‘Bowling For Columbine’ Criterion Collection Blu Ray Release In Stores Today [Review]

New release for the controversial documentary is heavy on subject-matter, but light on special features.

Noam Galai / Getty Images

New release for the controversial documentary is heavy on subject-matter, but light on special features.

Michael Moore is a polarizing figure in the world of politics as well as the world of filmmaking. While this review will be devoid of any political analysis or takes on Moore’s views, it will focus on the quality of the release itself.

Bowling for Columbine was released originally in 2002 and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary at the Oscars. The film was mired in controversy, drawing criticisms from proponents of then-president George W. Bush. One of the main themes of Bowling For Columbine is gun control, which is still a hot-button topic today.

In the movie, Michael Moore goes to great lengths to show viewers how easily a gun can be procured in the United States. Critics of the filmmaker claimed Moore was being disingenuous with his portrayal, particularly with one scene early in the film, where Moore is handed a rifle, presumably for the modest task of opening a checking account at a bank. The bank denied that transaction was as easy as it was portrayed. Another topic of Bowling For Columbine is fear-based media and news stories, which the director seems to relate to a growing violence problem in America, as well as suggesting it may be an underlying cause for issues of race. Whichever side of the fence you may fall on, Moore’s documentary is relevant today, insomuch as the subject-matter is still some of the most divisive in the US. In fact, many believe that divide has only widened since 2002.

Perhaps the relevance of such subject-matter is why The Criterion Collection saw fit to put out a new release of Bowling For Columbine, which hit store shelves today. For those unfamiliar with The Criterion Collection, the collection is essentially a brand of Blu-Rays and DVDs released with significant attention paid to the quality of the screen transfer, with new original artwork, new special features, remastered sound, and often times a book.

Director Michael Moore poses with his Best Documentary Feature award for “Bowling For Columbine” backstage during the 75th Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater on March 23, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images) Robert Mora / Getty Images

Furthermore, Criterion Collection releases are generally notable for being devoid of any type of advertisement. No un-skippable previews or commercials before getting to the menu. However, this type of quality does come with a price jump. As of today Criterion’s official website is charging $31.96 for the Blu-Ray version (with a normal retail price of $39.95), while Amazon touts a slightly reduced price at $27.37 as of the time of this writing.

From a technical standpoint, the new high-def restoration is beautiful. As with most every Criterion release, both the DTS-HD master audio sound as well as the picture resolution are impeccable. Also featured is a new documentary titled Michael Moore Makes A Movie, which will be entertaining for fans of the filmmaker, but likely will not change any minds of his critics.

Also included are at least most of the special features from the original non-Criterion DVD release, including show appearances and an Oscars speech.

Eric Hynes’ new essay on the film, while poignant, isn’t as comprehensive as other written supplements with previous Criterion releases.

All in all, fans of Moore who want an updated picture resolution, Criterion die-hards, or fans who just don’t own a copy of Bowling For Columbine at all may want to snatch this up, as it is without question, the most comprehensive release of the film to date.

However, people who already own a copy of Bowling For Columbine and aren’t heavily interested in perfect picture quality, are probably going to be less inclined to spend another $30 for what is ostensibly a single noteworthy special feature and an essay.