Blu-ray Highlights: Week of January 29th, 2017 – When Your Reach Exceeds Your Grasp

January this year crawls to a close with only a smattering of new Blu-ray releases, none of them too exciting (in my book). The most notable is also the most ironically titled movie of last year.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (1/31/17)?

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New Releases

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back‘ – The first ‘Jack Reacher’ wasn’t exactly one of Tom Cruise’s biggest hits, but it was generally well regarded and did pretty well on video and TV. Attached to the character and convinced that he could grow it into a successful franchise, the star recruited his ‘Last Samurai’ director Edward Zwick to crank out a sequel. From most accounts, Cruise shouldn’t have gone back to this property. The follow-up was met with terrible reviews and faltered at the box office. Nonetheless, Paramount brings it to video with a big push, including both Blu-ray and UHD editions. Best Buy carries exclusive SteelBook versions of each.

Masterminds‘ – As if Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones didn’t have a disappointing enough year with the ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot, the three of them also appeared in an even bigger flop in 2016. Featuring a large ensemble also including Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis and Owen Wilson, the latest weirdo comedy from ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ director Jared Hess is loosely based on the true story of a bunch of morons who robbed an armored car. The movie was shelved for over a year due to the bankruptcy of its studio, Relativity Media. By the time it was released, nobody cared, and it cratered at the box office. The picture hit our reviewer Phil’s funny bone pretty hard, but (like most of Hess’ output) seems to be an acquired taste.

Queen of Katwe‘ – The latest in Disney’s never-ending string of sentimental feel-good movies vaguely based on true stories is about a poor Ugandan girl who becomes an unexpected chess master. Disney’s triumph-over-adversity formula for these things is pretty rigid, but director Mira Nair (‘Monsoon Wedding’) is said to make this one work better than most.

Boo! A Madea Halloween‘ – No, I don’t understand how Tyler Perry is still making ‘Madea’ movies. All I can say is that they’re not made for me and neither Perry nor his actual intended audience cares whether I understand them. This ninth entry (fifteenth if you count the recorded plays) even topped the box office the week of its debut, and was a rebound after the disappointment of ‘A Madea Christmas’.

Catalog Titles

Disney pulls it classic ‘Pinocchio‘ out of the vault for a reissue as part of the Signature Collection line. Also making return appearances are ‘Lilo & Stitch‘, ‘The Fox and the Hound‘ (both paired with their DTV sequels) and ‘Bolt‘.

Excavated from the Warner Archive this week is the 1960 Dean Martin/Judy Holliday musical ‘Bells Are Ringing ‘.

They’re heeeeeeeeere… agaaaaaaaaain. In an ongoing effort to rehabilitate the reputations of undervalued horror sequels, Scream Factory gives ‘Poltergeist II: The Other Side‘ and ‘Poltergiest III‘ the Collector’s Edition treatment.

For its Vestron Collector’s Series, Lionsgate digs up one of the weirdest horror movies ever made with Ken Russell’s 1988 ‘The Lair of the White Worm‘. Amada Donohoe from ‘L.A. Law’ stars as a snake-worshipping vampire whore demon who runs around topless impaling nuns with a strap-on spike dildo. At some point, Jesus (yes, the Jesus) is strangled on the cross by a giant snake with a penis face. No, I am not making this up. I can’t say that the movie is good, at all. However, it’s very campy and schlocky, and showcases Russell (a provocateur who loved to push people’s buttons) at some of his most demented and unhinged.

Lionsgate’s other Vestron title this week is Bob Balaban’s 1989 dark comedy horror flick ‘Parents‘, in which a young boy discovers that his picture-perfect 1950s suburban parents (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt) are cannibals.


HBO delivers the second season of Dwayne Johnson’s laugh-free “comedy” ‘Ballers‘, while also following through with a SteelBook reissue of ‘Game of Thrones‘ Season 5.

Meanwhile, PBS has the first season of the British period piece ‘Victoria‘.

My $.02

I will happily sit this week out. The only titles of any interest to me (that I don’t already own prior copies of) are the two Vestron flicks, neither of which I feel a desperate need to own.

How about you?


  1. Csm101

    It’s a nothing week for me, but I will redbox Jack Reacher. The vestron titles are of interest. I remember always seeing the box for Parents at my local video rental stores, but never actually saw it. Poltergeist II is a future wishlist item. The Black Dragon’s Revenge is also a potential wish list item. I really want to see Masterminds and would blind buy it, but funds are low and I’m saving up for my second pair of in ceilings which are top priority right now.

  2. Chris B

    Yeah, nothing again this week. On the subject of movie-buying though, it was announced on friday that HMV up here in Canada has been placed in receivership and all 102 of it’s stores are going to close by April 30th. Another B&M chain bites the dust. I’ll be monitoring the situation over the next few months hoping for some killer 50% off sales. Kinda sad though…the end of an era…

    • photogdave

      This is really bad news. My local HMV always had a pretty good selection, including a large Criterion section, and great bundle deals. Not looking forward to relying on Amazon for my movie purchases.

  3. William Henley

    I did a double take when I saw the videos. “Wait, I have Game of Thrones Season 5 steelbook. Or at least I am pretty sure I do”. “Wait, I have Lilo and Stitch”. “I have Pinocchio” “I have The Fox and the Hound and Bolt and Poltergeists 2 and 3 and Peanuts”

    I thought for a minute you had accidentally linked to an old blog entry. Then I read down below and saw that these were all reissues. Good, I know I am not going crazy now

    • William Henley

      I must say that I am tempted to pick up the reissue of Poltergeists though. The change in the color timing of the second one is significant, and I like the look of it much better. The teal seems to go better with a horror movie than orange does. I am not sure which is the correct look, but I always thought the previous Poltergeist 2 release was Blah-looking.

  4. DarkMonk

    Do you realize there is a Porno movie on this list?!!😂
    (Funiest part is that you have a link that says it is REMASTERED in 2k from original film elements! Need that classic porno looking slick!!😂)

    • Josh Zyber

      Nope, I did not notice. I’m sure it’s not the first time. A lot of the titles released by labels like Vinegar Syndrome and Synapse are questionable, to say the least.

  5. Never heard of it before this blogpost, but ‘The Lair of the White Worm’ sounds like a great film to watch with a couple of friends and do a live commentary! It even stars a young Hugh Grant. I need to pick this up!

  6. Deaditelord

    Parents is a potential buy when ti goes on sale. I’ve always been intrigued by Lair of the White Worm, but I’ll wait until it shows up on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I suppose I’ll rent Jack Reacher at some point this week, if for nothing else to confirm that it’s as bad as I’ve heard.

  7. William Henley

    So this is not a comment about the weekly releases, but I was just wondering if everything is okay with the Games section or the writer who normally contributes. My last update in that category is showing as December 31st. It’s possible there is something up on my end, but I am seeing December 31st as the last story on multiple browsers on multiple PCs using multiple ISPs.

  8. EM

    My pick for this week isn’t on the list. But apparently it’s coming out on DVD, not Blu-ray; so, that makes sense.

    It’s Doctor Who: The Power of the Daleks, a 1966 serial which is lost but which resurfaced last year as an animation synched to still-extant audio. I caught some of the episodes on BBC America last fall and am looking forward to a more complete experience with the set I picked up at my public library this evening. The animation’s a little odd, but at least the Daleks are spot-on! The Power of the Daleks was my introduction to Doctor Who, and I’ve been watching other serials here and there…especially Dalek shows.

  9. Trond Michelsen

    Preordered Pinocchio back in September. Imagine the disappointment when I received the package yesterday, and discovered that I’d mistakenly ordered the DVD, instead of the Blu-ray.

    Oh well 🙁

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