Blu-ray Highlights for 1/4/11: What Are You Buying?

The holidays are over and it’s a brand new year. The 2011 Blu-ray release schedule begins today with a whole lot of new discs filling retailer shelves. Is there anything worth buying? Welllll….

Here’s the weekly list:

This week seems to me to be a case of quantity over quality. Your own mileage may vary on this, but I can’t muster up the slightest bit of interest in the week’s quote-unquote big day-and-title titles: ‘Dinner for Schmucks‘, ‘Case 39‘, or ‘The Last Exorcism‘. Aaron reviewed the first two (follow the links above) and was less than impressed as well. Nate kind of liked ‘Last Exorcism’, but not quite enough to convince me. (Sorry, Nate!)

Catfish‘ is probably most known for its misleading advertising campaign. The trailers and studio publicity outright lied about what type of movie it is. They made it out to be a creepy suspense thriller, when it’s apparently nothing even remotely of the sort. David was fairly positive about it anyway. But, again, I’m personally still not convinced. Between his review and the spoilers I’ve read, it just doesn’t sound like anything that would hold my attention. Wow, a guy chats up a girl on Facebook and then discovers that she’s not everything she claimed to be. What a revelation. Yawn. Also, it sounds to me like the whole “documentary” was probably faked anyway, and I have very little patience for shenanigans like that. Like I said, your mileage may vary.

I’m only slightly more interested in ‘Machete‘, Robert Rodriguez’s spin-off from ‘Grindhouse‘. The original fake trailer at the start of ‘Grindhouse’ was amusing… for a trailer. I don’t think I want to sit through 105 minutes of it. Especially not if, as Drew complained about in his review here, Rodriguez plays the whole thing straight. Although I may have described myself as a fan of his in the past, I think I’ve come around to the thinking that – for as prolific as Rodriguez may be – he isn’t a very good filmmaker for the most part. Thus far, he’s made a couple of really great movies, and a whole lot of really bad ones.

As proof of that, Sony is releasing a trio of the director’s older films to cash in on Fox’s release of ‘Machete’. Strangely, rather than compile his ‘Mariachi’ trilogy into a single box set, the studio has split them into two Blu-ray releases. The first is a double-bill of ‘El Mariachi‘ and ‘Desperado‘, followed by a separate edition of ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico‘. This suits me just fine. The first film is a very rough work, but one that showed enormous potential for the director. ‘Desperado’ is a genuinely great, silly action movie, and I love it to pieces. I can hardly describe to you how excited I was to see the final entry in this trilogy, and how let down by it I was. ‘Mexico’ is a dreadfully tedious rehash of the last movie, and I never want to see it again.

The other new title that sticks out for me is the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8‘ motion comic. Unfortunately, even my interest in that is tempered quite a bit. I will defend ‘Buffy’ as one of the greatest television shows ever made, but what I read of the ‘Season 8’ comic book series (the first four or five issues) wasn’t particularly good. The TV show ended with a strong finale, and I’m of the opinion that it should have just stopped there. I’m also not much of a fan of the motion comic format. Still, I’ll give this one a shot.

The catalog front brings us a lot of repackagings of previously-released Blu-ray discs, such as the non-Digibook keepcase editions of ‘JFK‘ and ‘How the West Was Won‘. The three ‘Austin Powers‘ films have also been broken out from the trilogy box set into separate releases (though I can’t imagine that anyone would want to own either the second or third entries without the first).

I would honestly have to debate whether I’d even consider Ron Howard’s firefighter melodrama ‘Backdraft‘ a guilty pleasure. The film has some amazing pyrotechnic effects and a terrific score by Hans Zimmer (that has been reused in countless movie trailers over the years), but damn is it a dumb, boring movie.

Finally, I can’t let the week go without making note of the fact that ‘Ishtar‘, one of the most notorious box office flops ever made, has been released on Blu-ray. That has to say something about the format. I don’t know what, exactly, but something. This is not only a bad movie; it’s a bad movie without even any sort of cult following. It’s just a movie that everyone (including – and especially – those who made it) wish to pretend never happened. Honestly, who wants to buy this? Why would the studio release it? I’m utterly perplexed by this decision.


  1. Buffy sounds interesting, I’ll give it a rent. As for Austin Powers, this might be enough to convince me to pick it up. The second movie was HORRIBLE, and I could do without it.

    I’m just waiting for next week – Social Network!

  2. Shayne

    I’m about halfway through the Buffy motion comic. It’s really for die hard fans. The voice acting is intolerable, and the animation is confusing. I’ve read all of the comics so far, and I’m mostly meh on the storyline as it is.

  3. Jane Morgan

    I love ‘Desperado.’ But I’m waiting for a review of the blu-ray transfer.

    Robert Rodriguez is a puzzle. His first real Hollywood movie kicks ass, with a seven million dollar budget. And nothing that he’s made since, that he wrote himself, has even been close to the fun of ‘Desperado.’

    He should just become a dedicated director, instead of a one-man-band.

  4. BostonMA

    nothing. i’ll see Machete soon, but highly doubt i’ll like it enough to want to own it. RR’s Mexico trilogy isn’t good enough for me to want anymore, and i hate Ron Howard as a director of films so i won’t ever be seeing Backdraft again.

    also, my thoughts on Catfish mirror yours Josh so, i have no interest in ever seeing it.

  5. Wayne

    Of for F’s sake Josh… we all know Drew is a Piranha-loving idiot. Machete is a ton of fun. Is it worth buying? I prolly won’t…but it’s COMPLETELY worth seeing.