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Blu-ray Highlights: Week of Sept. 22nd, 2013 – Heavy Boots of Lead, Fills His Victims Full of Dread

Zombies and superheroes – it feels like modern audiences will never get tired of either. Last week delivered a big zombie epic to Blu-ray, and this week brings us the first of this year’s many superhero spectacles. I’ll admit that I’m as guilty as anyone of buying into these things, but… I don’t know… isn’t it time for something new?

When does the ‘Marvel Zombies’ movie go into production? We all know that’s coming eventually, right?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (9/24/13)?

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New Releases

The first of the Marvel superhero movies released in the wake of ‘The Avengers’, audiences continued to turn out in droves for ‘Iron Man 3‘, even despite mixed word-of-mouth. Some viewers felt that this was the best entry in the franchise to date, while others complained about poor plotting and major changes made to one of the most famous villain characters from the comic book. As someone who has never read an ‘Iron Man’ comic in my life, I doubt that the latter would bother me as much as the former. In any case, I decided to wait for Blu-ray due to a general feeling of superhero burnout. My SteelBook copy imported from the UK arrived late last week. (Hey, I needed to complete the set with my other ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Avengers’ SteelBooks. Don’t judge me!) I suppose I’ll have to make time to watch it now.

If you’re sick of the summer action movie bombast and need some counter-programming, the coming-of-age drama ‘The Kings of Summer‘ was one of the year’s better reviewed indie films. With Ron Swanson, Tammy 2, Annie Edison and Chloe O’Brian all in supporting roles, it’s a veritable who’s-who of favorite TV character actors.

I like Jason Statham well enough, but his movies are all basically the same as one another. According to the IMDb plot summary of his latest, ‘Redemption‘, he plays an “ex-Special Forces soldier navigating London’s criminal underworld.” With box office grosses of almost $35,000 (yes, that’s thirty five thousand dollars), this flop may force Statham to re-evaluate the direction of his career.

When the sequel to the found-footage horror anthology ‘V/H/S‘ played at Sundance earlier this year, it originally went by the clever title ‘S-V/H/S’. Sadly, next to no one remembered what an S-VHS tape was, so the movie was retitled the more conventional ‘V/H/S 2‘. I suppose this means that the next one won’t be called ‘D-V/H/S’ either.

The documentary ‘Room 237‘ shines a light (no pun intended) at obsessive fans of the classic horror film ‘The Shining’, and the wild crackpot theories that some of them have about hidden messages (about faking the moon landing, Native American genocide and other random things) they believe that director Stanley Kubrick subliminally embedded into the picture. Many viewers who saw the movie as lending credence to these nutty conspiracy theorists came away disappointed, while others argue that it should be viewed as a case study of the effects of neurotic mania. Hmmm… I may need to see this for myself to decide where I fall on that.

Catalog Titles

As we march toward Halloween, it should come as no surprise to see a lot of horror movies issued or reissued on Blu-ray. Not the least of this week’s offerings is ‘Halloween‘ itself, which has been given a new 35th Anniversary Edition by Starz/Anchor Bay. Fans of that John Carpenter classic may recall that the prior Blu-ray release had a controversial video transfer that failed to replicate the movie’s intended color palette. (While the story takes place in Illinois during Halloween, Carpenter had to shoot the movie in California during the spring, and used various color filters to evoke the fall season, which the Blu-ray transfer removed.) The anniversary edition sports a brand new remaster supervised by cinematographer Dean Cundey. You’d think that would make this the final word on the subject, but some fans have already started complaining that the transfer still isn’t right. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough personal investment with this film to know what its original theatrical prints really looked like.

Meanwhile, Scream Factory gives us a Collector’s Edition of another John Carpenter movie, the lesser-known ‘Prince of Darkness‘. Also from Scream Factory are ‘Psycho II‘ and ‘Psycho III‘. Judged in comparison to the original Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece, these Hitchcock-less sequels kind of stink. But if you can view them simply as slasher movies, they’re actually pretty good for that genre.

Shifting gears entirely from all this talk of horror, the Criterion Collection boxes up ‘3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman‘. At the time of their release, the affair and eventual marriage between Bergman and her director overshadowed talk of the movies themselves. With six decades of distance, the films (‘Stromboli’, ‘Europe ’51′ and ‘Journey to Italy’) should be easier to judge on their own merits.

Speaking of box sets, Warner Bros. has bundled together the three movies in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight Trilogy‘ with a handful of new bonus features and some physical swag (art cards, toy vehicles and the like) for an Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Sadly, those hoping for a remaster of the second film’s problematic video transfer will have to keep waiting. Neither the studio nor Christopher Nolan is willing to admit that anything is wrong with the old disc, despite its obvious problems with excessive edge enhancement processing.

Also reissued is Fernando Meirelles’ extraordinary Brazilian crime epic ‘City of God‘, now paired up in a double feature with its quasi-sequel ‘City of Men’. If you’re not familiar with the latter, be advised that, other than the setting, it shares very little direct continuity with the first film. Technically, it’s actually the 2007 feature film spin-off of the TV series also called ‘City of Men’, which was itself a spin-off from the original ‘City of God’. Confusing enough for you? The Blu-ray does not contain the TV series, which ran for four seasons on Brazilian TV.

Television

Going into it, no one could have been more skeptical of ‘Hannibal‘ than I was. The Hannibal Lecter film series had gone downhill after ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, and I couldn’t imagine network television (NBC, no less) doing proper justice to the original Thomas Harris character. Color me surprised, then, that the series (from ‘Pushing Daisies’ creator Bryan Fuller) is actually downright amazing, better even than any of the movies. This is easily the best new TV show of the year, and I can’t wait for Season 2.

In other TV matters, Paramount catches up with the first three seasons of the dopey ‘Hawaii Five-0‘ reboot, BBC delivers the seventh season of ‘Doctor Who‘, Fox rolls out the fifth season of ‘Modern Family‘, and we all wonder how it’s possible that ‘South Park‘ has stayed on the air for sixteen seasons.

As I said, my copy of ‘Iron Man 3′ has already arrived. I will probably also pick up the ‘Halloween’ remaster, and perhaps rent ‘Room 237′. The Rossellini box set will go on my wish list. In general, I’ve stopped purchasing TV box sets, but I may need to make an exception for ‘Hannibal’.

What are your plans this week?

20 comments

  1. Drew

    I received my ‘Iron Man 3′ SteelBook, last Tuesday. I’m still somewhat disappointed by the film, but the blu-ray contains a very nearly reference video transfer, and an absolute top shelf, reference audio track.

    • Will never buy this movie ever. So disappointed in it’s hack handling of both the extremus storyline and Mandarin in particular. The fact that they wasted Ben Kingsley only made it all the worse.

  2. I received Zavvi’s ‘The Rocketeer’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ today. I had never seen ‘The Rocketeer’, but after today’s viewing, I can conclude that it is a very fun (if pulpy) movie. ‘The Little Mermaid’, my favourite Disney movie, is next – although I have seen it a thousand times and owned it on every imaginable format. I’m curious to find out how the Blu-ray holds up and compares.

  3. Timcharger

    “In general, I’ve stopped purchasing TV box sets, but I may need to make an exception for ‘Hannibal’.”

    Josh, even Game of Thrones? I thought you said you fire up the giant screen to watch that. You don’t buy the blus for GoT?

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      The Game of Thrones box sets have been on my wish list for a while, but I haven’t bought them yet because I can’t fathom when I’ll actually have time to rewatch the episodes. The same fate is likely to befall Hannibal.

  4. William Henley

    Iron Man 3D was preordered.

    Betty Bop is a possible future purchase. Doctor Who, I am waiting for Netflix to pick up the next season. And Southpark is available on all the streaming services I have

  5. Drew

    Julian, how is ‘The Little Mermaid’? I’m quite curious. Please report back!

    I read the review, on the main site, but I’m dubious of certain observations the reviewer claims they noticed, that I haven’t heard anyone else mention.

  6. NJScorpio

    Also, I’m very interested in ’3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman’ but it’s a pricey purchase. Hopefully those films find their way to Hulu.

  7. Timcharger

    Hey Josh, I found this you wrote 2 years ago when I was searching for a City of God review:

    “The best catalog title of the week is the Brazilian crime epic ‘City of God‘. This movie is amazing. It marked in Fernando Meirelles the most exciting breakthrough for a director since Tarantino and ‘Pulp Fiction’. (Unfortunately, I was scheduled to review the Blu-ray for the site, but Fed Ex decided to lose or steal the package with the screener disc. So that review will have to be delayed.)”

    The 2 pack of City of God and Men:
    http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/9598/city_god_men.html
    is only $10.

    A 2 year delay by Fedex is long enough. :)