Blu-ray Highlights: Week of July 17th, 2016 – Darkest Before the Dawn

One of the biggest movies of the year hits home video this week. It also happens to be one of the worst reviewed and most widely disliked. Will that stop it from racking up huge sales on Blu-ray and DVD? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (7/19/16)?

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New Releases (Blu-ray)

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ – Featuring DC Comics’ two most iconic and popular superheroes finally teaming up (or fighting each other, as the case may be) on the big screen, Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ follow-up should have been a world-beater. Perhaps a decade ago, when the project was teased as an in-joke in ‘I Am Legend’ and before the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off in earnest, it might have been. Unfortunately, the movie failed to break the magic $1 billion barrier at the box office, was soundly trounced by Marvel’s latest ‘Captain America’ sequel, and was considered a disappointment by the studio. Critical reviews and audience word-of-mouth were also pretty brutal. Nonetheless, an $868 million haul would be a staggering achievement for just about any other movie. Also, the much-criticized casting of Ben Affleck as Batman turned out to be the one thing about the movie that pretty much everyone actually liked about it.

The ‘BvS’ Blu-ray contains both the theatrical cut and a new extended cut that most people seem to agree is an improvement. Whether it’s enough of an improvement to make the haters turn around in their opinions remains to be seen. The movie’s also available in UHD, in 3D, or a host of retailer exclusive packages, including both a SteelBook (Best Buy) and a Digibook (Target).

O.J.: Made in America‘ – I’m still at a loss to understand why the world got big-time nostalgic to relive the O.J. Simpson murder trial this year. FX’s ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’ series was a ratings hit, and this 7 ½-hour documentary produced as part of ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ was one of the most acclaimed films of the year, TV or otherwise. The comprehensive look at the sports legend and alleged murderer goes beyond the sensationalism of the trial to examine his entire life story through the dual filters of race and celebrity.

Demolition‘ – Jake Gyllenhaal gets depressed after his wife dies and takes up a new hobby demolishing stuff. Smashing things to pieces is meant to be a metaphor for his life falling apart, or something. The mopey drama from director Jean-Marc Vallée was nowhere near as well received as his ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ or even ‘Wild’.

Miles Ahead‘ – Don Cheadle struggled for years to make his directorial debut with a bio-pic about jazz legend Miles Davis. Unfortunately, by the time it finally came out, the film was lost in the shuffle of a dozen other musician bio-pics released at the same time. Reviews were all over the place. Although most praised Cheadle’s performance and his attempt to break free from the restrictions of a traditional bio-pic formula, many were underwhelmed with the overall result.

Elvis & Nixon‘ – Michael Shannon is a fine character actor, but I have a hard time seeing him as Elvis, even the fat and drug-addled later-years Elvis. At first glance, Kevin Spacey as Nixon seems like inspired casting, but the more I think about it the less I like that either. The movie, about the unlikely real-life meeting between these two cultural icons, is a comedy, which I suppose means we can let issues of realism slide. But is there really enough story behind this event to justify a feature length film?

The Perfect Match‘ – BET host Terrence J and hip hop artist Cassie star in a rom-com about a pair of friends-with-benefits who want more from their no-strings-attached relationship. (Did you see the way I name-checked other famous rom-coms there? That’s all I got on this one.)

Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine‘ – ‘Back to the Future’ producer Bob Gale and some obsessed fans work to restore the iconic movie car. This documentary sounds like it’d be best suited as a bonus feature in an inevitable ‘BTTF’ reissue.


We get a whole lot of Zack Snyder in 4k this week. Note that the UHD release of ‘Batman v. Superman‘ contains only the extended cut in Ultra High-Def while the theatrical cut (and only the theatrical cut) is on a separate 1080p Blu-ray in the case. In addition to that, the director’s earlier ‘Man of Steel‘ and ‘Watchmen‘ also get upgraded to the 4k format.

Catalog Titles

Looking for some new Criterion titles to buy during the Barnes & Noble sale? This week, the Collection offers ‘A Touch of Zen‘, the 1971 wuxia epic that was highly influential on later genre entries including ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’.

On a completely different tangent, Criterion’s other titles this week belong to French master Alain Resnais. Coming from the director of ‘Hiroshima mon amour‘ and ‘Last Year at Marienbad‘, it’s safe to say that both ‘Muriel, or The Time of Return‘ and the Holocaust documentary ‘Night and Fog‘ are challenging yet rewarding works of cinema art.

The Warner Archive finally completes its Bogie and Bacall collection with Howard Hawks’ adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘To Have and Have Not‘.

Arrow Video puts up a defense for ‘Crimes of Passion‘, director Ken Russell’s campy 1984 erotic thriller starring Kathleen Turner as a fashion designer by day / hooker by night.

BRAAAAAAAAINS!!! I tend to doubt that zombies and werewolves would get along with each other if either was real, but Scream Factory serves them up together with 1985’s ‘The Return of the Living Dead‘ and 1996’s ‘Bad Moon‘.

Meanwhile, Shout! Factory lets loose Sylvester Stallone’s 1981 action flick ‘Nighthawks‘. [Looks like this one has been delayed until October, sorry.]

Mill Creek falls hard for schlockmeister William Castle by pairing up double features of his ‘Homicidal‘ with ‘Mr. Sardonicus‘, or ‘13 Ghosts‘ with ‘13 Frightened Girls!‘. The only of these I’ve personally seen is the ‘Psycho’ knockoff ‘Homicidal’ – the gimmick behind which is that the movie stops for a “Fright Break” time-out before the climax to give viewers time to steel themselves for the shocking twist ending to come. It’s not what you would classify as a “good” movie, but Castle never had any pretentions of making good movies, just fun ones.


The TV scene is pretty busy this week. Among the newly available box sets are the fourth season of ‘Orphan Black‘, the third season of ‘The 100‘, the first season of Syfy’s ‘The Magicians‘, and a first collection for the popular anime ‘Bleach‘. Also, Warner finishes off ‘Person of Interest‘ with a Complete Series box set or a standalone release for the final season.

My $.02

I may wind up regretting it, but I plan to blind-buy ‘Batman v. Superman’, mostly because I’m a sucker for a good SteelBook and my completist tendencies sometimes overwhelm my better sense.

I feel a lot more confident about ‘To Have and Have Not’, ‘Night and Fog’, ‘A Touch of Zen’ and ‘The Return of the Living Dead’, all of which will go on my wish list.

Will you enjoy some Bat Soup this week, or will you spend your money elsewhere?


  1. “‘Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine‘ – ‘Back to the Future’ producer Bob Gale and some obsessed fans work to restore the iconic movie car. This documentary sounds like it’d be best suited as a bonus feature in an inevitable ‘BTTF’ reissue.”

    Well, the funny thing is: a condensed version of this documentary (running 22 minutes) is a bonus feature in the latest ‘BTTF’ reissue from 21 October 2015 🙂

    I have this doc on pre-order since that went live, for I am a big fan of all things ‘BTTF’. On 15 July, I received an e-mail from the director saying ‘To say thank you, we included a little something extra in your shipment. So keep an eye on your mailbox, OUTATIME will arrive in the very near…future!’

  2. Csm101

    It’s been enough time since I saw BvS at theaters and was thoroughly disappointed, but some of it has worn off and I’m ready to check it out again in the comfort of my own home. I’m actually excited about this extended cut as so far everything I’ve read about it seems to improve upon the movie. I’m keeping expectations in check though. I’ll be getting the 3D version even if it’s just the theatrical cut, I noticed a big step up in the quality as opposed to Man of Steel. It’ll have to wait, but I definitely want to pick up Return of the Living Dead even though I already have a bluray version of it. The supplements seem substantial, plus the new transfer. Jesus, SHOUT! is starting to release a lot of stuff I already own. There’s still plenty of cult movies out there that haven’t seen the light of day in HD or even DVD for that matter. I also checked for Bad Moon, Hoodlum, and I can’t believe I forgot about Nighthawks! Love the ending for that. Rutger Hauer is a badass! Speaking of Rutger Hauer, when will Hitcher ever make it to blu?!

      • Nighthawks?! WOW! Shame it’s been delayed, but I’ll certainly get it in October. Has it even been released on DVD?

        I’m with you on The Hitcher too. If they ever announce it, I’ll put in my preorder the second it’s available at Amazon.

    • Thulsadoom

      Nice to see someone else wanting The Hitcher! It’s one of my favourite movies, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to have had even a whiff of a Blu Ray release. I’ve got the special edition DVD though, so some nice extras… it’ll have to keep me going for now.. 😉

      We’ll probably get BvS in 3D as well. I’m not overly fussed, but it’ll be one of those “We’ve got the first one, and it should at least be a bit of 3D fun” purchases. Not so sure we’ll bother with Cap A when it comes out, though. I haven’t seen it yet, but my other half did with a friend, and she thought it was pretty bad. When it comes to the Marvel films, we tend to have almost the same opinion, so my curiosity on that has dropped.

      We’ve been enjoying The Magicians on Amazon, but I’ll have to see how the whole thing pans out, before buying box sets. I only buy physical box sets of TV series now, if they’re complete and have a proper ending (or unless I loved the show, regardless of it getting cut early)

      • Csm101

        Yes, Hitcher is definitely one of my favs, but all I have is an early edition DVD that is practically unwatchable. I don’t want to watch it again until I get to see it in glorious hi def!

        • Thulsadoom

          Yeah, I can totally understand. I’ve not watched my copy in ages because I keep hoping… But I’m going to have to pop it in the player some time soon. The version I’ve got gets a reasonable review for the picture here:

          Might be worth seeing if you can pick up a copy until a blu ray eventually comes out, because who knows how long that’ll be. 😉 It’s still a reasonable price in the UK (not cheap for a DVD, but still not bad for a fan).

  3. Chris B

    I refuse to buy any movie that turns my favorite comic book character as a kid (Batman) into a bloodthirsty, murderous asshole….especially when that asshole is played by Ben Affleck.

    A Touch of Zen looks awesome! Will pick it up this week and add Bad Moon to the wishlist.

      • Chris B

        So you agree that the movie isn’t very good but you want to disagree about WHY it wasn’t very good?

        As I’ve said several times, Affleck is just too damn famous for the part. Movies are about suspending disbelief, they’re about accepting actors as being the characters they are playing and getting lost in a story. You can’t do that with B v S because Affleck is too recognizable. Add to that the fact that he overacts to boot. Take the scene where he’s explaining to Alfred why he has to go after Superman: “If there is even a one-percent chance that he could become our enemy we HAVE to treat it as an ABSOULTE CERTAINTY!!” He lays it on too thick, I could audibly hear people in the theater chuckling during that moment TBH. Not to mention that logic is laughable. The whole thing just didn’t work.

        I agree that Affleck isn’t the only problem with the movie (the convoluted screenplay, overly dark tone and Jesse Eisenberg don’t help), but for me Bat-Fleck is way up there to…feel free to disagree…

    • NJScorpio

      Ben Affleck was the best part.

      His emotions, in the context of the film, make sense, and are conveyed in a much more stable manner than Bale. I had NO ability to empathize for Bale’s Bruce Wayne, which was a whiny, lisping, depressed disappointment. Looking back, The Dark Knight trilogy will be acknowledged for a terrible story arc for Batman, having fallen apart akin to the Matrix trilogy. Only Ledger’s performance made TDK a hit…and even that might not have happened if he didn’t die before release.

      Affleck is an EXCELLENT Bruce Wayne, and a damn good Batman. Once he does his own stand alone Batman movie, future viewers will see the flaws in Bale’s casting.

        • NJScorpio

          Haha…well…it was substantial, and not 100% by the numbers trilogy (though it was the standard rise/fall/rise), and maybe on paper it was a good story arc, but I didn’t connect at all with Bale’s portrayal (emotionally). I never felt I was rooting for him, for Bruce Wayne, or Batman. At least with Affleck, I was on board with how he felt, what drove him. Bale was all “party boy” character, a toned down version of his American Psycho character. I keep coming back to the same word, but really it’s all about empathy for Bruce Wayne.

    • Timcharger

      “…turns my favorite comic book character as a kid (Batman) into a bloodthirsty, murderous…”

      I call bullsh*t. If Batman is your favorite,
      then you would know about Frank Miller’s
      Dark Knight, and know of the myriad
      interpretations of Batman that has blood
      on his hands.

      Any critical viewing of Burton’s or Nolan’s
      films will reveal a dozen deaths each film
      that likely occurred from Batman’s actions.

      Pre-hate Affleck all you want, just don’t kid
      yourself that if BvS had an Adam-West-like
      Batman, that you would like it.

      Suuurre, if Batman only KAPOW! and ZING!
      his enemies, you would like the film.

      Maybe I should have just responded:
      (Just ignore what I wrote above.)

      The comics turned Batman bloodthirsty
      long ago. The “dark” knight term is both
      literal and figurative. It’s not because,
      Batman likes to wear black and go out at

      • Chris B

        I grew up reading Detective Comics and watching Batman : The Animated Series in which Batman’s principles were clearly defined as someone who didn’t believe in taking lives.

        I’m not one of the sheeple that fawn over Frank Miller’s story arc and hold it up as the gospel of batman. Miller is overrated IMO.

        Also, I call bullshit on pretty much every thing you’ve ever said on this blog.

        • Timcharger

          Keep telling yourself:

          There are no scenes in Burton’s or Nolan’s films
          where Batman kills, maims, or cripples people.

          The “dark” in the Dark Knight refers only to his
          wardrobe preference (and maybe the type of
          chicken meat he likes).

          Ignore the above. Seriously, I should have just
          wrote this:

          About your “holding it up as gospel” phrase.
          Much of the conflict in that arena arises from
          adhering to only 1 strict version, and all other
          versions are heresy.

          I like having various interpretations of Batman,
          just to be clear. The after school afternoon
          version AND the Killing Joke version.

          Isn’t the one who refuses to accept any other
          interpretation of Batman, isn’t that person
          “holding it up as gospel?”

          • Chris B

            Lol…you can’t honestly think that clip constitutes an argument Haven’t you seen “Under the Red Hood”? Half the films was about Batman resisting the urge to kill the joker because it was against his principles. I’m definitely not the first guy to bring this up….

          • Timcharger

            Just noting for the record that my
            comment “does evidence work” that cites
            evidence in the movies is time stamped at
            XX:51, yet your request for evidence is XX:53.

            You’re playing chess with someone steps
            ahead of you.

            Your line: “I’m definitely not the first guy to bring this up….”
            is exactly why those videos were made.

          • Chris B

            Besides, there’s a big difference between someone getting gravely injured (or possibly killed) as a result of a tactical maneuver…and building a spear our of kryptonite with the purpose of stabbing another superhero right through their fucking heart. Big difference IMO.

  4. William Henley

    I am interested in seeing Batman vs Superman – I missed it in theaters. I may rent it though – I got way too many unopened discs, and of those that have been opened, most have only been watched once, and I had this revelation of “why am I spending all of this money on buying?” Actually, my friends have been saying that to me for years. There are thousands of dollars (possibly tens of thousands of dollars) of unopened discs on the shelf, so I may go back to renting, and then start selling many of my “watched once” discs on Amazon

      • This is probably true, but tbh, I thought BvS was at least an hour too long in the theatrical edition. I’m not sure adding thirty minutes will make it easier to sit through it.

        • NJScorpio

          It doesn’t feel shorter, that is for certain. It helps in two ways though. First, entire subplots were cut that helped make the “versus” make sense, such as Kent investigating in his reporter capacity about Batman in Gotham. Other times, dialog within scenes in the theatrical cut were changed, changing the tone or motivation of a character.

          So while it does make a long movie longer, the added time spent makes the whole movie far better, and thus you get more out of your investment of time.

  5. T.J. Kats

    While certainly not great I enjoyed BvS more than most and will be picking that up.

    The OJ doc is amazing stuff and can probably be found on demand if people haven’t seen it but would be nervous about purchasing it.

  6. Bolo

    I’d likes ‘Miles Ahead’ and ‘A Touch of Zen’. ‘Miles Ahead’ may be a renter at some point. ‘A Touch of Zen’ will sit in my Amazon cart until a used copy shows up cheap enough for me to go for it.

    I’ve seen ‘Mr. Sardonicus’ and it’s a pretty fun Dracula riff. The gimmick in that one being that Castle interrupts the film pretending to take an audience vote on the outcome of the story. I think when the film was initially distributed he actually had voting cards placed on each seat in the cinema. I would check out more of his stuff.

  7. Lord Bowler

    I’ve already pre-ordered both the Target DigiBook and the Best Buy Steelbook. I’m also a completist and love Steelbooks and DigiBooks.

    I’ll also be picking up the Person of Interest Fifth and Final Season.

  8. Shannon Nutt

    The ESPN OJ documentary is great…the FX miniseries (which I think is coming to Blu-ray in September) is downright fantastic.

  9. Deaditelord

    Although I know I’m in the minority, I enjoyed BvS and am looking forward to watching the 3D version and the extended cut. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Kill Zone 2 and will be blind buying it. Return of the Living Dead is a definite purchase as well. I may also give Bad Moon another chance via a rental given the surprising number of positive opinions I’ve seen lately. I remember renting it when I was a teenager, but the only thing that stands out in memory is the truly awful CGI used during the transformation.

    • Csm101

      I forgot about Kill Zone 2. I’ve been craving some gritty martial arts action lately and I completely overlooked this one! It shall go on my infinite wishlist.

  10. Hey Chris B, you say ‘Affleck is just too damn famous for the part’, but I’d say that Bale, Keaton and even Kilmer (especially in the 90’s after ‘Tombstone’ and ‘The Doors’) were ‘too damn famous’ as well. I mean, at any given point, you can say ‘Hey! It’s Mr. Mom fighting Danny DeVito’. Right?

    The only Batman that wasn’t too damn famous, was George Clooney. People who never watched ‘E.R.’ and were too young to see ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ (for example, 13-year old me when ‘Batman & Robin’ came out) could really say: “Now who is this George Clooney?”. He’s the only Batman that really became a worldwide famous celebrity after playing Batman.

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