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Blu-ray Highlights: Week of July 14th, 2013 – Math Is Hard

What do you get when you multiply 3840 x 2160, divide by 4, and then add 42? You get some of this week’s notable Blu-ray releases.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (7/16/13)?

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New Releases

Not that I have anything against Brian Helgeland (whose batting average as both a screenwriter and director has hovered somewhere around .260), but it just feels wrong to me to let a white guy make the Jackie Robinson bio-pic ‘42‘. No, I’m not saying that you need to hire Spike Lee to direct every movie about black historical figures, but surely there must be some other talented black director in Hollywood who might be suited to the project? In any case, most reviews claim that ’42′ is a pretty standard, formulaic bio-pic, livened up by a standout performance from Harrison Ford (actually giving a damn for the first time in a long while) as Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey.

Word-of-mouth from horror fans was pretty mixed about this year’s ‘Evil Dead‘ remake. Some absolutely loved the movie’s attempt to rework the property as straight horror, stripping out most of the campy comedy that the original series is famous for. Others found it a dull, rote schlock-fest. I don’t have any strong attachment to the franchise one way or the other, but I find it encouraging that the filmmakers at least attempted to respect the material and do something interesting with it, rather than just churn out another cynical cash-in. That counts for something, right?

Are audiences finally tiring of over-the-hill action stars desperately trying to stay relevant in the modern era? Both Schwarzenegger’s ‘The Last Stand’ and Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Bullet to the Head‘ were major flops this year. The most interesting thing about the latter is that Stallone also dragged Walter Hill (’48 Hrs.’, ‘Red Heat’) out of semi-retirement to direct it for him, not that it helped any. Oh, and ‘Fairly Legal’ hottie Sarah Shahi reportedly has a gratuitous topless scene in it. Lest we worry too much for Stallone or Schwarzenegger, the stars have another shot at redemption with their team-up movie ‘Escape Plan’ later this year, and I’m sure another dopey ‘Expendables’ sequel is in development.

Catalog Titles

This week, Sony delivers another wave of its “Mastered in 4k” line of Blu-rays. As I explained back in May, these discs are not really 4k resolution. They are more accurately described as “Superbit” Blu-rays, still encoded at standard 1080p resolution (and playable in any Blu-ray player on any HDTV) but stripped of bonus features and authored with high bit rates. This batch brings us the 1998 ‘Godzilla‘, ‘Men in Black‘, ‘Moneyball‘, ‘Pineapple Express‘ and ‘Spider-Man 2‘. Aside from ‘Moneyball’ (which I still haven’t seen, but that doesn’t strike me as a movie overly-dependant on the quality of its visuals), nothing here interests me in the slightest. Your mileage may vary.

From smaller distributors, the Criterion Collection brings us Peter Brooks’ famous 1963 adaptation of ‘Lord of the Flies‘, Kino unleashes Mario Bava’s ‘Black Sabbath‘, and Shout! Factory gets animated with Ralph Bakshi’s ‘Heavy Traffic‘.

Television

If TV box sets are your thing, you’ll have a lot of viewing ahead of you with the first season of the sci-fi mystery ‘Orphan Black‘, Season 2 of the Western ‘Hell on Wheels‘, and the first two seasons of the cult animated hit ‘Regular Show‘.

‘Lord of the Flies’ goes on my wish list. I may rent ’42′ or ‘Evil Dead’ (or, hell, perhaps even ‘Bullet to the Head’), though I don’t expect to buy them. What grabs your attention this week?

8 comments

  1. William Henley

    Nothing the next two weeks, which is good – I got to save up – Star Trek on the 30th, and a slew of Disney releases the following week

    • William Henley

      Yikes, followed by Doctor Who and the Muppet Movie, and then Enterprise, then Pooh and Gatsby, then Into Darkness. Good grief, Auguest is going to be expensive! May have to end up cutting a few movies!

      • Or buy nothing for a few months and finally get through your ‘to see’-pile :) Which, if I recall from previous posts, is quite high.

  2. William Henley

    This was my stack about a month and a half ago:

    http://imgur.com/moTEtLG

    I made it through about 10, but I also added about another 10-15 in that time.

    I have been spending most of my free time in live video production at the church, so it doesn’t leave much time for movie watching. Pictures of the auditorium and video production facilities:
    http://imgur.com/a/Vyoar

    Examples of what we do:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cThveGY2gAE&list=PLZ5F0jn_D3gKLnJzzWftB_-JKn0yAfkVr

    Actually, some of the discs in that original stack were ones we produced before I came in.

    Kinda strange, now that I am in the industry, I don’t have much time to watch anymore. I did just finish season 3 of Star Trek The Next Generation last week, as well as Alien, Terminator and Emporor’s New Groove, but its slow getting through it. I should never have let it back up that much!

  3. Lord Bowler

    Hell on Wheels Season 2 and Lord of the Flies.

    I really want to see Solomon Kane which had a trailer a few years ago but then disappeared.

  4. Timcharger

    Thanks Josh for this:
    “Oh, and ‘Fairly Legal’ hottie Sarah Shahi reportedly has a gratuitous topless scene in it….”
    “…I may rent ’42′ or ‘Evil Dead’ (or, hell, perhaps even ‘Bullet to the Head’)”
    ;)

    Josh, you should tell Kevin Yeoman that he might want to mention such details in his review.

    Oh, since you said that it “reportedly” has said scene. I think it is in your journalistic integrity to confirm it. Yes, Josh, it’s your duty to report back the results of your inquiry.