Blu-ray Highlights: Week of August 10th, 2014 – I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along

The middle of August seems like odd timing for a big Blu-ray push, but this week sees a huge volume of new releases hitting the market. Of course, as always, the trick is to find the few actually worth buying hidden among the dross.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (8/12/14)?

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New Releases

Muppets Most Wanted‘ – This year’s new big-screen outing for the Muppets didn’t exactly live up to its title. Although not exactly a flop, the movie decidedly underperformed at the box office. That’s a shame, because it appears that this one addresses one of the biggest issues with the last movie (which was really a Jason Segel star vehicle with the Muppets as supporting characters) by putting Kermit and the gang back front and center. On the other hand, it also kind of looks like a retread of ‘The Great Muppet Caper’, and nobody wants to see Ricky Gervais in a kids’ movie. I’m sure that this will probably do better on video, but it doesn’t bode well for the future of the franchise as a theatrical property.

A Haunted House 2‘ – Why? Did anyone like the first one?

Bears‘ – Aww, aren’t those dangerous forest predators sooooo cute and cuddly? DisneyNature’s latest attempt to anthropomorphize the wild animal kingdom is exactly the sort of thing Timothy Treadwell would watch obsessively… you know, if he hadn’t been eaten by bears.

Filth‘ – James McAvoy plays a dirty cop with a fondness for abusing narcotics and extorting sexual favors in this Scottish black comedy based on a novel by Irvine Welsh (‘Trainspotting’). Most reviews praised McAvoy’s performance while expressing mixed reaction to the film itself.

Locke‘ – Perhaps gearing up for taking over the ‘Mad Max’ franchise, Tom Hardy spends an entire movie behind the wheel of a car in this indie drama about a man who finds himself pulled in six different directions (figuratively – this isn’t actually ‘Mad Max’!) while driving his pregnant mistress to the hospital. The plot description may not sound terribly exciting, but I’ve heard a lot of great things about the movie.

Belle‘ – Well-intentioned, feel-good period piece about a headstrong young mixed-race woman who turns 18th Century British high society on its head and single-handedly ends slavery in England. Can’t you just feel it clawing for awards attention?

Catalog Titles

Disney rolls out a bunch of not-quite-classics with the arguably-underappreciated ‘Hercules‘ and ‘Tarzan‘, as well as the perhaps-best-left-to-nostalgia ‘Bedknobs & Broomsticks‘ and ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad‘. Also, something called ‘Mickey, Donald and Goofy – The Three Musketeers‘ appears to be a more recent direct-to-video effort.

Ken Loach is often described as the poet laureate of “kitchen sink” dramas about the British underclass. Back in the early 1990s, my local newspaper critic gave a rave review to Loach’s then-new supposed comedy ‘Raining Stones‘. I made the mistake of going to see it with the future Mrs. Z. We both found it murderously dull, and neither of us could make out a damn word that any of the thickly-accented characters spoke. It was an hour and a half of pure torture. Thus ended my interest in the great Ken Loach. Perhaps that wasn’t a fair assessment. At the very least, I imagine that the movie might play better with subtitles turned on. If I should ever decide to give him a second chance, Twilight Time now offers ‘Raining Stones’ in a double bill with ‘Riff Raff‘ (which actually played theatrically with English subtitles, despite all of the characters speaking English).

Other new limited editions from Twilight Time include ‘The Buddy Holly Story‘ (Gary Busey got an Oscar nomination for this! Seriously!), Otto Preminger’s 1946 ‘Centennial Summer‘, Stanley Kramer’s WWII drama ‘The Secret of Santa Vittoria‘, and the Elvis musical comedy ‘Follow That Dream‘.

Elvis also lives on in a couple of new Digibooks from Warner: ‘Viva Las Vegas‘ (a repackaged reissue) and ‘Elvis: That’s the Way It Is‘ (new to Blu-ray).

The Criterion Collection only has one new offering this week. If you ask me, ‘Love Streams‘ is a kind of an icky title for a movie in which John Cassavetes and his wife Gena Rowlands played brother and sister. I get shivers just thinking about the weird dynamic at play there.

Kino Lorber celebrates the ultra-macho Charles Bronson with ‘Breakheart Pass‘ and ‘Mr. Majestyk‘, while Kino Classics goes in a completely different direction with the 1961 Audrey Hepburn/Shirley Maclaine lesbian teacher drama ‘The Children’s Hour‘.

Those goofy schlockmesiters at Troma finally upgrade their iconic mascot ‘The Toxic Avenger‘ to all his gritty and grainy high-def glory, and he brings along the ‘Bloodsucking Freaks‘ to Blu-ray with him.


TV product this week includes the first season of NBC’s ridiculous-yet-entertaining ‘The Blacklist‘, and the latest volume of the ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection‘.

If ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ were offered in a SteelBook somewhere to match the last movie, I’d be all over it. Failing that, I’ll probably settle for a rental for now. I’d also like to rent ‘Locke’. I’ve debated buying Disney’s ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Hercules’ but haven’t made up my mind on those yet.

Will you buy anything this week?


  1. William Henley

    Wow, thanks Disney, you do this every year – big release in the middle of the summer and dump like 5 movies that I want to pick up. I am picking up three discs this week (2 Disney) and the rest I will pick up on slow weeks.

    ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’ (Disney/Buena Vista) – This was preordered and has been shipped. Two of my favorite Disney shorts as a kid.

    ‘Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume Three’ (Warner Brothers) – Interested, but I haven’t picked up any of the previous volumes yet. This is mainly because this isn’t a high priority release for me, and that there are other things I pick up in the slow weeks. But I will get to these eventually

    ‘Hercules (1997)’ (Disney/Buena Vista) – I love this, but its not a priority. I got it on laserdisc, so that will get me by until I can pick this up in a couple of months

    ‘Muppets Most Wanted: The Unnecessarily Extended Edition’ (Disney/Buena Vista) – Probably a rental, and we will see from there if I end up buying it.

    ‘Mickey, Donald and Goofy – The Three Musketeers: 10th Anniversary Edition’ – Mildly interested if the price is right. This is one of those releases I will pick up in a slow week.

    ‘Tarzan’ (Disney/Buena Vista) – Another one that I will pick up eventually. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this movie, but I am a Disney collector

    ‘Viva Las Vegas 50th Anniversary (Digibook)’ (Warner Bros.) – I LOVE this movie. I lost my previous blu-ray of this in the fire, so I will probably pick this up here shortly. I actually did not know this was coming out this week, or it would have been preordered. I think this was announced when Amazon was disputing contracts with Warner Bros, so I couldn’t preorder and forgot about it

    ‘The Avengers (1998)’ (Warner Brothers) – This was preordered and shipped. I should get this tomorrow. It is a guilty pleasure of mine

    ‘Batman: Assault on Arkham’ (Warner Bros.) – I’m interested, don’t know anything about it

    ‘Bedknobs & Broomsticks’ (Disney/Buena Vista) – HECK YEAH! Been waiting for years for Disney to release this! This got shipped yesterday, and I plan to pop it in as soon as I get home from work tomorrow! I am hoping for a spectacular release in visual quality – this movie has always seemed muddy in previous home video releases. Maybe the movie is supposed to look muddy and murky, but I am thinking this could look fantastic with a good transfer and some tweaking.

  2. Shameless how the studios release no less than three Elvis movies in the week of (the anniversary of) his death. I have preordered ‘Follow That Dream’ for my father (a big fan whose birthday is this week), and will wait for a good deal on both ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and ‘That’s The Way It Is’.

  3. Why does Disney do that?! Release all those titles on the same day?! Im gonna be a broke bitch!! I’m most excited about Ichabod and Mr. Toad. I will be getting the version with Fun and Fancy Free. I’m keeping my old Mr. Toad dvd because it has the Lonesome Ghosts short which I don’t think the bluray release will have. I did some screen comparisons on another website with some of the screen grabs and the bluray version seems slightly cropped on all sides and a little darker. I’m looking forward to seeing it without so many speckles or even cigarette burns.
    I’m happy to get rid of my non anamorphic Hercules DVD which I’ve been waiting like 10 years to do.
    My expectations are low, but I’m hoping the Toxic Avenger blu offers a significant upgrade over my 21st anniversary dvd, which is practically unwatchable. I looked everywhere online for screen grabs or a thorough video quality review, but couldn’t find one. Moviestop’s got it for like 14.95 so I can’t resist.
    I think I’m gonna have to wait for Motel Hell but I definitely want that one.

  4. Chris B

    I gotta ask, (and I realize I may be opening a can of worms here) but I can’t resist: What’s up with grown men collecting Disney movies? I swear up and down I’m not trying to be a dick and I’m not asking in a mocking way…I’m seriously curious about the appeal. Is it to watch with your kids? Is it nostalgia? I just can’t ever see myself sitting down with a cold beer and putting on a Disney cartoon to watch. Are you guys animators and are interested from a technical standpoint? Is it a steelbook thing? Help me understand!! Lol

    • Drew

      It’s simple:

      Many Disney films are extremely good, if not outstanding.

      I would venture to presume that most of the people reading this blog care about artistic quality, over any other element of a film.

    • William Henley

      How about all of the above: to watch with kids, because of nostalgia, and I appreciate it from a technical standpoint. I mean, seriously, who does not love Bedknobs and Broomsticks? Aladdin? Lion King? Emporoer’s New Groove? The movies work on so many levels.

      Even if I catch a Disney movie now that I didn’t see as a kid (Brave, Tangled, Frozen, Wreak It Ralph), I usually love them. All great movies, and even though I don’t have kids (sometimes do watch with kids) I enjoy them for what they are. They are art, many are humorous, they have themes for both kids and adults, and there is the nostalgia value

    • Timcharger

      “What’s up with grown men collecting Disney movies?”

      First, that’s an assumption you made… that we’re grown men.

      But actually, I’m sure some of us wear it with pride that we’ve never
      grown up. That’s Peter Pan for you. If you don’t get Peter Pan, then
      you’re not gonna get it. (And I don’t mean any offense by that.)


      “I just can’t ever see myself sitting down with a cold beer and putting on a Disney cartoon to watch.”

      Unless it’s a drinking game, I can’t imagine sitting down with a cold
      beer with a Disney cartoon on, too. Yes many of the blu-rays in my
      collection pair real well with some suds. But Disney cartoons don’t.


      Josh, there’s a Roundtable discussion for you.

      What blu-rays pair well with a cold beer (or wine for the more
      sophisticated staff members)?

      Send me my no-prize within 2-4 weeks.

      • William Henley

        Follow that with a Poll of “are you a grown man and watch disney cartoons? 1) Yes, and watch them proudly 2) I’m not gown, but I love them 3) I’m a woman 4) I hate that cutsey stuff

          • Chris B

            Wow they would make great drinking games. Sample: Watch “Aladdin” and every time someone says the word “Princess”, take a shot….You’d be ripped 45 minutes in 🙂

          • William Henley

            How about every time there is a sexual inuendo? I know Shrek is Dreamworks, but imagine if you made a drinking game out of that!

  5. I am a grown man child. Yes it’s nostalgia and yes I enjoy it with my daughter, but I enjoy the artistry in it too. To Chris B, do you not like Disney flicks? How about other animated flicks?

    • Chris B

      I can enjoy certain animated films on a nostalgia level if I watched them as a kid, and I have a healthy respect for the amount of talent and creativity that goes into making them. However, I find I have a difficult time being entertained by something whose target audience seems like its probably about 12 and under. The plot in the vast majority of kid’s movies is about as predictable as that of most romantic comedies. Most of the time when one is on the TV I just can’t wait for it to be over. I do like some Pixar movies a lot though, I think they make a special effort to appeal to quite a wide age range. I know as my daughter grows up I’ll be watching my fair share of them though, but seeing her enjoy them will make the experience a lot more rewarding I’m sure.

      • Drew

        That’s not true, in the slightest. Tell me how the plot of ‘Ratatouille’ is predictable/resembles a rom-com, at all.

        While you’re at it, tell me how the plots of ‘WALL.E’, ‘The Incredibles’, ‘Toy Story’, ‘Up’, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘The Lion King’ do so.

          • Drew


            You said, “The M) majority.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.

            I’m rarely looking for an argument. You’re wrong about that, as well.

            However, when someone states that the plot of most Disney animated films resembles that of a romantic comedy, well, let’s just say “THEM’S FIGHTIN WORDS!” 🙂

          • Chris B

            Haha I HATE romantic comedies so I understand your rage. Basically I meant that a ton of kids movies have a formula something like: An outcast/loner/misfit dreams of proving themselves in some way but nobody listens to them/takes them seriously/ will let them. Until they meet up with a bunch of other outcasts/misfits/carefree comedic character that helps them to believe in themselves/be themselves/face their fears etc. And in the end the character overcomes a great challenge/defeats a threat/proves themself. And all the people who doubted them now have a new respect for them and everyone lives happily ever after 🙂

          • Drew

            Okay. Given the context, I can empathize with/ tolerate/accept this.

            To each, their own, right?

            All humor aside, I actually do have some friends that only enjoy a select few Disney animated films.

            Here’s my theory: The bigger movie buff/cinephile a person is, the more likely they are to love most quality animated films.

        • freakyguy666

          Really, Drew?? You couldn’t predict the ending to The Incredibles, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, etc.?? Wow!

      • EM

        Nostalgia…well, if you’re watching a movie you’ve seen before, there’s a good chance it will be predictable.

        In my opinion, the best children’s movies are also good fare for adults. (Hint: most children’s movies, like most movies in general, are not the best.) This attitude is encapsulated by the category family films…after all, most families do have adults in them.

        The first time I saw Sleeping Beauty, I was a high-schooler and ran across it on TV rather late in in the program. I didn’t even know what it was (though I quickly deduced it was a Disney feature). But here was a hero trapped by a witch in a dark castle, making his escape through a series of black-magic obstacles, dueling with a mighty fire-breathing dragon…the film reached out to the dark Halloween of my soul. It turns out when you watch the film the whole way through, it’s not all quite in that style, but still it’s an artistic triumph that can appeal to juveniles without being juvenile (well, maybe it is a little, here and there).

        Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first cel-animated feature, is so dark at times that I wonder if it’s even responsible to let it be seen by the young children that one often imagines it’s “really” intended for.

        Maybe you’ve been watching the wrong Disney animated movies…

    • So I was watching my old gold collection Ichabod dvd last night and noticed a scene looked a little different and was subject to some digital editing. The scene where ichabod is pushing his horse, 1:03.09 mark. If you look close,you can see something was altered. It looks like they painted his nose in front of the horse’s ass. On the blu, 1:03.14 mark, it looks like his face is buried in the horse’s ass. His nose is pointed upwards. I wonder what other “edits” can be found. I tried to look it up online but couldn’t find any.

  6. Looks like the house of the mouse will be assisting me in making my wallet lighter this week,

    Do not forget about Fun & Fancy Free which is part of the two-movie collection shown here:

    I did not vote for Mr. Ichabod as that is listed singly and I want both movies. Not sure why the two UPCs though. The 2 movie collection or the single movie of one, but not the other.

    • William Henley

      Ah, this might explain something. I got two messages from Amazon stating “Adventures of Ich….” has been shipped, which I assumed meant that I had ordered two copies for some reason. I do remember when I ordered it, I was thinking, “I could have sworn I already preordered this, but Amazon is saying I hadn’t”. Looks like I might have originally ordered one, then later ordered the other. I might be making a return this week.

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