Blu-ray Highlights: Week of September 28th, 2014 – Less Than Meets the Eye

This week is all about those Robots in Disguise as Michael Bay’s latest rock ’em sock ’em sequel hits Blu-ray, and everything else moves out of its way.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (9/30/14)?

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New Releases

Transformers: Age of Extinction‘ – I seem to recall Michael Bay swearing that he was done with his ‘Transformers’ “trilogy” after ‘Dark of the Moon’ and would let someone else take over the franchise. Then somebody told him that he could have dinosaur robots in the next one and he enthusiastically signed up again. Despite grossing over $1 billion worldwide, near universal consensus is that ‘Age of Extinction’ is the worst of the ‘Transformers’ movies yet, and that’s saying quite a lot for a series that gave us ‘Revenge of the Fallen’. I’m sure it’ll sell like hotcakes on video anyway. The Blu-ray is available in a host of packaging variations and retailer exclusives. Note that only the 3D version has the alternating aspect ratio gimmick seen in IMAX theaters. From what I’m told, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to why Bay chose to film some shots in IMAX and others in 35mm, so the aspect ratio rapidly flitters back and forth even in talky dialogue scenes (both of them!). Sounds fatiguing.

Chef‘ – Jon Favreau’s latest movie, about a big-time chef whose career implodes and forces him to rebuild from a modest food truck, could be read as a metaphor for where the director himself is at these days. Favreau of course tried his hand at directing big-budget blockbusters, but after the failure of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’, has returned to the type of small, character-driven comedy where he started. The effort was very well received.

Decoding Annie Parker‘ – Based on a true story, Helen Hunt plays a geneticist researching the hereditary link between DNA and cancer. This appears to be the type of heavy yet inspirational drama that plays big at film festivals but fails to make headway in mainstream release.

Are You Here‘ – ‘Mad Men’ creator Matthew Weiner makes his feature film directorial debut with a supposed comedy about a pair of aging losers (Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis) who face familial strife when they return to their home town after one’s father dies. The movie was excoriated by almost every single critic who saw it. Perhaps Weiner should stick to television.

Third Person‘ – ‘Crash’ director Paul Haggis is back with another ensemble drama with a big cast of characters whose lives all conveniently and schematically intersect when the plot requires them to. This one was widely panned and barely made it out of the festival circuit before disappearing.

Leprechaun: Origins‘ – One of the dopiest of all horror franchises is revived in this direct-to-video reboot that replaces original star Warwick Davis with WWE wrestler Dylan Postl (a.k.a. “Hornswoggle”). Why? Seriously, why does this need to exist?

Catalog Titles

If one crappy horror movie isn’t enough for you, binge on all seven with the ‘Leprechaun: The Complete Movie Collection‘ box set. If this is anything like Lionsgate’s recent ‘Saw’ movie collection, unfortunately, you can expect all of the movies to be compressed onto a couple of discs with only lossy audio.

A little classier is Warner’s ‘Audrey Hepburn Collection‘, which repackages the existing Blu-rays for ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, ‘Funny Face’ and ‘Sabrina’. Pointless if you already have those discs, but perhaps a good deal if you don’t.

Still in the mood for another comprehensive collection? MPI has a whole bunch of ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ titles from the 1980s and 1990s, featuring Jeremy Brett in the title role.

Sergio Leone’s gangster epic ‘Once Upon a Time in America‘ was already a very long movie in its 229-minute theatrical cut. The so-called “Extended Director’s Cut” (very much a misnomer since the director has been dead since 1989 and had nothing to do with the extended cut) restores more than half an hour of deleted scenes. Be warned that the new footage only exists in very poor, degraded condition, and the restoration team has apparently drained the entire movie of color in a misguided attempt to help it blend better. Fans seem to be up in arms about this. Two Blu-ray editions are available, one with just the Extended Cut and another packaged along with the older Blu-ray of the theatrical cut, which has the correct original colors but is a very soft, dated transfer.

Warner is big on reissues this week. Also from the studio is a new ‘Gone with the Wind75th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition box set. I have no idea how this differs from the already excellent 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition, except that the box has a new design. (I like the old one better.)

At the very least, the 20th Anniversary Edition of Neil Jordan’s ‘Interview with the Vampire‘ upgrades the old disc’s audio to lossless DTS-HD Master Audio. The new cover art sucks, though (no pun intended), and the recycled video transfer was pretty underwhelming the last time around.

The fantasy/sci-fi cheesefest ‘Krull‘ will no doubt hit a guilty pleasure sweet spot for a lot of our readers who grew up in the 1980s and probably watched it dozens of times on HBO back in the day. Unfortunately, the title has been licensed out to notorious cheapskate distributor Mill Creek for Blu-ray. I wouldn’t expect much from this in terms of quality.

I’ll wrap up this section of the post on a positive note. The two latest titles from the Criterion Collection share a common thematic thread about unlikely relationships that shock those around the main characters. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s ‘Ali: Fear Eats the Soul‘ filter’s Douglas Sirk’s classic race-relations melodrama ‘All That Heaven Allows‘ (also on Blu-ray from Criterion) through the iconoclastic German filmmaker’s grittier sensibilities. The 1962 Oscar-winning French film ‘Sundays and Cybèle‘ tells the story of a shell-shocked veteran who spends a lot of time with a young child who helps restore his humanity, only for everyone else to misinterpret his actions as pedophilia.

Television

You just can’t keep Jack Bauer down. Four years since his show limped to a disappointing conclusion, TV’s ultimate badass returns in a 12-episode half season called ‘24: Live Another Day‘. Our recapper Shannon had a lot more fun with this than I did, but I’ll agree that it fortunately ends better than the last supposed “series finale.” Even so, despite its abbreviated length, the miniseries still suffers from the same sort of pointless filler and redundant storylines that dragged down the previous few seasons. This show peaked in Season 5 and has never come close to hitting those heights again.

From across the pond comes the BBC period gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders‘. What an odd title for a show, even by British standards.

If the new live-action ‘Gotham’ series has you yearning for more Dark Knight action, Warner rounds out the first season of the animated ‘Beware the Batman‘.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that, despite not liking any of them very much, I own SteelBook or MetalPak editions of all three of the previous ‘Transformers’ movies. My collector’s impulse drives me to get the Best Buy SteelBook for the latest one too, even though I should know better. Can I resist?

I’m curious about a few other titles this week, especially the new cut of ‘Once Upon a Time in America’, but I’m not sure that I’ll commit to purchasing anything else right now.

How about you?

29 comments

  1. William Henley

    Interview with the Vampire for sure. Seems to have some new bonus features, and the price is right.

    I will probably end up picking up Gone With The Wind. I had the 70th but it was lost in the fire. I got the Zaavi Steelbook, but this is one of those movies that I really like the collectors edition set on.

    • William Henley

      So got home last night and had a BOX from Amazon. Huh, seemed pretty big for just Interview with the Vampire. Opened it up and Gone With The Wind was in there too. Didn’t realize I had preordered it. Oh well, it was a good price, and I was probably going to end up picking it up eventually anyways. Really nice boxed set, pretty cover art.

      • So you actually forget you pre-order expensive stuff? 🙂
        I’m always very aware of what I order, because I don’t want financial surprises (or problems).

          • William Henley

            $35 is not that expensive, and I try to keep a cushion in my account for the unexpected. This was unexpected, but only took a small nip out of that cushion. No big deal.

            I got the text message that Interview wtih the Vampire had shipped, but it had been truncated, so I missed that there was two items in the order.

          • I agree. $35 is not expensive for a box set. It’s almost the same as a barebones Twilight Time disc!

            @Timcharger: that’s why you put the ‘charge’ in Timcharger? I’m as American as Tommy Wiseau, by the way 😉

          • Timcharger

            Julian, when I wrote that clearly you aren’t American,
            that wasn’t an insult. Many would consider that a
            compliment. Especially in the area of financial
            responsibility.

            Though I do charge nearly everything, the “charge”
            in my name is for the warhorse mascot of an
            American football team, which I’m a fan of.

          • I never took it as an insult 🙂 Your remark was quite clear and understandable. Good to finally know the origin behind your username.

  2. I wonder if those ‘Sherlock Holmes’ discs are released to piggyback on the release of the new ‘Sherlock’ video game tomorrow?

    I wonder why Warner bothered with another ‘Gone With The Wind’ boxset, because the previous one sold terribly. I picked it up for a former woman in my life more than two years after the release at a 60% Amazon reduction. If the boxset had been successful, there wouldn’t have been a sale at all (see: ‘Wizard of Oz’, now very expensive).

    • William Henley

      They may have just printed too many, I know many people who had the collectors edition of GWTW, myself included. In fact, I probably know more people who had GWTW collectors edition than all other movies in collectors editions combined. So I am assuming they sold a good number of copies, just made too many copies last time around. Gone With The Wind is also a movie that collector’s will buy multiple versions of

  3. Lord Bowler

    Of all of the Transformer sets, I’m picking up Amazon’s ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction (Limited Edition Gift Set)’. The Optimus riding Grimlock statue looks really good…

    I loved ‘Krull’ as a kid so will be picking this one up.

    I want to see this one first: ‘Killer Fish’. I’m a big fan of Lee Majors and B-Horror films.

    I’m also a fan of the Leprechaun franchise and will be picking up the Complete Movie Collection including the newest reboot.

    On the TV front:
    ’24: Live Another Day’

    And, I’ll wait for a full season set of ‘Beware the Batman’.

  4. For the eye and ear candy, Transformers Age of Extinction 3d. I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it more at home than I did in theatres. I’m going to take a chance with the Krull blu because its so cheap, I’m cautiously excited. My 3d addiction is telling me to go to Wally World and get the Thunder and the House of Magic movie, plus my daughter wants to see it as well. If I could find a good deal on it, the extended Once Upon a Time in America will hopefully be in my collection soon.

  5. Drew

    “near universal consensus is that ‘Age of Extinction’ is the worst of the ‘Transformers’ movies yet.”

    Josh, how is this a universal consensus? Do you not pay attention to the comments on your own blog? Go back and read any and every comment that your readers have made about the latest ‘Transformers’. You’ll see that the universal consensus is that it’s definitely a step up from the last two, the cast is more enjoyable, but ultimately, it’s more of the same. I don’t know a single person, and I don’t think I’ve read a single review or article that claimed that it’s the worst film of the series. You have a funny way of perceiving a “universal consensus.”

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      The movie currently has an 18% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. That’s worse than any of the other three, even Revenge of the Fallen. Similar results at Metacritic. Everyone I’ve spoken to has said it’s terrible.

      Note that I was being hyperbolic for comedic effect.

      • Drew

        Of course its terrible. We’re certainly not arguing whether or not it’s a good film. But again, read the comments of your readers. Better yet, envision replacing Shia LeBeouf with Mark Wahlberg, in the last two, and tell me that they wouldn’t be at least marginally improved.

      • Drew

        You know very well that the RT percentage means nothing, when it comes to determining which bad movie is the worst of a series of bad movies. 🙂

  6. Chris B

    I remember watching Once Upon a Time in America when I was about eighteen years old. I was annoyed somewhat by the seemingly unneccesarily long runtime and the fact that Robert Deniro’s character is named “Noodles”. I’m inclined to give it another try since my taste has matured considerably since then and I’m more patient than I used to be. Not sure I can get past the Noodles issue…but I’ll try.

    • What’s wrong with Noodles? “Back to the Future Part II” (and “III”) had Needles. “Home Alone” had Snakes.

      “Noodles” sure is better than “Cabe Gallo” …

      • Chris B

        Well, Needles isn’t nearly as wimpy souding as Noodles.
        Plus he’s a secondary villain and not the main character of the movie. Not to mention,
        BTTF is a light-hearted sci-fi comedy trilogy, not a 4 hour epic gangster drama. It’s apples and oranges.

        And in Home Alone, “Snakes” isn’t even a real character, he’s a phony character from a phony movie within the movie. And Snakes is still way better than Noodles.

        Who the hell is Cabe Gallo?

        Oh and speaking of horrible character names, “Ford Brody” from the new Godzilla is the most douche-tastic name I’ve heard i. A long time, maybe ever. One more reason to dislike that shitty movie.

    • William Henley

      Oh, so this isn’t a spin off of the ABC television series? I’m behind on the show, but here I was thinking that they had finally escaped from Storybrooke

  7. Josh Zyber
    Author

    Is anyone having problems voting in the poll? I’ve received one report that clicking the VOTE button brings the person to a completely different page. I don’t see that on this end. Is that happening for anyone else?

    • Yes, it happened to me this morning and kept sending me to a walmart transformers page and asked if I wanted to start a forum discussion. I couldn’t vote until it was posted on the bonus view.

    • William Henley

      It took my vote, but lead me to the Transformers review page. I didn’t think much about it, figured I must have accidentally clicked on Transformers by mistake

  8. Chris B

    Couldn’t the Extended Director’s Cut still be considered Leone’s definitive version of the movie? It was the studio that cut the scenes originally for theatrical release was it not? Even if he’s long dead, this would certainly be his preferred version of the film if he were alive today.

  9. There are many titles on the wishlist for the week, and so I voted for all the ones that were so. Realistically this week though the household will buy Bayformers 4 3D IMAX edition and the Monster High title. Nothing else merits a must buy this week.
    As fill-ins for possible Amazon orders (to reach the free shipping) maybe Krull or Blue Thunder, but they’re Mill Creek releases, UGH. Will wait and see about ratings for the 24 movie. Pricing wise, if the Leprechaun set is worthy and One Upon a Time in American Deluxe Edition. If my disposable income were greater and the video wall bigger, it would have been a very expensive week.

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