Although President’s Day isn’t exactly one of the major holidays here in the United States, it was apparently excuse enough for most home video studios to take a little vacation. This week’s new Blu-ray slate is pretty sparse. In fact, one of the most notable releases is a double-dip reissue of a movie that already received an excellent Blu-ray the first time around.
The 2010 Blu-ray edition of Wes Anderson’s delightful ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox‘ had a terrific video/audio transfer and a couple of pretty good bonus features. Of all the movies in need of rescue by the Criterion Collection, this one seems like a pretty low priority to me. Of course, Anderson has a close relationship with Criterion, and his fans tend to be obsessive completists. I can’t imagine that the new Criterion disc will look or sound much different than the prior Blu-ray from Fox, but in its favor, this one has a whole lot more supplements. Personally, I’d rather have seen Criterion direct its attention to ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’. (Yeah, I understand that it’s owned by a different studio, but it’s the only Anderson movie without any sort of Blu-ray release yet.)
In addition to that, Criterion also offers Alfred Hitchcock’s second American movie (following the Oscar-winning ‘Rebecca’), 1940’s ‘Foreign Correspondent‘. Our reviewer David makes the case that this oft-forgotten effort is one of the master’s “most thrilling and perfectly executed films.” When talking about Hitchcock, that’s saying quite a lot.
Long before he was handed the keys to the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise, director Sam Raimi tried his hand at creating his own comic book superhero with the 1990 ‘Darkman‘. The character isn’t based on an actual comic book, mind you, but the movie was made in clear imitation of ‘Batman’, ‘Dick Tracy’ and other comics-based films of the era. I saw this in the theater and thought it was a total piece of crap. That seemed to be the prevailing sentiment among others at the time as well. When it was released to the HD DVD format in 2007, I revisited the movie to give it another shot. Sorry, but I still think this thing is painfully stupid. Nevertheless, it somehow developed a cult audience attracted to its hyperactive stylistics and over-the-top camp. If you’re one of its fans and were disappointed by Universal’s Blu-ray release in 2010, the new Scream Factory reissue is something of a mixed bag. It recycles the same (crappy) A/V transfer, but at least adds some new bonus features so you can learn all about how the movie’s atrocious blue-screen special effects were created.
On the TV front, premium channel programming makes a strong showing this week, with the third season of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones‘ and the fifth season of Showtime’s ‘Nurse Jackie‘. I stopped collecting TV content on disc when I realized that I’d never have time to watch any of the box sets I’d purchased, but ‘Thrones’ certainly makes a compelling case for investing both the money and time into rewatching its episodes.
As if fans of Cartoon Network’s animated ‘Beware the Batman‘ weren’t already disappointed enough that the show has been canceled, Warner Bros. rubs salt in the wound by splitting its only season into two separate releases.
‘Foreign Correspondent’ beckons me. Even though I already own the older Blu-ray, I’ll probably also add ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ to my wish list for Barnes & Noble’s next Criterion sale. Will you pick up anything, or are you sitting the week out?