are Web-enabled features for Blu-ray players with BD-Live capabilities (such as the PlayStation 3), the coolest being a detailed interactive look at the giant robots at the center of the story.
One notable addition to the Blu-ray release is 5.1-channel surround sound in Dolby TrueHD, an uncompressed audio format that makes what was already a demo-quality disc a no-brainer for showing off home theaters with the latest gear.A film noir trio
The 1942 film noir "Moontide" was highly regarded in its day, including an Oscar nomination for best cinematography. But it's remarkable that it ever made it to the screen, considering the major obstacles it had to overcome.
A 25-minute documentary on Tuesday's DVD (Fox, $15) -- one of the latest releases in the sparkling "Fox Film Noir" series -- reminds us that the suicide, rape, murder and alcoholism in William Robertson's source novel were considered too tawdry to film in an era when a production code censored what Hollywood could depict on screen. Acclaimed director Fritz Lang left shortly after filming started, partly over studio meddling and partly because of friction with star Jean Gabin, a top French actor. Then surreal artist Salvador Dali's design for a nightmare sequence was largely discarded because his images were deemed too disturbing.
But "Moontide," in which Gabin plays a drunken wanderer who becomes entangled in murder, was eventually made with co-star Ida Lupino. Now viewers can catch up with a "fascinating and much-too-little-known film," as noir expert Foster Hirsch says on the DVD's commentary track.
Also out Tuesday in the series are 1947's "Boomerang," directed by Elia Kazan and starring Dana Andrews, and 1948's "Roadhouse," starring Lupino and Richard Widmark. Both include scholarly commentary and image galleries, and "Roadhouse" adds a featurette about its two stars.Digital bits
• The true delight of "The Office: Season 4" (Universal, $50), out Tuesday, is catching up with all of the deleted scenes for each episode -- a total of more than two hours' worth. Of course, there are other extras, including commentary, bloopers and the full Dunder Mifflin ad created by loopy boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell) in one episode.
• Fans of British actress Emma Watson get to see her away from the world of Harry Potter with Tuesday's release of "Ballet Shoes" (Koch, $25). In the uplifting coming-of-age film, Watson plays one of four orphan sisters who find their calling after attending an arts academy. The disc includes an interview with its young star.
Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542