From ‘A.I.’ to ‘Taxi Driver,’ the Week's New Blu-rays

A look at the week's new hi-def disc bounty, which also includes “Babe” and “Fiddler on the Roof”

Coming to Blu-ray this week, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” the highly anticipated collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick that left critics and audiences slightly disappointed.  

“Babe,” meanwhile, is a children’s tale that easily won the hearts of kids and parents alike. Its clever use of state-of-the-art digital effects allowed live-action animals to move in unison as well as synch their lips with dialogue. 

Nominated for six Oscars, “Fiddler on the Roof” was a beloved film in its time, with catchy numbers like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” by Jerry Bock. 

And while “Rocky” won the Best Picture Oscar in 1976, but there aren’t many who would place it over runner up, “Taxi Driver.” 

Here's a look at four classic titles getting hi-def disc release this week:

“A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE” BLU-RAY (2001)  Paramount Home Ent.

Considered a disappointment by many, “A.I.” suffered from absurdly high expectations.

Conceived by Stanley Kubrick and executed by Steven Spielberg, many thought collaboration between these two giants of cinema would result in one of the finest films ever made.  

It just goes to show how difficult it is to make a good movie, even when your name is Spielberg.

 But in this case, “A.I.” is a good movie, just not a great one.  A sci-fi adaptation of “Pinocchio,” the story focuses on a robot boy who longs to be a real boy.  Wunderkind Haley Joel Osmentbrings a human touch to his character that burns brighter and brighter as the light of humanity dims around him. Jude Law creates one of the most memorable supporting characters of 2001 with Gigolo Joe.  

Features include:
>> Creating “A.I.”
>> Acting “A.I.”
>> Designing “A.I.”
>> Lighting “A.I.”
>> “A.I.” F/X
>> The Robots of “A.I.”
>> Special Visual Effects and Animation:  ILM
>> The Sound and Music of “A.I.”
>> “Closing:  Steven Spielberg:  Our Responsibility to Artificial Intelligence”
>> “A.I.” archives
>> Trailers

“BABE”BLU-RAY(1995) Universal Studios Home Ent.

A Best Picture nominee in 1995, “Babe” is that rare fairy tale that captures the imagination of children and parents alike.  Babe is a friendly little piglet who lives on a farm. 

He must quickly learn the ways of barnyard animals in order to survive. 

A bigger threat is the farmer’s blade as one poor soul is slaughtered each year for the Christmas feast. 

Babe learns to save himself by adapting and becoming what he chooses to be, not letting others define him.  Full of charm, “Babe” is also rich in theme, exploring issues of individuality and mortality while always staying true to its intended audience.  Extras include:

>> Commentary with writer/producer George Miller
>> George Miller on “Babe”
>> The Making of “Babe”

“FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” – 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITIONBLU-RAY (1971) MGM Home Ent.

Nominated for eight Oscars, “Fiddler on the Roof” won three, including a Best Actor statue for Topol, who plays Tevye, a milkman in Czarist Russia struggling to provide for his family of seven, including five unmarried daughters.  

As if the daily grind wasn’t bad enough, Tevye is the victim of anti-Semitic pogroms passed down by the state.  

He totters like a fiddler on a roof, trying to enjoy the song of life without toppling into the gutter. Noteworthy for the first use of practical locations in a musical, as well as classic numbers like “Sunrise, Sunset” and “L’Chaim,” “Fiddler on the Roof” is an indelible musical by legendary director Norman Jewison. 

Extras include:

>> Commentary by Norman Jewisonand Topol
>> “Norman Jewison, Filmmaker”
>> Norman Jewison Looks Back
>> John Williams:  Creating a Musical Tradition
>> Songs of “Fiddler on the Roof”
>> Tevye’s Daughters>> Set in Reality:  Production Design
>> Deleted song:  “Any Day Now”
>> Storyboard-to-film comparison
>> Tevye’s dream sequence w/ in
tro by Jewison
>> Trailer, teasers and TV spots

“TAXI DRIVER”BLU-RAY (1976) MGM Home Ent.

Robert De Niro won the Oscar for “The Godfather II,” but his best-remembered role of the seventies is Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver.” 

Bickle is, in the words of Thomas Wolfe, “God’s lonely man.” 

Back from Vietnam, he walks the streets by day and drives a cab by night. Outraged by the filth and depravity of the city, he knows he must take action. 

The target for his rage is a political candidate. But after his assassination attempt is foiled, Bickle sets his sights on the pimp of a teenage prostitute played by a young Jodie Foster. 

“Taxi Driver” is a seminal movie featuring composer Bernard Herrmann’s final film score as well as lush and shadowy photography by Michael Chapman.  Extras include:

>> Original 1986 commentary with Scorsese and Schrader
>> Commentaries by Schrader and Professor Robert Kolker
>> Martin Scorsese on “Taxi Driver”
>> Producing “Taxi Driver”
>> “God’s Lonely Man”
>> Influence and Appreciation
>> “Taxi Driver” stories
>> Travis’ New York
>> Travis’ New York Locations
>> ‘Making of’ documentary
>> Storyboard to film comparisons with Scorsese intro
>> Photo galleries