Blu-ray Highlights for 7/26/11 – What Are You Buying?

Apparently, it’s Jake Gyllenhaal week on Blu-ray. Today’s disc releases feature both the actor’s new sci-fi thriller and a reissue of his most famous starring role. Good going, Jake!

Here’s a look at the week’s full release slate:

You know, I’ve long wondered why nobody ever tried to make a movie version of ‘Quantum Leap’. Well, that would seem to be more or less what director Duncan Jones attempted for his follow-up to ‘Moon‘. Not officially, mind you, but still… In ‘Source Code‘, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a soldier who’s sent back in time to possess the body of a random person on a train and re-live a few minutes of that man’s life. He’s trying to stop a terrorist bombing and “put right what once went wrong,” or something. Consensus has it that the movie is pretty decent, until it goes off the rails (har har) in the ending.

Nicely timed to coincide with this is a “10th Anniversary Edition” of the cult classic ‘Donnie Darko‘, also starring Gyllenhaal. As far as I’m aware, this is basically a cash-grab reissue that duplicates the previously-released Blu-ray edition with a DVD and Digital Copy thrown in. If it turns out that the Blu-ray has some other new features, please report in the Comments below.

Honestly, I feel a little sorry for Brandon Routh. He was quite appealing in his recurring role on ‘Chuck’ and very funny in his appearance in ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’. It really wasn’t his fault that ‘Superman Returns’ turned out to be so damned tedious, but his career never quite took off after that turkey. Last year, he starred in a comedic supernatural thriller called ‘Dylan Dog: Dead of Night‘, which I believe was based on a European comic book that nobody in this country has ever heard of. No surprise, it bombed pretty hard. The trailers make it look like a low-budget knock-off of ‘Constantine‘. That’s a shame. But I still like Routh, and I hope that he eventually finds that breakout role he’s been searching for.

The most exciting catalog title of the week is unfortunately also the most frustrating. Universal has finally released John Landis’ legendary action/comedy/musical ‘The Blues Brothers‘ in high definition. The disc includes both the original theatrical cut and the longer Director’s Cut that most people feel just drags out the movie unnecessarily. However, in a rather inexcusable move, the studio hasn’t bothered to author either version with lossless audio. What’s that about? Our reviewer Steven says that the soundtrack sounds pretty good anyway. Nonetheless, on principal alone, this is disgraceful behavior from a major studio – especially when releasing a musical! I just don’t understand what goes on in the heads of the people who run Universal’s home video division.

The Criterion Collection offers up a couple of classics and one newer title this week. The former are Akira Kurosawa’s terrific kidnapping thriller ‘High and Low‘ and Jean-Pierre Melville’s spiritual drama ‘Léon Morin, Priest‘. At the very least, ‘High and Low’ is a must-own disc. The newer release is ‘Life During Wartime‘, the quasi-sequel to Todd Solondz’s controversial dark comedy ‘Happiness’. The movie catches up with the characters of ‘Happiness’ a number of years later, but Solondz has (intentionally) recast all of the roles with new actors. The reception to this film has been pretty mixed, but I’m hoping that its inclusion in the Collection means that Criterion may be working to secure the rights to ‘Happiness’ as well. That movie’s only DVD edition is pretty lousy. It deserves the Criterion treatment.


  1. Luke Hickman

    The fun thing about your comparison of ‘Source Code’ and ‘Quantum Leap’ are the QL easter eggs hidden in the film. In one scene, we see a newspaper that someone is reading. I can’t remember exactly what it says, but something along the lines of “Quantum Leap.” Also, (SPOILER) when Colter Stevens calls his father, the voice of his father is Scott Bakula, Dr. Sam Beckett from “Quantum Leap.”