Blu-ray Highlights: Week of February 12th, 2017 – They’re Heeeeeeeere…

After last week’s avalanche of Blu-rays, this week eases off considerably. Strangely, even though Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, I don’t see many romantic movies in the latest assortment of discs – unless you accept Amy Adams’ love affair with language and symbols. Wait, she doesn’t get busy with aliens in that movie, does she?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (2/14/17)?

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New Releases (Blu-ray)

Arrival‘ – Extraterrestrial spaceships arrive on Earth, and linguist Amy Adams must decipher their language and intent before a twitchy human military starts a war. That’s a novel and more thought-provoking concept for a sci-fi movie than your typical “watch buildings and monuments go boom” alien invasion flick. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, many people looked at this as a signpost for how his ‘Blade Runner’ sequel might turn out. Fortunately, most viewers seemed to like it. The movie made a lot of money, got great reviews, and has even been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. For all that, I also know several people who thought it was a pile of garbage. Perhaps you just can’t please everyone. I just hope this isn’t another ‘Interstellar’, presenting itself as an intellectual science fiction picture but delivering something ultimately pretty dumb.

The Edge of Seventeen‘ – Hailee Steinfeld, who played a college student in 2016’s ‘Pitch Perfect 2′, gets sent back to high school for a coming-of-age drama that strives for a more realistic depiction of teenagerdom. Critics fell in love with the movie, likening it to the best of John Hughes’ 1980s output. Sadly, audiences were apparently scared off by the prospect of spending 98 minutes with a sulky, morose and generally disagreeable lead character, no matter how accurate to real life that might be.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk‘ – Still riding the high of his second Best Director Oscar, Ang Lee pulled out all the technical stops for his follow-up, shooting the movie in 4k 3D at 120 fps High Frame Rate with High Dynamic Range photography (the first production to do all of those things at once). Unfortunately, after he completed it, Sony lost faith in the project and dramatically scaled back its intended theatrical release and Oscar push. The movie only played in two theaters in all of North America with the full shebang (4k/3D/HFR/HDR), and for only one week. A handful more theaters played it in 2k HFR (some with HDR, some not). Everyone else saw it in 2k 2D at the normal 24 fps and without HDR – if they saw it at all, which hardly anyone bothered. This must have come as a great disappointment to the director. Critics were disappointed too, but in the movie itself rather than just the presentation. The drama about a soldier dealing with PTSD issues after returning home from combat in Iraq was roundly panned for prioritizing the whiz-bang technical stuff over the screenplay.

Bleed for This‘ – The 736th boxing movie released in 2016 stars Miles Teller in the true story of Vinny Pazienza, a welterweight fighter who made an improbable comeback after breaking his neck in a car accident and being told by doctors that he’d never walk again. This sounds like your standard inspirational sports movie formula, and most reviews confirmed as much, though reportedly it’s a pretty decent example as far as that goes.

UHD

If you’re interested in ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk‘, you have two options, neither of them quite ideal. The standard Blu-ray edition is 2D only (at 24 fps, because that’s all the format supports), foregoing any of the fancy gimmicks Ang Lee designed the movie to showcase. The 4k Ultra HD copy is also 2D only (because UHD doesn’t offer 3D), but is the first to ever be encoded at 60 fps (the maximum available on disc). The UHD also includes a 3D Blu-ray in the package (1080p, 24 fps). Got all that?

While you’re sorting that out, ‘Arrival‘ also gets an Ultra HD edition. Fortunately, this one wasn’t shot in either 3D or HFR, so you don’t need to worry about those things.

Catalog Titles

The three-hour Italian period piece drama ‘The Tree of Wooden Clogs‘ won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978. I watched the movie for a class in college and thought it was one of the most tedious things I’d ever suffered through in my (then-short) life, and frequently cited it as a prime example of pretentious art film bullshit. It’s very possible that I was just young and stupid at that time, and might possibly react differently to it if I tried it again today. Even with the Criterion branding, I remain wary of attempting that.

Twilight Time brings us four new limited editions: the 1947 film noir classic ‘Kiss of Death‘, Woody Allen’s Bergman riff ‘Interiors‘, Don Siegel’s Grand Canyon action thriller ‘Edge of Eternity‘, and the bittersweet 1979 romantic dramedy ‘Chilly Scenes of Winter‘.

Meanwhile, Sydney Pollack’s 1974 crime thriller ‘The Yakuza‘ (scripted by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne) makes its way out of the Warner Archive.

Kino takes us back to ‘One Million Years B.C.‘ to watch Raquel Welch wear a furry bikini and run away from Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion dinosaurs. (Historical accuracy is of course the main selling point of this one.)

Formerly Best Buy exclusives, Universal breaks out ‘October Sky‘, ‘The Ghost and Mr. Chicken‘ and ‘It Came from Outer Space‘ to general retail this week.

Television

Two years after the last of the individual seasons was released on its own, Paramount bundles all of ‘Star Trek: Enterprise‘ into a complete series box set with a more attractive price point.

PBS has the second season of the Civil War drama ‘Mercy Street‘, while HBO has the first season of something called ‘Quarry‘, which is apparently a Cinemax show about a hitman in the 1970s.

Also, Visual Entertainment Group keeps dumping out seasons of ‘Nash Bridges‘ as if anyone would buy them.

My $.02

I’m interested in ‘Arrival’, but I think I’ll wait for the UK SteelBook that won’t street until next month.

Other titles that have my attention include ‘Kiss of Death’, ‘Edge of Eternity’, ‘The Yakuza’, and (because I never bought it when it was at Best Buy) ‘It Came from Outer Space’.

What do you have your eye on this week?

16 comments

  1. Chris B

    I wouldn’t mind picking up a copy of The Yakuza, but there’s currently no listing for it in Amazon.ca. Maybe they’re just late to the party.

      • Chris B

        Well that’s just great, no wonder physical media is almost dead. What few consumers are left can’t even access what they want half the time.

          • Ian W

            Amazon.ca doesn’t carry Warner Archive blu-rays themselves. However, third-party sellers offer most of them for reasonable prices around $20 CAD.

            I said most of them though. It seems that the 2017 WA releases aren’t even carried by them yet.

  2. T.J. Kats

    I’ll be picking up Arrival. A word of warning to anyone who wants to but has not seen it yet. The sci-fi is not actually the point of the movie once you really get into it and see where the story goes. I think I said that in a non spoiler way but if not please feel free to edit or delete.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      It’s a moot question. The movie will never get made. Villeneuve is just the latest in a long string of directors who’ve come and gone from the project over the last couple decades. If Blade Runner 2 underperforms, he’ll get dropped and someone else will step in for a while.

      • Bolo

        Peter Jackson will figure out a way to clone himself. That way, after he passes, his clones can continue to realize his envisaged 85 film ‘Dune’ series.

      • Barsoom Bob

        I’m kind of positive on this one, way better choice than Peter Berg. Villeneuve is a talented director on a definite roll right now. Legendary is producing this one, and they are basically a good “genre” company. Villeneuve has visual flair, action chops but most importantly he has emotional depth. Lynch did a lot of things right, and his version was forcibly shortened by studio pressure, but even so, he just did not “get” the emotional core and the romantic heroism of the Fremen. I for one really hope it gets made.
        ” May Shai-Hulud, the Maker, bless the comings and goings of this one “

  3. Lord Bowler

    I’ll be picking up “Star Trek: Enterprise – The Complete Series” on Blu-Ray.

    I picked up the Next Generation Epik Pack awhile back. I hope this continues and brings DS9 and Voyager to Blu-Ray.

  4. Csm101

    I’m interested in renting Arrival before blind buying. Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk for the 3D collection (although not this week) . Edge of Seventeen could be a fun redbox. I’ve never seen One Million Years BC, so definitely a wish list item. I really enjoyed the first Stake Land, but haven’t even bothered to check the trailer out for part 2. If it involves the same cast from before, I might be interested. All that being said, I’m still in no position to pick up anything this week, nor is anything a must have for me so it’s a nothing for me this week as well.

  5. Nothing Definate, but One Million BC and It Came from Outer Space sound attractive

    I am debating on Enterprise. I had the first two seasons I lost in a fire, and then I got 3 and 4 when they came out. I am debating on picking up the old releases of seasons 1 and 2 used, or if I just want to pick this up

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