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Blu-ray Highlights for December 4th, 2012 – The Bright Day Sets

Did you all take advantage of the slowdown in Blu-ray releases over the past couple of weeks to save up a few dollars? I hope so, because December will have no mercy on your wallets.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (12/4/12)?

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New Releases

Obviously, the biggest gun (or bat, as the case may be) this week is ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘, the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. One of the most anticipated films of the year, the movie was also one of the biggest box office hits of the year (though it lagged considerably behind ‘The Avengers’ in that regard). I wasn’t terribly impressed with it, personally. Certainly the weakest of the trilogy, I found it dull, sloppy and incoherently plotted. I seem to be in a minority with that opinion, but so be it. Sadly, my completist collector impulse will force me to buy the Blu-ray anyway, especially since Best Buy has an exclusive Steelbook that will go nicely with the previous two Batman flicks.

The darling of the Sundance Film Festival, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild‘ is one of the indie sensations of the year. Often praised for its amazing visuals, the film should be quite a treat on Blu-ray.

Also from Sundance, though not nearly as acclaimed, is ‘V/H/S‘, the latest in the played-out “Found Footage” horror genre. This one’s about a collection of VHS tapes that have spooky stuff recorded on them. Whatever.

Poor Jennifer Garner hasn’t had much luck this year. Mrs. Affleck starred in two indie duds that both come to video this week: ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green‘ and ‘Butter‘. I saw the latter, a Midwestern satire about competitive butter carving, at the Toronto Film Festival over a year ago. While not a great movie, it’s reasonably entertaining and features an appealing turn from Garner, who plays the whole thing as an unofficial sequel to Alexander Payne’s ‘Election‘. This is decent rental material.

Catalog Titles

Pixar finally brings one of its most popular classics, ‘Finding Nemo‘, to Blu-ray this week, in both 2D and newly re-rendered 3D versions, along with a 3D re-release of ‘Up‘ (which played theatrically in 3D originally).

Even more exciting is Criterion’s long-awaited high-def upgrade of Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece ‘Brazil‘. While Universal previously released the film’s theatrical cut on Blu-ray, Criterion gives us the Director’s Cut with a copious bounty of supplemental features.

Criterion has another gem this week as well, René Clément’s 1960 ‘Purple Noon‘, which was the first cinematic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’.

Don’t write off the ‘Francis Ford Coppola: 5-Film Collection‘ from Lionsgate without taking a good look at it. At first glance, this appears to be a simple bundled re-release of the existing Blu-rays for ‘Apocalypse Now‘ (both versions), ‘The Conversation‘ and ‘Tetro‘. However, the fifth film marks the Blu-ray debut of Coppola’s fascinating musical ‘One from the Heart’, which was a notorious box office bomb in its day but has developed a passionate following in the ensuing years. Given that Amazon currently sells the whole 5-Film Collection for less than $29, that’s a fair enough price for ‘One from the Heart’ on its own, much less with the other movies thrown in.

Also notable this week are: Steven Spielberg’s entertaining ‘Catch Me If You Can‘, David Cronenberg’s trippy mind-screw ‘eXistenZ‘, the 1998 non-musical adaptation of ‘Les Miserables‘ (well timed to tie in with the new musical), the Marlene Dietrich classic ‘The Blue Angel‘, and the popular documentary ‘Comic Book Confidential‘. All that, plus ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians‘! It’s a big week!

Television

CBS Digital’s high-def overhaul for the first season of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘ was a wondrous thing to behold. Unfortunately, excitement for the second season has been greatly tempered by word that CBS outsourced the work to another firm that hasn’t done nearly as good a job. I’ll reserve judgment until I see the results for myself (controversies like this have a tendency to get blown out of proportion in the home theater community), but if true, the news is certainly disappointing.

I remain utterly mystified at how unfunny “comedian” Danny McBride has managed to accumulate a fan base. Has his dire HBO sitcom ‘Eastbound & Down‘ really been on the air for three seasons? One episode was enough to put me off the show forever.

In other TV developments, Fox brings us the fifteenth season of ‘The Simpsons‘ (which is currently on Season 24, in case you’ve lost count), while Lionsgate launches the miniseries ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel‘ and something called the Complete Season collection of ‘Power Rangers Super Samurai‘. Some Googling tells me that ‘Super Samurai’ is the 19th season of the ‘Power Rangers’ franchise, which has undergone many name changes during its run. I was quite a bit too old for the ‘Mighty Morphin’ phenomenon by the time it started, and am a little baffled by its enduring popularity. Was the stuff I watched as a kid this lame? Probably, huh?

As I already mentioned, I’ve resigned myself to purchasing ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ even though I didn’t really care for it. I’m much more excited for ‘Brazil’, as well as ‘Purple Noon’, the two Pixars, the Coppola set, ‘eXistenZ’ and even the ‘Star Trek’ season (despite its reported quality issues). Budgetary constraints will prevent me from buying all of these at once, but ‘Brazil is already pre-ordered.

Where will your dollars go this week?

21 comments

  1. HuskerGuy

    I share your opinion of Batman, but I’m buying it as well. If anything, just to give it a second look and satisfy my collection as well.

    Otherwise I’m all in for Finding Nemo (3D) and I’m going to wait for a lower price on Catch Me If You Can.

    • HuskerGuy

      Best Buy had Catch Me If You Can for $14.99 so I went ahead and grabbed it. Seems Amazon price matched for those interested.

  2. Alex

    Amazon had the trilogy giftset for only $5 more than the regular TDKR blu-ray, so naturally I sprung for that.

    Now that my order’s already shipped, I see they’ve dropped the price of the stand-alone. DANG IT!!!

  3. Dan

    I preordered TDKR digibook at target.com. They then cancelled my order. Two days later they sent me an email saying that I am now getting a free copy of TDKR sent to home because of the inconvenience!

    Not to bad of a cost for a film that was dispointing through in through.

  4. William Henley

    STTNG should be there when I get home. I may look at getting Up 3D and Nemo 3D, but I already have those movies, and they are not must-have 3D releases for me.

    I am also excited about Les Miserables. I purchased the DVD used a few months back, thinking the movie would never be released on Blu-Ray, excpecting to take it to WalMart for the Disc to Vudu thing. Sadly, it was one of the movies that Vudu only offered in SD.

    That reminds me, a couple of movies that were only available in SD at the time are now available on Vudu in HDX. Anyone know if there is a way to upgrade without having to pay the $15?

      • William Henley

        Yeah, sorry for the confusion. The DVD looks great upconverted, it just isn’t one of those movies I was that fond of. Neither was Up. Don’t get me wrong, they are good movies, its just that neither are in my “I must upgrade” list.

  5. Drew

    William,

    I’m flabbergasted by your comments regarding ‘Up’ and ‘Finding Nemo’! Especially, what you have to say in regards to ‘Up’. ‘Up’ must be considered to be one of Pixar’s very best, if not, the best film the company has ever released. ‘Finding Nemo’ is an absolute visual feast in stereo! I also strongly disagree with your statement that it looks good upconverted. ‘Nemo’ had a notoriously awful DVD transfer. It’s so bad, some people actually think it looks blurry. It’s always been widely panned by the home theater community. You’re really missing out!

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I will side with William on Up. The opening sequence is brilliant, a perfect little short film. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie after that part, with the balloon house and the talking dogs and all that, lost me. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s one of my least favorite Pixars.

      • William Henley

        That is where I am on Up. I thought Brave was significantly better than Up. Up has some good moments, but I already have it on Blu-Ray, and don’t really see the point of upgrading to the 3D at this point. I am a 3D fanboy, but it’s not a movie that I watch that often – I think it has been watched once since I bought it.

        Finding Nemo has been watched more times than that, but it is not a movie that I would go pull off the shelf and just watch by myself. It is a movie that, when flipping through the channels, if I land on it, I end up watching it. As its usually broadcast in HD, and that is really the only times I really watch it…. Granted, Disney HD is not nearly as pristine as Blu-Ray, and I am sure the movie looks fantastic, its just not a movie that I can justify the cost on, simply because it won’t get that many viewings.

        I am not saying that I dislike either movie. I am saying that, despite the fact that both movies are coming out in 3D, I really can’t find myself to justify a double dip. Now, if the 3D of these movies had of come out, and I didn’t already own them, then I might be tempted to pick these up.

      • EM

        I also admire the “silent short” that Up begins as. After that, it seems to devolve into a DreamWorks Animation film—well, if DreamWorks produced good CG animation.

    • Shayne Blakeley

      I’m not particularly fond of Up either, it’s barely above Cars for me. Finding Nemo on the other hand, I’m all in for that one.

  6. Drew

    Well, Josh, you and William are certainly in the minority. I feel sorry for both of you. I would hate to feel like I missed the boat when it comes to such a superb piece of filmmaking.

  7. EM

    I hadn’t heard these TNG rumors, and the one review I’ve read indicated that volume 2 turned out fine. I have the set preordered. Looks like Amazon has discounted season 2 even more deeply than season 1—just $64.99 this time around!

    • William Henley

      I’ve been watching this for two days now. I am not sure where these rumors came from. Even the extras on the disc indicate that this was done by the same team as season one was. The only issue I really have with it is that it seems that from one shot to the next, they use different film stocks. Litterally, shots of ships and planets have almost no film grain at all – almost like they were digitally mastered, then wide shots have a very fine film grain, then close ups, WOW! I am wondering if many of the closeups were done optically by zooming into wideshots that they had shot. Don’t get me wrong, it looks amazing, and everything is razor-sharp, its just jaring that the amount of film grain jumps that much from one shot to the next.

  8. Chad

    Minority or not, “The Dark Knight Rises” was hugely disappointing and the plot was a mess, just like you said. I really don’t see time being kind to this film. Once everyone gets away from the hype of it, they’ll start re-evaluating it differently. (And yes, I’ve suffered through it twice now, months apart. I’m very sure it’s a big old mess.)

  9. Barsoom Bob

    Don’t know why this is on the new release list, the Blu has been sitting on my shelf for over a year, but “Tell No One” deverves a shout out for those that might have missed it. It is a French thriller that was very suspenseful and enjoyable. Several years after his wife’s drowning death, during a midnight skinny dip, the husband starts receiving emails from his wife with the tag line “tell no one”.

  10. Andi

    The inability to “play all” for all the short special features with the dark knight rises blu ray is pretty damn frustrating. I got the best buy addition for the dark knight reborn documentary but I don’t think it was worth it, it’s not very long and everything is cobbled together from the previous releases special features and the special features that are included in this blu ray release, so if you have the first two on DVD or blu ray then you’ve seen and heard it all before except the heavy handed narration. Straight up, this is probably the biggest thing that frustrates me about the dark knight rises