With the end of October and Halloween upon us, this week brings us a handful of appropriately themed movies on Blu-ray. Not much else, though. This is a peculiarly slow week.
Pixar’s latest animated production may not be a scary movie, per se, but it’s about monsters (the lovable sort) who at least want to scare children, and that’s fitting enough for this time of year. Many commentators saw the ‘Monsters, Inc.’ prequel ‘Monsters University‘ as another sign that the once-unstoppable studio has run out of original ideas. On the other hand, even those viewers who were disappointed with the film felt that it was at least passable entertainment. With the possible exception of ‘Cars 2′, even poor Pixar maintains a consistency of quality better than most studios (especially among family films). I didn’t bother to see this in theaters, but I have a compulsion to be a Pixar completist (yes, even for ‘Cars 2′), and have preordered the UK SteelBook that unfortunately won’t be available for another month. Also unfortunately, the SteelBook won’t include 3D, so I may need to buy that disc separately to put in the case.
In the blatant ‘Men in Black’ rip-off ‘R.I.P.D.‘, deceased lawmen Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges return to Earth to protect the world from the undead. The movie was one of the summer’s biggest flops. I kind of feel a little bad for Ryan Reynolds. He’s been in so many duds, yet he’s rarely the reason they fail. I think he just needs a better agent. I have no plans to buy this one (regardless of 2D or 3D), but I have a perverse desire to watch it at least once, if only because much of the movie was shot near my office in Boston, and I walked past one of the street sets (seen in the trailer) every day while it was shooting for months last year. A VUDU rental may be in order.
‘Interview with the Vampire’ director Neil Jordan returns to the blood-sucking genre with the much smaller-scaled ‘Byzantium‘, starring Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton as two ancient vampires who seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. The movie never made it out of limited release and didn’t do much business, but I’m generally willing to give Jordan the benefit of the doubt.
Fans of classic Italian splatter may appreciate Synapse’s limited edition SteelBook copies of Lamberto Bava’s ‘Demons‘ and ‘Demons 2‘. However, given that these are only available from the Synapse web site, even if you preordered, will they get to you by Halloween? I think it would have been a better plan had the studio released them last week.
Here’s where we break from the Halloween theme. I suppose that the new Ultimate Collector’s Edition of ‘Cars‘ is meant to capitalize on ‘Monsters University’. While this is (in my opinion) lower-tier Pixar, the first movie has its charms and is still miles better than the sequel. The re-release brings us a new 3D conversion. Of all the Pixar movies, the design of this one has always been well-suited to 3D. In fact, when I reviewed the 3D-Bee conversion processor last year, this is the only movie I tested that converted to 3D flawlessly and looked terrific in that format. I expect this professional conversion to be even better.
Shifting gears entirely (because I was just talking about ‘Cars’, get it?), the Criterion Collection has just one title this week, Italian master-of-alienation Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘La Notte‘. I went through an Antonioni phase back in my film school days, but I have to admit that his works are very much an acquired taste. You really have to be in the right frame of mind before you sit down to watch one of his movies. This isn’t casual viewing.
The anime classic ‘Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise‘ was previously released on Blu-ray back in the early days of the format, but went out of print long ago and has fetched some ridiculous prices on the secondary market. It’s taken long enough, but this re-release should finally provide a decent option for fans who missed their opportunity the first time.
Let’s wrap things up this week with something silly. Kino offers a “fully restored edition” of the so-bad-it’s-still-really-quite-bad 1964 cult classic ‘Santa Claus Conquers the Martians‘, which gained a second life in the 1990s after being featured on ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000′. Sadly, the Blu-ray contains only the original version of the movie, without the ‘MST3K’ commentary that might make it watchable.
As mentioned, I’m waiting for the SteelBook copy of ‘Monster University’. I will put ‘La Notte’ on my wish list, and may rent ‘Byzantium’. I’m debating the 3D version of ‘Cars’, and will probably wait for a sale on that.
Are you planning to buy anything? If you tell us about it in the Comments, I promise that we won’t derail the conversation with another aspect ratio argument this week. (Though, for the record, ‘Cars’, ‘R.I.P.D.’ and ‘Byzantium’ were all 2.35:1 productions and should look splendid on a Constant Image Height screen.)