Blu-ray Highlights: Week of December 15th, 2013 – Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

This week marks the last big push for new Blu-ray releases before the Christmas holiday. If our readers have been good boys and girls, we might just have a last-minute gift to offer you. Read this post carefully for our special one-day giveaway.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (12/17/13)?

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New Releases

I doubt it was planned this way deliberately, but the day-and-date titles this week make for a compilation of many of the summer’s greatest disappointments all gathered in one place.

Disney’s mega-budget revamp of ‘The Lone Ranger‘ was supposed to be one of the year’s biggest tentpoles. Instead, when all is said and done, it will likely be counted as its biggest folly. Although the film’s worldwide box office gross of $260 million might seem pretty healthy for an average movie, this one was officially budgeted at $215 million to make, with rumors that the actual production costs were even higher. Those numbers don’t include marketing or distribution, which could more than double the amount spent. For all that, the movie was critically lambasted and met with indifference from the all-important teenage ticket-buying audience, who simply couldn’t give a damn about some old property that hasn’t been relevant since their great-grandparents were kids. It certainly didn’t help that it’s a Western (a genre long out of favor with teens), and that Johnny Depp’s goofy-costume-and-accent schtick is extremely played-out. Honestly, this thing was doomed from the beginning. Was the movie really as bad as its reputation? I know at least a couple of people who have defended it, including our Blu-ray reviewer Shannon. This seems like the sort of thing I might catch when it airs on HBO and I have nothing better to do.

After his debut ‘District 9‘ was such a big hit and even nominated for some Oscars, director Neill Blomkamp was hailed as the second coming of James Cameron. Well, apparently he hit a sophomore slump with the big-budget follow-up ‘Elysium‘, which once again fuses videogame aesthetics and action scenes with an overt political parable. From most accounts, this one is much less subtle or effective at doing that. This looks like rental fodder to me.

As much as I loved the first ‘Kick-Ass‘, the trailers for ‘Kick-Ass 2‘ appeared to suffer the all-too-common sequel malady of being more of the same, but not as good. I lost interest in this after original director Matthew Vaughn dropped out and the studio cut the sub-title ‘Balls to the Wall’. Again, this is possibly a rental for me, or possibly a wait-for-cable.

For the last decade, French action maestro Luc Besson has been dicking around and wasting his talents on bad kids’ movies and failed Oscar bait. This year, he attempted to return to his roots with the action comedy ‘The Family‘, which stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfieffer as the heads of a Mafia clan relocated to rural France as part of the Witness Protection Program. Fish-out-of-water hijinx ensue. I want to give Besson the benefit of the doubt, but the trailers and word-of-mouth were uninspiring. Another rental?

I’m having some trouble understanding why the Young-Adult fantasy sequel ‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters‘ exists at all, when the first entry was kind of a flop. Did anyone like ‘Percy Jackson’ enough to want to see another one? Judging by its performance, apparently not.

One Direction: This Is Us‘ is the 3D concert film from the latest insufferable boy band of the moment. I hear that the 3D makes their douchey hairdos look extra douchetacular.

Star Casey Affleck claims that the title ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints‘ isn’t actually supposed to mean anything. Well, I guess it’s not supposed to convince anyone to pay to see the movie either. Like many films that get hyped up to be the Next Big Indie Sensation at Sundance, the Western drama vanished after a weekend in general release. Reviews were mixed to positive. I suppose I have no real reason to be so skeptical of it, but that pretentious title just turns me off.

After all that, the most promising release of the week is the drama ‘Prisoners‘, which stars Hugh Jackman as a father whose young daughter is kidnapped, and Jake Gyllenhaal as the detective that Jackman doesn’t think is doing enough to find her. Reviews praised the performances (and may lead to some Oscar nominations), but were a little critical of the movie’s plotting. Director Denis Villeneuve’s last film, ‘Incendies‘, knocked me flat with its emotional power. I may need to brace myself before I’ll be ready to watch this.

Catalog Titles

In an odd pairing, Kino courts two different audiences this week. First, the studio resurrects the 1930 Josef von Sternberg classic ‘The Blue Angel‘, starring the great Marlene Dietrich as a nightclub singer who seduces an elderly professor. Next comes Mario Bava’s cult 1963 horror flick ‘The Whip and the Body‘, about a castle haunted by the ghost of an evil count (Christopher Lee). I can’t imagine watching these back-to-back.

Indiana Jones‘ fans who have been waiting for the chance to buy just one or two of the earlier movies individually will be happy to see Paramount finally break all of the franchise’s entries out to separate releases. The movie discs themselves are the same as those from the box set, but you’ll forfeit your chance to get the exclusive supplement disc. Oh, and don’t worry about the first film being retitled ‘Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark’ on the packaging. The movie itself still has the original opening credits.

Also reissued this week is ‘Predator‘, in a new quickie 3D conversion that was cranked out utilizing the same software that produced the underwhelming ‘I, Robot – 3D‘. Early rumors suggested that the 2D disc in the case might be a brand new 4k remaster, which might make this worth buying if true. (Both of the previous two Blu-ray releases of this film were problematic in different ways). However, recent speculation has cast doubt on that. I’ll wait for a review to confirm. If the 2D disc is really just a re-pressing of the abhorrent Ultimate Hunter Edition, that would be a massive disappointment.


The TV scene this week brings us the fourth season of FX’s outstanding ‘Justified‘, and the third season of Showtime’s mediocre ‘Shameless‘. (At least, that’s how I felt about it after the pilot episode. I guess it must have some fans if it’s lasted three seasons.)

Special One-Day Giveaway

Listen up, folks. Here’s the deal: We have one slightly-used copy of the ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ single-disc edition that we’d be happy to give to one of our readers. To decide who gets it, we’re holding a brief contest for one day only.

For your chance to win, I want you to describe the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise using three words or less. Be creative. Here are some examples off the top of my head:

  • Fedora whips Nazis.
  • Oh no, snakes!
  • Eww, monkey brains!
  • Crystal Skull, ugh.
  • Three was enough.

Note: If you receive an error message that your comment is too short, please preface the comment with “Contest entry:” or something similar.

We have one copy of the Blu-ray to give away. The winner will be chosen at our own subjective discretion based on whichever responses we enjoy the most. Entries are limited to 10 per person. (Please heed this limit. You will be taken out of consideration if you submit more than 10 entries.) All entries must be submitted in the Comments section of this blog post. Please do not attempt to email them to me.

This contest is only open to entrants from the domestic United States. We will not ship internationally (whether you’re a U.S. citizen or not). Employees of High-Def Digest or Internet Brands and their families are not eligible. Standard contest rules and conditions apply. People who have won any of our previous contests within the past one year are also not eligible to win, but may get Honorable Mentions.

The deadline for entry is tonight, December 16th, at 11:59 PM PST. The winners will be announced later this week. Good luck!

Update: Contest Results!

Due to the nature of this being an impromptu contest, I’ve decided to just announce the winners right here, rather than put together a whole separate post for this.

So, without further ado, here are the Honorable Mentions:

  1. EM: Finally…Indiana’s exciting
  2. Phill: most absentee teacher
  3. Tyler V: Ford!, Connery, LaBeouf?
  4. Jonathan D: The Hat Abides
  5. Andrew K: Wilhelm screams galore.
  6. Luis A: Annoying, little, kid
  7. William H: What another sabatical?

And the winner is… Chuck, for asking a question that’s on a lot of our minds:

What next Disney?

Congratulations to Chuck for winning one slightly-used copy of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ on Blu-ray. I like the way this contest came together. I may try to do another one like this in the future.


  1. William Henley

    I have actually preordered a DVD for this week. Yeah, I know, but they are not releasing a Blu-Ray of it (That I know of). It is The Sound of Music Live that was shown on NBC a couple of weeks ago.

  2. August Lehe

    Assuming we won’t have another call for 2014 wish lists, I must add a pair I forgot to ask for two weeks ago. Disney’s Song of the South and the bizarre 1948 Civil War “Epic” Tap Roots starring Van Heflin, Susan Hayward and Boris Karloff. I can dream, can’t I?

  3. I liked ‘The Lone Ranger’. I liked it a lot, actually. I even bought a LEGO set.

    “douchetacular”, such an awesome neologism.

    Better see ‘Prisoners’ now, Josh. Once you are a parent, it will be unbearable to see kids in jeopardy.

      • Timcharger

        Is there a single word for that phrase? Perhaps your vocabulary is better that mine?

        Plus, even if this entry is disqualified, it produced a chuckle? A small chuckle? A tiny, mini-chuckle?

          • Timcharger

            I’ve been waiting for the apt moment for that. Grave “rob”bers makes sense for Indy, but that’s still a stretch for the word play.

            Keep trying, EM; yours aren’t bad.

    • Timcharger

      Josh, this entry should still qualify within the 3 word rule.

      It can be argued that it only has 1 word: “Dah”.

      And I’ll go ahead and just accept the award my entry as the honorable mention. What’s more iconic for Indy than that theme song?