Blu-ray Highlights for August 21st, 2012 – Shall We Play a Game?

Last week’s Blu-ray release slate gave us a major new release (‘The Hunger Games’), a great classic (‘Jaws’) and several other notable titles such as ‘The Raid’ and ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’. This week isn’t quite that exciting, unfortunately. However, some Disney animation and a few other discs might grab your attention.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (8/21/12)?

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New Releases

Obnoxious prankster Sacha Baron Cohen has finally given up his ambush interview schtick and made a straightforward comedy, ‘The Dictator‘. I’m not a big fan of Cohen, but the concept here sounds amusing. He plays a Middle Eastern despot who has to rough it with the New York City poor after his beard gets forcibly shaved off during a diplomatic visit and nobody recognizes him anymore. Reviews were mixed, but this might make decent rental fodder on a slow night. Or, more likely, I’ll wait for it to turn up on HBO in a few months.

Director Richard Linklater reunites with his ‘School of Rock’ star Jack Black for the based-on-true-events dark comedy ‘Bernie‘, in which a small town rallies around the nice-guy coroner (Black) after he murders the bitter old shrew (Shirley MacLaine) who made everyone’s lives miserable. This sounds like a great premise, and reviews were favorable, but the atrocious trailers make the movie look just about unwatchable. The poster image of Black with a stupid mustache and a worse smirk on his face doesn’t help either. Linklater is very hit-or-miss for me, mostly miss. Honestly, the only of his films I really like are ‘Before Sunrise’ and its sequel ‘Before Sunset’. I doubt that I could even bring myself to rent this one.

Not in the mood for a comedy? The Oscar-winning Iranian divorce drama ‘A Separation‘ makes its belated debut on Blu-ray in the U.S. almost nine months after it came out in Europe. Although it may look like a downer, this was one of the best-reviewed films of 2011.

Need a little cuteness in your life? DisneyNature continues its agenda to anthropomorphize wildlife with its latest kid-friendly nature documentary, ‘Chimpanzee‘.

Aaron recently wrote about his love for the direct-to-video schlock that Dolph Lundgren keeps churning out. The actor’s latest cinematic masterwork, ‘One in the Chamber‘, co-stars fellow has-been Cuba Gooding, Jr., so you know it’s extra good.

The House of Mouse

Disney continues to frustrate fans with the extremely slow roll-out of its classic animated films on Blu-ray. As a token to tide viewers over, the studio dumps a bunch of its second-tier titles on the format today: ‘The Aristocats‘, ‘The Tigger Movie‘, ‘Lady and the Tramp II‘ (the original ‘Lady and the Tramp‘ was released earlier this year), a double-bill of’Pocahontas‘ and its DTV sequel, and another double-bill of ‘The Rescuers‘ and its sequel ‘The Rescuers Down Under‘.

Catalog Titles

Barely one year after an already-pefectly-decent Blu-ray release, Lionsgate double-dips the Oscar-winning drama ‘Good Will Hunting‘ with a 15th Anniversary Edition that recycles the same audio/video transfer and adds a handful of new bonus features. I like the movie, but not enough to buy it twice. I’ll hold tight with my existing copy, thank you.

Criterion adds the 2011 gay romance ‘Weekend‘ to the Collection this week. In a weird bit of timing, the label also recently announced that it will release a Blu-ray edition of the unrelated 1967 Jean-Luc Godard film of the same name in November.

Fans of crappy horror movies may enjoy the Stephen King adaptation ‘Thinner‘ and/or the fourth and fifth ‘Halloween‘ flicks. Meanwhile, those of us still stuck in the ’80s might get a kick out of 1983’s state-of-the-art techno-thriller ‘WarGames‘. That’s the one where Matthew Broderick almost inadvertently starts a thermonuclear war by playing too much ‘Missile Command’.


Wrapping things up for the week, Universal gives us a box set of the final season of ‘House‘. This is one of those shows that I always kind-of liked, but never enough to watch regularly. Like most medical dramas, episodes seemed to fall into a formulaic rut pretty quickly: Patient has crazy symptoms, House diagnoses disease, nobody believes him, several attempts to cure patient fail, patient almost dies, House is proven correct at the last minute and saves patient. Wash, rinse, repeat. I didn’t need eight seasons of that, personally.


I don’t know that there are any must-own discs for me this week, but I might pick up ‘The Aristocats’ and the ‘Rescuers’ double feature. Do any titles strike your fancy?


  1. Really want a copy of WarGames… One of those 80s films I love, and is in no small part to blame for me being a computer programmer/designer!!! 😉

  2. EM

    Very interested in WarGames, but I’ve been wanting reviews of the Blu-ray before I make my decision.

  3. Shayne Blakeley

    Several titles I’m interested in, but all things that I’ll either add to my want list or wait to find used.

  4. Josh, funny you should call ‘The Aristocats’ and ‘The Rescuers’ “second-tier” … only to announce your intention to buy both of ’em 🙂 I agree on said judgement regarding the other titles, but the aforementioned are bonafide classics. Even the “The Rescuers” sequel is very good — excellent even, when compared to Disney’s other craptacular follow-ups.

    • Josh Zyber

      They’re second-tier in terms of their popularity and stature within Disney’s animated catalog. The studio didn’t consider them important enough to get the Diamond Edition treatment.

      • William Henley

        I was kinda surprised Pocahontas was thrown in with these. While it may not be “Beauty and the Beast”, I thought the Disney movies of the 90s did pretty well. Shoot, I have the soundtrack to Pocahontas, as well as owning this movie on laserdisc!

      • Ah. That makes sense. I think Disney should at least treat its canon (the 51 “Animated Studio” features) equal. The Rescuers, The Black Cauldron, Atlantis … they should all receive a Diamond Edition. I know “Money, dear boy” is their major driving force, but – let’s admit it – even if some of those don’t sell enough to justify a “Diamond Edition”, Disney could and should afford it. Each and every one of those 51 has its fans. People that have supported the movie(s) in the past (by going to the theater, buying the VHS/LD/DVD …) deserve the best Blu-ray available.

        • EM

          If they are to be treated equally, they should have been made equally. They were not. Sure, they may all have their fans; but I don’t expect all the films of which I’m a fan to have equally ultraspecial releases.

        • William Henley

          I could argue this about their movies as well. I want multi-disc versions of “Flight of the Navigator”, “Three Lives of Thomasina”, “Summer Magic”, “The Parent Trap”, “The Gnome Mobile”, and “The Monkey’s Uncle”. At this stage, though, I will be happy for any Blu-Ray release.

        • Chaz

          At this point I would like ANY Bluray release, where is Atlantis, Aladdin? Hercules? There are a bunch of Disney animated movies I would like to get, hell Aladdin and Hercules at least I thought were were popular than Pocahontas, but of course the slapped the much crappier DTV sequel in there with it, so they must not like it too much but why is it getting a release before other big ones?

  5. JM

    ‘Bonsai’ – The sexy Chilean romance.

    ‘The Color Out of Space’ – Indie adaptation of HP Lovecraft.

    ‘Breathless’ – The best film of 2008 by Ik-joon Yang.

    ‘Shuffle’ – Every time a guy falls asleep he awakens at a different point of the movie.

    ‘Hell’ – German redux of ‘The Road’ except visually impressive.

    ‘Attack of the Killer Backpacks’ – Whose trailer on youtube has been watched over 275 times.

    All the interesting movies this week are only releasing on dvd.

    • EM

      I’ve been interested in The Colo(u)r out of Space, but I didn’t mention it because it’s not on Blu and I don’t know whether I’ll even like it. (I love the original story.) Netflix doesn’t have it; however, the movie is listed on Netflix, and so maybe it’ll be available later. Or I may have to make a request with my public library.

  6. Shannon Nutt

    WarGames is a GREAT movie and a must-buy for me…I’m assuming they’re porting over all the great features from the DVD special edition.

  7. Drew


    ‘Aladdin’ WAS much bigger than ‘Pocahontas’. As a matter of fact, not only was ‘Aladdin’ bigger than ‘Pocahontas’, it was also bigger than ‘The Little Mermaid’, and even ‘Beauty and the Beast’! ‘Aladdin’ was HUGE!

    I’m hoping Disney is prepping a major blu-ray release for it. I would almost guarantee that it gets one.

    • William Henley

      Just wondering if its going to have all the DTV releases paired with it. If it comes bundled like Pocahontas is, I would watch the sequels. But there is no way I would buy them seperately, like the Lion King DTVs were sold on Blu-Ray. I liked Lion King 1 1/2, but not enough to warrent spending $20-$30 on it.

  8. Drew

    They’re not going to release one of their precious gems packed with direct to video sequels. There’s a reason that ‘The Lion King’ wasn’t packed with ‘The Lion King 1 1/2’ and/or ‘The Lion King 2’. There’s a reason that ‘Beauty and the Beast’ wasn’t packed with ‘Belle’s magical Christmas’. I mean ‘Bambi’ wasn’t even packed with ‘Bambi 2’ — which isn’t half bad by the way — and this is due to the fact that Disney would never do that to any of the most cherished titles in their cannon.

    You have nothing to worry about. Disney will give ‘Aladdin’ a blu-ray treatment similar to the one that ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘The Lion King’, and ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ received.

  9. Drew


    I am well aware that Disney put out a huge collectors boxed set for ‘The Lion King’. That didn’t warrant mentioning in this discussion, because it’s irrelevant. We aren’t discussing whether Disney will give people a choice to buy a big ‘Aladdin’ boxed set. We are discussing Disney releases such as ‘The Rescuers’, ‘Pocahontas’, and ‘The Fox and the Hound’, in which Disney only released the main film with the direct to video sequels, and made it so that the only way you could get the main film is to indirectly purchase the inferior sequels along with it. Disney didn’t do this with ‘Lion King’. That boxed set you link to has nothing to do with this. Disney will not pack ‘Aladdin’ with the direct to video sequels and offer that as the only way possible to own ‘Aladdin’. There’s zero chance of that happening!

    • William Henley

      But has Disney released DTVs seperately since Fox and the Hound? Didn’t Belle’s Magical Christmas, Lion King 1 1/2 and 2, and Bambi 2, all get released on Blu BEFORE Fox and the Hound? I see where you are coming from, and I hope you are right, but its possible that these double-feature discs may become a norm. Which I wouldn’t mind, except that the sale price seems to be higher than their individual releases. Am I just imagining this, or were the double features released this week debute on Amazon about $8-9 more than their other animated movies have?

      Oh, I did notice that Lady and the Tramp 2 was a stand-alone release, but that may be because Lady and the Tramp was released before they started bundling.

      In any case, I think Disney should probably lower the price of the movies released this week. No matter how you cut it, these were weaker movies. I was all up for buying The Rescuers and Pocahontas, but felt it was really hard to justify $29 each on those. Snow White, yes, The Rescuers, though…. I kept waiting for it to drop down below $20, and finally just ended up canceling my orders last week. The fact that Disney threw in the sequels really doesn’t add much value to these discs for me.

      • William Henley

        I just found them (The Rescuers and Pocahontas) used on Amazon (yes, already) for $16 each. I had to pay for shipping, but $19 per disc instead of $28 or $29 per disc is about what I was hoping to pay. I should be getting them soon. Some kid must have really hated his birthday presents.

  10. Drew


    That isn’t accurate at all. ‘Aladdin’ performed really well in all video formats. At the time of it’s original VHS release, it actually held the record for copies sold for a couple of years. (Until the ‘Lion King’ was released, I believe.) ‘Aladdin’ was also one of the most popular laserdisc titles in the format’s history, and outperformed ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Cinderella’, and ‘Peter Pan’ on DVD. All of those aforementioned titles received Diamond editions. Aladdin will too.

    There are rumors that Disney is prepping ‘Aladdin’ for an October, 2013 blu-ray release. All signs point to it being a Diamond edition. Don’t underestimate Disney’s love and admiration for ‘Aladdin’. They are still running an Aladdin show at Disneyland (California Adventure) daily.

    • Don’t get me wrong, Drew. I love Aladdin, and I really hope it’ll get a Diamond release. But, Aladdin was not among the 14 movies Disney stated would be part of the Diamond Collection, when it was announced three years ago.

      Now, I know plans change. The Platinum Collection was expanded; Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 was supposed to be a Diamond release, but it wasn’t; and so on, so I’m not saying that a proper blu-ray release of Aladdin is an impossibility.

      However, it’s unlikely that Aladdin just slipped their mind when they wrote the press release for the launch of the Diamond Collection. At some point, Disney decided that Aladdin would be the only Platinum Collection movie that wouldn’t get the Diamond Collection treatment. The only reason I’ve ever read for this is that the Aladdin Platinum edition DVD underperformed. I haven’t actually seen any sales numbers, though, so this might just have been speculation.

        • Well, they’re both Disney’s top of the line collections. The difference is that the Platinum Collection was the old collection and the Diamond Collection is the new.

          The Platinum Collection was originally intended to include the 10 most popular Disney movies (Snow White; Beauty and the Beast; The Lion King; Aladdin; Bambi; Cinderella; Lady and the Tramp; The Little Mermaid; Peter Pan; The Jungle Book), with 1 movie being released every year in October, starting with Snow White in 2001. However, in 2003, Disney extended the collection to also include 101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and Fantasia. In 2005, they started releasing Platinum editions twice a year; in March and October. For some reason, though, Fantasia was never released as a Platinum edition, so the Platinum Collection includes 13 movies.

          In 2009, Disney announced the Diamond Collection. In this announcement, it was stated that the collection would include “14 of Disney’s most treasured titles”, and that these titles would be: Snow White; Beauty and the Beast; Fantasia and Fantasia 2000; The Lion King; Bambi; Cinderella; Lady and the Tramp; The Little Mermaid; Peter Pan; The Jungle Book; 101 Dalmatians; Sleeping Beauty; and Pinocchio. As you can see, Aladdin is missing and Fantasia 2000 has been added (although it’s sharing the spot with Fantasia). The funny thing is that when Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 was released in November 2010, it wasn’t marked as a Diamond edition (nor as a Platinum).

          As far as I know, Disney has not commented on Fantasia or Fantasia 2000’s Diamond status, and they’ve not said anything about changing the Diamond Collection lineup. So, until Disney makes an official statement about a Diamond edition Aladdin, I’m going to remain sceptical. But, as I mentioned earlier: I’d love to be wrong on this one. Aladdin is one of my absolute favorite Disney movies.

  11. John

    I’d love to have a Disney Blu-ray Digibook of “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”! And same for “Mary Poppins”. And “Fantasia 2000”!

    Please. Thank you.