Blu-ray Highlights: Week of November 9th, 2014 – KAPOW! ZWAPP! SPLATT!

Holy high definition, Batman! Heaven and Earth had to get moved to bring one of this week’s new Blu-ray releases to disc.

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

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For decades, the 1960s ‘Batman‘ TV series was so entangled in a complex rights dispute that fans assumed it would never come to home video. (This article has the whole story.) Finally, after years of negotiating, the various parties have agreed to terms and allowed its release on both DVD and Blu-ray. Reportedly, the episodes have all been painstakingly remastered for picture quality far surpassing syndication broadcasts (which had their brightness artificially boosted and looked terribly washed out).

Will this translate to a bat-bonanza of sales? The high list price, while perhaps unavoidable given the effort involved, may prove an obstacle. At least initially, the series is only available in an ugly oversized Limited Edition box set with a toy Batmobile and some other bric-a-brac that don’t appeal to me, personally. I’m hoping to see the discs repackaged in streamlined cases in the future.

New Releases

How to Train Your Dragon 2‘ – I’m a big fan of the first ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. Although the sequel didn’t exactly light the box office on fire this summer, word-of-mouth is that it’s a worthy follow-up. Since I don’t have much opportunity to get out to theaters these days, I’ve been looking forward to catching up with it on Blu-ray, especially in 3D. Sadly, the studio has elected not to provide a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, even though the movie had an Atmos mix in theaters.

Let’s Be Cops‘ – The success of this goofy comedy was a big surprise for a number of reasons. First off, as a tossed-off project to keep ‘New Girl’ co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. occupied between seasons of their show, the film lacked any real box office draws. Perhaps more importantly, it opened smack-dab in the middle of the Ferguson, MO riots, which didn’t seem like great timing for a light-hearted movie about police. Nevertheless, audiences in other parts of the country were apparently either oblivious to that connection or just dismissed it as irrelevant. To be fair, the trailers did look kind of funny.

Jersey Boys‘ – As much as I may be an apologist for Clint Eastwood, enough to find value even in some of his lesser late-career efforts that other viewers scoff at, his musical adaptation of the hit Broadway show holds no appeal for me whatsoever. The film garnered some of the worst reviews of the director’s career and was a big flop. Perhaps Eastwood can redeem himself with the upcoming ‘American Sniper’, but let’s be honest here, he may not have too many more opportunities beyond that.

Tammy‘ – Melissa McCarthy co-wrote this starring vehicle for herself with husband Ben Falcone, who also directed. The project didn’t fare too well with either critics or audiences, who complained about its uncomfortable swings from crass gross-out comedy to desperate attempts at pathos.

James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge – 3D‘ – Yup, this is what James Cameron does with his time between ‘Avatar’ movies rather than spend a few hours signing off on high-def masters for ‘True Lies’ and ‘The Abyss’. I respect the guy’s passion, but how much potential for great 3D cinema can a documentary about a man sitting in a tiny cramped submarine really offer?

Mood Indigo‘ – Michel Gondry has never lived up the promise he showed with ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. That film benefited greatly from the mix of the director’s visual talents with a brilliant script by Charlie Kaufman. Most of Gondry’s subsequent movies, however, have leaned too heavily on cloying whimsy and twee fantasy. This looks no different in that regard.

Catalog Titles

It feels a little wrong to watch a movie called ‘UHF‘ in high definition. Nevertheless, Shout! Factory finally brings “Weird Al” Yankovic’s legendary cult comedy to Blu-ray. I know that our friend and frequent Roundtable contributor Adam from DVDTalk is very excited about this.

Warner Bros. continues to prep for the yuletide season with the holiday classics ‘A Christmas Carol‘ (the 1938 version, which was already the tenth adaptation of the story by that time) and ‘Christmas in Connecticut‘. Fun fact: ‘Christmas in Connecticut’ was remade in 1992 as a TV movie directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, of all people. That and one episode of ‘Tales from the Crypt’ were his only directorial efforts. That’s not what we’re getting on Blu-ray, thankfully. The disc is the original 1945 version with Barbara Stanwyck.

Halloween may be over, but Scream Factory and Synapse still have plenty of schlocky horror classics ready for the high-def upgrade. This week, the two labels roll out ‘Dolls‘, ‘Demons‘ and ‘Demons 2‘.

Was “rednecksploitation” a thing in the 1970s? Fresh off ‘Deliverance’, Burt Reynolds played a moonshine running ex-con in ‘White Lightning‘ and its sequel ‘Gator‘.

John Wayne received his first Oscar nomination for the WWII drama ‘Sands of Iwo Jima‘, now available from Olive Films.

Television

True Blood‘ finally settled into its grave this year and, frankly, it was time to let go. The show ran out of fresh ideas or fun things to do a long time ago. The final season is an unstructured mess of half-thought-out storylines that ends on one of the lamest of TV tropes. Regardless, if you’re a completist (or a masochist), HBO offers a Season 7 box set or a Complete Series collection.

FX’s ‘Sons of Anarchy‘ is currently in its own final season, scheduled to end in December. Fox wants to get an early jump on that with a Collector’s Set of all the previous seasons that leaves open a slot for the last one.

After Disney bought Lucasfilm, the company canceled the animated ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘ series (which was distributed by Warner Bros.) in order to replace it with the purely-Disney ‘Rebels’. This left ‘Clone Wars’ in a very awkward place, as the show had already begun production of another season. Although I don’t believe that the show ends with any closure, the final batch of episodes are now available in a box set called ‘The Lost Missions’.

Another victim of early cancelation was Cartoon Network’s ‘ThunderCats‘ reboot, which only made it through a single season before getting the axe.

No, just because you see the name ‘The Avengers‘, don’t go expecting any iron men or incredible hulks. This is the fifth season of the classic British spy series with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg.

Finally, I don’t often mention anime in these Highlights posts, because I haven’t followed an anime series in ages and honestly don’t know much about recent shows. That hasn’t changed any this week, but I had to point out that two of the listings in the poll above had to be condensed due to ridiculously long titles: ‘My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering with My School Romantic Comedy: Complete Collection‘ and ‘Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³: Complete Collection‘. I won’t pretend to have a clue what either of these is about, but their titles alone are certainly perplexing.

Are you enough of a Batman fan to buy the campy ’60s TV series? I think I’ll focus my money on ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ and ‘UHF’ first. How about you?

10 comments

  1. Drew

    Today marks the beginning of the big Criterion B&N sale. None of this week’s releases can hold a candle to the Criterion sale.

    • EM

      On my way to go see Interstellar this afternoon, I dropped by B&N and picked up the recent Blu release of the ghost-story classic The Innocents at half off. Now, full price—that would have been spooky!

  2. Must Buys this week, I’m with Josh – HTTYD 2-3D Combo & UHF.
    Batman is a must as well, just not this week. (Warner make note of this IOU/Intent to buy)
    Other mentions that will or may be bought at some point or another: Dolls, Demons 1 & 2, Gamera Bundle, Jersey Boys, Let’s Be Cops, Nocturna and Patema Inverted.

  3. The picture quality of the Batman series is absolutely stunning. I watched the show on TV when it first aired, and I can’t remember or even conceive how the show could possibly have ever looked this good. Unfortunately, the packaging, which at first glance seems fun, will not wear well. The box only makes sense if you keep the Hot Wheels Batmobile displayed in its little plastic case that’s visible from the outside of the box. Same goes for the vintage trading cards, which are a nice bonus but use up half the interior volume of the box just to reside in their own small compartment. There’s a push button recording of the closing section of the Batman theme song that can be triggered on the outside of the box as well. All of this “bric-a-brac” (which I personally enjoy) could have come in a much more compact package. Still, the video quality makes this a must-have for diehard fans of the show!

  4. So I picked up How To Train Your Dragon 2 3d yesterday. When I got home and opened it, the case was all busted up including the hinge that holds the middle hub. So I went and exchanged it tonight and now I have an extra digital copy code. If HDD has no problem with this, I’ll post it. Let me know.

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