Blu-ray Highlights: Week of December 14th, 2014 – Gnarly, Dude

Last week brought us the Blu-ray release of one of the most popular and well-liked movies of the year. This week… doesn’t. But it has Michael Bay’s latest attempt to cynically exploit a 1980s children’s property. So there’s that.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (12/16/14)?

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New Releases

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ – Michael Bay may not have directed this one himself (acting as producer, he handed directing duties to Jonathan Liebesman), but the movie has his stamp all over it, especially in the way the title characters have been made into beefier, uglier versions of their original selves for no reason. I won’t pretend to be a ‘Ninja Turtles’ superfan, but I watched a fair amount of the old cartoon series in the ’80s and kind of liked the 2007 ‘TMNT’ animated movie. Although I can’t bring myself to get worked up about Bay ruining another cherished piece of my childhood, this new live-action reboot still looks… ugh. Just ugh. Will 3D help? Probably not. The Dolby Atmos track, on the other hand, may be more enticing.

The Maze Runner‘ – Here’s another YA adaptation set in a dystopian future where young kids are forced to compete in a deadly contest. Since even the original book was published after the first ‘Hunger Games’ novel, I feel pretty comfortable calling this a ‘Hunger Games’ knockoff. Produced for a low budget with a no-name cast, the movie actually made some decent money, especially overseas. A sequel is in the works. Nothing about this interests me, except that a small number of theaters played the movie earlier this year in a gimmicky super-ultra-wraparound-widescreen format called Escape, which the Blu-ray will certainly not attempt to replicate.

Magic in the Moonlight‘ – At 79-years-old, Woody Allen is still cranking out one new film a year. Lately, he seems to have fallen into a rhythm where he alternates between good movies and duds every other year. In 2013, he gave us the acclaimed ‘Blue Jasmine’, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that his latest effort, a period comedy with Colin Firth as a stage magician and Emma Stone as the fake psychic he’s trying to debunk, would be widely panned. Better luck next year, Woody.

The Skeleton Twins‘ – Former ‘SNL’ castmates Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader play siblings from a dysfunctional family in an indie dramedy that reportedly hits on just about every trope for such things, but is largely redeemed by the performances.

This Is Where I Leave You‘ – Tina Fey and Jason Bateman play siblings from a dysfunctional family in an indie dramedy that reportedly hits on just about every trope for such things, and is not redeemed by much of anything.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection released Sydney Pollack’s terrific cross-dressing comedy ‘Tootsie‘ on Laserdisc back in 1993, but couldn’t get the rights for DVD until now. The title finally re-enters the Collection on both DVD and Blu-ray (in separate editions) today.

As a follow-up to its release of ‘Nightbreed’ back in October, Scream Factory gives us Clive Barker’s ‘Lord of Illusions‘ on Blu-ray now. The film is both Barker’s most ambitious but also probably the weakest of his three directorial features. Scott Bakula is terribly miscast in the lead, which makes it particularly strange that Barker claims he loved the actor so much in the role that he wrote later depictions of the character in his novels based on Bakula’s performance.


TV offerings this week include the first season (shockingly, it has been renewed for a second) of CBS’ laughably awful sci-fi drama ‘Extant‘, as well as BBC America’s unwatchably dull and confusing ‘Intruders‘.

Just last month, Warner Bros. released the campy 1960s ‘Batman‘ TV series on Blu-ray in an expensive, oversized Limited Edition box set. Barely five weeks later, the studio has already reissued it in standard packaging without the toy car or other physical swag. At current street prices, the Standard Edition is actually slightly more expensive than the Limited Edition, but that will hopefully change eventually. I’m not certain whether Warner has already issued corrected discs (as it promised to) for the episodes missing small pieces of footage, or if this new box set will still have the problem until an exchange program can be worked out.

I may not know anything about modern anime, but even I know that the space Western ‘Cowboy Bebop‘ is a classic that’s frequently hailed as one of the greatest anime series of all time.

Going on my wish list this week are ‘Tootsie’, ‘Lord of Illusions’ and ‘Cowboy Bebop’. What about yours?


  1. Ninja Turtles 3D will probably be my only purchase and maybe my last bluray purchase until after Christmas. It’ll make my number 200 3d title which I wanted to hit before the year was over. I liked it in theaters ( yes there’s plenty wrong with it, but I still had fun ) and hopefully it’ll hold up at home. Long Hair of Death looks cool for the near future. Over the last few years I’ve really started to like Dustin Hoffman, so for the next Criterion sale, Tootsie might be a good one.

  2. Chris B

    No interest in TMNT, Tootsie is a great movie but one I’ve seen so many damn times I’m not sure if it warrants a purchase. I rememer watching Lord of Illusions years back and being kind of underwhelmed, Famke Janssen is so damn hot though! It might be kind of fun to revisit it for old times sake…Cowboy Bebop is an absolute masterpiece, I’d say it’s not only one of the best anime series but one of the best TV shows period. Unfortuantely I’d never have time to watch it so I’ll have to pass.

  3. Will likely purchase TMNT 3D combo, not sure about Best Buy’s Steelbook of it – and probably will regret it when I get around to watching it too!

    On my wish list: Lord of Illusions, Cowboy Bebop & Tootsie.

  4. NJScorpio

    I canceled my TMNT 3D preorder, as $24.99 didn’t seem like that great a deal, considering I got steelbooks of both Rise and Guardians for $19.99 each. Plus, it seems like a movie I’ll be less happy with than those two other blind buys. So, I’ll wait till it’s $19.99 or less. No rush to see it…unfortunately. (I was a HUGE fan in the 80s)

  5. William Henley

    That is an incredible price for Cowboy Bebop – I am doing a No Spend thing right now (at least for myself – still have a couple of Christmas Presents left to buy), but if it stays at that price, I may just have to pick that up. While most animes can be streamed, and that is what I do on a lot of them, Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows I would like to own.

    TMNT is a rental. I didn’t see it – I didn’t like how it looked, but the subject material is enough to drop $1.50 at Redbox.

    The price of the Batman series is still just way too high for me. I was hoping it would come down much more than this with it not having the toy car with it. I want it more for a couriosity rather than as a fan, so it has to come down much more before I will even consider it.

  6. Lord Bowler

    I saw Turtles in theater and am buying the Steelbook at Best Buy. As a fan of the original 80s series, I was disappointed, but not as much as I expected to be. It was much more enjoyable than TMNT, along the lines of Transformers. Good, but expected and hoped for so much more.

  7. “The title finally re-enters the Collection on both DVD and Blu-ray (in separate editions) today.”

    Oh? I thought Criterion had stopped releasing DVD-only editions?

  8. Hey Josh, “a no-name cast” in “The Maze Runner”? What about Thomas Brodie-Sangster? The cute kid from ‘Love Actually’, and (nowadays) ‘Game of Thrones’?

    • Not exactly a household name, is he? I wouldn’t know his name from a cast listing, although I’d obviously recognize the actor. I think Patricia Clarkson is about the only person in that cast I know by name.

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