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Blu-ray Highlights for June 3rd, 2013 – I’m on Vacation!

For some reason, 2013 has turned out to be a particularly bad year for franchise sequels. Unfortunately, one of the worst to them leads off our major Blu-ray releases this week.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (6/4/13)?

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New Releases

We’ve just about hit the halfway point for the year, and I think it’s already safe to say that ‘A Good Day to Die Hard‘ will wind up near the top of many “Worst of…” lists come next January. This lazy cash-in sequel has next to nothing to commend it. Its script is idiotic. Its teal-upon-teal-upon-teal photography is hideous. Even the action scenes are unimaginative and dull. Absolutely no one involved in the film’s production gave even the slightest damn about anything they were doing. Not hack director John Moore. Not moron screenwriter Skip Woods, whose script for this is a new low, even after having penned such mindless turds as ‘Swordfish’, ‘Hitman’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’. Sadly, not even Bruce Willis, who clearly only showed up on set to cash a paycheck and does nothing the whole movie but disinterestedly smirk and deliver lame one-liners. This movie is an embarrassment. I refuse to acknowledge it as a ‘Die Hard’ sequel. My urge to be a completist collector stops dead with this one. I will not own it or watch it again.

People just love that Melissa McCarthy. Since ‘Bridesmaids’, the actress can seem to do no wrong, as far as the public is concerned. Her middling sitcom ‘Mike & Molly’ is in its third season on TV, and the comedy ‘Identity Thief‘ was a surprise hit at the box office earlier this year. Critics were not so kind to the latter (and I don’t just mean the assholish Rex Reed). Reviews for the movie were withering. I have nothing against McCarthy, but based on the trailers, I have no desire to see this.

Perhaps the week’s best option is the zombie rom-com ‘Warm Bodies‘. Although it wasn’t a huge box office hit (probably because it doesn’t have any big-name stars, unless you think John Malkovich can carry a movie), the clever comedy received both favorable reviews and word-of-mouth. I have a feeling that this will be discovered as a cult item on video.

Less likely to grow in esteem is the Weinstein Company’s dud CG-animated family flick ‘Escape from Planet Earth‘. I’d forgotten that it even existed about five minutes after it was released. So did most everyone else.

From the indie scene, the Hank Williams bio-pic ‘The Last Ride‘ (starring Henry “Elliott” Thomas) didn’t turn out to be the next ‘Walk the Line’, as its producers may have hoped. By all accounts, the apocalyptic comedy ‘It’s a Disaster‘ lives up to its title.

Catalog Titles

Somewhere between being a hit Broadway play and a hit TV series, Neil Simon’s ‘The Odd Couple‘ was also (and perhaps most belovedly) a big hit movie starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau. I’ve never been much of a Neil Simon fan, but the actors’ outstanding comedic chemistry makes this a classic for a reason.

That one comes from Warner Bros., as does the ‘Mad Max Trilogy‘, which bundles reissues of the first two movies with the first-ever Blu-ray appearance for the third. If you already have the others, ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ is also available separately.

Universal brings us Charlton Heston in the all-star disaster epic ‘Earthquake‘ (with its famous “Sensurround” soundtrack preserved in the oddball 1.1 format) and the WWII drama ‘Midway‘.

Many comic book movies followed in the wake of 1989′s mega-blockbuster ‘Batman’. Most of them were not nearly as successful. By the time Russell Mulcahy’s ‘The Shadow‘ rolled around in 1994, audiences were pretty much over it. (You can quibble about whether the Shadow was really a comic book adaptation, since the character first appeared on radio, but comic books have been written about him and the movie was clearly made in the ‘Batman’ mold.) I was one of the few who saw this flop in the theater, and wasn’t much impressed with it. Nonetheless, I feel a strange compulsion to watch it again now, if only to imagine Alec Baldwin playing it as a spoof – which, as far as I remember, he didn’t.

The market for catalog titles is so poor these days that studios often dump them in double- and triple-bill bargain packages. You’ll see a lot of those on the list this week. Of some interest may be Shout! Factory’s pairing of the 1970s cult B-movies ‘Dirty Mary Crazy Larry‘ and ‘Race with the Devil‘, both starring Peter Fonda.

I also have to make note of Universal’s just plain bizarre bundling of the excellent ‘Children of Men‘ with the terrible ‘Repo Men‘ – two films whose only link is that they’re both vaguely science fictional and have the word “Men” in their titles. If I didn’t already own it, I would actually pay extra to get ‘Children of Men’ on its own, rather than have it be sullied by the other.

Television

In TV offerings, Warner brings the first two seasons of the cult animated series ‘Adventure Time‘ to Blu-ray, as well as the second season of ‘Falling Skies‘. Meanwhile, Sony rolls out the fifth season of ‘Breaking Bad‘.

I’m not sure that there’s much I need to purchase this week, though ‘Warm Bodies’ is definite rental material. How about you?

13 comments

  1. “… if only to imagine Alec Baldwin …”

    I was sure you were going to finish that sentence with “as a stud”. He was quite the handsome man back when he made ‘The Shadow’. Women would swoon for him. Nowadays? Ehh …

  2. William Henley

    And, no surprise, 3D Media’s release has been postponed – this time until September. I don’t think this company has ever made a release date.

    I should be getting Adventure Time season 1 in today. Holding off on Season 2 for the time being – I only caught a few episodes back when i had cable, so I want to see if the series holds up as well as I remember before I buy season 2.

    Warm Bodies is a buy for me, but I will probably end up doing a price-watch on it. $20 isn’t bad, but I am looking to pick it up for around $15 or under. Yeah, I know, its only $5, but if i said “oh its only $5″ on every movie I bought, that would add up to hundreds and thousands of dollars over time. Warm Bodies isn’t a must-have, so I can wait.

  3. Lord Bowler

    It’s great to see Doom and Street Fighter paired together on Blu-Ray. Both films were mediocre but entertaining. I actually enjoyed both movies. Street Fighter is campy, but is still entertaining and Raul Julia’s last film. And Doom was cool and had parts filmed like the game and a great cast with Urban and Johnson.

    Other than that, I’m pickup Mad Max Trilogy and Midway.

  4. Super-VHS

    The Road Warrior disc in the trilogy box (also re-issued separately, after briefly going out of print last year) is new, with an AVC MPEG-4 encode (replacing the previous VC-1) and a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack (replacing the previous Dolby Digital 5.1). It’s a complete re-do, with even the extras (trailer, Maltin intro) re-encoded in AVC.

    Warner actually re-authored a disc from ground up. I almost can’t believe it.

  5. Super-VHS

    Also, Universal’s blu-ray of The Shadow will be obsolete pretty soon. Shout! apparently acquired distribution rights and are planning a more elaborate Special Edition, with “extensive” extras, later this year.

  6. Super-VHS

    Josh, there’s a tiny mistake of misattribution in the TV section. Breaking Bad is Sony, not Universal. You got it right in the big list up top.

    And the uninitiated should know that this weeks Breaking Bad release is actually only half of the fifth season. The set contains the first eight episodes from season five, which was extended (from the customary 13 episodes to 16) and split in half by AMC. The second half of season five premieres in August. Presumably, after the final 8 episodes air, Sony’ll release the “complete” season five around the holidays with all 16 episodes in one set… unless they successfully renegotiated with Vince Gillian and AMC, and everyone’s agreed to rebrand the final eight episodes as season six. If they did, then who knows what will happen. A Complete Series box, and a separate faux season six release?

  7. NJScorpio

    So…I have Mad Max Blu-Ray/DVD combo, bought several months ago.

    In the trilogy, is it the same blu-ray disc?

    I may just buy the movies individually, but if it’s the same cost to buy the trilogy, I’ll do that.

  8. Timcharger

    Regarding a Good Day to Die Hard:
    “My urge to be a completist collector stops dead with this one. I will not own it or watch it again.”

    2 things Josh:
    1) I disliked the film, too. But I’ll rewatch it again. It’s like a car accident. (There were a ton of stupid car stunts in it.) I’ll rewatch the car accident to be amazed at the destruction of the franchise. Plus, it’ll be a fun drinking game. “I’m on vacation” is heard, take a shot. New radiation scientific laws, down the whole bottle. It’ll be fun, Josn.

    2) What franchises did you allow yourself to be a non-completist? (This could be a weekend roundtable).
    If I found Superman 4 (it’s not out on blu, but hypothetically) in the Walmart $5 clearance bin, I would throw it back. Die Hard 5 for $5, I’d likely put it in my shopping cart. Completistism is a tough addiction to overcome. Obviously if was high priced, no, I wouldn’t be a completist.

    Maybe that could be the topic:
    Name the franchise you don’t care to be a completeist collector (maybe TV seasons can be included in this roundtable). And name the price that which you will become a completist.

    I’ll play:
    Superman for $15 (I think that’s what I paid for the HD DVD)
    Superman 2 for $15 (I think that’s what I paid for the HD DVD)
    Superman 3 for $5
    Superman 4 for $0 (has to be free; or just included in the box set)

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I own multiple copies of the first four Alien movies (yeah, I even like Resurrection for what it is), but I will not own the AvP spinoffs or Prometheus.

      I only care for the first Superman movie (and honestly, only the first half of the first movie). I own the Donner Cut of Superman II as a curiosity. I won’t go any further than that unless Man of Steel happens to be extraordinary. I have no interest in owning III, IV or Returns.

    • Interesting question indeed.

      I was a huge Star Wars fan back in the day (comics, action figures, bedsheets, the works). “Attack of the Clones” left such a sour taste in my mouth that I refused to buy the DVD. “Revenge of the Sith”, while better, was pretty “meh” too. So, evenas a major SW fan, I only have 4 of the 6 movies on DVD (yeah, I’ll defend “The Phantom Menace”).

      Eventually, with the complete saga on Blu-ray, I did purchase II & III. But only to get the 3 discs of special features; I have not yet seen the Blu-rays of II & III and have no desire to do so.

    • William Henley

      I took it a step futher – refuse to buy the Alien Quadrilogy. I found the first two movies for $9 each on Blu at Fry’s and picked them up. The third and fourth movies were awful, and I realized that as much as I love extras, I never get around to watching them (I still haven’t watched all the extras on Pirates of the Caribean, and only a couple of hours of bonus features in LOTR).

      I did bend and pick up Terminator 3, because I had 1, 2 and 4, and my OCD was driving me nuts.

      I also picked up Twilight Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2 last week, because my OCD was once again driving me nuts. Figured if nothing else, its a good date movie. I will watch Eclipse on my own, and Twilight is REALLY beautiful on Blu-Ray on a stormy day (although the movie itself it dull), but New Moon and Breaking Dawn I will probably only ever watch again if with a chick. Pitty, I loved the books, the movies were just garbage.

      I only have the first 3 Pirates of the Carabean movies. I found the fourth one boaring – I rented it, and ended up turning it off after about 20 minutes.

      Pretty much any Disney DTV sequel can be passed over.

      I got Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight. I have no intention of picking up TDKR. I’ll never watch it.

      I only have the first two Superman movies (the Richard Donnar version of 2), and Superman Returns. I have no intention of picking up 3 or 4.

      Honey I Shrunk The Kids – Only the first two movies.

      Home Alone – only the first two movies.

      Land Before Time – only the first movie.

      If I could pick up Revenge of the Sith without having to pick up Phantom Menace and AOTC, I would.

  9. StarMenace

    On the completist track: Although I absolutely LOVE The Matrix I could never allow myself to watch for a second time let alone purchase Reloaded or Revolutions. In my mind those are the worst sequels in history.

    I’ll take Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, all the Aliens, Star Wars and pretty much anything else above those two sequels any day.

    Even though I’ve never watched nor have any desire to watch the Twilight movies, I’d rather force myself through those than try watching the Matrix sequels again.