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Blu-ray Highlights for 1/31/12 – Engage!

The floodgates are really open now. This week sees another outpouring of new Blu-ray releases, including one that the Trekkies out there have been eagerly awaiting.

Here’s the full list:

Most Exciting

After months of anticipation, the first sampler disc of episodes from the new high-def restoration of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘ finally sees release today. Due to the way that the show was originally edited and post-produced on ancient standard-definition video, the remastering process for this series required that the studio reconstruct every episode from the raw film footage. This was a massive undertaking, much more time- and labor-intensive even than the work done for the previous Blu-ray editions of ‘The Original Series’. The photos and video clips that have been issued so far demonstrate a revelatory improvement in picture quality over the old DVDs.

While some of the episodes in this sampler aren’t necessarily among the show’s best, and some fans may elect to wait for the complete first season box set that will be released later in the year, the current $14.99 asking price for the sampler is a very reasonable price to pay for an early taste of this series in high definition.

What Took So Long?

When last year’s blockbuster ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon‘ was released on Blu-ray back in September, that disc was a stripped-down affair with no bonus features and no 3D version of the movie. Dreamworks and Paramount finally rectify that problem now with a new 3D, supplement-filled edition. Hopefully, those of you who bought the previous disc kept the $10 coupon for this one that was included in the case.

If that’s not enough for you, die-hard fans may want the 7-disc Limited Collector’s Edition box set of the entire trilogy (so far). The unwieldy packaging for that one is a little too ridiculous even for me. (Plus, you know, the movies kind of stink.)

Day-and-Date

Of the recent theatrical titles premiering on Blu-ray this week, I have a feeling that ‘Drive‘ will probably grab the most attention. I’ve said my peace about my feelings on this one enough already, and won’t dwell on it anymore. A lot of people seem to love this movie. I’m not one of them.

Last year’s part-prequel, part-remake of ‘The Thing‘ was a box office bust that was greeted with a lot of disdain from fans of the John Carpenter classic. However, it also has some defenders. I’m curious enough to give this a rent.

Japanese actor/director Takeshi “Beat” Takano is a major cult icon that I have mostly remained blind to. The only of his movies I’ve seen was his reboot of ‘Zatoichi’, which I wasn’t too enthused about. I probably need to see some of his better films. His latest is ‘Outrage: Way of the Yakuza‘, but I have no idea where this one falls within his canon.

Writer-director Andrew Niccol has been treading on the cult status of his overrated sci-fi flick ‘Gattaca’ for the past decade and a half. Fans of that film seem to be willing to overlook the fact that he followed it up with the godawful ‘S1m0ne’ and the utterly disinteresting ‘Lord of War’. He came back again last year with ‘In Time‘, which may have the absolute dumbest premise for a movie in the history of cinema. (In a dystopian future, time is money – literally!) The trailers were atrocious and the movie bombed, and I will never, ever see it if I can help it.

The rest of the day-and-dates (‘The Big Year‘, ‘Dream House‘ and ‘Texas Killing Fields‘) are a dull bunch doomed to be forgotten quickly. I’m really surprised and disappointed that the dopey haunted house thriller ‘Dream House’ was directed by Jim Sheridan, who previously made quality movies like ‘My Left Foot’ and ‘In the Name of the Father’. How did he get stuck doing this one?

Oscar Classics

Studios like to capitalize on Oscar season by opening their vaults and letting loose past Academy Award winners and nominees. Today alone we get ‘Adaptation.‘ (Best Supporting Actor, 2003), ‘Cold Mountain‘ (Best Supporting Actress, 2004), ‘The English Patient‘ (Best Picture, Director and a bunch of others, 1997), ‘Frida‘ (Best Makeup and Music winner, Best Actress nominee, 2003), ‘Grand Canyon‘ (Best Original Screenplay nominee, 1992), ‘Malcolm X‘ (Best Actor nominee, 1993), ‘The Piano‘ (Best Actress, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay, 1994), ‘Shakespeare in Love‘ (Best Picture, Actress and more, 1999), ‘A Soldier’s Story‘ (Best Picture and Actor nominee, 1985), and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird‘ (Best Actor, 1963).

Some of these remain beloved classics (‘To Kill a Mockingbird’) while others have suffered from viewer backlash in the ensuing years (‘Shakespeare in Love’). I happen to be a defender of both ‘The English Patient’ and ‘The Piano’, but from this bunch, I’m most excited to get ‘Adaptation.’ on Blu-ray.

Lionsgate has also thrown together a ‘Best Picture Academy Award Winners: 5-Film Collection‘ box set that compiles the new discs for ‘The English Patient’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love’ with the older Blu-rays of ‘Chicago’, ‘Crash’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’.

Which titles will you buy this week?

86 comments

  1. Random Commenter

    Malcolm X and ‘Mockingbird’ for me. Star Trek TNG is very tempting, but I’ll save my $15 for Season 1.

  2. Drew

    The best use of 3D — quite possibly of all time — is finally here. I don’t even know why I bought the 2D version of ‘DOTM’, as the experience is utterly underwhelming after getting used to the 3D version, but I’ve been eagerly anticipating the 3D one.

    The best film of the year is also finally here. I’ll be watching ‘Drive’ here in a few hours. Possibly more than once.

    ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘The Thing’, and ‘Adaptation’. Are also on my list this week.

  3. JM

    ‘Shakespeare in Love’ is without question the most exciting blu-ray of the week, unless the transfer is lame, in which case I will shake my fist!

    I’ve never seen ‘Star Trek’ except for the JJ Abrams, which was meh.

    We just rewatched the Transformers Trilogy this weekend. With every new viewing, T2 becomes more and more brilliant. 3D can fuck off and die.

    ‘Drive’ arrives from netflix today. Tonight I will learn whether Josh is a dead canary, or if Drew is the harbinger of truth. Maybe, for scientific proof, I will watch the film wearing my heart rate monitor.

    I’m going to trust Luke and check out ‘The Thing.’

    And since I liked the ‘Zatoichi’ reboot, I’m going to add ‘Outrage’ too.

    ‘In Time’ made $145M off a $40M budget, which is totally money. And Justin Timberlake has never disappointed. Plot aside, the haircuts are cute. I need another 50ccs of sci-fi stat!

    ‘Adaptation’ and ‘Mockingbird’ were shit, but I think I’ll take a whack at ‘The Piano’ because I found Adrien Brody surprisingly effective as a warrior in ‘Predators.’ He reminded me of Mordecai in ‘Borderlands.’

    And ’2-Headed Shark Attack’ looks genius. “One Body, Two Heads, 6000 Teeth.” My boys are going to eat that cheese on a cracker!

        • Josh Zyber
          Author

          The Pianist – Holocaust drama starring Adrien Brody as a… pianist, obviously.

          The Piano – Arty period piece about a mute Holly Hunter and a skeevy Harvey Keitel doin’ the nasty on the beach.

          I suspect that you would like The Piano, but I can’t guarantee that.

          • JM

            Are there any other piano movies we should know about?

            Did these release at the same time, like the two volcano movies?

        • Drew

          ‘The Pianist’ is the good one.

          ‘The Piano’ is one of the most overrated films I’ve ever seen.

    • Drew

      I’m waiting for a review of the video transfer of ‘Shakespeare in Love’ before I get excited about the blu-ray.

      We watched the ‘Transformers’ trilogy two weeks ago. I was pleasantly surprised that ‘ROTF’ is much better than I remember it being. I can’t believe what Bay was able to do with the material he was given. I’m actually starting to re-think my position on it.

      I missed ‘In Time’, and thought it was coming out next week. I’m definitely curious enough to put that one on the priority list.

      Trusting Luke about ‘The Thing’ is actually the primary reason why I’m going to watch it. I’ve heard enough people say mildly positive things about it, that his passion for it pushed me over the fence.

      I’ve never seen ‘Adaptation’ or ‘Mockingbird’. If they’re as bad as you say they are, maybe I should stay away from them!

      I believe you are confusing ‘The Piano’ with ‘The Pianist’. If it’s ‘The Piano’ coming out today, I could care less, and your comments about Adrien Brody are irrelevant. I don’t need to see Harvey Keitel’s dong again. If it’s actually ‘The Pianist’ coming out today, I’m all in. Brody was superb in ‘The Pianist’, and the film is very very good.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        Adaptation is brilliant, but not all viewers will latch onto Charlie Kaufaman’s wavelength. If you’ve seen Being John Malkovich or Eternal Sunshine, this is much a piece with those.

        To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the great masterpieces of cinema.

      • JM

        When I typed that ‘Adaptation’ and ‘Mockingbird’ were shit, that was slang, I meant brilliant. But maybe when you watch them you’ll feel different.

        What’s wrong with Harvey Keitel’s dong? Is it weird?

        Marky Mark’s meat poppet in ‘Boogie Night’ kind of creeped me out.

        I don’t want to watch Harvey Keitel play the piano with his dick unless it’s done in a tasteful fashion.

        • Drew

          Yes. Keitel’s dong is weird. And it doesn’t belong in an arthouse drama with a very young Anna Paquin.

          • JM

            If I can’t find Harvey Keitel’s penis on the internet, should I rent ‘The Piano’ or ‘Bad Lieutenant’?

          • Drew

            ‘Bad Lieutenant’

            Knowing a little bit about your taste, and judging by some of the comments about how pre-1979 movies are a waste of time, I’m going to predict that you would absolutely hate ‘The Piano’.

            ‘The Piano’ is the epitome of a pre-1979 film.

            ‘Bad Lieutenant’ has 21st century written all over it.

          • JM

            Mr. Skin says ‘Bad Lieutenant’ has 4-Star Hall Of Fame Nudity!

            But HDD’s Mr. Boss called the blu-ray a 2-Star movie, with a 2-Star video transfer.

            Mr. Skin says ‘The Piano’ has 3-Star Great Nudity!

            But HDD’s Mr. Duarte called the blu-ray a 5-Star movie, with a 3-star video transfer.

            Since my favorite genre of romance novel is historical…

            Unless Harvey Keitel’s penis found its way into Adrien Brody’s holocaust, I think I’m going to have to rent ‘The Pianist.’

        • Drew

          I suppose one could argue that Keitel playing the piano with his dick is done in tasteful fasion, but the film is a total bore.

          I would stay away from it, and stick with ‘The Pianist’.

          • Drew

            Yes. However, I am confident, that one day, in the not so distant futre, you will watch ‘Drive’ again, and realize just how captivating it is. :-)

            On the other hand, you can’t imagine that me, or anyone else, would ever watch ‘The Piano’, and find anything exciting about it.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            Best Actress – won
            Best Supporting Actress – won
            Best Original Screenplay – won
            Best Cinematography – nominated
            Best Costumes – nominated
            Best Editing – nominated
            Best Director – nominated
            Best Picture – nominated

            Rotten Tomatoes averages: 90% critics, 85% audience.

            Plenty of people found The Piano exciting.

          • JM

            The first time I watched Federico Fellini’s 8.5 I hated it.

            The second time I watched it with a Fellini expert, my friend Ted, and although it was just as boring, at least I began to understand why.

            Josh, my friend Ted lives in Boston, if you want me to send him over with a blu-ray of ‘Drive.’

          • Drew

            Don’t you dare attempt to use The Oscars as evidence for anything! You know very well that they don’t mean a damn thing.

            Do I need to bring ‘Forrest Gump’ into the equation? :-) You’ve used it before, let’s try and make that not happen again. I don’t think any of us want to think about ‘Gump’ more than we absolutely have to.

            Let’s also not forget that The Academy Awards are voted on and dictated by elderly women. With this in mind, go ahead and use The Oscars to sell your point. The only thing that this proves, categorically, is that nobody found ‘The Piano’ exciting.

            Just look at the Oscars that it actually won. The Best Original Screenplay one, in particular, is evidence that this is one of the most boring films of the ’90s.

            Get the list of nominees for Best Original Screenplay from the year that ‘The Piano’ won, and ask your grandma (or the oldest woman you know) which one she likes the best. The winner? You guessed it! ‘The Piano’.

            Thanks for supporting my claims! :-)

          • Drew

            I doubt we split like this with ‘Bronson’.

            To me ‘Bronson’ was just meh. I didn’t like it, I didn’t dislike it.

            I didn’t think it was a great film, but I didn’t think it was terrible either.

            Even if Josh really loves it, or really hates it, I wouldn’t say that we are split on it, because I’m utterly ambivalent towards it.

    • Drew

      I can’t wait to hear if I am, indeed, the harbinger of truth, or if Josh is a dead canary. ;-)

      You’ll be updating us tomorrow, of course, right?

        • JM

          When Ryan Gosling walked into the strip club with a hammer, I knew I was watching something special.

          All of Josh’s criticisms were pretty damn accurate.

          I speculate, this film plays better for younger cinephiles.

          ‘Drive’ was good, but it needs more cowbell.

          • JM

            It’s possible I’m biased. I hate Carey Mulligan. Which caused a disconnect.

            In terms of art, whenever the genre is minimalism, the audience response is always more polarizing.

            I enjoyed ‘Drive’ more than ‘Hanna,’ but less than ‘The American.’

            Neither of you is wrong.

            I hereby recognize the enthusiasm of the ‘Drive’ fanbase as legitimate.

          • JM

            Carey Mulligan is like the stepford wife of an actress I once directed.

            I find myself tainted with an inexplicable hatred, based purely on her physical and personality resemblance to the theater sex drama we had.

            I keep giving her a chance. A sort of Carey Mulligan immersion therapy. But progress has been glacial.

    • No Star Trek except for the J.J. Abrahams film. Wow. You should really rent the original series. It’s cheesy by today’s standards but you really can’t appreciate J.J’s film on the level intended without having seen at least a few of the original series episodes.

      Now’s a perfect time to watch them too because if you get hooked, and you may not if you thought the movie was Meh, by the time you finish watching all of the original series the Next Generation first season should be out on Blu-Ray and look gorgeous.

      • JM

        I tried and disliked ‘Dr. Who,’ ‘Torchwood,’ and most of the rubber monster genre.

        With that kind of bias, should I still take a whack at ‘Star Trek’?

        The only one I liked was ‘Galaxy Quest.’

        • Which Dr Who did you dislike? Have you seen any of the older ones from the 60s through the 90s?

          With your already dislike for the genera, I would say to skip the original series for now, as, while there are many gems, there are quite a few turds as well.

          I would suggest maybe starting with Voyager. By the time that series rolled around, the writers pretty much knew by then what audiences wanted and what they didn’t. I would say at least give the first six episodes a shot, to get into the show. I will let you know that, probably around the 4th or 5th season, the show almost starts to become a cliche of itself, and actually starts to get comical, because apparently the ship cannot run unless Janeway gives her input in every last department. But the show is still good.

          As much as I think TNG is the best of all the series, the first two seasons are EXTREAMELY weak, but you kind of need to watch those to establish characters and backstories.

          Deep Space 9 is pretty good, but its like the first two seasons are just there to establish characters and histories to get into the rest of the series. Its almost like the writers new in advance that the series was going to span out over 7 seasons, and took their time to tell the story. Don’t get me wrong, its a good show, it just takes some time to get the story going.

          I am a HUGE fan of Enterprise, but I am going to steer you away from that for now as well. If you didn’t like Abram’s movie, and if you are not a fan of Dr Who and Torchwood, you probably will not like Enterprise either. +

          So, what I would suggest is to actually work your way backwards chronologically – START with Voyager, then try out Deep Space 9, THEN The Next Generation, then finish up with the original series and Enterprise.

          • EM

            Jane should whack whatever Star Trek she wants to, of course. But in general, I think that, rather than plunging into entire seasons and series, a person with at best a casual interest in Trek might be better served by dipping a toe into a smaller pool. The film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is perhaps the most popular Trek outing among both fans and non-fans—why not start with that? It has a low barrier for entry: despite the Roman numeral, it isn’t a direct sequel to the first Star Trek feature—on the other hand, it is a sequel to a specific original-series episode (“Space Seed”), but you don’t need to see the episode first (I didn’t). While the film has its protagonists mostly reacting to a crisis instead of boldly going where no man has gone before, it is nevertheless a great showcase for Star Trek as a vehicle for philosophical examination of the human condition (major themes include friendship, aging, obsession, and mortality). And it’s a bona fide adventure, with more stuff blowing up than you can swash a buckle at!

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            Yeah, I really don’t think that you should suggest to someone already skeptical of Star Trek that she should start with what is widely regarded as the worst of all the Trek series (Voyager). That’s a recipe for a bad first impression. You might as well send her straight to Star Trek V and say, “Yup, that’s just what Star Trek is like. Take it or leave it.”

            The reality of the situation, however, is that I doubt there’s any way that Jane would ever like anything about Star Trek in the first place, given her stated tastes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also no point in trying to force feed it to her. Some people just don’t like the franchise.

          • EM

            Tastes can be so hard to predict. Several years ago, a friend of mine seemed to be enjoying the “Star Trek lessons” I was giving her and her sons. When we got to The Wrath of Khan, I was surprised that she didn’t like the movie all that much. I think the chief problem was that she considered Ricardo Montalbán’s Khan in that movie to be much less of a sex god (despite the Khan khleavage) than he was in “Space Seed”—she had emitted gasps at his unrelenting masculinity in that episode. Oh, well, you can’t please everyone!

          • JM

            How is ‘Farscape’?

            My newly uncharted affection for Claudia Black might give me a way in.

            I haven’t put it on my Q yet, because my Q is 200+ movies long. But my fetish for australian accents is keeping ‘Farscape’ lingering in the bubble of my consciousness. I once had two female australian roommates. They made me put on my sloppy joe and taught me rugby in the snow.

            With respect to Khan, I did watch ‘The Cable Guy.’ Does that count?

            I kind of figured my next whack would be J.J. Abrams ‘Star Trek II,’ which became must-see tv when they added Benedict Cumberbatch.

          • EM

            I saw the first few episodes of Farscape and didn’t like it. Maybe you’ll love it. It certainly has a loyal cult following.

            I’ve never seen The Cable Guy and have no idea what its relevance to Khan would be.

      • JM,

        I personally feel Farscape is one of the most underrated TV Series of the last 20 years.

        If you just want to be entertained with a show that changes multiple times in a season (but not in a bad way) then you should check out Farscape. IT was just released on Blu-Ray but unless you can rent it on Blu-Ray from Netflix it’s way to expensive unless your a die hard fan of the show.

        John Crighton is right up there with 60′s era Shatner’s Kirk. He’s just that cool in this show.

        Some of the best stories and lines can be found within this series and the fact that you routinely forget your watching Muppets to this day still astounds me. If you give the show a chance, you will learn to love it. But if you don’t like Sci Fi it may not be your cup of tea.

        As for which treck to start with. That’s really going to be something you personally need to decide. If you can watch a show and enjoy it for the stories and the characters. Then you might want to stick to the original Series as a good Trek primer.

        I personally would recommend watching it in the timeline as determined according to the show for me that means.

        TOS – Cheesy but so much of what is to come is lost on someone if they haven’t seen this series. Make sure you at least watch “The Space Seed” so you’ll understand what happened to Khan before Star Trek II. Also if you watch “The Menagerie” You’ll understand why Bruce Greenwood ends up in the Wheel Chair at the end of JJ Abraham’s Star Trek reboot.

        Star Trek: the Motion Picture (bad rip off of a classic Trek episode though, but the director’s cut is pretty good on DVD, Blu-Ray is the original version)

        Star Trek II:
        Star Trek III:
        Star Trek IV: Voyage Home
        Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country
        TNG
        Star Trek: Generations (Important to watch TNG before generations or you won’t get half of what is going on)

        DS9 – Watch until the episode where Riker’s Transporter Twin from TNG appears and steals the Defiant (if you keep this list you’ll eventually know what that means. Series really get’s good during the last two seasons.
        Star Trek: First Contact – Best Star Trek movie since Wrath of Khan.
        VOYAGER
        Star Trek:Insurrection
        ENTERPRISE (don’t let the haters hate, the show is absolutely awesome in the last season and some of the best trek ever up to the finale which sucks)

        There’s so much history in Star Trek and there are always haters that will complain about this or that, but the fact is it’s been an entertaining franchise before most of us were in diapers, one that even NBC didn’t realize was pure gold when they had it.

        If you give it a chance I think you’ll enjoy it, but it’s not a small commitment by any means.

        • JM

          ‘Farscape’ 1.1 and 1.2 have received the Jane Morgan Seal Of Approval.

          Very ‘Mass Effect’-y.

          Very ‘Wing Commander III.’

          Claudia Black is more delicious than a raw shaved brussels sprouts salad.

      • JM, I left out two of the movies, and some might see that as an oversight.

        Don’t believe it. Star Trek 5 is one of the worst movies and THE worst Star Trek movie period. Shatner should never have directed this and I recommend just skipping it entirely.

        As for the final Next Generation movie there are people who will defend it for some reason but just do not believe them. It’s basically Next Generations Star Trek 5. The acting is terrible, the directing is worse and I blame the bad acting on the director. The Romulans are portrayed as generically as you can and seem as though the only direction they got was “LOUDER AND SLOWER”. Just plain awful. Stick to the movies I listed and try to remember the eras they originally appeared in, that will help, ie; Star Trek: the voyage home is just so very 80′s.

      • JM If you like Claudia Black, you will LOVE Farscape the character she plays on that show is one of the strongest female genre characters ever and makes the women in other shows really seem weak and badly portrayed.

        With every Trek Series already on Netflix streaming the only thing holding you back is whatever data cap your provider has.

        But if you pace yourself you should be able to watch all of Trek before JJ’s second movie comes out.

      • No offense to William, but I would definitely not watch Trek in reverse order. The entire universe is predicated upon Roddenberry’s premise that we would eventually learn to get along as a species and venture out into space “Together” and that War and hunger would be eradicated on our own planet. The rest of the shows back that up and DS9′s entire premise is showing the darker side of Trek where the Federations ideals aren’t so popular.

        If you watch them in any order other than intended it will just be confusing.

        If you are going to try and tackle Trek, I strongly urge you to do so in the order I listed above. Just keep in mind it’s a franchise that has been running for 50 years now so some of the material is dated.

        TNG is coming on Blu-Ray this year, and if you have access to Blu-Ray then you can watch the first two series in amazing clarity. I just picked up the Sampler disc and I was completely amazed by how GOOD TNG looks now. If they had opened up to 16.9 you would be hard pressed to say it wasn’t produced 7 years ago as opposed to nearly 20.

        The model they used for the Enterprise D has never looked more amazing, so real looking it almost feels like it’s CG, weird but true.

    • Rob Cyr

      Why “fuck off and die”? Just angry, ugly, hatred. Language like that, and the attitude behind it, make the world foul and ugly for others. Adaptation and Mockingbird are “shit”? [There's your ugliness again] Hardly. It’s just your adolescent bad taste.

  4. Drew

    Okay. Well, ‘Eternal Sunshine’ is one of my all-time favorites, and I really like ‘Being John Malkovich’. Looks like I’m solidly in for ‘Adaptation’.

    You should do a review for it on the main site.

    I’ve heard that ‘Mockingbird’ is one of the most outstanding films ever made from many others. It’s probably one of the only films in the AFI top 100 that I haven’t seen. I have no idea how or why I haven’t seen it. I tried on a few different occasions. I pre-ordered it, and it should be here today. Going by what you say here, I think I will have to watch it tonight.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Steven Cohen reviewed Adaptation. Click on the link above. I don’t have much time to write full-length reviews these days.

      Be aware that the ending of Adaptation is… odd… even for Kaufman. It may take a second viewing to appreciate what he’s done there.

      As much as Nicolas Cage has made a joke of his career, he gives two fantastic performances in this.

      • Drew

        Cage has been my primary road block in ever seeing it.

        I’m happy to hear you endorse him, because I am in complete agreement that he’s turned his career into a laughingstock.

        My wife and I play a game every time there’s a new Cage film coming out. It’s called “Which Nic Cage will he be in this one?” or “Which hair will be starring in this film?”

        The choices are:

        A. The ‘Con-Air’ hair Nic Cage
        B. The blatant wig Nig Cage
        C. The ‘Ghost Rider’ or ‘National Treasure’ hair Nic Cage(Or “Classic” hair – essentially the hair that gets the starring role when he’s not doing either the ‘Con-Air’ hair, or wearing a blatant wig, like in ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, ‘Adaptation’, etc,.)

        I won’t deny that the man can downright act when he’s willing to put the work in though.

        • Josh Zyber
          Author

          When Cage actually cares about the movie he’s in, he can still knock out a great performance. This is, admittedly, pretty rare. Check out Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

          • JM

            Cage and Kaufman are teaming up again for ‘Frank or Francis’ (2013).

            A satire of Hollywood set to music, where a film director feuds with a blogger.

  5. Actually the premise for ‘In Time’ is interesting and if put in the capable hands of a REAL sci-fi director could’ve worked great. It isn’t the premise that is wrong with ‘In Time’ it’s everything else.

    • JM

      Please name a real sci-fi director who could have owned the concept?

      Neill Blomkamp?

      Which is the weakest link of ‘In Time,’ the direction or the script?

      • I have a feeling that Nolan could have pulled off the premise to ‘In Time’ much better.

        The weakest link is just about everything. Can’t narrow it down to one thing.

          • JM

            Andrew Niccol writes his projects from the ground up.

            The huge difference seems to be FOX vs WB, re: studio interference.

        • Brian H

          Love Ridley Scott and Blade Runner, but just look at all the rewrites that he had done on Robin Hood, and how it turned out. Ridley Scott is a great director, but he can’t save a terrible script.

      • Drew

        The script could have been very good with a little bit of tweaking.

        The direction is what ultimately led to it not living up to the potential of the premise.

        It’s directed without any grandeur at all. Don’t you think that an original idea like this one requires at least a little bit?

        Nolan certainly could have pulled it off. Ridley Scott would have made a masterpiece out of it, once upon a time. Prometheus will tell us if he still has that ability.

        • JM

          ‘Prometheus,’ they say, FOX took a killer script and cut the balls off.

          Andrew Niccol’s original vision was probably castrated in a similar fashion.

          Nolan might be the only sci-fi director with the clout for total creative control.

          It’s too bad he can’t crank out 25 movies per year.

        • Brian H

          Very early in the film the audience is shown that Justin Timberland’s character slaves at a job where he pulls a crank that either presses or destroys the large cumbersome time currency items. There should be some irony in this, but really it is nonsensical. Now maybe Terry Gilliam could have turned In Time into Brazil 2, but I kind of doubt it.

    • Brian H

      The story for In Time has the depth of a three page short story. Kind of like Real Steel, but with a technically better story arc. Big projects with good premises, budgets, and casts attached, but lacking a story that can engage audiences beyond twenty minutes.

      I wish these movies could reach levels of Children of Men, Inception, Gattaca or Blade Runner, but very few directors can or should rewrite scripts. Good directors get strong performances out of their actors, regardless of script quality, and aspire to compose scenes with an appropriate and interesting cinematic style.

      Maybe a “REAL sci-fi director” gets to choose projects that have decent scripts .

  6. I’m watching ST:TNG right now. The level of detail is amazing. Like, in Encoutner at Farpoint, Troi’s headband is not just a cheap plastic headband from Walmart, but its actually gold and diamonds with a very complex pattern. LaForge’s visor actually looks like a piece of jewelry rather than a converted headband. Details in backgrounds is incredible. And there is FILM GRAIN! Its beautiful! And if that isn’t enough, the 7.1 DTS MA soundtrack really is delivering a punch! Can’t wait for season 1 to come out now, this sampler disc has me almost giddy with anticipation! Its better than I had ever imagined!

    I also picked up Into The Universe with Stephan Hawking. I will watch that after I finish with Star Trek

    • EM

      While I readily concede that “Encounter at Farpoint” is riddled with flaws, still it’s one of my favorite TNG episodes. I would watch it more often if it weren’t double-length. It brims with an enthusiasm and a zest that make me want to come along on the ongoing journey.

      I’d love to see upgrades as William has described, but I don’t love the idea of buying seven season sets again. I’d rather pick up smaller collections of episodes. Like the sampler, I guess, though it seems like a random mishmash. I’d rather have sets in the vein of the Star Trek Fan Collective DVDs (indeed, a Q Blu-ray could be quite nice). The Next Generation does not unfold in seasonal arcs and doesn’t cry for season-by-season treatment the way a Babylon 5 or a Lost does.

      And speaking of B5…now that’s a series I’d like to see given this sort of remastering makeover. Sadly, I suspect the money just isn’t there to support it.

      • Lucky for me, I was in college when the STTNG DVDs came out, so I never had them. And as much as I would have liked them, there was always one station that played at least one episode a day. However, now that I am older, I can afford to sink some money into buying stuff like this (well, at least I can probably in a few months – IF I get this job. Right now, I can justify $15, but can’t really justify much more than that).

        The script for Encounter at Farpoint is actually pretty darn good. There are a few points that kind of annoy me. For example, the majority of Troi’s lines seem to be “PAIN! PAIN! SUFFERING! SATISFACTION! INTENSE SATISFACTION!” Down in the caves, each team member is constantly tapping their com-badge to talk. Yeah, we get it, they have new communicators now. And then there is the fact that Tasha practically does a summersault across the bridge when Q first appears. Oh, and then, they really give away the ending WAY too early in the episode, you know like within the first 20 minutes that there is some lifeform that is being abused.

        That being said, it really was one of the better episodes, and that is saying something, because the show was really weak until around the third season. Don’t get me wrong, I like the early seasons too, but there was an obvious quality improvement somewhere around the start of the third season – the writing got significantly better, the actor’s knew who their characters were, and the visual effects and sets got significantly better (ie the planets actually looked real, and not like the inside of a sound stage with a background painting and bad lighting).

        As for shows that I would love to see in HD, I could probably start a long list, but sadly, way too many shows from the 70s to the 90s were shot on tape, and with other shows that were shot on film, either the show probably is no longer popular enough to justify the expense of rematering, or, in one show’s case, the original film elements are completely gone, and all that remains are some old tapes and 16mm prints (and in a few episodes cases, entire episodes are completely lost, and only sound recordings survive, and the episodes have been reconstructed from production photos).

        But yeah, STTNG! So happy to see it. I know many of my friends are looking forward to seeing DS9 and Voyager, but that may be a while. With both DS9 and Voyager, quite a few of the visual effect elements are actually CG, rendered at low resolution to tape, and as many of the special effects houses are now gone, the CG models are gone as well, meaning that a remastering of those would mean all new CG elements would need to be done.

        • EM

          While I would agree that the third season marked an improvement in production values (one reason that the first two seasons are less compelling for Blu) and in scripting, the earlier seasons are richer in Star Trek core values—you know, stuff like exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no one has gone before. That’s not to say the post-Roddenberry era is devoid of such values, but they are more keenly felt in those earlier shows. That’s what makes “Encounter at Farpoint” so exciting despite its flaws.

    • I agree, It’s amazing just how good Encounter at Farpoint looked. Forget how dated it is, the sets look so amazing in HD.

      I really can’t wait to be able to watch some of the better episodes in HD. I have to say that CBS has out done themselves. Just a few years ago I was telling my friends that there was no way we would see TNG in HD because of what would be required, but CBS has shown that they really are willing to do what’s necessary to save the heritage of this series. If only George Lucas were so willing to save his creations for posterity.

      Oh well, at least TNG won’t be forgotten or mangled with awful CGI Insertions. While they are making very subtle changes with the effects I wish they would have an alternate bridging mode that shows the original effects shots. That was one of my favorite things with the Classic series on Blu-Ray.

  7. Good to hear Mr. Henley…I’m holding out for the Season 1 release. It’s too bad Paramount didn’t include a coupon off Season 1 for those who purchased, otherwise I would have picked it up.

    Oh, and just to chime in here:
    The Pianist is far better than The Piano. But I’m a big Roman fan…his movies…not the other stuff. :)

    • Eh, it was only $15. Yeah, a coupon would have been nice, but I have been looking forward to this for years, so $15 was easy to justify. And Inner Light was one of my favorite episodes, and with it being a later season, it may be a couple of years yet before that season comes out.

      • Seriously if your a Trek Fan even $20 wouldn’t have been too much to see for yourself how damned good TNG is going to look when they release it later this year. Bad thing is now I’m seriously anxious to get the first season on Blu-Ray as quickly as possible.

        Thanks a lot CBS!!! (but seriously, thanks I love it)

    • Random Commenter

      Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Next Level contains a total of 3 episodes, or 4 if you count the pilot ‘Encounter at Farpoint’ as two episodes. The episodes are Encounter at Farpoint, Sins of the Father, and The Inner Light.

    • And remember, the season releases are probably going to be staggered, so if you like Sins of the Father and Inner Light, it may be a couple of years before you can actually pick them up in the season sets when they come out. It’s $15. If you are a Trekkie, I don’t see how you couldn’t pick this up!

      • Agreed its a no brainer. Like spock you would have to have your brain removed to not buy this if your a fan.

        If you do not know what that means ( and the accompanying noise he made when McCoy drove him around like a robot) then you are not a true fan.

  8. Don Alafa

    Hello! Is “The Pianist” Adrian Brody out and if not is there a release date.

    respectfully…..Don Alafa

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      The Pianist was released on Blu-ray in Europe, but not yet in the U.S.

      Universal did release the film on HD DVD here a few years ago, but hasn’t gotten around to porting those contents to Blu-ray, unfortunately.