After a few sleepy months, the Blu-ray release schedule bursts back to life this week with two major releases that demand attention. The first is one of this year’s biggest box office hits (as well as the launching point for a new franchise), while the other is an all-time classic that changed the way Hollywood does business. As if those weren’t enough on their own, several other interesting titles also vie for our attention. This could be an expensive week.
Based on the best-selling novel with a huge fan base, ‘The Hunger Games‘ was destined for box office success before a single frame was shot, no matter how good or bad the film itself actually turned out. Fortunately, most critics and fans agreed that the movie, although flawed in some respects, at least does a respectable job of translating the book to screen. Much like the ‘Twilight’ franchise, expect the sequels to be even bigger hits. In addition to the standard Blu-ray edition, several retailers offer exclusive gift sets with fancier packaging and trinkets. (Up in Canada, Future Shop has not just one, but two SteelBook cases.) I don’t know what the logic is behind releasing this on Saturday rather than today, but this is bound to be a bestseller regardless.
One of the breakout successes from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the Indonesian martial arts thriller ‘The Raid‘ drew raves from fans for its nonstop, balls-to-the-wall action. For some inexplicable reason, the marketing department at Sony then decided to tack the word “Redemption” to the end of the title, even though the movie reportedly has no themes of redemption at all. I didn’t get a chance to see this in theaters, but look forward to renting it to see what all the fuss is about.
‘Kill List‘ is another cult item that generated buzz on the festival circuit. In this case, viewer reactions were wildly divisive. The British hitman thriller is said to be very violent and extremely confusing. Some viewers loved its convoluted metaphysical twists, while other yelled in anger at the screen. I’m intrigued.
‘Breathless‘ is neither Jean-Luc Godard’s famous French New Wave classic (which is already available on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection), nor the 1983 remake starring Richard Gere. Nor is it another remake of the same story. This one appears to be a totally unrelated schlocky heist/revenge thriller starring Gina Gershon, Val Kilmer and Ray Liotta, if you’re into that sort of thing.
We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Screen
Certainly, ‘Jaws‘ was not the first movie to be called a “blockbuster.” However, its massive success in the summer of 1975 woke Hollywood up to the earning potential of the summer months, which until then had been considered a slow time of year. Thus started the summer blockbuster season, and Hollywood has never looked back.
In addition to being a tremendous box office hit, ‘Jaws’ is legitimately one of the greatest movies ever made, and had long been considered one of the “holy grails” awaiting release on the Blu-ray format. Now finally available in a beautifully restored Blu-ray, this is one of the must-own discs of the year. I plan to pick up the Best Buy exclusive Digibook, personally.
This week, the Criterion Collection upgrades Wes Anderson’s ‘The Royal Tenenbaums‘ to high definition, and also adds two films from the Dardenne brothers: ‘La Promesse‘ and ‘Rosetta‘.
Twilight Time offers limited editions of the 1960s musicals ‘Bye Bye Birdie‘ and ‘High Time‘, while Kino digs up the silent movie serial ‘Les Vampires‘ (which isn’t actually about vampires, but rather a crime league called “The Vampires”).
MGM rolls out the middle three of Charles Bronson’s five ‘Death Wish‘ flicks today. Strangely, the original film and the final installment are nowhere to be found. Given that the first ‘Death Wish’ was a pretty crappy movie to start with and the sequels just got progressively worse as they went, why would even the biggest fan want to own just parts 2, 3 and 4 without being able to complete the collection?
Meanwhile, Jet Li fights gangstas in ‘Cradle 2 the Grave‘, Vin Diesel takes on drug cartels in ‘A Man Apart‘, and Denzel Washington hunts for a supernatural serial killer in ‘Fallen‘.
TV box set collectors can look forward to the sixth season of ‘Dexter‘, the third season of ‘Glee‘, and the second season of ‘Nikita‘. The only of these shows I watch is ‘Glee’, and I think that I’m just about over that one unless next season’s cast shake-up manages to liven up the series.
Everybody here will get ‘Jaws’ today, right? That’s safe to assume, I hope. In addition to that disc, all of the Criterions are must-haves for me. I still haven’t seen ‘The Hunger Games’, but I told Mrs. Z that I’d watch it with her. ‘Les Vampires’ will also go on my wish list for later purchase.
Vote in the poll and tell us your plans in the Comments.