This is another big, expensive week on the Blu-ray front, featuring some huge box sets, including one of the most monumental movies of all time. My wallet is begging me for mercy. How’s yours doing this year?
An Epic of Epic Epicness
Promised since practically the birth of the Blu-ray format, Sony Pictures put plans to release David Lean’s masterpiece ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘ on hold until the studio could really do it right with a meticulous restoration. The results of that effort are finally available now in a 50th Anniversary Edition, which can be purchased as either a basic 2-disc package or an elaborate box set with a further disc of extras, a soundtrack CD and all sorts of fancy swag. The 2-disc version was released in Europe a couple months ago, and by all accounts, it’s a stunning achievement. ‘Lawrence’ is a special movie, and I need to go all out for the box set on this one.
Maybe not quite as grandiose or, well, perfect a film as ‘Lawrence’, Warner Bros. gives us a 25th Anniversary Edition of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Empire of the Sun‘. I haven’t seen this in years. I recall thinking that it was one of the director’s most underrated movies. I look forward to revisiting it to see if those feelings hold up.
While Pixar still hasn’t quite bounced back from the fiasco that was ‘Cars 2′, the studio’s latest effort, the Scottish fairy tale ‘Brave‘, was received at least somewhat better – in as much as that most viewers only called it “disappointing,” rather than “atrocious.” Even so, the once infallible Pixar must be feeling pretty humbled at this point. Personally, I couldn’t muster enough interest to see this in the theater, but I’ll check it out on Blu-ray, for the 3D if nothing else.
Also coming up short this year was Oliver Stone, whose attempt to rekindle some of the old ‘Natural Born Killers’ madness with the thriller ‘Savages‘ was greeted with lousy reviews and even worse box office. Will Stone ever get his mojo back?
I don’t understand what Fox’s marketing department was thinking with ‘The Watch‘. The movie has a similar premise to last year’s British action-comedy ‘Attack the Block‘, in which aliens attempt to invade a small neighborhood, forcing the residents to band together and fight them off. However, you wouldn’t know that at all from the trailers and ads, which only highlighted the goofy Neighborhood Watch antics and made no mention of aliens. Yet the movie was released just a few months after the real-life Trayvon Martin tragedy. You’d think the studio would want to play up the sci-fi angle and distance the film from Neighborhood Watches, not the opposite. Color me perplexed. Regardless, everyone who saw the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn/Jonah Hill comedy said that it was terrible anyway.
From the indie film scene, Julie Delpy once again writes and directs ‘2 Days in New York‘, a sequel to her 2007 comedy ’2 Days in Paris’. In this one, her character has dumped Adam Goldberg and taken up with Chris Rock. Is that an upgrade? I’m not sure. I thought that the first movie was pretty funny and charming, so this might merit a rental.
We also have the acclaimed documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles‘. Aaron had good things to say about this film when it played at Sundance.
One of the smartest “dumb” movies ever made, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure‘ is still Keanu Reeves’ one shining moment as an actor. With talk of a much-belated third movie in the works, MGM brings the original to Blu-ray this week. No sign of ‘Bogus Journey’ yet, though.
In more highbrow developments, the Criterion Collection offers up Pier Paolo Pasolini’s ‘Trilogy of Life‘ and Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Weekend‘. These are two filmmakers that I have very mixed feelings about, though I have admittedly not seen any of these specific movies.
Warner has made the interesting decision to release both versions of ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice‘, both the original 1946 classic noir and its 1981 remake, side-by-side. Despite the reunion of Jack Nicholson with his ‘Five Easy Pieces’ director Bob Rafelson, the remake was a critical and box office dud in its day, but has developed a following of appreciative fans.
Also from Warner comes another re-release of ‘Watchmen‘, this time in a fancy box set that contains all three versions of the movie (theatrical cut, Director’s Cut, and Ultimate Cut), in case you missed any of those the first time around.
To tie in with ‘Brave’, Disney has a second volume of ‘Pixar Short Films‘. Even though most (all?) of these shorts are also available separately as bonus features on various Pixar Blu-rays, I find it useful to bundle them together into collections like this.
Kino tries to piggyback on some of the publicity for Steven Spielberg’s new movie ‘Lincoln’ with a release of D.W. Griffith’s 1930 bio-pic ‘Abraham Lincoln‘, which stars Walter Huston in the title role.
HBO packs even more lazy stereotypes and sitcom clichés into a 10th Anniversary Edition of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘. Your mother-in-law will love it when you give her this for Christmas.
Finally, Fox digs up The Duke with new high-def editions of ‘The Big Trail‘ and ‘The Barbarian and the Geisha‘.
It’s a big week in TV land too. Warner has a Complete Series box set with all ten seasons of ‘Friends‘, and Image does likewise with all five seasons of ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show‘. I imagine that it was a massive effort to remaster both shows into high definition.
Meanwhile, BBC unveils the latest season (or half-season) of ‘Doctor Who‘ and FUNimation rolls out the second season of ‘Lost Girl‘.
‘Lawrence’ is a definitive must-buy for me. I have interest in several other titles, but finances insist that I prioritize. Where will your dollars go this week?
Tags: 2 Days in New York, 3D, Abraham Lincoln, Bill & Ted, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Highlights, Brave, Criterion Collection, Dick Van Dyke, Doctor Who, Empire of the Sun, Friends, John Wayne, Lawrence of Arabia, Oliver Stone, Pixar, Poll, Queen of Versailles, Savages, The Watch, Watchmen