Blu-ray Highlights: Week of December 7th, 2014 – Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga

I have a feeling I can guess which movie the majority of our readers will buy this week. That’s right, Michael Dudikoff’s ‘Avenging Force’ is finally available on Blu-ray! Suh-weet! Get your orders in now before it sells out!

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (12/9/14)?

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New Releases

Guardians of the Galaxy‘ – Marvel really took a risk this year by adapting one of its B-List comic titles that’s only indirectly related to its superhero franchise into a big-budget space epic featuring that goofy guy from ‘Parks and Rec’, a sentient tree and a talking raccoon. Further, the studio entrusted it to James Gunn, director of quirky (usually profane) cult movies like ‘Slither’ and ‘Super‘. This could have been a disaster. Yet, somehow, the stars aligned and the film was a massive hit, beloved by audiences both home and abroad. As the only movie I actually went to see in a theater in 2014, even I can enthusiastically endorse it. (Take that, skeptics!)

Two notes: 1) The 2D Blu-ray has a constant 2.40:1 aspect ratio, while the 3D Blu-ray jumps around between aspect ratios ‘Dark Knight’-style so that you can pretend your living room flat panel is an IMAX screen. 2) Best Buy’s super-cool SteelBook exclusive has been sold out online for a couple weeks already. I really hope enough copies make their way to stores that I can get one.

When the Game Stands Tall‘ – I take it that this is a bio-pic about rapper Jayceon Terrell Taylor’s struggles to overcome scoliosis… No? It’s a sports flick about a high school football coach? Eh, whatever. I like my version better.

Calvary‘ – The great Brendon Gleeson reteams with ‘The Guard‘ director John Michael McDonagh for this tale of a friendly Catholic priest whose life is threatened by a molestation victim (of another priest) who wants to make him a martyr for the sins of the Church. I’ve heard many great things about this darkly comedic character drama.

Dolphin Tale 2‘ – Winter, the dolphin without a tail, is back in a new family-friendly adventure. Because the first one made money, that’s why.

Dead Snow 2‘ – Nazi zombies are back! Because the first one made money, that’s why.

I Origins‘ – Indie darling Brit Marling and her ‘Another Earth‘ director Mike Cahill bring us another low-budget, high-concept drama that mixes intriguing sci-fi concepts with a bunch of ridiculous spiritual hokum. By most accounts, this one is much less effective than their earlier effort.

Frank‘ – Michael Fassbender spends almost an entire movie wearing a giant papier-mâché mascot head as the lead singer of a gimmick band. Yup, that’s really what this is about. Supposedly, Fassbender manages to give a genuine performance even beneath the mask, and I’ve heard that the movie is actually pretty good.

Criterion Collection

Terry Gilliam’s wacky time travel fantasy ‘Time Bandits‘ was previously released on Blu-ray in a notoriously subpar edition, but finally gets the proper treatment it deserves from Criterion. This may not be Gilliam’s best film, but it’s certainly still one of his essentials.

Not to be confused with Jason Statham’s 2012 action thriller, Todd Haynes’ arty 1995 drama ‘Safe‘ recounts the tale of a suburban housewife (Julianne Moore) who suddenly develops crippling allergies to, well, everything. Is her body rejecting modern society, or are all her problems psychosomatic? Like almost all of Haynes’ films, this one has intriguing ideas yet left me feeling cold and ambivalent at the end. I want to like him as a filmmaker, but something holds me back from doing so. For me, Haynes has yet to recapture the brilliance of his early (unauthorized) short film, ‘Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story’, which re-enacted the singer’s life story and death from anorexia using Barbie dolls.

I guess that someone at Criterion really likes the twisted 1974 Nazi S&M drama ‘The Night Porter‘, and really hopes to convince viewers to re-evaluate it. The label has released the film on Laserdisc, DVD and now Blu-ray – even though it’s frequently cited as many Criterion fans’ least favorite title in the Collection.

Catalog Titles

Ever looking for new ways to repackage and resell old content, Warner Bros. has reissued a number of popular titles in so-called “Diamond Luxe” editions with new fancy packaging and (in some cases) additional bonus features. To my knowledge, none of the movies has been remastered, though Oliver Stone’s ‘Natural Born Killers‘ includes both the theatrical cut and Director’s Cut. (Previously, the two versions of the movie were sold separately.) The other titles are ‘Ben-Hur‘, ‘Forrest Gump‘, ‘Gremlins‘, ‘The Green Mile‘ and Tim Burton’s ‘Batman‘.

A Diamond Luxe edition of ‘Gravity’ will be released early next year with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack (though no 3D, unfortunately).

Kino continues its love affair with Robert Altman. This week, the studio gives us the director’s 1976 comedy Western ‘Buffalo Bill and the Indians‘.

Also from Kino are the aforementioned Dudikoff classic ‘Avenging Force‘ and the 1986 Billy Crystal/Gregory Hines cop-buddy action flick ‘Running Scared‘.


Paramount wants you to go back ‘Under the Dome‘ with Season 2 of the dopey CBS series. Meanwhile, BBC has the complete eighth season of ‘Doctor Who‘ (the first with Peter Capaldi).

I’ve got to head out to Best Buy to find a copy of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ SteelBook. How many of you are doing likewise?

‘Time Bandits’ is another must-buy, though it can probably wait for the next Barnes & Noble sale.

Will you pick up anything else this week?


  1. Lord Bowler

    Guardians of the Galaxy is a definite for me this week.

    The Batman Triple-Dip 25th Anniversary Edition is a possibility.

  2. NJScorpio

    I preordered the Guardians 3D steelbook from Best Buy on 10-15, so I’m excited that it’s on it’s way. It’s a blind buy for me.

    I’ll also be picking up ‘Time Bandits’ at the next Criterion sale (or when I get a good B&N coupon). I know I’ve seen it, though probably in bits and pieces on cable. Barely remember it. Since then, I’ve grown into a substantial Gilliam fan, so I look forward to rediscovering this film.

  3. Chris B

    I’m kind of torn on Guardians of the Galaxy. I enjoyed the movie for what it was but didn’t love it like most of the other people I know who saw it, which makes me feel like I don’t really need to own it. On the other hand, it was still a fun 2 hour distraction and that steel book is incredibly cool, so I’m debating a purchase.. For anyone living in Canada, it appears Future Shop will be carrying the SB as opposed to Best Buy in the states.

    Running Scared looks interesting, I’m a big fan of 80’s comedies and am not sure if I’ve ever seen it. Kino releases aren’t cheap though, does anybody know if they have any sales online?

  4. I think I’m just going to stick with Guardians of the Galaxy 3D for this week. I love Euro-sleaze and have the Slaughter Hotel dvd, so I’m interested in that one for the future. Dvdbeaver had some screen caps on this one and the improvement is pretty strong, but it seems to be plagued with artifacts. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears seems to have some strong giallo influences so I’m kind of interested in that one as well. Dead Snow 2 might make a fun rental, although the reasonable 12.99 price is very inticing. Christmas and my wife’s birthday are creeping up really quick, so I’m going to have to wait for some of these titles until after the holidays, so I’m just sticking with the essentials which will be Guardians.

  5. Another crazy week – I thought December was supposed to be slow.
    Guardians 3D (Best Buy Steelbook) is on its way, no waiting, no maybe, I must own!
    On the “wishlist” are Dead Snow 2, Time Bandits, Running Scared. Maybe List is Dolphin Tale 2.

    On the fence about the Diamond Luxe movies – One one hand Fuck You Warner for pulling the plug at the last minute and making them Best Buy Exclusives (which was a failure as the norm and as are most exclusives) but on the other hand, the artwork and design look very sharp. If I have a big moment of weakness, I would get Ben Hur, Gremlins, Green Mile & Forrest Gump.

  6. William Henley

    Guardians 3D for sure, I have the steelbook on its way.

    Dragonball Z Season 9 as well, however it will have to wait, as I am still recovering from going overboard on Black Friday buys and Disney Movie Club purchaces in November. Truthfully, I should have delayed my Guardians purchase too, but as I had ordered it from Best Buy and not from Amazon, I had forgot about it when I went to cancel December Preorders.

    Also chose other – I got an e-mail from Disney Movie Club about an exclusive Blu-Ray that is supposed to be coming out today – the original The Love Bug. I will pick that up eventually as well

  7. timcharger

    Josh, got your GotG Steelbook? The supply seems more plentiful
    than Best Buy’s Thor 2 Steelbook release. But demand is high and
    scalpers are buying them up. Going to fight some people in line
    in memory of Black Friday, in the next few minutes…

        • Chris B

          Shit, I just checked the Future Shop online store and they’re sold out to. I’m gonna go buy the store in about 45 minutes and if they’re already all gone I’m gonna freak…I’ll keep you guys posted.

          • Josh Zyber

            I had a couple other things going on this year. Preordering slipped my mind, unfortunately. Also, I had hoped to be able to pick one up in-store.

          • Josh Zyber

            Future Shop in Canada has the same Guardians SteelBook. Although it’s sold out online, I’m told that stores are plentifully stocked. A friend of mine in Toronto has agreed to see if he can get one for me. Whoo-hoo!

          • Timcharger

            So Canada’s Futureshop has them well stocked in-stores? While domestic Best Buys are sold out? They are being sold on secondary markets: Amazon/Ebay for $60. Triple the $20 release week price!

          • Timcharger

            Best Buy owns Futureshop.

            I would suggest the real phenomenon is that:
            American consumers are crazy. Canadian consumers are sane.

          • Josh Zyber

            Best Buy may have purchased Future Shop, but the stores are still managed separately, and both stores are active in Canada. In fact, you can often find Best Buy and Future Shop stores next door to or across the street from each other.

            Best Buy underestimated demand and understocked this SteelBook. Future Shop didn’t.

          • Timcharger

            I think we are both right.

            Best Buy underestimated the demand of the crazy American consumer for this Steelbook. It’s easier to estimate demand when consumers are sane.

            And I admit, I contribute to the insanity.

          • Timcharger

            And I am glad that Best Buy priced the 3D Steelbook at $20.

            Best Buy could have priced it at $25 or $28 or $30, and that
            would have lowered demand.

            At that price, I would have considered getting the 2D blu
            for the $15 price this week.

          • Chris B

            Best Buy wasn’t selling it here in Canada, it’s a future shop exclusive. I agree Best Buy does suck though, their prices are ridiculous and they don’t keep near the inventory that FS does.

            And yeah they tend to be in close proximity, in my closest shopping centre they are only half a block apart.

          • timcharger

            Yeah Best Buy may suck in many, various ways. But not here in this situation. Best Buy is commended for offering it at $20 for 3d and with Steelbook. Yes that value proposition increased demand. But that is a good thing. As a consumer, I’m not faulting a retailer for great pricing even if that means the product will sell out.
            (This refers to Best Buy U.S.)

          • Josh Zyber

            Having great pricing is kind of irrelevant if there are no copies on hand for you to buy.

            “Wow, only $20! That’s terrific. What shelf is that on?”

            “Oh, we were only sent 5 copies. The first guy in the door this morning bought all of them. He already listed them on eBay for $60 each.”

          • Chris B

            I can’t really comment as to the pricing issue, us Canadians tend to pay more for the same products even before the exchange rate is taken i to account, Future Shop’s prices tend to be better than Best Buy, but I still paid 28.99 for that steelbook…ouch.

          • Timcharger

            Having great pricing is kind of irrelevant if there are no copies on hand for you to buy.

            “Wow, only $20! That’s terrific. What shelf is that on?”

            “Oh, we were only sent 5 copies. The first guy in the door this morning bought all of them. He already listed them on eBay for $60 each.”

            Those aren’t actually quotes, right Josh? It’s a dramatic characterization of what happened in your head right?

            Here’s my actual quote:
            “My local Best Buy got in 30 copies. Around half were presold
            as in-store pickups. The other half were sold within minutes
            after the store opened.

            When I checked out, the cashier told me quite a few people
            bought multiple copies. And one customer bought 5.

            Best Buy really should have a company policy to limit these
            kind of purchases to 2 or 3 per person.”


            Again, Best Buy may suck in many, many various ways.
            But the great pricing and the increased demand wasn’t
            the issue here.

            Sorry Josh, you snoozed. And luckily with your buddy
            in Canada, you didn’t lose.

            Preorder was available for months.

            Once price was dropped to be only $20, preorders were
            still open for a week or two after that news.

            After preorders were stopped, that suggested this was
            going to be a Tuesday morning line up thing.


            Have you seen the alternative online Amazon lightning
            deal silliness? I have to “line-up” throughout the day at
            various times to get the sale price. Add it to cart. Check
            out within 15 minutes. Or go on Wait Lists. It is silly.

        • The comment about having great pricing but no copies is very true. Best Buy is a repeat offender with these types of things. I remember a few years back they priced the Watchmen Ultimate Director’s Cut which was always in the 40 to 50 dollar range for 15 dollars. Guess what? Not a single store had it! I checked a bunch of zip codes and called all my local stores, and there wasn’t a single copy to be found or any way for them to order it. That wasn’t the first time they did something like that.

  8. EM

    No Guardians of the Galaxy. Sorry, I just felt a differing opinion ought to be heard. 🙂

    I did vote for Time Bandits, but it will have to wait, perhaps for a Criterion sale.

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