Blu-ray Highlights: Week of November 2nd, 2014 – Woke Up This Morning, Got Yourself a Gun

This week’s new Blu-ray slate brings us one of the greatest TV shows of all time, an extended cut of a movie that was already too long, and some 3D movies that the studios aren’t bothering to release in 3D (at least, not in the United States). Those, plus a bunch of ugly SteelBooks. Let’s dive in!

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (11/4/14)?

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New Releases

Hercules‘ – In the second 3D Hercules movie of the year (after ‘The Legend of Hercules’), Dwayne Johnson steps into the title role. As little interest as I may have had in any Hercules movie to start with, putting Brett Ratner in the director’s chair ensures that I’ll never see this one. For what it’s worth, Paramount is offering a 3D option, which puts that studio well ahead of Disney or Lionsgate (see next entries). On the other hand, the Blu-ray was announced to also have a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, but early reviews indicate that the disc actually only has DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. I’m sure it’s plenty loud anyway.

Maleficent‘ – Angelina Jolie plays dress-up as the famous ‘Sleeping Beauty’ villain, here depicted as a misunderstood heroine we’re supposed to sympathize with. The movie received mixed reviews but did good business at the box office, which ensures that more efforts along similar lines will follow. I can’t wait for the live action redemption of Cruella de Vil, retconned as a friendly animal rights activist. ‘Maleficent’ played theatrically in 3D, but Disney has abandoned Blu-ray 3D in the American market. If you’re a 3D fan, look toward importing the movie from overseas.

Planes: Fire & Rescue‘ – For the toddler set with low standards comes a sequel to the barely-tolerable ‘Cars’ spin-off that’s reportedly even worse than the first one. Once again, no 3D in America. You can get it in that format from France, if you must. I hear that a 3D copy may also turn up in Mexico, but I don’t have a source for that and have never ordered Blu-rays from Mexico before.

Step Up All In‘ – They’re still making these things? After its dismal box office performance, the latest dance extravaganza in the ‘Step Up’ franchise may be the last. Taking a cue from Disney, Lionsgate has decided to forego 3D on Blu-ray for this movie, but Universal has the distribution rights in the UK, where the film is awkwardly titled ‘Step Up 5: All In 3D‘. Or, depending on how you read the poster layout, perhaps it’s ‘Step Up All In 5 3D’. Either way, bad title. Really bad title, guys.

A Most Wanted Man‘ – In one of his final roles, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as a depressed and paranoid German spy struggling for both personal and professional redemption. The film is adapted from a novel by John Le Carré, whose slow and methodical plotting will reward some viewers and frustrate others.

The One I Love‘ – TV stars Mark Duplass (‘The League’) and Elisabeth Moss (‘Mad Men’) play a stagnating couple who hope to rekindle their relationship with a weekend getaway at a cabin guesthouse, only to discover themselves already waiting for them there when they arrive. Yes, I realize how weird that sentence reads. So follows the movie, a bizarre existential relationship drama/fantasy/horror mash-up.

Land Ho!‘ – Two elderly men take a road trip through Iceland and bicker a lot. That’s the plot. It may not sound like much, but I hear that the comedy is actually quite delightful.

Hobbitses, Hobbitses, Hobbitses…

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Edition‘ – This should be no surprise for fans. Peter Jackson has never shot a scrap of footage that he didn’t want to use eventually. I hear that the second ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel is an improvement over the first one (it would kind of have to be), but this franchise does less for me the more installments that Jackson cranks out. In addition to the various editions listed above, Target has an exclusive SteelBook (2D only).

Catalog Titles

Speaking of SteelBooks, Universal is reissuing a number of old titles in metal cases with pop art designs. I can’t decide whether I like a few of them or think they’re all hideous.

William Peter Blatty is of course best known for writing the horror classic ‘The Exorcist’, but he started his career in comedy and has a fondness for material that veers all over the map tonally. His directorial debut ‘The Ninth Configuration‘ is a comedic thriller set in an insane asylum for military veterans. The movie was a box office flop in 1980, but became a famous cult item. It should make a nice pairing with the recent Blu-ray release of Blatty’s ‘The Exorcist III’, which similarly swings wildly from drama to comedy to existential philosophizing to nail-biting suspense.

Available from the Warner Archive is ‘Pete Kelley’s Blues‘, a crime drama about a jazz musician who gets tied up with mobsters. The film stars and was directed by ‘Dragnet’ star Jack Webb.

Television

So, has everyone come to terms with that ending to ‘The Sopranos‘ yet? HBO previous issued the show’s first and last seasons on Blu-ray, but neglected to provide any of the others in between. Now the whole series can be purchased in one big box set, which probably really annoys those who are still holding onto the discs from Seasons 1 and 6.

Wasn’t the third (and final) season of Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Newsroom‘ supposed to air this summer? Looks like it got pushed back to November 9th, so if you want to catch up on Season 2, you better get on that quickly. Personally, I felt that the second season was an improvement over the mess that was the first, but I know that our recapper Shannon feels the opposite.

From across the pond come a collection of all the Matt Smith seasons of ‘Doctor Who‘ and a gift set of Seasons 1-3 of ‘Sherlock‘.

I’m very curious to see ‘A Most Wanted Man’ and ‘The One I Love’, but will probably reserve both for rentals. I’d like to order ‘The Ninth Configuration’, but I’m wary of discs from distributor Hen’s Tooth, which doesn’t have a great track record for quality.

Does anything strike your fancy this week?

23 comments

  1. William Henley

    Not only does the US Market not get the 3D release of Maleficent, but it was released like a month after the UK release. I import so many Disney movies from the UK (mainly because, after Amazon.co.uk drops VAT, and with Zavvi’s sales (they just had a BOGOF on Disney Blu-Rays), they are cheaper than getting from the US. I’ve had Maleficent in 3D for about two weeks now, and at $30.83 after shipping, it came to be about the same as the US 2D release.

    The Cardcapture Sakura movie sounds interesting to me, I will put up a camelcamelcamel pricewatch on it and pick it up eventually.

    For The Hobbit movies, I am picking them up when the theatrical releases come out, and will wait for the boxed set for the extended editions. I WILL be picking them up in 3D. Also, hopefully by next year, the 4K blurays will be out, and they will support 48fps.

    I lost my copy of Rudolf, so I may end up picking that up again. IDK, I got a DVR this year, I may just end up recording it when it comes on television this year.

      • William Henley

        I have a region free player, but people in the forums are reporting that the UK version is ABC, so you should be fine. Most Disney UK releases are region free.

        I do not have Planes or Planes 2, but Planes 2 does not seem to be available in 3D in the US, UK or Germany.

      • Drew

        ‘Maleficent 3D’ is region-free. It hasn’t actually been out for a month, as William previously stated, but it was released on 10/16 in the UK. I received it at the beginning of last week. It’s a really nice 3D transfer. At least a 4-star, if not 4.5.

        • Well thank you William and Drew for the Maleficent news. I think I’ll be ordering it very soon and probably with Frozen 3d while I’m at it. I have a very nice 3d version of Frozen on my VUDU account, but I’d much rather have a physical copy of it with some 7.1 DTS master.

          • William Henley

            The 3D Blu-Ray of Frozen is incredible! Highly recommend! Although if you have it on Vudu, you should still have 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus and a pretty darn-good picture. But the Blu-Ray – they should be showing this in every home-theater showroom to show off their equipment. I cannot brag about that disc enough – 5 star video, 5 star audio, 5 star 3D, and a 5 star movie. I am pretty sure that disc is region-free as well, people on b-r dot com are confirming that it is region free.

        • William Henley

          Thats 26 days, almost four weeks. That is a month in February. I did say “like a month”, so my statement was correct.

          • Drew

            Since when is 10/16 (the date it was released in the UK) to 11/3 (the date that you made your statement) 26 days?

            No need to comment any further. I’m sure you’re embarrassed enough, as it is.

  2. The Sopranos set is emptying my Blu-ray budget for November…I just hope I don’t see it go on sale on Black Friday for half as much.

    Josh is right, I was more than a little disappointed by the second season of THE NEWSROOM (the review of which should be up shortly).

  3. Trond Michelsen

    Whoa, that’s a hefty price tag on the Sopranos set. It sells for about $70 + tax in Norway, and it was even on sale for $48 + tax this weekend.

    • William Henley

      🙂 And this is why I import – saving $150 on an item is a good price. However, as this show is available via Amazon Prime streaming, I probably won’t be picking it up – I rarely pick up television shows on blu, with only a couple of exceptions (pretty much just BBC documentaries and Star Trek and Little HOuse)

  4. Lord Bowler

    I’m picking up the Hobbit Extended Edition Limited Edition boxed set. I’ve collected all of the WETA statues from the start with Fellowship of the Rings.

    I’m thinking about picking up the Sherlock Gift Set, but it’s a little pricey.

  5. C.C. 95

    I didn’t spend one dollar on The Hobbits yet. Reason? I just know in the back of my mind, that once The Hobbit is over there will be a great, Earth-shattering, wallet-busting, collector’s set-to-end-all-collector’s sets, Über titanic sized THE COMPLETE MIDDLE EARTH collection (HOBBIT & LOTR) that will have EVERYTHING (probably even holographic virtual PJ to walk you through the years worth of material)!!!!
    You KNOW this gonna happen! Why spend now? (It’ll be the price of a small family car and take up one whole room!)

    • William Henley

      🙂 Just keep on top of the news. Second it is even rumored, sell the copies you have now on Amazon. This trick works well on me, I have gotten rid of a few 2D discs, and a few DVDs this way. If you wait until after the new disc is released, though, you will only get a couple of bucks for the old one, so sell right when the rumors start to circulate to be able to get top dollar.

  6. C.C. 95

    Those ‘pop art’ steelbooks are as bad as the Universal ‘iconic art’ series and ‘comic panel’ series. The worst I’ve maybe ever seen. Like a child made them. L.A.’s Crazy4Cult made them, and they should be ashamed of themselves. Your terrible art should be special to me why???? Some of these films ALREADY HAD ICONIC ONE-SHEETS!!!!!
    The KARATE KID looks like the Cobra Kai Story! It does NOT win the All Valley Karate Championship!
    You can wax on and wax off lacquer but it will still look like crap! Johnny Lawrence sweeps its leg and puts it in a body bag! YEAAAAAA!

  7. Before I get to what I checked off, let’s get to the two I did not.
    Maleficent – FUCK YOU Disney once again for making me import the 3D combo Steelbook from Europe
    Planes: Fire 7 Rescue – Ditto – Awaiting 3D overseas release before I begrudgingly buy the domestic version. There are 3D versions announced but no firm dates yet.

    Okay, not for this week.
    MUST BUY:
    Desolation of Smaug EE 3D
    Mickey’s Xmas 2-pack

    Wishlist- Some will buy soon, others will await the right moment:
    Hercules 3D – Yeah, I heard it’s a stinker but I might enjoy it
    Sopranos – $$ $$ $$ – Need I say more?
    Viva Maria – Babes & Machine Guns might sell it, but a decent review goes further, which I have seen.
    Step Up All In – I will find the right moment to buy it. This franchise has been a bit catchy. Sort of like Josh’s “Bring it On” obsession : )

  8. Drew

    I upgraded to Dolby Atmos, last week. ‘Step Up: All In’ features a Dolby Atmos track, and it’s astonishing! The implementation of the overhead speakers and overall precision of the track far exceeds ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. It’s certainly not the best Atmos mix that I’ve heard, but being able to exhibit such a mix in the home setting is stunning! I can’t wait to hear ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’! (That one is getting the Atmos treatment on blu-ray, right?)

    • Drew

      I guess ‘DotPotA’ has not been confirmed as a Dolby Atmos blu-ray 🙁

      I really hope it receives the Atmos treatment.

      It was one of the top 3 theatrical Atmos presentations that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.

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