wolverine-thumb

Blu-ray Highlights: Week of December 1st, 2013 – Scotty Doesn’t Know

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.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (12/3/13)?

View Results

loading Blu ray Highlights: Week of December 1st, 2013   Scotty Doesnt Know Loading ...
New Releases

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.

Catalog Titles

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‘.

Television

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?

16 comments

  1. William Henley

    I had Matilda preordered but canceled it last night when I realized that I had the HDX version on Vudu thanks to their Disc-to-Digital program, so saw no reason to rebuy it.

    Also had Galactic Adventure preordered, but canceled it pending a review.

    Didn’t even realize there was a new Wolverine movie out. May have to rent it.

  2. Freakyguy666

    Can anyone verify that the extended cut of The Wolverine will not be available in 2D? I was under the impression it was available if you bought the 3D package as it includes BOTH a 3D & 2D version of the Extended Cut. Anyone?

  3. William, the Mathilda Blu-ray contains all-new special features! Mara Wilson tweeted and wrote about recording new stuff for the Blu-ray. If you’re a fan, you’re missing out.

    Never thought you’d enjoy ‘EuroTrip’, Josh. I saw it a few years ago and laughed my behind off. Coincidentally saw it again this past weekend, before I knew a Blu-ray was imminent. Hilarious movie, though very cliché and stereotype-oriented. All intentional, I’d say. Why does Lucy Lawless use a German accent in The Netherlands, though?

    • William Henley

      Oh? I’ll see what the reviews say then. $15 is not a bad price for a movie. I bet in a few more months, it will be under $10. However, if there is more than say an hour of special features, I may go ahead and pick it up now.

      I just wish Vudu would offer special features on more movies and shows. They are STARTING to do this, but it has been a slow rollout.

  4. Timcharger

    “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.”

    A buck-fifty?

    Another inaccuracy or hyperbole, Josh?

    For a hyperbole, use $10.50, at least that 1 movie ticket. :)

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      The one ticket sold was to a bargain matinee, and the person who bought it got a partial refund after walking out halfway through and berating the theater manager.

      • William Henley

        :-) I actually enjoyed this movie, although I felt rather lost as the movie did not spend hardly any time on character development. That is my biggest issue with movies over the past several years – they have no problem producing 2-3 hour long movies, but they won’t spend 2-5 minutes anymore to introduce the audience to the characters or make you feel any emotional attachment anymore. Its all like “Here is character, big opening scene, fight with family member, BOOM BOOM POW big action sequence for most of the film, we kill someone off whom you did not even pick up the name of, I think that is the main character crying, another action sequence, movie over”.

        Seriously, can we just reboot Hollywood? I mean, there have been a lot of fun movies over the past couple of years, but man, have they been shallow in the story department.

        City of Bones felt like it had a great story (it is based on a book series), but the screenwritters decided it was unimportant to tell it to the audience.

        I may end up picking the movie up in a few years on the discount rack. It will be something great to put on after a long week of work when I just want to come home, pour myself a drink and not think about what I am watching. Actually, I already own the Twilight movies and Transformers and GI Joe for that very purpose.

  5. Timcharger

    “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?”

    What did Mrs. Zyber put into your Thanksgiving turkey? :)

  6. Timcharger

    “bares his ass and farts into the camera?…
    The turnaround is even shorter for Michael Bay’s…”

    Great, now Michael Bay now knows what to do with a double dip of his Transformers films with more robotic piss and farts.

  7. Lord Bowler

    I want to pick up the following:

    New Releases:
    The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition – 3D
    Argo: The Declassified Extended Edition

    New John Wayne Releases:
    North to Alaska (1960)
    The Undefeated (1969)
    Both great films, some of Wayne’s best.

    Other Classic Films:
    Call of the Wild (1935)
    Jesse James (1939)
    The Black Swan (1942)* Particularly eager for this.

    Animated:
    Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United (Combo Pack)
    Transformers Prime: Season 3

    Upgrades:
    The Jack Ryan Collection (Paramount)

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      If you’re also a member of Home Theater Forum, Fox Connect is running a special deal for that site’s readers where you can buy all 8 of this week’s classic titles for $75, or two smaller bundles of four titles for $40 each. The small bundles are:

      - Carmen Jones, The Ghost and Mrs Muir, North To Alaska, Jesse James
      or
      - The Black Swan, Call of the Wild, Desk Set, The Undefeated

      I can send you the links if interested.