We've already announced our individual picks for the Best Blu-rays of 2011 So Far. Now, we take a look at the releases that had us stumped, befuddled, and down right perturbed. It's a look at the worst the format had to offer.
These are the releases that didn't live up to expectations, movies which are so bad we wonder how they even got released, and films that look like no one took the time to care for them like they should have.
With the good come the bad. We all expect the world of Blu-ray to put out its fair share of ugly, unattractive discs. You've been warned. Picking up these releases could be hazardous to your health and your movie collection.
The worst Blu-rays of 2011 is meant to be a warning for people looking to buy any of these titles. Think twice before you plunk down your hard-earned cash for these stinkers.
My dreams had been answered when we found out that a few Don Bluth animated films would be headed to Blu-ray. My hopes were raised when I saw how good 'Anastasia' turned out and hoped that 'Secret of NIMH' and 'All Dogs Go to Heaven' would be just as good. I was wrong. Really wrong. Those two classic Bluth films, especially 'NIMH' deserved a proper remastering, but all they got was a dirty, grimy transfer that looked as if it had just been ported over from the DVD. Yes, Bluth's animation isn't as crisp or colorful as the Disney animated films we're used to, but these films deserved so much more. This got me to thinking, at least for 'NIMH,' how much we need Criterion to pick up that title and give it a complete overhaul. I'd be behind that all the way. As for now though, we're stuck with two Bluth Blu-rays that failed to live up to expectations.
Meghan Fox has wings, Mickey Rourke has sex with her, and Bill Murray slums it as an idiot gangster. The audio and video presentations are average, but this movie is so bad that it drags itself into the gutter without hardly trying. It's painful to watch actors like Murray take on a role like this. You have to wonder what they're thinking and why he wouldn't want to spend time making something better, like, say 'Ghostbusters 3'.
'Birdemic: Shock and Terror'
This is one of those movies that you just have to wonder why money was spent bringing it to Blu-ray. People fend off attacks from killer birds. It's as crap-tastic as they come. B-movie schlock all the way. When it comes to the audio and video, well there's just no comparison. It's probably the worst you've ever heard and seen on the format. The ultra-low budget makes it look like the birds were cut and pasted on the screen. It's a dismal presentation and a terrible movie. Although it may be fun to watch with the RiffTrax that was made for it.
Yuck. Sandra Bullock makes steamy, sweaty, and apparently sticky love to some dude who looks like he stepped right out of a David Bowie music video. I'm sure that Bullock would love if this movie never again saw the light of day, but unfortunately someone had the bright idea to bring it to Blu-ray. Which means I had to watch it. Which in turn means that it made this list.
Some people complained about my review of 'Blood Out,' saying that it wasn't really a review. Well, that's true. It's because a movie as bad and stupid as 'Blood Out' defies the reviewing process. Instead I wrote a live-blog about the idiotic things happening on screen. A movie that features 50 Cent telling a story that ends with "…and she swallowed the evidence," is a movie that doesn't deserve a thought-out review. It deserves to be pummeled into the earth so no one will ever, ever see it.
Never being much of a fan of both the gritty '80s street gang and prison genres, I was surprised when a co-worker forced me to watch this movie and I actually enjoyed it. We watched an old DVD copy that he found in a local Walmart's five-buck movie bin. Let's just say that the Blu-ray release doesn't look all that different from the DVD. The only consistency in the 'Bad Boys' Blu-ray is how bad it looks. It is foggy, unfocused and pretty much unwatchable.
Before Jason Bateman donned the furry suit, and much earlier than MTV's tragically awful re-imagining of the teenage werewolf, Michael J. Fox was the original teen wolf. Although shot prior to 'Back to the Future,' 'Teen Wolf' was released just months after Fox's time-traveling adventure flick. People who loved him 'Back to the Future' went to 'Teen Wolf' expecting more of the same – my family was one of them. Boy, were we wrong. But we all forced ourselves to like it anyway. Marty McFly could do no wrong. And 'Teen Wolf' became a guilty pleasure in our household – but the Blu-ray transfer is of lower quality that the movie itself. For the first time, I actually believe the DVD is better than the Blu-ray – it lacks sharpness, depth and clarity.
After his first few comedies, Adam Sandler's movies sure started to tank. His latest ones are basically unbearable. But his first pair – 'Billy Madison' and 'Happy Gilmore' – are still pretty funny to date. While 'Happy Gilmore' received a decent Blu-ray transfer, 'Billy Madison' didn't. Nate Boss's Blu-ray review sums up my feelings exactly: “'Billy Madison' is a constant reminder of what a bad catalog title looks like...”
How fitting - one of the worst movies of last year received one of the worst Blu-ray transfers of the year. Considering 'Skyline' is a major science-fiction alien invasion action epic that was made for only $10 million, could you really expect anything better? I'm not certain whether the terrible picture quality is fault of a crappy Blu-ray transfer or if it just looked that bad to begin with. Not screened for the press, I didn't see it in theaters – but I believe it was the latter. While some low-budget flicks like this have the potential to earn cult status for being so bad, 'Skyline' is just too bad to be the slightest bit enjoyable. Better picture quality, sharper images and more realistic special effects have been seen in video games and SyFy original movies.
'Harry Potter Years 1-7 Part 1 Giftset'
If this isn't the most ridiculous and worthless Blu-ray set any studio has ever put out, I don't know what is. Who in their right mind would buy an expensive seven-movie set of an eight-movie series? Don't get me wrong, I'm a lover of the 'Harry Potter' film franchise (with the exception of the trainwreck known as 'The Goblet of Fire') – but this is simply absurd. This gift set sounds like the perfect gag gift to give to somebody. “Here you go – you get the majority of the 'Harry Potter' series, except for the epic conclusion. It's got the first half of the finale – the slow half where they camp a lot – but not the action-packed superbly-crafted climax. You have to buy that for yourself – and, no, it will not fit inside this sweet collectors case. Enjoy!”
I could fill this entire list with the Miramax dumps from Echo Bridge, but one slot should be enough. Yes, we can blame whoever gave the lame duck company such crappy material to work with, yes, they're more than certainly implicit in all this. However, entire waves of pure garbage? That takes talent. Double features on a single layer? Those are instant suckfests. Wrong aspect ratios, wrong technical info on packages, random ass stereo mixes on films that had 5.1 tracks on DVDs from ten years ago? Sorry, but they have earned every single gripe that I've published about them, and then some.
Now, I know what you're thinking, the review here wasn't all that negative towards the technical aspects of 'Retired, Extremely Dangerous,' so what gives?!? Well, there were two releases of this snoozefest of a "film," the one that got reviewed, and then, the less expensive version, a movie only edition that Summit Entertainment decided to deliver with a skimped out audio track. Lossless apparently costs more to author on a disc. Who knew?! This release earns a spot solely on principle. Movie only edition does not mean rip us off edition.
Wait, wha?!?!?! You read that right, a Criterion Collection release earns a slot on the worst releases of the year list. Why? Well, that review I've been trying to complete for a month (or two...) will spell that out more clearly, but never has a release from this studio looked or sounded this awful. The film is quite good, really, that has nothing to do with it being on this list. The price tag versus quality sure does, though.
This last slot was a tough one to fill, as I really wanted to smack the 'A Clockwork Orange' double dip, the dreadful 'Fire on the Amazon,' or the 'Galaxina/The Crater Lake Monster' double feature. Instead, I'll go for the release that most represents the polar opposite of the '30 for 30' release I praised in the first list. One disc for an entire season of a show. That's kinda pushing it, and the video qualities on here show. This earns a spot on the worst of the worst solely because it didn't have to be like this. It's not that hard to put content across two discs. This is just cheap and lazy.
I think my review sums up my feelings on this pile just fine. I don't want to talk about it anymore, and bring back those painful memories. A pure garbage release if ever there were one.
This is essentially a poor man's 'Collateral.' A very, very poor man's 'Collateral', that unfortunately joins Cuba Gooding Jr.'s ever expanding library of DTV misfires. The video and audio are average, and there are no supplements, though in this case that's actually a blessing. Trust me. A lackluster disc for a terrible movie.
An incredibly dull, brief, and totally uninteresting look at some of basketball's greats. Filled with meaningless commentary and low quality archive footage, even the music is painfully annoying. The only saving grace here is some decent supplements, though they definitely don't make up for the rest of this subpar package.
The movie is great but this release is just plain offensive. It's simply a repackaging of the same old disc from 2006 that we've seen time and time and time and time again. The video transfer is painfully outdated and supplements don't even match up to the DVD. The digibook case might be kind of cool, but it certainly can't save this lazy, money grabbing effort.
While not a terrible film, this horror/comedy flick about a giant killer boar is still a pretty bad one. Video is ugly, lacking any kind of depth and audio is mostly front loaded. While there are some supplements, they don't really offer much in the way of substance.
A truly bizarre attempt at action/comedy, 'Muay Thai Giant' isn't quite horrible but it is quite incompetent. Video is a bit smeary looking and audio is pretty basic. On the plus side though, there are few unintentionally funny moments -- and then there's that whole drinking soda out of a plastic bag thing... on second thought, that alone might save this disc from making the list...
Canadians actually have had access to this early Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino vampfest on Blu-ray since October of 2008, and while that barebones release isn't spectacular by any means, the Alliance disc still delivers a fairly decent hi-def presentation. Now 'From Dusk Till Dawn' has finally made its long-awaited U.S. debut courtesy of Echo Bridge, but sadly it's not much more than a malformed clone of the canuck edition. There's still no features, it has the same MSRP, and remember all those stars for video and audio it had? Well, this mutie's audio/video DNA is only about half complete. I hate having to trash this fan favorite of mine, I really do, but the truth is one of the most anticipated titles from the Miramax catalog deserved so much better.
Okay, so how do you make an order of Echo Bridge's 'From Dusk Till Dawn' leave an even fouler taste in your mouth? Simple: add a side of 'From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money.' To be fair, the technical differences between the standalone 'From Dusk Till Dawn' and the one found on this double feature are negligible, despite two films cohabiting on a single-layered BD-25 disc. But with that said, answer me this... Is the addition of a crappy sequel/prequel/whatever-the-hell-it's-supposed-to-be that looks and sounds as if VHS is desperately trying to make a comeback really something you'd say is worth the extra $5 price tag? Yep, I didn't think so. Blood money, indeed.
Can you imagine a dystopian future where showing any emotion is punishable by death? A society where police-clerics patrol the streets and arrest anyone who laughs, cries, or throws a manic temper tantrum on the set of one of their movies? That world exists in 'Equilibrium' -- an often underappreciated cult classic starring pre-anger management Christian Bale and a lean mean Sean Bean that only seems to get better with each viewing. Well, unless of course said viewing happens to be on of the butchered North American Blu-rays. For no good reason, both the U.S. and Canadian editions have cropped the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but Echo Bridge sinks even lower with their phoned-in video and lazy two-channel audio. Not that I have anything against 2.0 tracks, but when the first DVD release of 'Equilibrium' has a more engaging 5.1 mix and the newer technology doesn't, something is seriously wrong.
Truth be told, I can't help feeling a little sorry for poor 'The Crow: City of Angels.' I mean, it had it bad enough just being 'The Crow: City of Angels.' But then after getting drunk on its sorrows, it awakens the next morning only to find a shiny new tattoo on its ass that says "Echo Bridge." Talk about getting kicked square in the nads while you're already down. The sludgy video easily ranks among the fugliest of the year (it's also in 1080i and not 1080p as the packaging falsely indicates), and to top it off we have another case of a lowly lossless stereo soundtrack that is bested by a decade old DVD. Seriously, it couldn't get much more embarrassing than this.
Although I probably should have gone with yet another Echo Bridge title for this last entry, I've decided to be merciful in hopes that they learn they error of their ways from here on out. If not, then you can bet you'll see another round of Echo Bridge bashing for the other half of the list at the end of the year. So my final selection was either a toss up between the film Sandra Bullock wishes she could go back in time and erase from her filmography (other than 'All About Steve') -- 'Fire on the Amazon', or the third terrible direct-to-video team-up between 50 Cent and a beached Val Kilmer. I had to go with 'Blood Out' as my choice, as Kilmer and 50 seem to be entwined in some sort of Hollywood bromance and keep insisting on producing movies together. I don't know if I can handle anymore productions like this! Hopefully a place on this list will discourage any further collaborations.
Like we said already, with the good come the bad. We all expect Blu-ray producers to put out their fair share of troubled discs, but these are just inexcusable! You have been warned.
Now it's your turn! Let us know what releases you were disappointed in with comments in the forums.