Import Corner: The War of the Worlds (1953) (Imprint Films) 4K Blu-ray + Blu-ray Review


Australian home media company Imprint Films gives what is arguably the definitive edition of the 1953 sci-fi classic, The War of the Worlds with this 4K blu-ray release. 

Studio: Imprint
Release Date: August 26th, 1953 (theatrical) / December 15th, 2022 (4K blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 25 minutes 25 seconds
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 2160p (1.37:1) (4K blu-ray) / 1080p (1.37:1 aspect ratio) (2K blu-ray)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Sound:English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, German Dolby Digital 2.0 4K blu-ray /  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English LPCM 2.0 mono (2K blu-ray)
Subtitles: Dutch, English, English SDH, French, German, Japanese, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin) (4K blu-ray) / English SDH (2K blu-ray)
Slipcover: Yes (hard slip box)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Les Tremayne, Robert Cornthwaite, Sandro Giglio, and Lewis Martin
Written by BarrĂ© Lyndon
Directed by Byron Haskin
Rating: AUS: PG (sci-fi violence and frightening images)

PLEASE NOTE: This 4K blu-ray was sent to me by the distributor for this review. All opinions are my own. Also, note that the screenshots are taken from the included blu-ray.

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Poster

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What's It About?

 Scientists Clayton Forrester and Sylvia Van Buren are the first to arrive at the site of a meteorite crash. Soon after, an alien war machine emerges and begins killing at random. The Marines are called in, but they're no match for the aliens' force field. Forrester and Van Buren, however, are able to wound one of the creatures and procure a sample of its blood. They take it to Los Angeles where they hope, through testing, to be able to discover the aliens' weakness.
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Film Review

You have to love films from the 50’s and 60’s. They weren’t trying to build a franchise. They weren’t trying to build a “cinematic universe”. Hell, they weren’t even trying to make sequels. All they wanted to do was to tell a story that audiences would get caught up in for an hour and a half.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is a film that puts everything into giving us something that we have never seen before. The effects are a wonder to behold. Even in 2020, these effects still hold a bit of power to them. Sure, we have seen just about everything when it comes to special effects, but the effects work here is something very special. The effects are there on the screen with some things added in post. The aliens and there ships are there for the actors to act against and we are still in a state of wonder. The effects work and we buy every minute of them.

The film is one of the best sci-fi films ever made. The film is big and loud and would fit quite nicely into the summer movie season, but it is much more than that. It is about humanity facing a threat that we might not be able to handle. It is about fear that we might not be able to make it through this threat. It is about people doing everything in their power to find out what we are dealing with and how to stop it.

As with most science fiction films, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is about the time the film takes place in. The film was released during the cold war, a war that threatened the very way of life for Americans. World War II had been over for almost a decade at the time when the film was released, but the fear of of the cold war escalating was something that had taken over for the fears of WWII. An alien threat was always on our minds and THE WAR OF THE WORLDS perfectly captures this fear. People are displaced from their homes, cities are emptied, all because of a menace that is foreign to us. This menace was disrupting our very way of life. We are seeing it in the film and that scared audiences in 1953. Just as horror is a mirror to our society now, sci-fi was that mirror back then.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is a film that aged very well and still holds relevance today. We are living in a world of Covid-19, a foreign threat that has changed our very way of life. It came without warning (as it was in the country long before it was found out) and it kills without malice. It doesn’t care about your feelings, wants, or desires. The aliens in the film are the same way. They come here from a world that is not ours and kill us without malice. The film speaks to us today just as much as it spoke to audiences in 1953. That is the mark of a great film and THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is a great film.
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Video/Audio

Presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and appearing to be taken from the same 4K restoration that was on the Criterion Collection blu-ray,  THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is breathtaking. The film is filled with color and every one of those colors pops right off the screen. Skin tones are accurate and blacks are very deep. There is a thin layer of film grain that gives the picture definition and the level of detail is amazing. There is even depth to the picture that was quite welcoming. The HDR gives the colors more of a pop than the 2K blu-ray. 

The 4K disc does not contain the film's original audio mix. Instead, Paramount created a brand new 5.1 track that is pretty good. The sounds of the attacks carry a heft to them that is quite welcome. Everything is spread nicely too without trying to outdo the original mono track. I know that there will be many who aren't happy with the absence of the film's original mono track, but this one does a good job of recreating it while giving audiences a slightly different experience. The blu-ray does contain the film's original mono track, so if you want to watch the film with the original audio, you will have to pop in the 2K blu-ray disc.
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Extras/Packaging

Disc 1: 4K Blu-ray

Commentary by actors Ann Robinson and Gene Barry
Commentary by Film Director Joe Dante, Film Historian Bob Burns, and Bill Warren , Author of Keep Watching the Skies!
The Sky is Falling: Making The War of the Worlds (30m, SD, 1.33:1)
H.G. Wells: The Father of Science Fiction (10m 26s. SD, 1.33:1)
The Mercury Theatre on the Air Presents The War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast (59m 10s, SD)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2m 19s, HD, 1.33:1)

Disc 2: 2K Blu-ray

Commentary by Film Critics Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman
Commentary by actors Ann Robinson and Gene Barry
Commentary by Film Director Joe Dante, Film Historian Bob Burns, and Bill Warren , Author of Keep Watching the Skies!
Photo Gallery (4m 55s, HD) Auto plays with no music or sound whatsoever
Imprint Trailer (26s, HD, 1.78:1) This is a short trailer that advertises 

The 4K blu-ray is the exact same disc that Paramount released in the States in 2022 just with different disc art. The menus and special features are the same. The special features on the 4K disc are all carryovers from the 2005 special edition DVD. These features are really nice. We get two commentary tracks, one with Ann Robinson and Gene Barry, while the other features Joe Dante, Bob Burns, and Bill Warren. The actors track is fun with tons of information about the making of the film as well as some fun stories. The other track with the fans is a lot of fun. All three of these guys are superfans of the film and they tell us stories about their first time watching the film and how it has become a classic of its genre. The making of is also fun although there is some information shared between the making of and the commentary tracks. There is also an H.G. Wells featurette that covers much of Wells' life and career. 

The 2K blu-ray adds a few features that are not on the 4K disc. There is a third commentary track that gives us tons of information about the film, its filmmakers and actors, and its legacy. There is also a photo gallery and a trailer for films that Imprint released in 2020 when the 2K blu-ray was first released.

The packaging for this release is really nice. In fact, I was not expecting it to be this nice. The outer box is a nice hard box that is sturdy and keeps everything inside the box safe. It features lenticular artwork that fits the film to a T with the back artwork featuring the alien's arm along with a human arm, reaching out to touch the alien. Inside the box is a gorgeous black SteelBook that features the alien from the film on the front and Ann Robinson being grabbed by the alien on the back. The inner art of the SteelBook features a shot from the scene where our two heroes hide in the basement, where we are given our first look at the actual alien. Also inside the SteelBook are the two discs with the 4K disc featuring no artwork whatsoever, just the films title and some other information about the film. The blu-ray disc features the film's original poster art as it's artwork. Finally, there is a booklet featuring an essay about the film fro David J. Schow, he is an awesome writer along with stills from the film, lobby cards, and posters for the film from around the world.

Both discs are REGION FREE

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Overall

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS is one of the best science fiction films to come out of the 50s. It has everything that made this film a spectacle when it was first released and has wowed audiences ever since. Imprint has done a great job bringing the film to the market. The picture quality is so good and audio is nice. The special features are a lot of fun and worth checking out. You probably won' be able to get enough of them. The packaging is gorgeous and it matches the film perfectly. This is the definitive release of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS on 4K blu-ray and is a must buy.
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Extras/Menus

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