Blu-ray Highlights: Week of December 6th, 2015 – Size Matters Not

I could make a “big things in small packages” joke to start off the week. (In fact, I suppose I just did.) The latest batch of new Blu-ray releases brings us a couple of the smallest big movies of the year.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (12/8/15)?

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New Releases

Ant-Man‘ – After all the production troubles involving the last-minute firing of original director Edgar Wright, and all the skepticism from fans about this particularly obscure superhero, new director Peyton Reed persevered and delivered one of Marvel’s most fun and inventive movies yet. It’s not a perfect film (the studio-mandated inclusion of scenes and characters tying this adventure to the rest of the MCU feels awkward and clumsy), but it’s much better than many people expected. Although not an ‘Avengers’ size blockbuster, the movie was a pretty solid hit. The Blu-ray comes in 2D and 3D options. (The 3D is very creatively used.) Best Buy also has an exclusive SteelBook edition that will probably be woefully understocked in stores, as per the retailer’s usual incompetence.

A copy of ‘Ant Man’ is also included in the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two Collection‘ box set, which bundles it with ‘Iron Man 3’, ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, plus some exclusive bonus features.

Minions‘ – The diminutive sidekicks from the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise get their own dedicated movie. A little of these guys goes a long way, and the prospect of sitting through 90 solid minutes of them sounds like a tough watch to me. The kids in the target audience clearly disagreed, as the movie did more than a billion dollars in business. This one’s also available in 2D and 3D, and both copies come with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

The Transporter Refueled‘ – Jason Statham is the only reason that any of the movies in the dim-witted ‘Transporter’ franchise are watchable at all. Who would want a reboot without him? Nobody would, hence the reason that the movie flopped.

Knock Knock‘ – For his second dud of 2015, Eli Roth puts Keanu Reeves into the middle of an erotic thriller that was widely derided as not just the director’s worst film (which is saying something), but one of the worst films of the year, period. How does this guy have fans?

Catalog Titles

Twilight Time delivers its first animated title with the 2013 Japanese feature film adaptation of the classic anime ‘Harlock: Space Pirate‘. Other new Twilight Time limited editions include a reissue of Ray Harryhausen’s ‘Mysterious Island‘, the George Orwell adaptation ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four‘, the Frank Sinatra crime thriller ‘The Detective‘, Sinatra’s war drama ‘Kings Go Forth‘, and the family wildlife adventure film ‘Born Free‘. (In a manner of speaking, ‘The Detective’ is sort of a prequel to ‘Die Hard’. Really, look it up.)

The Criterion Collection’s latest inductees are the 1928 Harold Lloyd silent comedy ‘Speedy‘ and the bizarre 2013 Japanese fantasy film ‘Jellyfish Eyes‘.

Easily portable in Sony’s swell Digibook package, in fact you can take Frank Capra’s classic screwball comedy ‘You Can’t Take It With You‘ wherever you want.

If you look at the alleged children’s film ‘The Garbage Pail Kids Movie‘ and find yourself wondering how such an abomination could have ever gotten made, remember that everyone in Hollywood did a lot of drugs in the 1980s. Seriously, a lot of drugs. Shout! Factory has decided to terrorize children everywhere by digging this strange artifact of the era out of the cinematic trash heap.

Having released the clever 1986 thriller ‘F/X‘ on Blu-ray earlier this year, Kino follows through with its lesser 1991 sequel ‘F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion‘.

In the midst of the many Dracula movies he made for Hammer Films, Christopher Lee also played a mustachioed version of the character for Spanish cult director Jess Franco in the 1970 ‘Count Dracula‘. Mustache aside, at the time it was considered one of the most faithful adaptations of Bram Stoker’s original novel.

Often described as a Japanese equivalent of the ‘Godfather’ saga, all five films in Kinji Fukasaku’s yakuza crime drama franchise ‘Battles Without Honor and Humanity‘ have been collected into a limited edition box set by Arrow Video.


The truth is out there, and now you can watch it in high definition. In anticipation of next year’s revival, Fox has remastered the entire run of ‘The X Files‘. Considering that the show ran for nine seasons and that all of them had to be reconstructed from the original film elements (a la the work done to ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’), that was quite an undertaking. The results are available in either a massive, shelf-hogging Complete Series box set or broken out by individual seasons.

Also available this week are the final seasons respectively of the excellent ‘Hannibal‘ and the idiotic ‘Under the Dome‘. I recapped both of these shows while they were on the air. You can refresh your memories about them here and here.

Finally, Ken Burns’ landmark documentary ‘The Civil War‘ was just released on Blu-ray in October of this year, but reportedly suffered from severely washed-out black levels in the video transfer. PBS has corrected that problem and reissued the set. I should hope that some sort of exchange program will be available for viewers who purchased the original copy.

My $.02

I’m going to try my best to get a copy of Best Buy’s ‘Ant-Man’ SteelBook. I failed to pre-order it online when it was available, so I’m hoping that stores will get an adequate supply. [Update: The SteelBook is available on the Best Buy web site again – for the moment, anyway.]

Beyond that, other titles that interest me include ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Because I can’t ever foresee myself rewatching the last three terrible seasons of ‘The X Files’, I haven’t decided yet whether to buy the first six individually or just wait a couple years for the complete collection to be reissued in a smaller form factor and lower price point.

What about you? Will you pick anything up this week?


  1. How very kind of Fox to issue both the complete X-Files and the separate seasons. In most cases, studios will force the fan to buy the whole shebang – and then break the contents down at a later point in time. Well done, Fox!

    • William Henley

      What surprises me is that they released the HD transfers to the VOD services already. I have been beinge watching X-Files on Netflix in HD all weekend. It looks AMAZING! And since Fox did that, I probably won’t be buying the discs now. But I am sure Fox will still get reports of how many people are viewing on Netflix and Vudu and such.

      • NJScorpio

        Damn, now I want to rewatch all of X-Files. I religiously watched the show growing up, but only as it aired…so that was ages 13 to 22…the early episodes I may not have gotten, and the later episodes I was beginning to lose some interest with college and such.

  2. NJScorpio

    I paid no attention to the trailers or anything for ‘Ant-Man’, but I’m always interested in new 3D movies. When I saw the preorder price on Amazon drop to $19.99, and the great reviews already on there, I preordered it. I can’t think of one thing from the trailer that I saw probably when it was first released online, so I’m pretty excited. A generally good reviewed, 3D movie, that I haven’t already had spoiled for me.

  3. Bolo

    I’ve always wanted to see the ‘Garbage Pail Kids’ movie. So that one will get at least one viewing out of me.

    I’ll also check out the sorta ‘Die Hard’ prequel, ‘The Detective’. I’ve heard it’s good.

    ‘Battles Without Honour & Humanity’ could be good. I’ll put that one on the list for a rainy day.

  4. Csm101

    Antman 3d, Minions 3d, and Hannibal season 3 for sure. I fondly remember Garbage Pail Kids trading cards and how annoyed our teachers were by them. I never had the slightest interest as a kid to see the movie, but at the right price, I can see myself picking this up. I haven’t ordered Harlock: Space Pirate yet, but hope to by the end of the week. I took advantage of the Screen Archives sale instead, and finally ordered Zardoz and At Close Range. I’m debating about squeezing another sale title before Space Pirate…
    I don’t think I own any women’s prison movies, I usually stumble into those late at night when there’s nothing to watch. I need to put a few of those in my collection. Born Free and FX 2 also wil go on my future wish list.

  5. William Henley

    Nothing this week. I was looking at X-Files, but then they released the HD remasters to Netflix and Vudu, and I have already been binge watching the show.

  6. EM

    The mustache would be a point in favor of Count Dracula’s fidelity to the source novel. It’s a little odd that various adaptations keeping missing the point that shaving one’s face is quite difficult if one can’t see one’s own reflection. “Renfield…bring the hot towel!”

        • Csm101

          I’ve never read the novel myself, but I believe he was supposed to have a very distinctive white mustache or something like that. It might of been on one of the featurettes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula blu. i believe they talked about his look being faithful to the novel except for the mustache.

      • EM

        Vampires often mesmerize the living into a hazy forgetfulness. Indeed, I had forgotten that the Count apparently does get some shaving done from time to time, with assistance or without.

        From Jonathan Harker’s first witting encounter with Dracula (chapter. 2):

        Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere.

        From Harker’s first London encounter with Dracula, as described by Mina Harker (chapter 13):

        …he [Jonathan] gazed at a tall, thin man, with a beaky nose and black moustache and pointed beard, who was also observing the pretty girl.

    • William Henley

      Well, according to Anne Rice, your hair stays the same length it was when you turned into a vampire. If you were clean shaven when you were born into darkness, you would remain clean shaven..

      Just given movie makers the benefit of a doubt

  7. Deaditelord

    I’m very tempted to buy the X-Files box set, but I can’t quite justify throwing down that much money for a TV show so I’ll wait for the box set to go on sale. Didn’t realize until now that Twilight Time was handling the Harlock movie on blu-ray. (I always assumed Funimation would handle the local release) I’m a big fan of Arcadia of my Youth and the previous anime shows for Captain Harlock so I think I’ll watch the new movie quick on Netflix streaming in order to decide if I want to buy it.

  8. Todd

    I preordered the X-Files set from FoxConnect back on October 8th for $150. Just arrived today. Very excited! Also getting Hannibal season 3 and Ant-Man 3D.

  9. Pre-ordered the ‘Treasure Planet’ Zavvi steelbook today. An extremely excellent, super-underrated Disney movie. I love love love it, and own nothing more than the DVD (which is still quite good PQ/AQ-wise).

  10. Chris B

    Does anybody know when the hell we’ll be able to buy the 25th anniversary of Christmas Vacation? I went looking for it this weekend to no avail. Someone on here mentioned it’s been delayed indefinitely? What gives?

  11. itjustWoRX

    The deal-breaker for me with X-Files was the lack of UV Digital Copies, believe it or not. If Sony can throw me one with their “Breaking Bad” barrel and HBO can give me one for the entire “The Wire” series, Fox could at least do that.

    Oh, and the whole Amazon-Fox thing that STILL isn’t fully resolved.

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