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Blu-ray Highlights: Week of August 11th, 2013 – The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me

Forget anything else being released this week, the one and only, original 1979 ‘The Muppet Movie’ is finally available on Blu-ray, and there’s only one thing to say about that.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (8/13/13)?

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OK, fine. Other stuff comes out this week too, and I suppose we should talk about it.

New Releases

By most accounts, ‘Olympus Has Fallen‘ was the better of this year’s two “Die Hard in the White House” thrillers, but is still, unavoidably, a poor man’s ‘Die Hard’ knock-off. Then again, considering how bad the most recent official ‘Die Hard’ sequel was, perhaps a decent knock-off of the original isn’t such a bad thing. I don’t think I’d buy this, but it screams rental material for me.

The nuptial comedy ‘The Big Wedding‘ has a lot of recognizable stars in it: Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams, among others. So why don’t I have any recollection at all of this movie ever being released? According to my Googling, it came and went in a blink this past spring. I don’t believe I ever saw a single trailer or TV commercial for it. That’s probably not a good sign.

No longer the acclaimed director he used to be, Robert Redford attempts to tell the story of the radical Weather Underground political movement of the 1970s in ‘The Company You Keep‘. According to Shannon’s Blu-ray review, the movie waters down the controversial subject matter and is too tepid for its own good, much like Redford’s last couple of movies. It may be time to consider retirement.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the WWII drama ‘Emperor‘, which pushes his story about determining the fate of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito after the end of the war to the background in favor of a formulaic love story about his aide (Matthew Fox) and a Japanese exchange student. Sounds tedious. No wonder this never broke out of limited release.

Did you like ‘Hatchet’ and ‘Hatchet II’? I hope so, because here’s ‘Hatchet III‘, with even more hatcheting action than ever before. Having never seen any of these movies, I have no comment on their quality. Does the quality of something like this even matter anyway? Either you want bloody hatchet murders or you don’t.

Catalog Titles

It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. ‘The Muppet Movie‘ comes to Blu-ray in what I’m told is a nice new restoration from Disney. I watched the original Sony DVD last year, and it was nightmarishly swamped in grain and edge enhancement. I already have the Blu-ray on order.

Brian De Palma’s 1984 thriller ‘Body Double‘ is one of the director’s lesser efforts, but has enough fun set-pieces to play nicely with his other movies from the era. The limited edition Blu-ray is one of the few Twilight Time releases to have already sold out its 3,000 copy run. I find this a little perplexing, as I didn’t realize the movie was so popular, and the Twilight Time edition of De Palma’s ‘The Fury’ (released five months ago) is still available. I blame speculators buying this up to unload on eBay. I guess I’m glad that I ordered a copy early.

Twilight Time also offers the Ben Kingsley thriller ‘Sexy Beast‘. Demand for this title may be tempered by the fact that it was previously released on Blu-ray in the UK. I love Kingsley’s off-the-rails performance in this, but the movie itself is kind of disappointing.

Despite still being one of the most powerful film producers in the world, Luc Besson’s own directorial career has faltered in recent years. His 2010 fantasy adventure ‘The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec‘ never even got a release in this country. In his Blu-ray review, E. found it “fun, light-hearted and delightful.”

Heeding uproar about the choice of widescreen aspect ratio, Warner Bros. delayed its release of the classic Western ‘Shane‘ to remaster it in the original 1.37:1 Academy Ratio that director George Stevens composed for. The decision has been met with approval by fans, even though, technically, the movie was originally projected at 1.66:1 during its 1953 theatrical release. Ideally, I think Warner should have offered a choice of multiple aspect ratios, like Criterion did for the recent release of ‘On the Waterfront’. But if we can only have one, I guess that 1.37:1 is preferable.

Speaking of Criterion, the latest addition to that esteemed collection is John Frankenheimer’s surreal fractured-identity thriller ‘Seconds‘.

In other titles of some note, Jennifer Beals works hard for the money in the ’80s cheeseball hit ‘Flashdance‘, and Mark Harmon investigates his very first military murder in ‘The Presidio‘.

Television

From the land of TV, both ‘Girls‘ and ‘Once Upon a Time‘ celebrate their second seasons. I barely made it through one episode of the latter.

Meanwhile, the BBC restores one of the few classic ‘Doctor Who’ adventures shot on film, the 1970 ‘Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space‘. This one stars the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, if that matters to you.

As I mentioned, I have ‘The Muppet Movie’ on order, and have already received my copy of ‘Body Double’. I’ve also added ‘Seconds’ to my wish list, and might rent ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ on VUDU. What are your plans for this week?

11 comments

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Sony originally released The Muppet Movie on DVD in 2001. The rights later transferred to Disney, who re-released it in an “Anniversary Edition” in 2005 (the 26th anniversary, apparently). Disney bought the rights to the Muppet franchise from the Jim Henson Company in 2004.

      Reviews at the time claimed that the Disney DVD wasn’t much better than the old Sony disc.

  1. William Henley

    Muppets Movie and Doctor Who for me. Really excited to see how the Doctor looks in HD.

    Olympus Has Fallen is a rental for me. My friend’s father has some screen time, and supposedly has some writting credits in it as well.

  2. Kobeskillz

    Josh – I stand corrected.

    Since you said last year I assumed you were talking about the Disney edition. My bad!

    Either way I’m glad it’s getting a bluray. Here’s hoping for a great transfer!!!

  3. Kevin

    I’m oddly excited for the Blu-Ray of the 2000 version of “Shaft”. It’s not one of my favorite movies. It’s not even remotely close to being a great movie. For some reason, though, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    Aside from that, definitely interested in the Muppets and “Doctor Who”.

    • William Henley

      Considering that it’s The Muppets, this at least stays consistent with the tone of the show. I could just see the conversation between Gonzo and Kermit now:

      Gonzo: Are you saying that the DVD missed the 25th anniversary and the Blu-Ray is released ahead of its 35th Anniversary?

      Kermit: Think of it as an almost-anniversary. It’s a marketing thing.

  4. BambooLounge

    Muppets (at some point), Body Double (arrived last week), Seconds (at some point), and Shane (at some point) for me.

  5. August Lehe

    I hope the Muppet Movie is as pristine as you hope.
    Since Shane is high on my personal Top Ten List I hope it is super, too! (and comes with extras!)Legend says they started shooting in 1951 at 1.37 and then matted to 1.66 for theatrical release. Remember, it opened at Radio City Music Hall in 1953!
    Two years later, and it would have been (I’m convinced) a VistaVision baby…

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      From what I’ve read, the movie was shot and composed for 1.37:1. After production but before release, Paramount made a blanket policy decision that all of the studio’s movies for 1953 would be widescreen, so Shane was matted to 1.66:1 during its theatrical release. It won an Oscar for cinematography, so there’s some validity to presenting it at that ratio, but it was never actually composed for widescreen.