Blu-ray Highlights for 4/3/12 – Forget It, Jake

I don’t know about you, but this week’s Blu-ray selection looks pretty bleak from my perspective. There’s only one title that I want to add to my movie collection. Fortunately, it’s a really good one and an essential purchase. Beyond that, not much catches my eye.

The following discs see release this week:


We’ll start with the week’s only must-own title, Roman Polanski’s period noir masterpiece ‘Chinatown‘. Looking past all the personal problems and scandal that would plague the director’s life afterwards, few would deny that this is very nearly a flawless film and the high point in the career of a talented artist. Our reviewer David also rates the Blu-ray edition with high marks. Follow the link above to his full review.

Robert Wise’s Oscar-winning adaptation of the musical ‘West Side Story‘ was already released on Blu-ray in a deluxe box set, a 2-disc edition and a (Target-exclusive) Digibook package. Today’s re-release is just a streamlined single-disc edition in a simple keepcase. This remains notable because this edition may be the simplest way to ensure that you obtain MGM’s re-authored version of the disc that allegedly fixes an error in the movie’s opening title sequence. However, as I wrote a few months ago, even the “corrected” version of the scene is still incorrect, just slightly less so than before.

New Releases

Recent theatrical titles making their way to video today include Steven Spielberg’s Oscar bait historical epic ‘War Horse‘ and Cameron Crowe’s family-friendly dramedy ‘We Bought a Zoo‘. I can’t force myself to build up any enthusiasm for either of these. The stage version of ‘War Horse’ looks an order of magnitude more interesting than Spielberg’s film, and nothing about the trailers for Crowe’s movie appealed to me. On the other hand, I wound up liking Spielberg’s ‘Tintin’ movie a lot more than I expected, so maybe I should stop being so judgemental. On the other other hand, if I wasn’t so judgemental, I’d be out of a job.

The documentary ‘Chasing Madoff‘ details one man’s decade-long quest to expose the notorious Ponzi-schemer to a disinterested public and the federal regulators who repeatedly turned a blind eye. This sounds like a fascinating topic that would make a good companion piece to other financial-malfeasance docs like ‘Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room‘. Unfortunately, most reviews have called the movie repetitive and dull, and singled out the hero of the piece for coming across as unlikable and self-aggrandizing.

Catalog Titles

Fans of director Kurt Wimmer’s utterly braindead dystopian sci-fi action flick ‘Equilibrium‘ (as you can tell from my tone, I don’t count myself as a fan) have suffered a host of crappy video editions, most of them cropped to the wrong aspect ratio. Cheapskate distributor Echo Bridge at least gets the aspect ratio right in the new double-feature pack that bundles the film with the French animated dystopian noir ‘Renaissance‘. Unfortunately, both movies have been compressed together onto one single-layer disc, and feature only lossy Dolby Digital audio.

If you really want to own either of these movies (‘Renaissance’ isn’t half bad, really), you might do slightly better by picking up the Walmart-exclusive six-film High Powered Action Pack, which sells for only $15. Both of these features have the correct aspect ratio and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks in that set. Unfortunately, the package compresses three films per disc, and some of the other titles are in the wrong ratio.

For what it’s worth, the best edition of ‘Equilibrium’ to date remains the expensive Japanese import Blu-ray, and the best edition of ‘Renaissance’ is the long-discontinued German HD DVD.

What else do we have going on today? This weekend’s theatrical re-release of James Cameron’s famous doomed-ship movie has prompted Fox to issue a 1953 adaptation of the story, also simply titled ‘Titanic‘, as well as the similarly-themed Irwin Allen disaster spectacle ‘The Poseidon Adventure‘. The latter is a guilty pleasure that I might consider picking up when it hits bargain bins.

3D fans have frequently singled out import Blu-ray editions of the animated ‘Finding Nemo’ knockoff ‘A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures‘ as having some of the best and most aggressive “pop-out” effects of any 3D title to date. I don’t think the movie is notable for anything else. Naturally, Vivendi has chosen only to release the flat 2D version in America. If you want it in 3D, the Region A-compatible Hong Kong release seems to be the way to go.

Children of the ’80s may enjoy a trip down memory lane with Madonna’s once-scandalous concert documentary ‘Truth or Dare‘ or the goofy comedy ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun‘, which featured early roles for Sarah Jessica Parker, Shannen Doherty and future Oscar winner Helen Hunt.


Finally, on the TV front, we have the latest season (and the first transported to America) of ‘Torchwood‘, and the recent BBC miniseries adaptation of ‘Great Expectations‘.

Do yourself a favor and pick up ‘Chinatown’. Other than that, does anything else interest you enough to buy?


  1. JM

    ‘We Bought a Zoo‘ I’m going to take a whack at, even though I can’t take Matt Damon seriously ever since ‘Team America World Police.’

    I have survived two seasons of ‘Torchwood,’ which has become my favorite homosexual soap opera of all time, but I’ve been told that season four should not be watched, to treat season three as the finale.

    I love ‘Chinatown’ though I never feel like watching it. Even the 4.5 star video transfer isn’t persuading me to rent it. I guess I’ll just sleep better at night knowing a quality blu-ray exists. Perhaps someday I’ll wake up and fancy a good bitch slap.

  2. Ah, Josh, you have found the time to check out ‘Tintin’? I remember you being skeptical for quite some time. I’m glad you ended up liking it.

  3. “We Bought a Zoo” and “Warhorse” I may pick up from Redbox, as I have a few free rentals with them. I may end up buying them both, but as I missed both in the theaters, I just really don’t want to blind-buy at the moment.

    I am only in Season 1 of Torchwood. I really love what I have seen of it, but from all the comments I have seen over the past few months, it sounds like it went downhill after the second season. But I will try to keep an open mind.

    There was a time I would have bought Pokemon. I wasn’t like into the games and the cards and all of that, but I thought the cartoon was cute. However, after the show being on now for, what, 15 years, I just have one question – what the heck is Ash doing to keep from aging?

    • Barsoom Bob

      I think “Children’s Day” was the third season and that was the best season to me. Stopped watching season 4 in the middle, kind of lost it’s way.

  4. paramedic0112

    I got Chinatown and We Bought a Zoo. I’m a Cameron Crowe fan though. In the theater, I thought We Bought a Zoo was a bit overboard on the sappy-ness, but I actually liked it more on the second viewing last night. The blu ray has a ton of good speacial features. If you like the Cameron Crowe style, you’ll love it of course. I’m gonna watch Chinatown this weekend! It’s in my top 5 movies of all time so I’m real excited to see it in HD.

  5. bruce

    I got chinatown and War horse and picked up the new 1 disk casablanca disk from target… I saw war horse at the theater. I liked it, wasn’t planning on buying, but over the months it stuck with me. You have to watch it for what it is. I like Ebert’s review of it.. They don’t make movies like this anymore..