Blu-ray Highlights: Week of February 19th, 2017 – A Ridge Too Far

The Oscars are less than a week away. If you feel that you haven’t seen enough of this year’s nominated movies, a few more of them hit Blu-ray this week to give you time to catch up. Better get on that – assuming you care at all about the Oscars, of course.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (2/21/17)?

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New Releases (Blu-ray)

Hacksaw Ridge‘ – I guess Mel Gibson is back in Hollywood’s good graces. His WWII drama about a pacifist medic who saved dozens of American G.I.s without carrying a gun was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor (Andrew Garfield). It’s unlikely to win any of the non-technical awards, but Gibson will undoubtedly parlay this into more mainstream work for himself. (He’s currently rumored to possibly direct the ‘Suicide Squad’ sequel.) Although generally acclaimed, the film was also widely criticized for Gibson’s fetishistic obsession with brutal violence and martyrdom (traits that also defined his ‘Passion of the Christ’), which seems at odds with the supposed themes of the story.

Manchester by the Sea‘ – As I write this, Casey Affleck appears to be a lock for the Best Actor trophy this weekend. His portrayal of a troubled man forced to take care of his teenage nephew after his brother dies has steamrolled through just about every other awards ceremony this season. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan (‘You Can Count on Me’, ‘Margaret’), the movie sounds like a real misery-fest, but is said to have incredible emotional power. Our reviewer David wasn’t sold on it as thoroughly as most critics, however.

Nocturnal Animals‘ – Fashion designer Tom Ford follows his impeccably-stylized directorial debut ‘A Single Man‘ with a convoluted thriller that interweaves a couple of different narrative levels. In the framing story, a wealthy art gallery owner named Susan (Amy Adams) reads a novel written by her ex (Jake Gyllenhaal). This then segues into a dramatization of the plot of that novel, a violent revenge fantasy that Susan believes ties into her real past relationship. The movie received a lot of mixed reviews, many calling it a case of style over substance. (A critic friend of mine described it as overheated and ludicrous.) Nonetheless, Michael Shannon scored an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson actually won that corresponding award at the Golden Globes. If nothing else, it sounds like it’s consistently interesting to look at.

Bad Santa 2‘ – Thirteen years after the delightfully mean-spirited black comedy original became a cult hit, Billy Bob Thornton puts his Santa cap back on for a belated sequel that, according to almost everyone who saw it, merely replays all the same gags without adding anything new or finding a justification for its existence.


If you’re eager to watch human bodies being pulverized into hamburger by mortars and machine gun fire in the highest clarity possible, ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘ comes at you in 4k.

The advantages that UHD may have for ‘Bad Santa 2‘ seem less obvious, which may be why that disc has been relegated to a Best Buy exclusive.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection dives into melodrama this week, first with Michael Curtiz’s noir-ish ‘Mildred Pierce‘ (the 1945 original, not the tepid HBO remake from a few years ago). Joan Crawford’s powerhouse performance as a headstrong businesswoman who’s just a little too devoted to her spoiled daughter won an Oscar in its day. I haven’t watched it in years, but I recall this as being just about the most exquisitely lit movie I’d ever seen, which leaves me eager to see how well Criterion has restored it.

Criterion then jumps forward four decades to 1988 for Pedro Almodóvar’s delirious, candy-colored ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown‘. This early hit brought both the director and young star Antonio Banderas to international attention.

The Warner Archive dusts off Ken Russell’s 1971 musical comedy ‘The Boy Friend‘, starring fashion model Twiggy in a send-up of Busby Berkeley dance extravaganzas.

New from the Sony Choice MOD line are Sandra Bullock’s hilariously dated cyber thriller ‘The Net‘ (which, let’s be honest, was already pretty ridiculous when it was released in 1995) and the 2001 anime feature ‘Metropolis‘. The latter, based on a manga by Osamu Tezuka, reimagines Fritz Lang’s famous silent classic as a very noisy and colorful visual spectacle. It’s not a great movie, but it has some eye candy that I wouldn’t mind seeing in high definition. However, for about $10 less than Sony’s bare-bones BD-R, fans would be better off importing Eureka’s region-free Blu-ray from the UK. That one’s a professionally pressed copy and has some bonus features (probably a better video transfer too). You can even get it in a SteelBook if you want.

Arrow Video courts horror fanatics with ‘Psychomania‘, a 1973 zombie biker epic from the UK.

Olive Films delivers plenty of ’80s cheese with ‘King Solomon’s Mines‘, a low-budget Indiana Jones knockoff starring Richard Chamberlain, and ‘No Retreat, No Surrender‘, the supernatural kickboxing crime flick (yeah, imagine that being made in any other decade) that introduced Western audiences to Jean-Claude Van Damme.


Hoping to capitalize on interest in the upcoming live-action movie, Starz/Anchor Bay offers both seasons of the ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex‘ anime series. Unfortunately, early reports claim that the discs are plagued with problems. If you choose the watch the episodes with the original Japanese audio, the only subtitle options are SDH captions from the English dub script. Even if you prefer to listen to the dub, Japanese audio periodically intrudes into scenes for no reason. Also, the discs have no bonus features and only use one chapter stop per episode. This may be a case where sticking with DVD is a preferable option.

Does anyone still enjoy ‘Doctor Who‘? All of my Whovian friends tell me that the show is almost too terrible to bear these days. The plot description of the new special called ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’, in which the Doctor teams up with a costumed superhero, sounds pretty desperate to me.

My $.02

Both of the Criterion titles this week are winners. I’m very excited for ‘Mildred Pierce’, and I currently have ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ on my desk for review.

I suppose I should probably give ‘Manchester by the Sea’, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ and ‘Nocturnal Animals’ a look, but I will probably wait for them to turn up on Netflix or cable.

I’d kind of like to upgrade my DVD copies of ‘Metropolis’ and the ‘Ghost in the Shell’ series to Blu-ray, but the discs available this week don’t seem worth the money.

Are you looking at anything this week?


  1. I am about two or three seasons behind on Doctor Who – I binge watch the show every couple of years and get caught up. So the show is still bearable for where I am in the series. When I am not watching the 2005 reboot series, I am watching Classic Who. Unfortunately, it is really hard to get through the second season as the shows are SO bad – Horrible costumes, vasaline on the lense to create a visual effect, the stories make no sense, the Doctor is a butthole, and the actors can’t seem to comprehend that they are doing a television show and not a stage show in the West End.

    For what I am picking up, Beauty and the Beast for sure! Its a blind buy, but when I first saw the trailer a couple of years back, I was so hoping to be able to see it! I forgot about it until a few months ago when the preorders went live.

    The Net is a movie that should have been locked into a vault, never to see the light of day again! The movie was unwatchable in 1995 – no one found it believable then, and I am sure the movie has aged horribly.

  2. Chris B

    I’ll probably rent Manchester by the Sea and Nocturnal Animals this week.
    Me and the wife watch the Oscars every year and even fill out ballots like the nerds we are.

  3. Csm101

    Nocturnal Animals has me really intrigued, almost enough for a blind buy, but I’m also really curious about Hacksaw Ridge, which if I Redbox, doesn’t come with the Atmos track. Maybe on my days off, I’m looking to Redbox Manchester By the Sea. I remember No Retreat , No Surrender from back in the day and the first time I saw Van Damme and his man-splits. Talk about Oscar worthy performances 😀. I’m definitely putting that on my wish list for near future.

  4. JERP

    The Criterion releases are being shipped as I type and I’d like to put in a word for Cohen’s release of 3 Classics Films by Claude Chabrol. The three films are some of his best and the transfers to blu-ray are reported to be excellent, I’ll pick up Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester by the Sea at a later date.

  5. Deaditelord

    Grrr… I pre-ordered the Ghost In The Shell blu-rays on Amazon months ago and was not expecting to hear this… although I would have waited if I had known Anchor Bay was handling this release. (For some reason I was thinking Funimation was bringing the series to blu-ray.) Anchor Bay’s treatment of Ghost of the Shell has never been great. For what it’s worth, it sounds like the English to Japanese audio switching issue is limited to just two lines of dialogue on Episode One of Stand Alone Complex. Doesn’t excuse the SDH subtitle track being the only subtitle option though.

    I may wait and see if Anchor Bay does anything about the audio switching issue since this is one of those rare instances where I actually prefer the English dub.

    • Bolo

      I doubt we’ll get another blu ray release of this series. This release was clearly done to cash in on the upcoming Hollywood live action film. If that film becomes a hit and spawns a sequel, then maybe they’ll bundle the animated series out for another release when that comes out…..provided physical media is still even remotely popular at that point.

      Reading about this release is truly shocking. Apparently they’ve even removed all the chapter stops other than at the beginning for each episode. When I watch a bunch of episodes in a row, I generally skip the opening theme song bit.

      • Deaditelord

        I’m thinking so too after seeing Anchor Bay’s response to inquiries about the audio issues on Twitter. Apparently they think that politely requesting that the audio issues be fixed or inquiring about the possibility of a replacement warrants said Twitter user being blocked. Way to set the PR bar low Anchor Bay!

  6. EM

    I’ve been hankering to see the ’14 Beauty and the Beast. It looks gorgeous. I doubt it holds a candelabrum to Cocteau’s version for sheer magic, but I’ll give it a chance.

    As I somewhat inappropriately posted a few Highlights ago, I’ve just recently taken an interest in Doctor Who…but so far, I’ve viewed only 1960s Who—just the first two Doctors, in fact, with a concentration on Daleks. I want to expand my acquaintance with the classic era before delving into the 21st Century revival…and even then, “Doctor Mysterio” probably shouldn’t be my introduction. I have found the ads amusing, however. I don’t have an opinion on any of the newer Doctors, but I’ll respond to William by noting that at first, the original Doctor was quite the jerk, even a somewhat sinister figure—he was concerned with only his own and his granddaughter’s well-being, sometimes threatening to abandon their companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright to almost certain doom. (He later warmed to them.)

    I’m also vaguely interested in seeing The Boy Friend and King Solomon’s Mines, the former for style, the latter for cheese.

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