Blu-ray Highlights: Week of February 7th, 2016 – Peak-a-Boo!

Judging by the number of new releases available, this is a pretty light week for Blu-ray. However, a couple of those titles are heavy hitters (perhaps one more so than the other).

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (2/9/16)?

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New Releases

Spectre‘ – It seems that we’re going to have to implement an “Odd-Numbered Movies Rule” for the Daniel Craig entries in the James Bond franchise. Audiences loved his first one, hated the second, loved the third, etc. Here we are with the fourth and… yeah, people felt let down by it. Returning director Sam Mendes should have known that he couldn’t top ‘Skyfall’, but he tried anyway. The result is a little bloated, is way too heavy on the franchise fan service, and struggles to tie all the Craig pictures together with a neat little bow. It also has the worst theme song of any movie, ever. Despite all that, I thought it was a decent middle-of-the-road Bond film, neither one of the best nor one of the worst. I’m sure it will play better on repeat viewings. If you’ve been collecting the series in metal case form, Best Buy has an exclusive SteelBook.

Crimson Peak‘ – Isn’t it time for Guillermo del Toro to go make another small art film in Spain or Mexico? His forays into big studio tentpole filmmaking have offered diminishing returns and he’s overdue for a palate cleanser. This Gothic haunted house horror picture was a box office dud last fall. Most reviews accused the director of getting lost in the elaborate sets and costumes and forgetting to put a compelling story behind them.

Grandma‘ – Lily Tomlin does the “bad mentor” thing as a drinkin’, smokin’, foul-mouthed granny who’s forced to reconnect with her estranged teenage granddaughter while the girl deals with an unplanned pregnancy. From director Paul Weitz (‘Mozart in the Jungle’), the movie is said to lean harder on the drama than comedy, but received a lot of very favorable notices from critics.

MI-5‘ – Wasn’t the fifth ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie already released on Blu-ray? Ohhh… this is ‘MI-5’, not ‘M:I-5’. I get it. It’s the feature film spin-off of the British television series also known as ‘Spooks’ in its native country. Kit Harrington from ‘Game of Thrones’ gets to play spy and root out evil government conspiracies and whatnot. Connections to the show appear to be tenuous, and fans were less than enthused.

99 Homes‘ – The less successful of last year’s two movies about the American housing bubble and financial crisis (the other being ‘The Big Short’), this one stars Michael Shannon as a sleazy real estate broker who takes advantage of people unable to pay their mortgages. Andrew Garfield is the broke construction worker who reluctantly takes a job under his wing. From there, cue a replay of the plot from ‘Wall Street’. Both of the leads were praised for their performances, but the film overall was criticized for being a little too preachy and simplistic.

Love the Coopers‘ – John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried and a bunch more recognizable actors cash paychecks in a sloppy ensemble holiday comedy that pretty much everyone agreed was one of the worst things ever and should never be seen by anybody.

Catalog Titles

Paramount gets a jump on promoting this summer’s new ‘Star Trek‘ feature by reissuing two box sets for the Original Crew and Next Generation movies under a 50th Anniversary Edition banner. (That’s the 50th anniversary for the franchise as a whole, not these specific movies.) As far as I can tell, these are straight-up reissues of the existing Blu-rays in new packaging. Don’t go hoping to find the DVD-exclusive Director’s Editions of ‘The Motion Picture’ or ‘The Wrath of Khan’ here, nor video remasters for any of the movies that desperately need them.

Criterion’s only offering for the week is a double feature of ‘The Emigrants‘ and ‘The New Land‘, a two-part period piece epic by Swedish director Jan Troell, whose ‘Everlasting Moments‘ is also in the Collection.

The dog mutilation scenes in the 1971 giallo thriller ‘Lizard in a Woman’s Skin‘ were so shocking at the time that director Lucio Fulci was actually prosecuted for animal cruelty. He might have gone to prison had special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi not demonstrated in court that all the gore was fake. Does that impression hold up to modern standards? Now you can judge for yourself with the clarity of high definition.

Television

The only notable TV box set this week is the second season of HBO’s ‘The Leftovers‘. I gave up on this after a few episodes into the first season. Did it get better?

My $.02

I’m a James Bond completist and have the ‘Spectre’ SteelBook on preorder. ‘Crimson Peak’ is a possible rental. I’m sure that ‘Grandma’ will be on Netflix soon enough.

Does anything entice you to get out to the store this week?

36 comments

  1. I liked Spectre and thought a lot of people were overly harsh when it came out. I’ll pick ot up when the price drops.

    I like Del Toro but I’m not sure Crimson peak is my kind of flick, I’m not the biggest fan of “Gothic Horror”. Maybe my wife will want to rent it in the near future so I’ll see it anyways.

    After about 8 months of a 96″ 16:9 projection screen I went ahead and made a new one this weekend. It’s a 2:40:1 aspect ratio screen that measures about 10 feet wide and is 130″ corner to corner. I’m having fun going through my collection and seeing what a lot of my “scope” blu-rays look on the new screen. I really think this may be the way to go in a home theatre. The widescreen gives it such a cinemaic feel of actually being at the movies. 2:40:1 for life! Lol

    • csm101

      That’s awesome! It’s like experiencing your flicks for the first time again! What happens to the ones where the subtitles spill out of the screen or switching aspect ratios? Do you zoom out or does it know and change itself?

      • I have to manually zoom the projector if I want to watch something in 1:78:1 or 1:85:1 on the scope screen. Or I could use my old screen which I still have and left the mounting screws in the ceiling joist, just matter of hanging it back up.

        I’m thinking this summer I may build a HUGE 16:9 screen for fun. Like something where I can light up damn near the entire wall of my basement. That way I can watch movies with shifting AR’s on an entirely new epic scale.

        I really think making a projection screen is the way to go as opposed to just shelling out a ton of cash to buy one. I slapped together my new one with a little effort and 60 bucks of materials.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        The issue with subtitles in the letterbox bar can be fixed with an OPPO Blu-ray player. All of their models have a feature that will allow manual repositioning of subtitles up or down.

        • Josh, what do you do when watchhing a flick with alternating AR’s like Interstellar? Do you just dial down the image size to accomadate both? Does it drive you nuts to be watching such a small picture when you’re used to something much larger?

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            I have an anamorphic lens and a video processor. I crop off the letterbox bars. Movies like Interstellar appear at a constant 2.35:1 on my screen. Movies like that are composed to be safe for constant 2.35:1 projection in all non-IMAX theaters, so nothing important is lost by doing this.

          • I’m a little confused, you’re saying you have a lens that stretches the 1:78:1 portions of Interstellar to fill the width of your scope screen?

          • Chris B

            Wow, great article. Are the lenses and video processors a lot more affordable than when that article was first written? is there a good resource online to finding out if a certain projector is compatible with a certain lens and processor or are they all pretty much universal?

          • Chris B

            Yeah, I can’t really see my self spending that kind of cash until I actually have a proper finished home theatre with a ceiling mount a few years from now. Until then I’ll just have to rough it.

            One last thing, you mention in the post that people with CIH projection screens are a “niche within a niche”. Is this still the case currently? what percentage of projector owners would you guess have a 16:9 screen as opposed to a 2:40:1? Is it anywhere near 50-50 yet?

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            I typically advise most people interested in CIH to start with the Zoom Method, which is least expensive and easiest. You can always save up for a lens and VP later if you think they’d help. The only movies that are problematic with that that method are those like Interstellar with variable aspect ratios. Fortunately, there aren’t very many of those.

            CIH is still very much a niche. It’s probably more like 95% of home theater screens are still 16:9.

          • Do you know of any Home Theatre projectors that are 2:40:1 Aspect Ratio? And if so, what’s the result when trying to play a 16:9 movie on them?

          • Barsoom Bob

            For what is worth, I just zoom it out for 2.35 and blank the upper and lower sections to the screen size for such movies as those changing aspect ratio ones. I am using an Oppo disc player, I don’t know if other players have that ability. I also use that method when showing Avatar. When James Cameron opened up the matte to fill the HD TV screens for the blue ray release, he pointedly said that he had composed it for 2.35 and nothing important WOULD BE LOST and that is so. I don’t recommend this for movies that are entirely framed for 1.85 as there you would probably lose out and seriously disrupt the frame composition.

  2. csm101

    I was on a cruise this weekend and they were showing Spectre repeatedly in the rooms. I was definitely dissapointed, but I did watch it several times in pieces and there was plenty to like although something about it seems off. Somewhere after the big expensive explosion I either black out or the family calls to me for activities so I still think I missed somethin between that scene and the strange ending set piece. Watching it on a 32 inch screen with no surround doesn’t help either. I only have enough for one title this week so I’m on the fence about getting Spectre or blind buying Crimson Peak. I think Spectre’s a few bucks cheaper and I do own all the Bond flicks so I’m kind of leaning toward that. I also don’t see where all the money went in that movie to give it such a bloated budget. I have the DVD for Lizard In a Woman’s Skin and would definitely like to upgrade that as well.

  3. Bolo

    ‘Spectre’ was by far the worst blockbuster movie I saw last year, and definitely in the running as the worst Bond film. The Broccolis don’t seem to know what they want from this series. I never thought I would check out on the Bond series, but I think I have. I don’t know what this series could do to win me back at this point.

    ‘Crimson Peak’ was enjoyable, but not extraordinary. I felt it got a little silly in tone near the end, like it switched gears into Sam Raimi silly mode for its climax when it should’ve either gone for more dramatic weight or just gone full-bonkers ‘Suspiria’.

    • C.C.

      Geez. Maybe Spectre wasn’t great. But ut just followed the (arguably) greatest Bond movie ever.
      If one movie scares you off a series, maybe you should not watch them.

      • Bolo

        You honestly think I haven’t ever endured a bad James Bond movie before and given the series another shot? This is different.

  4. Connor

    SPECTRE was decent but way too long and wasted some good actors. You could have re-wrote Bellucci and Seydoux into one character and kept the running time from going over two hours. The theme song could have also have been better, but I’ve warmed up to that, despite Sam Smith’s whiny vocals.

    Gonna see if I can pick up Crimson Peak sometime this week. Saw it twice in the theater and it was in my top five of 2015. I’m a sucker for just about anything Del Toro cranks out (unless it’s something like the TV version of The Strain or the third act of Mimic).

    • C.C.

      Crimson Peak is not a great movie. The script and story are pretty pedestrian. But it is a CRIME that this is not up for an Oscar for Production Design, Costumes, and Cinematography.
      I will own this just to stare at how gorgeous this movie is.

      • Connor

        Well, agree to disagree on the story. Though admittedly predictable, I found the whole affair enthralling from scene one to last. It was fun seeing Del Toro take just about every cliche and trope from the books of that era and present them in his stylistic and gory way.

        But I do agree on the snubs in the production department. A crying shame!

    • EM

      Crimson Peak’s substance is a bit anemic, but the film hemorrhages style.

      Enjoy, Connor. I certainly wouldn’t want to have to answer for my tastes!

  5. EM

    Nothing for me. I have the Star Trek I–VI set from the first time around (though I waited for a price drop). Nice price for a good set, though. I would like to see the first two films revisited on Blu—director’s editions and remasters would be copacetic.

  6. itjustWoRX

    “The Leftovers” second season was outstanding. It was HBO’s fault for pitting it against “The Walking Dead” which caused low ratings numbers. I personally loved the first season (you did miss out by giving up so early, Josh), but the second season was so much more fluid and satisfying. They really did well once they had no more source material to follow. Literally the only thing that was worse was the new opening credits, with a god-awful country song.

    It was renewed for a third and final season 😀 I highly recommend you catch up on the series if you have the time, Josh.

    • itjustWoRX

      Oh, and for this week I ordered:

      Spectre
      Crimson Peak
      Grandma
      The Leftovers S2

      The Emigrants/The New Land might be a future blind buy. I liked “Everlasting Moments” and my paternal side of the family were Swedes and Norwegians who emigrated to Wisconsin. If you feel like getting a headache, read up on “immigrant vs. emigrant.”

  7. Deaditelord

    I’m going to pick up Spectre to complete my Bond blu-ray collection, but I don’t see myself revisiting the movie that often. Crimson Peak is a definite rental.

  8. William Henley

    Spectre for sure. It was actually the only Craig Bond film I liked – and I think this may even be one of my favorite Bond movies ever. I’m not saying that I don’t like Craig, its that I have not liked the stories of the last several Bond movies (everything after Tomorrow Never Dies) so there are a few Bronson movies I don’t like, and Bronson was my favorite Bond. Spectre is the first Bond movie that worked for me in ten years.

    MI-5 is a possibility. I was so disappointed in MI-2 that I haven’t seen any since, but it got really good reviews, so I may give it a rent.

  9. Boston007

    Got the Spectre steelbook this past weekend. It’s plain and inside there is like no artwork wtf.

    I also did not care for the theme song. Then again, I wasn’t big on Adele’s in the previous film.

    I watched it this weekend and it looked and sounded great.

  10. Finally, Pokemon: The Movie in widescreen. The first two were well done, everything else suffers sequel fever. I would encourage anyone to watch the first one and say they did not like it. What are we up to now for sequels, 18 or so?
    Ordered the Zavvi Steelbook for Crimson Peak. Wishlist: Lizard in Woman’s Skin & Spectre.

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