Blu-ray Highlights: Week of September 18th, 2016 – Go Ninja, Go Ninja, GO!

2016 has been a really tough time for sequels. Some of the year’s seemingly surefire franchise hits wound up disappointing at the box office. Two such casualties make their way to Blu-ray this week.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (9/20/16)?

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New Releases

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows‘ – One of the biggest complaints that ‘TMNT’ fans had about the 2014 reboot movie was that it bore little resemblance to the old comic book or cartoon series. The sequel makes some effort to correct that by being more overtly cartoony, and introducing famous franchise characters such as alien warlord Krang and goofy mutants Bebop and Rocksteady. Fans either weren’t impressed by the attempt, or had already given up on the series after the last movie. Budgeted at $135 million, the CGI-fest made only $82 million domestically. Its overseas totals were also around half of what the previous movie did. We may not see a ‘Turtles 3’ after this. Nevertheless, the movie is available on video in a variety of options, including 3D, UHD, a lunchbox gift set, a SteelBook (Best Buy exclusive), or a turtle shell case (Target exclusive).

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising‘ – Seth Rogen’s family-vs.-fratboys comedy was a surprise hit, but was also a one-joke kind of movie and left no need for a sequel. Of course, any movie that grosses almost 15 times its budget is going to get a sequel anyway. The follow-up, which sees Rogen and obnoxious fratboy Zac Efron team up against sorority girl Chloë Moretz, looks like it’s just more of the same. People apparently got enough of it the first time. This one made less than 1/3 as much as the original. With that said, it was modestly budgeted and still turned a profit. Even if ultimately unnecessary, it might have a few laughs if you liked the first one.

Free State of Jones‘ – The terrible title may reference a real historical event, but that doesn’t make it any less lame a name for a movie. In the Civil War tale, Matthew McConaughey stars a Confederate army deserter who leads a militia of runaway slaves in an uprising against their Southern oppressors. Based on a true story or not, the racial politics of Hollywood making a piece of Oscar bait about a heroic white man saving people of color are a lot more dicey today than they were when, say, ‘Glory’ or ‘Dances with Wolves’ came out. Critics who saw it also complained that, even at 139 minutes, the movie felt like it was hacked to pieces from a presumably much longer version. Considering the film’s box office failure, we’ll probably never see a proper Director’s Cut.

Catalog Titles

Be our guest! Disney pulls ‘Beauty and the Beast‘ out of the vault for a 25th Anniversary Edition reissue. From what I can tell, it looks like this one has a few new bonus features but drops a bunch from the (out of print) 2010 Diamond Edition Blu-ray. I also see no indication of 3D, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

Also celebrating an anniversary is Jim Henson’s ‘Labyrinth‘, though I suspect that David Bowie’s recent death had far more to do with the movie being re-released now. Sony offers it in a new Blu-ray, a crazy M.C. Escher-inspired gift set, and 4k UHDs in either a standard keepcase or a SteelBook.

Following ‘Inside Llewyn Davis‘ earlier this year, the Criterion Collection collaborates with the Coen brothers once again for a new Blu-ray edition of their debut feature, the noir-ish thriller ‘Blood Simple‘. I’m excited for this (Fox’s prior Blu-ray was pretty mediocre and our reviewer E. says this one has a better video transfer), but I’m disappointed that the Coens have suppressed the original theatrical cut of the film in favor of the Director’s Cut that many fans consider slightly inferior. E. also complains about some issues with the soundtrack.

Criterion’s second title this week is director Jacques Tourneur and producer Val Lewton’s classic horror picture ‘Cat People‘ (obviously the 1942 version, not the ’80s remake).

Olive Films launches its new “Olive Signature” line with new restorations of the Westerns ‘High Noon‘ and ‘Johnny Guitar‘. Olive clearly wants to compete with Criterion in this space, which should hopefully mean some extra care and attention gets put into these than many of the other titles Olive licenses (which tend to be erratic in quality).

Exclusive to Best Buy are a trio of Stephen King adaptations: ‘Salem’s Lot‘, ‘Cat’s Eye‘ and ‘It‘. I remember watching the ‘It’ miniseries when it was originally broadcast, loving the first half, and haaaaaaaating the second half. That’s pretty much the common consensus. Good luck to the upcoming theatrical remake in trying to fix King’s lousy ending.

In case you don’t already have them already, MGM repackages all the 007 movies in a new ‘James Bond Collection‘, this time with ‘Spectre’ in the box.

Japan’s long-running and extremely popular manga series ‘Golgo 13’ is, at least partially, an obvious James Bond knockoff. The character (a professional assassin and spy) was adapted to animated form in 1983 with ‘The Professional: Golgo 13‘ (sometimes called ‘Golgo 13: The Professional’). Viewers of my generation may be more familiar with him from the NES games ‘Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode’ and ‘The Mafat Conspiracy’.

Television

The ‘Vampire Diaries’ spinoff ‘The Originals‘ is already up to its third season, which is getting a Blu-ray release through the Warner Archive.

Paramount and CBS Films released the entirety of David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks‘ (short of the upcoming Showtime revival, of course) on Blu-ray in 2014. While that set is still in print, the awkwardly-titled new reissue ‘Twin Peaks: The Original Series, Fire Walk With Me & The Missing Pieces’ retains all of the TV episodes, the prequel movie and the deleted scenes, but omits other supplemental content. The less expensive package may appeal to people who want to watch the show but don’t care about bonus features.

My $.02

I’m in for ‘Blood Simple’ and ‘Cat People’. ‘High Noon’ and ‘Johnny Guitar’ will go on my wish list for later. I’ve also long been curious to see the ‘Golgo 13’ anime.

I already have the older Blu-ray of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which is plenty sufficient for me.

I bought the 2014 ‘Ninja Turtles’ movie on Blu-ray for its 3D and Dolby Atmos (the 3D was impressive, the Atmos less so) and surprisingly didn’t dislike it. (High praise, I’m sure.) I’ll probably rent the sequel, but don’t think I can bring myself to blind buy this one.

What’s your plan for this week?

19 comments

  1. Csm101

    Labyrinth uhd version is heading to my house. I will be picking up Ninja Turtles in 3D as well. I’m very interested in Cat People and Blood Simple for the next Criterion sale. I’ll probably pick up at least one of the Stephen King titles if I see them at Best Buy tomorrow when I go to pick up Turtles. I’ve always wanted to see Dead End Drive-In and I’m liking what Arrow’s been putting out lately, so this will definitely go on my wishlist. I’m hoping to get Neighbors 2 on Black Friday for cheap just like the first one. I didn’t check it, but I did enjoy The Professional many years ago and may want to revisit it. I already own Beauty and the Beast 3D and had owned the previous bluray for it, there’s no need for a bluray triple dip.

    • Bolo

      Brian Trenchard-Smith was a solid Aussie grindhouse filmmaker. I was always surprised his career didn’t go bigger places. I remember liking ‘Dead-End Drive-In’ and look forward to revisiting it. It had a unique satirical message.

  2. William Henley

    I had preordered Labyrinth months ago, as it was one of the very first catalogue titles to be announced on UHD. The problem is, there was so much time between when it was announced and today, that it gave me time to remember that I really don’t like this movie, and canceled it about 3 weeks ago. Hey, I preordered because of the UHD and because of David Bowie’s death. When both novelties wore off, there was no need to pick this up.

    I have the 3D version of Beauty and the Beast, and the movie just had a Blu release a few years back, and you could still find discs at many places (so much for Disney’s vault). I am willing to bet sales on that one will be fairly low as it has been so recent since it’s release

    So nothing this week

      • William Henley

        I think I am using the word a bit different than you are. 🙂 Celebrity deaths tend to drive sells in the short term. Problem is, its been 9 months since his death, IMHO I would say that an item needs to be released probably within 3-4 months to really drive sells based on the death.

        It is now also not the first movie shot on film to be released on UHD, so that novelty has worn off.

        The movie still has tons of fans, don’t get me wrong, and it will probably have decent sales, but if they had of gotten this out in February or March, sales would have probably been much higher.

        And yeah, I know you were teasing, but I still think it helps for me to explain that a bit more.

  3. Chris B

    I’m planning on picking up Blood Simple this week. I’ve never actually seen the movie but I enjoy most of the Coens’ work so I’m willing to take a chance. Nothing else interests me this week as far as actually wanting to own it. Stephen King’s “It” is pretty good but I’ve seen it more times than I care to admit.

    On a different note, I came across this article from The Onion on the weekend and had a pretty good laugh. Figured it might play well to this crowd:

    http://www.theonion.com/article/hollywood-refusing-to-give-public-any-new-movies-u-53959

    Happy Monday everybody!

  4. Deaditelord

    Not a whole lot that interests me this week. As a long-time fan of Golgo 13, I’m definitely picking up The Professional. I might pick up Salems Lot and It at some point if I can get them on the cheap. I’m also curious about Blood Simple, but I want to watch it first since the Coen Bros. movies tend to be very hit and miss with me.

    • Deaditelord

      Guess I can add The Thing to my purchase list since I got notification yesterday that my copy shipped. Can’t wait to give this one a spin!

  5. Al

    Josh, I’m with you, on the first TMNT. I blind bought it, expecting to not like it. I didn’t dislike it. This surprised me. I went to the new one, theatrically. It was everything we’ve ever hoped for, out of a TMNT film. If the first one would have been the same, the franchise would have had a ton of goodwill. I would highly recommend blind buying the second one. Especially considering the fact that you’ve mentioned your completist nature, dozens of times.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I’m not a completist for everything. I do let some things go. 🙂

      I’m not really sure what I hope for out of a TMNT movie. I watched the old cartoon a fair amount back in the late ’80s, but I was never a die-hard fan. I never read the comic and never owned any of the toys. I saw the first two live action movies in the theater, but was an age where I was embarrassed to do so, especially for the second one.

      I liked the 2007 animated movie a lot. That was pretty much all I needed from a Turtles movie.

  6. Oh, ffs. It was annoying enough that Amazon wouldn’t let you preorder Beauty and the Beast, unless you were a Prime member. But, the title is still a Prime exclusive. There’s no way I’m paying $100/year to be allowed the priviledge of buying an occational disc from Amazon.

    What other American blu-ray stores are still in business, and ships to Norway? Any recommendations?

    (BTW: amazon.ca does sell to commoners, so problem solved for now, but I’d rather use someone else the next time)

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