August may draw to a close with relatively few new Blu-rays on the docket, but – in contrast to the rest of the month – this final week at least leaves us with one pretty big hit movie that should stir some interest among disc buyers.
‘The Jungle Book‘ – Disney’s continued push to remake all of its old animated movies in live-action form doesn’t always pay off, but the successes seem to justify the whole endeavor. The latest ‘Jungle Book’ is actually Disney’s second live-action version, following a Stephen Sommers dud in the mid-1990s. The new one had better results. The film was one of the biggest box office hits of the year, and represents a return to blockbuster form for director Jon Favreau. It also received a lot of favorable attention from critics. Unfortunately, if you’d like to watch it in Ultra High-Def 4k or in Dolby Atmos, you’re out of luck. Disney still refuses to support those on home video. If you want to watch it in 3D, you’ll have to import a copy from overseas.
‘Me Before You‘ – Emilia’s Clarke’s attempt to parlay her ‘Game of Thrones’ fame into action movie stardom with ‘Terminator Genisys’ didn’t exactly work out. Now she shifts gears and tries a weepy romance melodrama instead. The Mother of Dragons plays a small town girl who takes a job caring for a paraplegic man and, of course, winds up falling in love with him. Because that’s what happens in movies like this. Adapted from a popular romance novel somehow not written by Nicholas Sparks, the movie turned a solid profit this summer and will probably play very well in cable syndication soon enough.
‘The Phenom‘ – Despite solid reviews and a couple of bankable names like Ethan Hawke and Paul Giamatti in the cast, this baseball drama about a rookie MLB pitcher who gets bounced down to the Minors is effectively living out its own plot by being redirected quickly to video after a very brief limited theatrical run. Although critics generally liked it, other viewers complained about its lack of baseball action.
The Criterion Collection devotes both of its titles this week to Orson Welles. The legendary filmmaker is said to have considered his Shakespeare adaptation ‘Chimes at Midnight‘ (which mashes up the texts of several plays to build a narrative centered around Shakespeare’s recurring character of Sir John Falstaff) to be his finest work. Due to complicated legal disputes over its ownership, the film has long been unavailable on home video in North America. Those issues have apparently finally been sorted out, and Criterion’s Blu-ray is sourced from a brand new restoration effort. This should be a major event for cinephiles.
Criterion’s second release is ‘The Immortal Story‘, Welles’ final completed fictional feature. Throughout most of his career, Welles suffered numerous financial setbacks and struggled to find financing for his projects. Many he started were abandoned unfinished. Although completed, this one runs barely an hour long.
Meanwhile, Image dusts off Alan Parker’s blue collar musical ‘The Commitments‘, a movie whose soundtrack album significantly outsold its own box office grosses, but is nonetheless remembered fondly.
Straight from TV come the second season of ‘Star Wars: Rebels‘, the fourth season of ‘Arrow‘, the sixth season of ‘Shameless‘, and the miniseries adaptation of John Le Carré’s espionage thriller ‘The Night Manager‘.
‘Chimes at Midnight’ is my only must-buy disc this week, though I’ll likely rent ‘The Jungle Book’ at some point.
Do you see anything worth parting with some money over?
I saw Jungle Book in theaters and really enjoyed it and will probably import the 3d version in the not too distant future. Shout/Scream Factory released a double feature of Deathstalker and Deathstalker II as an exclusive through their website. Supposedly it’s a trial run and there’s a 1000 limited copies. I ordered mine last Monday and received it on Friday but the official release date is today. There’s probably 999 copies left for anyone who would be interested.😄
Looking forward to checking out ‘The Night Manager’. I liked the novel and Le Carré’s stuff always seems to translate well to the screen. The actors are interesting choices and I’m sure they’ll put a fun spin on the characters.
I’ll be picking up Arrow Season 4 (when the price is better) and Star Wars Rebels Season 2. And possibly blind buy ‘The Night Manager’.
I also am curious to learn more about ‘Citizen Soldier’.
Nothin for me this week. Never been a big Orson Welles fan and The Jungle Book I’d only watch if it came on TV. It’s kind of a relief to have a slow week actually, my wallet could use a rest…
On a side note, it’s my last day of vacation today and I’m dragging my wife to an afternoon screening of Hell or High Water. There’s only one theatre in the entire city screening it and it’s all the way downtown. Meanwhile, Ghostbusters and Suicide Squad are still everywhere and anywhere. What will it take for distributors to balance the number of screens for actual good movies as opposed to bloated blockbusters that are destroyed by the critics and nose-dive in attemdance in their second week? *climbs down off soapbox*
Anyways, I’m really looking forward to the movie as the genre and setting are right up my alley and it’s one of the best reviewed films of the year. Good way to end a vacation if there ever was one. Now I just hope the wife doesn’t hate it or I’ll never hear the end of it….
What it would take is for audiences to buy tickets to good movies, which unfortunately doesn’t happen as often as it should.
Sad but true eh? It seems like it’s been especially bad this summer. I had to drive for 40+ minutes to see The Neon Demon back in June becuase the screening was so limited, I totally missed Anthropoid because it was in an indie theatre for like a week and then gone. etc. It seems to sting a little but extra right now because the majority of this summer’s blockbusters have been let-downs while actually interesting movies are pushed to the fringes. Maybe audiences deserve a bit more credit than the studios give them? Just a smidge?
I’m expecting my 3D Steelbook of The Jungle Book to arrive any day now (Has anyone received their’s yet? Zavi shipped them like two weeks ago. Not that I am impatient – I know when I order from the UK, that it takes about 2-3 weeks). I am not sure if I would have bought The Jungle Book (Or Maleficent, or Frozen, or Cars, or Monsters Inc, or Monsters Univeristy, or Wreak It Ralph, or Brave, or Tangled and on and on and on) if it wasn’t for the 3D versions. I think I have maybe a couple of classic Disney movies on Blu that are in 2D, but everything they have in 3D, I own the 3D. Quite a bit imported from Europe,
I also have Star Wars Rebels coming
I finally received my 3D Zavvi SteelBook, today. It took a lot longer than the last big new release 3D Steel that I pre-ordered from them. I can’t remember exactly what that was, but I know it arrived in a week, and I had it at least a week befit the US release.
Thanks, maybe mine will be in today or tomorrow.
Hey, HDD reviewers, since this is getting so much attention, you guys ought to do a review of it. I know its been a while since you guys have done an import, but I don’t remember the last time a release got so much attention about features missing in the US (3D). If any of the reviewers ordered it, maybe you could drop a review of it for us.
Of course, many of us have already ordered it, but it might be interesting to those who are on the fence or reluctant because they are afraid it won’t play in the US
Absolutely!!! Please do a review! I’ll bet at least one HDD reviewer — I’m looking at you, E. — has already ordered it.
Did your Jungle Book 3D Steel arrive?
I watched mine, last night. In short, it’s downright exceptional. The 3D video quality is right up there with some of the best ever seen on this format. There are a lot more 3D pop out effects than we typically see, and the depth is absolutely jaw-dropping. I didn’t see a single instance of crosstalk, and I only caught a few very brief seconds of aliasing, throughout the entire film. The audio quality is outstanding. I won’t go so far as to call it reference quality, but there are a few very impressive and very interesting things about it: First, I’ve never heard a DTS: HD MA track upmix to Atmos or DTS: X so effectively! In fact, no other DTS: HD MA track has even come close! The track actually upmixes to Atmos a lot better than it does to DTS: X, which is intriguing, given the fact that it’s a native DTS track. I listened to the Kaa scene, repeatedly, switching back and forth between X and Atmos, and when X upmixing was engaged, I never got the true sense that Kaa’s voice was literally floating around the theatre room, or even starting in one place, and then seamlessly gliding to another, while still wrapping up somewhere else. With Atmos upmixing engaged, Kaa’s voice did all of those things flawlessly! If you didn’t know it wasn’t a native Atmos track, you would swear that it was! I listened to a few other scenes that feature a lot of action coming from above or a lot of action that’s in constant movement around the character POV. Atmos upmixing consistently made me feel as if everything was genuinely moving around me and above me, without ever being localized.
I mentioned before that the audio track is not reference quality. It might be more accurate to say that most aspects of it are 5-star reference, and the only aspect that comes up short is dynamic range. As is not uncommon to a lot of new Disney audio mixes, you will need to turn your volume up louder than you normally do. Don’t worry, this isn’t ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ or ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’; not even close. But dynamic range and overall volume level are not strong points of this track. The LFE featured is superb. There are moments when it reaches down to the very lowest of frequencies. Elephant footsteps, King Louie movements, and even Shere Khan laying down his paw can sometimes rock your foundation. Imaging is perfect, and panning effects simply couldn’t be better or more believable.
While the 3D video quality is definitely the main draw and primary selling point, the audio quality is nothing short of fantastic. Buy it for the revelatory 3D, and stay for an audio mix that it just short of reference quality.
😀 Nice review!
Mine did arrive, as did a letter from France. I got one friend there, so that got opened up first. It’s not every day you get something in from overseas, but something from two countries in one day?
I am working full time and I volunteer and I decided this semester to go from being a part time student to adding an additional class to become full time so that I can walk in the spring. Last night, I was reading my Strategic Leadership textbook and studying Hebrew. Working on Masters is a LOT of reading.
I am looking at probably opening The Jungle Book on Friday, as I try to have a day each week where I just do nothing but have fun. I have a concert that I am going to that night, though – they are doing a live album recording. I was going to run camera for the event, but then they mentioned they needed me there for rehearsal on Thursday, and I have classes on that day.
Upgrading to Atmos is on hold for the time being. I just bought a house in December, and had thousands of dollars (yes, no exageration) in repairs to do. That is what happens when you get a fixer upper. I am also back in school, so Atmos is on hold. I do have 7.1 and a 3D projector and a 2.35:1 screen, as I had a lightning strike that took out my 65 inch a year ago, and it was cheaper to go projector and screen rather than another 65 inch flatpannel, so I am at 115″ now. And 3D looks better on it than it (full 1080p resolution instead of 540).
I wasn’t expecting it to be anything other than spectacular. Disney rarely disappoints (except on catalog releases). I am surprised to hear that you had to turn it up that much if the soundtrack was DTS – DTS is known for encoding the audio level louder than Dolby. As for the 3D, the majority of the movie was filmed in front of a green screen, so this means that they are rendering enviornments in the computer in 3D anyways, so there is really no conversion that needs to be done, So I would expect it to look stunning.
I need to figure out audio situation in the new house – audio on just about anything seems flat to me versus how it did in the apartment, and that baffles me – the apartment had shag carpeting, the house has lamanent flooring – if anything, it should be echoing like crazy, but its not – its like something is absorbing the sound and giving me a flat output. Even the sub sounds subdued, which is weird, because it is bottom firing onto a floor. I haven’t really had the time to spend on looking into it – for the most part, I have been watching mostly television and lectures, and you just are not going to get much of a dynamic range out of Dolby Digital at 384kbps. I may play with it a bit when I get home today and see if maybe there is an equilizer setting or something that got set weird.
Anyways, thanks again for the review, and still hoping that a HDD reviewer will pick it up (hey, Josh, you got 3D and a Zatmos – now upgraded to Scatmos – system, hint hint).
Wow! That’s a staggering amount of stuff going on! Good luck getting to it, this weekend.
The overall volume level is an issue that is more directly related to Disney titles than to DTS. New Disney titles are almost always DTS, and some of their most notable recent ones have featured anemic dynamic range (thankfully, The Jungle Book doesn’t fall into that category), and an overall volume level that is lower than the high majority of DTS: HD MA tracks.
I can’t say enough about the 3D experience, though. I’m confident that there are no more than 3-4 3D Blu-days ever made that feature 3D that compares to it.
The issue may be more related to that studios have been throwing 3D on anything, whether it will benefit from it or not, and half the time, do crap conversions. What amazes me is that some of the best 3D conversions are actually of older movies – Jurassic Park, Wizard of Oz, Titanic, Beauty and the Beast, and Lion King. As for the newer movies, most CGI stuff looks fantastic, but as for live action, very few look good unless the 3D is well planned for. The Hobbit, for instance, had fantastic 3D, as does Jurassic World, the Marvel movies, Prometheus (this is one of my reference 3D titles), Avatar, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Edge of Tomorrow, Jupiter Ascending, Poltergeist, and Pixels. Jaws 3D is sitting on the shelf, I haven’t had a chance to open it yet. Oh, and there are some good documentaries – Grand Canyon River at Risk is one of my favorites. But look at how many movies that makes up compared to how many that have been released.
On the flip of that, I have not been disappointed with a Disney 3D Blu-Ray release (er, with the quality of the 3D – Oz and Alice In Wonderland were not that great of movies, but I did like Maleficent). so I took a chance on this one.
Yeah, I am busy! If I make it through this semester alive and sane, it will be a miracle