Once Upon a Time in America

'Best in Blu-ray' is a weekly column that runs on Tuesday; we sift through the week's new releases and recommend titles for both the Blu-ray veteran and newbie, as well as the coolest special feature (unique to the format) and most intriguing rental.

For Blu-ray Vets:

'Once Upon a Time in America'

What It's About: Robert De Niro and James Woods are boyhood buddies who have grown up to become gangsters in Sergio Leone's messy, mythical crime epic.

New Features Unique to Blu-ray: None. Per DVD Beaver, nearly all supplements from the 2003 DVD edition are retained, except "Photographic Memories." While the DVD edition split the movie onto two discs, the new Blu-ray fits it all onto one disc.

Transfer/Audio: Unfortunately, the video quality is still problematic, an issue previously noted with the DVD. "It hasn't benefited extensively from the HD transfer," according to DVD Beaver. "The image is richer but it's not a dramatic increase."

Replay Value: Leone intended for the film to shift back and forth in time via the extensive use of flashbacks, but the U.S. distributor released a cut in chronological order that was, somehow, even more confusing and disjointed. Reassembled in a cut closer to Leone's vision, the film still is a bit of a narrative mess, but that's also its glory. Life is messy, after all. The film "is better appreciated the second or third time through," says Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant.
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