Blu-ray Highlights for 8/16/11 – The Dude Abides

You say there’s nothing good to buy on Blu-ray this week? Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

In fact, there’s quite a bit of interest being released today:

As has so often been the case lately, the best releases of the week are mostly catalog titles. Headlining these is the belated Blu-ray debut of the Coen brothers’ cult comedy ‘The Big Lebowski‘, which Universal previously released on HD DVD over four years ago. This is a movie that it took me a couple of viewings to warm up to. But now, the more I watch it, the funnier it gets. The Blu-ray video quality has been the subject of much controversy in discussion forums over the past couple of weeks, but our reviewer E. says that most of the moaning and wailing is overblown.

In anticipation of Disney’s upcoming franchise relaunch ‘The Muppets’, Sony has pulled two of the older Muppet movies that it owns (‘The Muppets Take Manhattan‘ and ‘Muppets from Space‘) out of the archive. While neither of these ranks among the best of the franchise, neither are they as bad as the worst (‘The Muppets Wizard of Oz’). In fact, I have a soft spot for ‘Muppets from Space’. I’m pretty sure that Sony still has distribution rights for the original ‘The Muppet Movie’, so it surprises me that we’re not getting that one now as well.

Fans of Sylvester Stallone may enjoy two of Sly’s more entertaining macho cheesefests, ‘Cobra‘ and ‘Demolition Man‘, while ignoring the duds ‘Assassins‘ and ‘The Specialist‘. Interesting trivia note about ‘Demolition Man’: In the North American version of the film, every restaurant in the future is a Taco Bell. However, in the international release version, alternate footage was shot so that every restaurant in a Pizza Hut.

Of the new day-and-date titles, the only one worth giving much attention is the new adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre‘ starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. According to Wikipedia, this is the 16th feature film version of the Charlotte Bronte story. (There have been another ten adaptations for TV as well.) I watched this over the weekend. It’s quite visually striking and has good performances, but the romance element didn’t seem fully developed or emotionally convincing to me. Mrs. Z, who is a ‘Jane Eyre’ fanatic, enjoyed it more than I did, but admitted that she may have filled in a lot of the blanks in the story from her knowledge of the novel.

The Conspirator‘ continues Robert Redford’s decline into irrelevance. Likewise for John Carpenter and ‘The Ward‘. Even these filmmakers’ biggest defenders have acknowledged the tedium of these two movies.

Ugh. Did you even realize that Kate Hudson made another of those insufferable romantic comedies that is neither romantic nor comedic? This one’s called ‘Something Borrowed‘. It popped into theaters for a couple of weeks earlier this year, and is now being dumped onto video where the first batch of copies will no doubt linger unsold in retailer warehouses for years to come.

Lest you be confused, ‘Priest‘ is not that controversial indie movie from the mid ’90s about a gay priest wrestling with his religious convictions. This one is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi/horror thriller starring poor Paul Bettany as a preacher who fights vampires with ninja throwing stars shaped like crucifixes. It’s based on a comic book, which I’m sure you’ll find terribly shocking. If this isn’t the absolute worst pitch for a movie in the history of movies, I don’t want to know what is. Just to rub salt in the wound, it’s even in cruddy post-converted 3D.

Speaking of 3D atrocities, who the hell ever asked for a sequel to the crappy animated comedy ‘Hoodwinked!‘? Did anyone like that? (That’s a rhetorical question. Of course, no one liked it.) Nevertheless, now we have a ‘Hoodwinked Too!‘ comin’ at ya in poorly-animated 3D.

Let’s get back to talking about good things for a moment. The Criterion Collection unveils the high-def debuts of two early works from major filmmakers: ‘The Killing‘ by Stanley Kubrick and ‘Cul-de-sac‘ by Roman Polanski. Although not a Criterion disc, Kino’s release of the groundbreaking 1967 mockumentary satire ‘David Holzman’s Diary‘ is the type of movie that Criterion often goes for (in fact, Criterion released the title on Laserdisc back in the day), and should make a nice pairing with these.

Finally, our blogger Aaron must be excited for the latest ‘Dexter‘ TV box set. He did just name his new son after the fictional serial killer, after all. Yeah, that’s a little weird, but I suppose it would be worse if he named the boy Gemini. I’m sure that the kid will turn out all right in the end…


  1. The Muppets Take Manhatten should be arriving tomorrow! I had that one preordered since it was first announced! Don’t really care about Muppets from Space, but I would love to see Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Movie, and The Great Muppet Caper make their way to Blu.

    I just found out today about Demoliton Man. How the heck did I miss that – It was a movie that I have been waiting on since I first got into Blu back in January of ’07! I just placed my order a few minutes ago! This is one of my guilty-pleasure movies! I absolutely love it!

    • I agree! I accidentally saw “Demolition Man” (it passed by on TV) and I thoroughly liked it. Very very nice, if cheesy. Love the cursing-and-gettin’-fined-for-it. And the “warm liquid goo”-phase from “Austin Powers” always reminds me of “Demolition Man”, even though I’m not sure it’s a direct parody or a homage.

  2. William, keep your eyes pealed for a review, and check out our review of the French disc, which may have the same qualities and tech specs, but different language options and a few redubbed lines for the whole Pizza Hut thing.

    I would say I’m picking up Money in the Bank, but WWE fucked us. the best PPV of the year, with the most relevant storyline in about 12 years, and it goes DVD only. fucking ridiculous. never worry, greatest 21st century superstars and OMG 50 are still coming out. fucking lame.

    for me:

    Assassins (HDD!)
    Big Lebowski
    Cobra (already have French disc. counts)
    Demolition Man
    Dexter S5
    The Killing (come november for 18 bucks)
    Priest 3D
    Two Can Play That Game (HDD…sad face)

    Night Raid 1931 sounds interesting, BUT i refuse to pay 39 bucks for an anime Blu-ray that isn’t fucking huge. 20 bucks, when it hits, i buy.