Home Alone: Ultimate Collector's Edition
- Street Date:
- October 6th, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Matthew Hartman
- Review Date: 1
- October 22nd, 2015
- Movie Release Year:
- 20th Century Fox
- 504 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated PG
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
"You guys give up, or are you thirsty for more?"
When a movie reaches its 10th birthday, it feels like every few years there is another home video special edition to commemorate the event, 15, 20, 25 and so on. When you get a classic like 'Gone With The Wind' or 'Casablanca' these anniversary editions usually offer a solid up tic in picture quality while also providing a slew of informative extras with some slick special edition packaging. Then you get something like the 'Home Alone 25th Ultimate Collector's Edition.' The fact that there is a 'Home Alone' collection featuring all five films isn't what bothers me, it's the fact that it's been 25 years since I saw the first film in theaters! Time flies and thankfully 20th Century Fox has seen fit to provide the series a slick and fun special edition that collects all of the films (only the first two on Blu-ray) in some fun packaging with a couple of little extras.
What's left to be said about home alone? After 25 years, this film has become a classic in my house. The story of little Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) being left home alone while his parents Peter (John Heard) and Kate (Catherine O'Hara) are on their way to a Christmas vacation to Paris is a tall tale most people know at this point. What keeps the setup for a goofy family drama fun and fresh are Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as a pair of bumbling cat burglars intent on ripping off every home in Kevin's neighborhood. While Kate is desperate to get home and care for her son, the clever Kevin must defend his home using all sorts of painful devices.
This movie was funny when I was an 8 year old watching it in the theater, and I'm glad to say that this movie still puts a big smile on my face as a 33-year-old watching the movie on my High Definition television. 'Home Alone' is a movie my wife and I pull out every holiday season as Christmas gets closer. It's just fun. There isn't an ounce of believability to the movie, but then to be entertaining to kids or adults who are kids at heart it doesn't need to be realistic. It just needs to be fun, and this film is 100% fun. If you want to be a cynic and mark this film as the downfall of John Hughes, you can do that but what's the point? Don't spoil your own fun, just sit back and enjoy. Even better if you've got kids in the house, get them to sit down with you and introduce them to the movie! I'm willing to bet they'll love it.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
After a screwup at the airport, Kevin Manages to get on the wrong airplane. While the rest of his family is off on their Christmas vacation to Florida, Kevin manages to accidentally get on a flight to New York City. Thankfully Kevin has his father's carry on bag and is armed with an envelope of cash and a credit card! With the rest of his family trying to figure out where Kevin has gone to, Kevin gets to take in all of the sights of New York while also getting to hit a toy store and check himself into a luxurious hotel. The only thing that could possibly spoil his fun is the return of Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern respectively). Luckily Kevin still has a talent for inflicting some non-lethal pain!
When you've got a hit film, a sequel is never too far behind. Since 'Home Alone' was a runaway hit bringing in over $285,000,000 in domestic grosses alone, Macaulay Culkin was an instant international superstar and everyone wanted to cash in on the star's popularity with the kids so a sequel was understandably fast-tracked into production. When you've got a winning formula with the first film, why change the mold? Other than switching up the location from a Chicago suburb to the mean streets of New York City, 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' is virtually identical in almost every way to the first film. Aside from some new cast members with Tim Curry playing an uptight Concierge at the Plaza Hotel, Eddie Bracken as a friendly toy store owner, and Brenda Fricker as a Pigeon Lady who teaches Kevin his life lesson of the film, this sequel is basically a rinse, wash, repeat affair. It's still fun all these years later, but it has a "been there done that" vibe that just has not aged well in 23 years. The little ones in your home should still dig it and I have to admit that it's still entertaining even if it doesn't hold up as well as the original.
Home Alone 3 (DVD Only)
Unfortunately for studios that have hit franchises with child stars, those kids in leading roles tend to get older and the possibility for future sequels diminishes rapidly - that is unless of course you recast the lead role! Given the success of the first two 'Home Alone' films, you can hardly blame 20th Century Fox for wanting to cash in on the brand. Instead of an aging Macaulay Culkin, we now have Alex D. Linz as little Alex Pruitt, a young boy home with the chicken pox who comes in possession of some state of the art cyber hardware that some industrial spies need to get their hands on. Since they don't know where the toy that has their stolen equipment is, the only option they have left is to burglarize every home on the block until they find it. Unfortunately for them, Alex has a few painful tricks up his sleeves!
Ouch. This is notably the beginning of the downfall. The film offers up some fun, but it's a pretty tedious outing. Nothing feels original or interesting. If you're an adult watching this, that feeling of betrayal of your childhood is understandable. I'll admit to having a laugh or two at this movie, but that's about all the enthusiasm I can muster for this one. On the other hand, kids itching for some more 'Home Alone' madness shouldn't mind this one, in fact, I think that's specifically who John Hughes wrote this sequel for. Clearly the man was in paycheck mode, but at the same time, he does offer a couple little flourishes here and there that the kids should enjoy.
Home Alone Taking Back The House (DVD Only)
'Home Alone Taking Back The House' is a direct sequel to the original two films only with a completely new cast. Mike Weinberg is the new Kevin and French Stewart fills in Daniel Stern's shoes as Marv. For no real reason, Kevin's parents have split up and Kevin is staying in the home of his father's rich girlfriend. Of course, this is the perfect time for Marv and his new partner in crime Vera (Missi Pyle) to rob the mansion that Kevin happens to be staying in… only they don't know what they're in for.
This is the point when the franchise goes to the dogs. Very little of this movie is fresh or entertaining and as much as I hate to say it, this movie desperately needed the input of series creator John Hughes. While the third film was absolutely a cash grab, this film was a poor attempt to continue a franchise that by all accounts was wrapped up five years earlier. I remember starting this flick when it aired on TV 11 years ago and not getting very far into it, getting through the movie today was a chore. Had this film gone the route of the third movie and just rehashed the scenario, that would have been something, but the choice to reboot the old characters was a huge mistake. Thankfully no one involved with the original films wanted to be associated with this one so the dignity of those first two films remains intact. I guess I can see where kids can get into it and have some fun, but don't expect them to ask for an immediate repeat viewing.
Home Alone The Holiday Heist (DVD Only)
'Home Alone The Holiday Heist' is another sad cash grab attempt, but thankfully it doesn't repeat the same mistake of using old characters like the fourth film did. This time around young Finn Baxter (Christian Maryn) and his family have moved into a new home. With some thumps, booms, and strange sounds echoing through the place, Finn is quick to believe that it is haunted. While no one else in the family believes him, the boy sets up some elaborate traps to catch these spooks. Little does Finn and his sister Alexis (Jodelle Ferland) know their new home is targeted by a trio of thieves lead by the nefarious Sinclair (Malcolm McDowell). When their parents leave for a Christmas party, Sinclair and his crew get ready to snatch a rare painting from the home. Luckily for the Baxter children, Finn's traps are going to come in handy!
Where 'Home Alone Taking Back The House' is without a doubt the worst of the bunch, 'Home Alone The Holiday Heist' at least offers a bit of fun. That isn't to say this is a great movie by any stretch, but if your kids are desperate for some entertainment, there are worse movies out there. What helps this one is the fact that it's not trying to hang onto the coattails of better movies. Sure the setup is the same and there is absolutely nothing original about this movie, it does have some energy and a sense of fun working for it that the fourth film was tragically missing. I wouldn't necessarily say the franchise has some life left in it, but this outing could have been a lot worse than it was.
Taken as a whole, the 'Home Alone' franchise may not be the greatest cinematic grouping ever brought to movie theater screens or home video. For the most part, they're entertaining, but the quality falls off sharply with each entry. The first two films remain classics in my book, even though the second film is pretty redundant. The sequels that follow are largely forgettable, but they should provide your little ones with ample additional 'Home Alone' fun.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Home Alone 25th Anniversary Collection' arrives housed in a replica paint can that came in handy for dear old Kevin in those first two films. Do not apply paint thinner after opening. Within the easy to open can you will find a stiff paper booklet housing all five films where each disc gets their own sheath and is easily removable without any worry of damaging the disc. After that you will find a wanted handbill featuring the likenesses of Harry and Marv, a Christmas ornament with Macaulay Culkin face on it, a replica of Kevin's battle plan from the first film, as well as a rubber spider. Also included in this release are a pair of Digital HD Ultraviolet or iTunes vouchers for 'Home Alone' and 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York.'
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Considering only 'Home Alone' and 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' are the only movies in this set to arrive on Blu-ray, this Video portion will focus specifically on those two films.
While it says that 'Home Alone' has been given the full remastered treatment, some expectations need to be kept in check. While this 1.85:1 1080p transfer is a noticeable improvement over the previous editions from 2008 and 2011, it doesn't exactly blow your hair back - at least not in the way that it might for people who picked up the recent 'RoboCop' or 'The Terminator' remasters. With that little nitpick aside, this is still a beautiful, colorful looking transfer. Film grain has been retained offering some strong detail levels that allow you to appreciate all of the facial features - especially when Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are being tormented. To that end, each of Kevin's traps come through with fine clarity. Colors are vivid and wonderful just as they ever were, but with the extra remaster love, the primaries, especially reds have a fantastic vibrancy to them without any kind of color bleed. Flesh tones are appropriately pale considering the wintery setting and look very lifelike. The film still sports some small nicks and speckling, but they're hardly worth mentioning really. Black levels are rich and inky and provide the film with a very welcome sense of three-dimensional depth. Not a home run, but if you're going to compare apples to oranges, this edition is an improvement.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York:
Since this film wasn't remastered like the original 'Home Alone' was for this set, it makes it all the easier to see the notable picture quality improvements that first film enjoys. Essentially the entire disc for 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' is a port over of the previous 2009 release. Back in 2009 when Blu-ray was still on the rise and the format wars were still relatively fresh in people's memories, this 1.85:1 1080p transfer looked pretty great. With fine film grain present and enhanced color fidelity, if I were reviewing this disc back then I'd easily give this release a 4/5 score. Today, all of the transfer's issues are notable and very easy to spot. For starters, the film features a lot of edge enhancement that makes the film look crunchy and kicks up some issues like banding and some slight motion blur. The grain structure, while visible, doesn't really have an organic look to it. In fact, the grain actually ends up looking more like video noise. The film print's nicks and scratches are also very easy to spot - however slight they may be. Thankfully the rich colors are retained and are quite stunning in places. Primaries have the right amount of pop while leaving flesh tones intact. This is a transfer that holds up relatively well, but a remaster would have been nice. I guess we'll have to wait another two years for this film's own 25th anniversary before we get a proper remaster.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Considering 'Home Alone' and 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' are the only movies in this set to arrive on Blu-ray, this Audio portion will focus specifically on those two films.
Both 'Home Alone' and 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' enjoy strong and resonant English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio tracks. Dialogue comes through crisp and cleanly and there is never an issue with trying to hear the howls of pain from Harry and Marv, or Kevin's manic revelry for that matter! Imaging is strong for both films, although 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' is a bit stronger on that front due to the film's New York City locations. Both films feature a strong surround presence and once the main action kicks in is an auditory delight as each thump, wham, smack, and crunch gets the appropriate attention. Both tracks keep to the midranges and are well balanced overall. There is some softness in both movies where the scenes are quiet and you may need to boost the volume a tad, but thankfully those moments don't really impact the rest of the track. In both cases, John Williams' delightful and playful Christmas-themed score gets a lot play and presence without overshadowing the dialogue or sound effects elements. Without any hiss, breaks or age issues of any kind, both 'Home Alone' and 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' earn strong marks for their audio presentations.
Home Alone: 4/5
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York: 4/5
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
All of these provided extra features from the two blu-rays are port overs from the previous Blu-ray and DVD editions. It doesn't appear that any new content has been produced for this set.
Audio Commentary: Director Chris Columbus and Macaulay Culkin work to keep the track lively and have a great time talking about the film.
1990 Press Featurette: (SD 3:52) This is a vintage EPK sort of feature where the cast are basically asked all of the same questions and you get variations on the same answer.
The Making of Home Alone: (SD 19:24) You get another dated but informative behind the scenes look at the movie. I actually remember seeing this on TV at a friend's house way back when and I remember it making us very itchy to see the movie all over again. I don't experience that same effect today, but it's still a good bit of fun.
MAC CAM: Behind The Scenes With Macaulay Culkin: (SD 4:46) Macaulay Culkin is in charge of the camera for this one. It's a fun bit of behind the scenes work.
How To Burglar Proof Your Home: The Stunts of Home Alone: (SD 7:03) Another vintage extra feature, this one provides a fun look at all of the traps Kevin sets up throughout his home.
Home Alone Around The World: (SD 3:52) So this one is kind of cool, if you've ever wanted to see Home Alone dubbed in another language, here's your chance!
Where's Buzz Now?: Not really a look at the actor who played Buzz, it's more of a series of goofy hypothetical answers to an interviewer's stock question.
Angels With Filthy Souls: (SD 2:05) A look at the movie within the movie.
Deleted Scenes / Alternate Takes: (SD 16:46) A slew of scene extensions and alternate takes, it's fun to see where some of the scenes could have gone.
Blooper Reel: (SD 2:03) Pretty standard goofs and cast crackups. Funny but not very special.
Theatrical Trailers: (HD & SD 5:07) I remember all of these trailers in the lead up to the film's theatrical release and getting so excited each time one would come on. Some great lines are in these trailers that never made it into the film so they're worth a look. The third one works as a singalong, and I remember trying to memorize the lyrics by rewinding whatever VHS tape had it over and over again… I don't plan on doing that again, but it's nice to know that I can!
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York:
Home Alone Trailer: (HD 2:13) The classic theatrical trailer that got me excited for the film way, way back when.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York Trailer: (HD 1:09) Another great sing along trailer.
Home Alone 3 trailer: (SD 1:38) The charm of this trailer is that it plays like a 'Die Hard' sequel, however, it only signals the downfall of the franchise.
What more can one say about 'Home Alone' and its numerous sequels? If you're a fan, you love these flicks and no amount of dissuasive arguments can shift your opinion. The 'Home Alone Ultimate Collector's Edition' is a fan's franchise feast. Featuring a remastered picture for 'Home Alone' on Blu-ray, as well as 'Home Alone 2: Lost In New York' on Blu-ray, along with the DVDs of the three sequels, this is a heck of a set. Add in the fun swag and the kitschy packaging and you have a heck of release that is absolutely worth owning and makes for a fantastic holiday gift. Easily recommended.
- 2-Disc Blu-ray
- 5-Disc DVD
- Digital Copy
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- DTS-HD MA 5.1
- Audio Commentary
- 1990 Press Featurette
- The Making of Home Alone
- MAC CAM: Behind The Scenes With Macaulay Culkin
- How To Burglar Proof Your Home: The Stunts of Home Alone
- Home Alone Around The World
- Where's Buzz Now?
- Angels With Filthy Souls
- Deleted Scenes / Alternate Takes
- Blooper Reel
- Theatrical Trailers
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