Blu-ray Highlights: Week of April 27th, 2014 – Utterly Laborious

I wish I could say that this week brings some improvement for Blu-ray fans. That sure would be nice, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, the latest batch of new discs once again offers slim pickings.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (4/29/14)?

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New Releases

Labor Day‘ – Who would release a movie called ‘Labor Day’ to theaters at the end of January, and then on video just after Easter? A studio that took a hard look at what it had created and realized that the film didn’t merit a release in the prime fall season, that’s who. As such, it got pushed back to the January dumping ground. Despite some talent both in front of and behind the cameras – including Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and director Jason Reitman – the movie was savaged by critics and bombed at the box office. The trailers make the story about an escaped convict with a heart of gold who teaches a young boy how to play baseball and makes sweet, sweet love to his stick-up-her-ass mother (the boy’s mother, not the convict’s) look like the most ridiculous thing ever. What were all these otherwise intelligent people thinking? Apparently, this is based on a novel of some acclaim by Joyce Maynard. Something must have gone terribly wrong on the road to the screen.

The Legend of Hercules‘ – The first of two movies this year about the mythical Greek strongman looks like a very cheapjack production rushed to completion in order to beat Brett Ratner’s upcoming ‘Hercules’ to theaters. This one was directed by former A-Lister, current D-Lister Renny Harlin. ‘Twilight’ hunk Kellan Lutz has about as much charisma and acting range as a cement brick, but I’ll cut him some slack for being game enough to play a parody version of himself as Lutz’s dimwit nephew on ’30 Rock’. There’s still no chance I’ll watch his stupid movie, though. Lionsgate has elected to only release the Blu-ray as a 2D/3D combo disc, with no separate 2D-only edition.

Devil’s Due‘ – Cheapie found-footage horror flick about a woman who realizes that she’s pregnant with an evil baby. How can she tell? Because it kicks her and makes her puke a lot? That’s how it works for everyone, sweetie.

Gimme Shelter‘ – No, it’s not a remake of the famous Rolling Stones concert doc. Former Disney Channel princess Vanessa Hudgens strives for acting cred in a faux “gritty” indie drama about a homeless teen. Do you get it? She literally wants someone to give her shelter. So clever!

Escape from Tomorrow‘ – Points for audacity, first-time filmmaker Randy Moore shot this hallucinatory freak-out on the sly at Disney World without authorization. The film was declared unreleasable when it played at Sundance, consequently creating a huge buzz as people at the festival rushed to their presumed only opportunity to ever see it before Moore got his ass sued six ways from Sunday for countless violations of copyright infringement. Despite its notoriety, Disney’s attorneys ultimately decided that their best course of action would be to just ignore the movie – realizing that the tale of a skeevy middle-aged pedophile who stalks a pair of 13-year-old girls through the theme park would reflect worse on its creator than on the setting. Aaron saw this during its Sundance run and decided that the story behind how the movie got made was far more interesting than the film itself. That seems to be the consensus opinion.

Catalog Titles

For artistic merit, Alan Pakula’s emotionally wrenching drama ‘Sophie’s Choice‘ is easily the most worthy title to see release this week, but it’s such a draining, difficult movie to watch that I’m not sure how much ownership appeal it has. This may be one of those films, like ‘Schindler’s List’, that you buy to have, but that winds up sitting on a shelf unwatched for a while.

Oscar-winners Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett headline the very entertaining, blackly comic melodrama ‘Notes on a Scandal‘, but the real star of the show is the gloriously histrionic musical score by Philip Glass, which is as much as character in the movie as anything the actresses play. The film kind of disappeared during its theatrical release in 2006, but I consider it very underrated.

The Criterion Collection adds just one title to its catalog this week, the 1962 Italian road comedy ‘Il Sorpasso‘, the existence of which has somehow eluded me until writing this article, despite having taken some Italian cinema courses in college. Could it really be the “holy grail of Italian comedy,” as Criterion claims?

If you’re hankerin’ for more kaiju action in the lead-up to this summer’s big ‘Godzilla’ reboot, Mill Creek offers a couple collections of classic ‘Gamera‘ movies. As with most anything sold by the bargain distributor, you should expect them to all be presented in borderline unwatchable quality.

Trailers for the live action adaptation of the kitschy 1970s sci-fi anime series ‘Space Battleship Yamato‘ (a.k.a. ‘Star Blazers’) have made the rounds on the internet since the film’s Japanese release in 2010, but no American distributor bothered to officially bring it to these shores until now. That probably doesn’t bode well.

Television

CBS and Paramount finally wrap up the Blu-ray run of the short-lived ‘Star Trek: Enterprise‘ with both a Season 4 box set and a Complete Series compilation. I have a feeling that the price of the latter will come down to reasonable levels over time. I can’t say that I was ever a fan of the show, but I won’t pretend to have given it much of a chance. I gave up after a few episodes in the first season. I’m told that the show got better, but that horrid theme song stuck around to the end.

Of the above, I have some interest in ‘Notes on a Scandal’ and ‘Sophie’s Choice’, but neither one demands immediate ownership. I think I’ll sit this week out. How about you?

16 comments

  1. William Henley

    It’s been a long road, getting from here to there, its been a long time, but Season 4 is finally here! And I’m not going to put it off no more, no I’m finally going to finish three, because I’ve got……

    Yep, Season 4 for me. This will wrap up my collection of the best Star Trek series ever made.

    Looking at picking up the Hogwarts collection. I lost all the Harry Potter movies I had before, and just picked up the 8 movie set for $35 like two weeks ago, but it has NO bonus features. So this is attractive. The price is not bad, but I already spent about $300 on movies in the past two weeks, so I need to space this out a couple of weeks at least, possibly longer. If I was to pick it up now, it would get put in the “to watch” pile and may not be gotten to for several months. I think I will wait and see if it drops below $100 at any time (strong possibility as its $120 now).

    I have the Vudu version of Escape from Tomorrow. I would like to pick up the disc for the bonus features. The movie is interesting. I’m not saying its a great movie, and it has a horrible ending (as in it looks like it was written last minute by a second-grader), but it is interesting – and I don’t just mean because of the fact that it was made at all. I found it interesting at the way it portrays Disney through an adult’s eyes. It also seemed like it is a splice of Lolita with Total Recall. Interesting concept, so I give him kudos for that.

        • I’m with you…I didn’t care much for Voyager at all.

          I think DS9 might be better than any of them though…that was the one I thought was really well-acted from start to finish (TNG was good too, but it took about 3 years to get rolling).

          • PaulB

            Agreed DS9 is the best and Voyager is the worst (Enterprise is better but of course not as good as TNG or original). Sad about Enterprise as it had just started to get good when it got cancelled. First two seasons were rough and the worst part was having to deal with that ‘wtf were they thinking’ intro song..

          • William Henley

            When DS9 originally aired, I hated it. I am just now watching it for the first time, and am starting to appreciate how deep it is. I really like it. In fact, right now, it is tough to say if I like TNG or DS9 more. TNG and DS9 are now my second and third favorites, but as I said, it is hard to say which is which.

            I am hoping for a HD release of DS9. I could care less about Voyager, but may pick it up if they ever do it just from a completionist standpoint

          • Why does everybody give the theme song so much crap? Whether or not you like it, it does fit the idea behind what they did with the title sequence. Mankind’s first voyages well beyond our own star system. And I really enjoyed Voyager because it was them alone struggling to survive, without the federation around. DS9 was very good once the Dominion entered the picture. But TNG is still the best.

          • Chris B

            Wow I just went and listened to the theme song for the first time on YouTube and holy shit it IS pretty awful. It sounds like uber-safe Christian rock for moms everywhere. Really really bad.

          • William Henley

            Are you saying there is something wrong with Christian Rock? :-p Yeah, never really thought about it, but yeah, it kinda does.

            I like the song, and I am with Tim on it. No, its not the standard Star Trek Orchestral theme song (the end credits have that), but I feel that it fits for the show.

            Now as much as I am not a Voyager fan (I don’t hate the show, I just think its the worst of the six), I think it has the best opening sequence.

            BTW, have you guys seen the fan HD remake of the Voyager opening sequence on Youtube? OMG, they are AMAZING!
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTmLOKTZ9WQ

  2. Chris B

    Not a damn thing this week. It’s funny that you mention Mill Creek’s lousy video quality, I actually just watched the first release I’ve ever bought from them and was pretty dissapointed…I doubt I’ll be buying anything from them in the future.

  3. David Duprey

    I want the Enterprise Complete Series on Blu-Ray. I’ve not picked up the individual releases.

    I may hold off until later this year when it’s at a better price or not…

    Other than that, nothing interests me this week.

    • The complete series is just the four seasons shrink-wrapped together…no special packaging. So you’ll want to just keep your eye out on the best price for each season set, as it’s doubtful the ‘complete series’ will ever be priced cheaper than what you can get them for individually.

  4. William Henley

    I can’t believe that Amazon never dropped the price of Enterprise to match Best Buy’s price this week. That’s a $15 difference – debating on rejecting my copy from Amazon and ordering from Best Buy.

    • William Henley

      Contacted Amazon Customer Service. Even provided link to Best Buy page. They said they do not price match, and are asking me to return the item. Kinda surprised – Amazon usually bends over backwards to help me out if I have an issue (happens maybe once or twice a year, which is really good considering how much I order from them).

      This is honestly really surprising me, and now makes me hesitant to preorder from Amazon. This was a $15 price difference! Now I got to go through the trouble to take the package down to the post office to send it off

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