Blu-ray Highlights for 1/3/12 – It’s the End of the World as We Know It

Welcome back from another long weekend! It’s a brand new year, and if you believe in any of that Mayan calendar hokum, this may even be the last year that we as a species survive on this planet. That being the case, what more appropriate way to start things off than with an all-star apocalypse disaster movie on Blu-ray?

Here’s a look at all the new Blu-rays that will be released this week:

Despite a cast featuring big names like Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, among others, Steven Soderbergh’s viral outbreak thriller ‘Contagion‘ was only a modest box office success this past fall. Luke here didn’t care for the movie when it played in theaters, but reviews elsewhere were generally positive. The film scored an 84% aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I expect that a lot of viewers were waiting to catch up with this one on video. I know that I was. Well, now’s our chance.

Kate Winslet is a busy girl today. Also new to Blu-ray is her HBO miniseries ‘Mildred Pierce‘. I thought that this was a tedious mess, personally. Your mileage may vary. The Golden Globe voters seem to like it a lot more than I did.

Between directing his own movies, producing dozens more, scripting the upcoming ‘Hobbit’ films, writing bad vampire novels and working as a creative consultant for DreamWorks Animation, acclaimed fantasist Guillermo del Toro has spread himself awfully thin lately. (No pun about his physique intended.) His products have definitely suffered as a result. The monsters-in-the-basement horror thriller ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark‘, which he wrote and produced (based on a 1973 TV movie that he enjoyed as a child), was a critical dud and box office flop. The trailers looked really cheesy, but del Toro completists may want to give this a rent anyway.

Remember those TV ads for ‘Shark Night 3D’ that tried to reassure viewers that the movie would also be showing in 2D? Apparently they didn’t work, as hardly anyone went to see the movie in either format. Fox isn’t even bothering to release the film (now just called ‘Shark Night‘) on Blu-ray in 3D. If you want it, the Blu-ray is 2D only. But let’s be honest, you probably don’t want it in any case. I think that pretty much everyone got their fill of this gimmicky exploitation nonsense with ‘Piranha 3D’.

On the subject of flops, Sarah Jessica Parker’s latest rom-com ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It‘ grossed a grand total of $17.32 in worldwide box office receipts. From what I gather, the title phrase is spoken by various characters in every single scene of the movie, often two to three times per scene. The trailer repeated it at least fifteen times. Those seven words constitute approximately 63% of the film’s screenplay. While I may have just made all of these facts up, the movie still looks like crap. Please don’t spend money on this.

Have any of our readers watched and enjoyed the hit-man comedy thriller ‘In Bruges‘, which was written and directed by Brit-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh? If so, you might be interested to learn that his brother, John Michael McDonagh, has made his own first feature called ‘The Guard‘, starring Brendan Gleeson from ‘In Bruges’. Is that supposed to be an endorsement? I don’t know, but I’ve heard that the movie is actually really entertaining as well. This may be the hidden gem of the week.

I’ll wrap up today’s post with a plug for the second season box set of the FX network’s terrific series ‘Justified‘. This show has never been much of a ratings hit, but the network believes in it enough to have renewed it for a third season, which starts January 17th. If you start watching now, you should have just barely enough time to catch up. Get to it!