We hope that all of our readers had a pleasant and safe holiday break, assuming that you were fortunate enough to get one. Did you do anything fun? I really needed a few days off to take care of some personal projects, but now it’s time to get back to work. Around here, that means taking a look at the new Blu-rays that December has to offer.
Hugh Jackman sure loves playing Wolverine. This year, the actor whipped himself back into fighting shape for his sixth appearance as the beefcake mutant (if you count his brief cameo in ‘X-Men: First Class’), with a seventh already in the works for next year’s ‘Days of Future Past’. This summer’s solo outing was simply called ‘The Wolverine‘. Although it was received to mixed response from both critics and fans, most were at least able to concede that it’s an improvement over 2009′s botched prequel attempt, ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’. As I understand it, if you want the movie on Blu-ray, you’ll have to choose between the theatrical cut in 2D or the new Unleashed Extended Edition in 3D. I guess it would have been just a smidge too much effort for the studio to release both versions in both formats.
[Update: I've done some more digging on this, and learned that the Unleashed Extended Edition contains three Blu-ray discs and one DVD. The Blu-rays are: Theatrical Cut 2D, Theatrical Cut 3D, Extended Cut 2D. The Extended Cut is not available in 3D in any package.]
Was the first ‘Smurfs’ movie popular? If so, why? It must have been, or we wouldn’t now have ‘The Smurfs 2‘. The prospect of being forced to watch something like this (because surely, no adult would choose to watch it of his or her own volition) horrifies me. Is this the price you have to pay for having children?
With the success of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Hunger Games’, there have been many attempts to turn other Young Adult book series into blockbuster movie franchises. Unfortunately, few of them work. The latest failure is ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones‘. Despite only grossing about $1.50 at the box office, the movie’s producers are insistent that they plan to move forward with a sequel. Apparently, they enjoy burning their money.
It used to be that a studio would wait a few years before attempting to “double dip” a movie on DVD or Blu-ray. That’s no longer the case. Ben Affleck’s Oscar winner ‘Argo‘ hit Blu-ray in February of this year, but is already getting a Declassified Extended Edition now. Question: If the theatrical cut of the movie won an Oscar, can an altered version also be called an Oscar winner? Technically, it’s not the same movie that the Academy members voted for. What if (though I’m sure this isn’t the case in this instance) someone at the studio decided to edit in 15 minutes of outtakes where Affleck bares his ass and farts into the camera? Would that still be a Best Picture?
The turnaround is even shorter for Michael Bay’s ‘Pain & Gain‘, which was just released in August and now has a Special Collector’s Edition with all the bonus features that the first copy didn’t bother to provide. Is anyone really a big enough fan of ‘Pain & Gain’ to want to buy it again?
At least it’s been a few years since ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy‘ was released on Blu-ray. With a theatrical sequel imminent, a reissue of the first movie shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. However, I’m unclear on whether the Rich Mahogany Edition is any different than the copy I already have on my shelf. It seems to have the same packaging and content as the Best Buy exclusive edition I bought in 2010.
Speaking of goofy comedies, the underrated raunch-fest ‘EuroTrip‘ is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I’ll be glad to finally retire the crummy DVD, assuming that the Blu-ray has a better transfer.
Before his success with ’50/50′ and ‘Warm Bodies’, director Jonathan Levine made a revisionist slasher movie called ‘All the Boys Love Mandy Lane‘ starring Amber Heard, then 20 at the time. Although produced and released in most of the world back in 2006, the film was shelved by the American distributor until finally slipping out this year. Whether it was worth the wait or not depends on whom you listen to.
If you’re looking for something a little more highbrow, the latest additions to the Criterion Collection are Robert Altman’s ensemble masterpiece ‘Nashville‘ and the 1970 Oscar-winning Italian police corruption drama ‘Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion‘.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. offers James Brooks’ Oscar-winning weepie ‘Terms of Endearment‘ and Sidney Lumet’s caustic cop drama ‘Serpico‘.
Finally, Fox has a very busy week with a big slate of classics, including Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in the delightful workplace comedy ‘Desk Set‘, Natalie Wood in the supernatural romance ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir‘, Dorothy Dandridge in the musical ‘Carmen Jones‘, Clark Gable in the 1935 adaptation of Jack London’s ‘Call of the Wild‘, Tyrone Power in the swashbuckler ‘The Black Swan‘ and the Western ‘Jesse James‘, and John Wayne in the Westerns ‘North to Alaska‘ and ‘The Undefeated‘.
Most notable among the TV offerings this week is Season 16 of ‘The Simpsons‘, containing episodes from fall 2004 to spring 2005. However, considering that the specs state that the aspect ratio is 1.33:1, I assume that this is another season where the episodes have been upconverted from standard definition.
Is it wrong that I’d be most excited for a decent high-def edition of ‘EuroTrip’? (The DVD is a hideous mess of DNR and edge enhancement.) Also going on my wish list are the two Criterions, ‘Serpico’, ‘Desk Set’, ‘The Ghost and Mrs. Muir’ and ‘Call of the Wild’.
Which discs strike your fancy this week?