Blu-ray Highlights: Week of June 21st, 2015 – Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

We’ve had some slow weeks for Blu-ray releases over the last few months, but this one… geez, this one is particularly bleak.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (6/23/15)?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

New Releases

Survivor‘ – Milla Jovovich just can’t seem to find a starring vehicle outside the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise that suits her talents, and Pierce Brosnan has likewise struggled to redefine his career since the James Bond franchise tossed him aside. In this tepid spy thriller, they respectively play a counter-terrorism expert and the terrorist hunting her. Reviews were poor. Box office was minimal. Copies of this will linger unrented in your local Redbox kiosk for the next three to five years.

The Forger‘ – Sporting what may be his most ridiculous wig yet (which is saying a lot!), John Travolta plays an art forger who… Oh, why bother? You don’t want to watch this. Nobody wants to watch this. Let’s not waste our time pretending that anyone cares.

Catalog Titles

If there’s any bright spot to be found this week, the Criterion Collection has reclaimed licensing rights to Terry Gilliam’s surreal fantasy ‘The Fisher King‘. (The label last released the title on Laserdisc.) It’s not my favorite of the director’s movies, but Criterion always does a good job with Gilliam. The recent death of star Robin Williams perhaps makes this more bittersweet than it should be.

Also from Criterion is ‘The Bridge‘. No, not the FX drama series about crime at the Mexican border, this is a 1959 German war film that was nominated for a Foreign Language Film Oscar in its day.

The restoration team at the 3-D Film Archive have put a lot of work into compiling and cleaning up 22 obscure vintage short films dating back as far as 1922 for the ‘3-D Rarities‘ collection. This sounds pretty fascinating.

The 2009 Blu-ray release of director Neil Marshall’s werewolf thriller ‘Dog Soldiers‘ was widely criticized for its poor video quality. When Scream Factory tried to rectify that for a new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, the label (and the director) unfortunately discovered that the film’s original camera negative has been lost. As a result, they were forced to scan a theatrical print for the video transfer. That’s far from ideal, but you can find a statement from Marshall defending the effort on Scream Factory’s Facebook page. (See the comments to the June 17th, 2015 post about the disc.)

Arrow Video unleashes the 1980 Italian cult horror chiller ‘Contamination‘ and American B-movie specialist Jack Hill’s 1969 car crash extravaganza ‘Pit Stop‘.

I’ve always enjoyed the blackly comic movie adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Needful Things‘, even if critics of the day and fans of the author tore it to shreds. (The book is one of King’s unwieldy 1,000-page behemoths, which the movie cut down significantly.) I still think it’s underrated. Note that Kino was only able to license the theatrical cut for the Blu-ray, not the extended miniseries version that played on TV in 1996.

Also from Kino is the 1977 adaptation of ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau‘, starring Burt Lancaster as the mad scientist.

Olive Films has a lot of junk this week, but perhaps someone will find a guilty pleasure from the likes of Brian “The Boz” Bosworth’s failed star vehicle ‘Stone Cold‘, the rad ’80s skateboarding flick ‘Thrashin’‘, Snoop Dogg’s misbegotten stoner comedy ‘Soul Plane‘, or the embarrassingly ridiculous horror comedy ‘The Thing with Two Heads‘.

If you’ve been enjoying Disney’s recent spate of Studio Ghibli titles, perhaps you might be interested in an older (pre-Ghibli) Hayao Miyazaki film, ‘Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro‘?

When Fox switched over to using the word “Anthology” for the Blu-ray collection of the ‘Alien’ franchise, I hoped that we’d never have to hear the stupid made-up word “quadrilogy” ever again. Sadly, Paramount has resurrected it for the ‘Mission: Impossible Quadrilogy‘, which repackages the franchise’s first four films in time to promote this summer’s fifth entry. As you may recall, Paramount has repeatedly screwed fans of this series over by constantly reissuing old Blu-rays of the first three movies with only lossy Dolby Digital audio even though the same titles were released in Asia with lossless DTS-HD Master Audio. I am not holding my breath that we’ll see that corrected here. (‘M:I-2’ also desperately needs a new video remaster.)


TV fare this week includes the third season of BBC’s ‘Ripper Street‘ and the fifth season of the comedy ‘Workaholics‘.

My $.02

‘The Fisher King’ is the only disc this week I’m actually eager to buy. I will put ‘3-D Rarities’ and ‘Lupin III’ on my wish list for later, and may pick up ‘Needful Things’ at some point down the road if it falls in price sufficiently. Beyond that, this week is kind of a dud. Do you disagree?


  1. Chris B

    Just The Fisher King, probably end up waiting for the sale next month anyways.

    For some reason I actually don’t own any o the Mission: Impossible movies on Blu-ray but I’m hesitant to pick up this set knowing the 5th movie is on it’s way and will thus render the “Quadrilogy” incomplete.

    I’ve heard good things about Dog Soldiers for years but am not really wanting to pull the trigger on a blind buy. I really wish Redbox hadn’t pulled out of Canada as it would come in handy at times like this.

      • Josh Zyber

        They seem to be going for a Keith Haring vibe. I don’t love it (I’m no fan of Haring to start with), but I still think the covers Daniel Clowes designed for Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss are the rock bottom worst Criterion cover art.

        • Chris B

          Do you know how much (if any) input the director’s of a Criterion film have on the artwork? Is Terry Gilliam partly to blame for this?

          • Josh Zyber

            I know that Wes Anderson’s brother Eric does the cover art for all of his films. Beyond that, I doubt that most directors are much involved in that aspect.

      • C.C.

        Here, here! What the hell were they thinking? Not even close to the vibe of the movie. Is The Fisher King a story about AIDS?

  2. Timcharger

    Josh, when I saw this title in the listing:
    ‘Asia – Axis XXX: Live San Francisco’

    I thought for sure I would read a zinger of yours. Something about
    buying this porno title would remind you when you got lost using
    Apple maps navigating the streets of San Francisco. And you walked
    into the wrong live show. Oh wait, it’s not a porno. Never mind the
    lost in SF story; that never happened. Ahem.

  3. I should have 3-D Rarities at my doorstep when I get home. Very excited for this as I love vintage 3d. On my wish list , Fisher King, Contamination, Needful Things, and lastly Stone Cold. That will complete my sacred cheesball action trilogy on high def.

  4. Lord Bowler

    Needful Things is a great movie, and I’ll probably pick this up to see the extended cut, which has only ever aired on television.

  5. William Henley

    I am sure that the American Girl movie is a new release, but I bet it has a limited audience appeal. I am debating on picking it up – the first five American Girl movies, the one that all dealt with historic America (well, Kitt took place during the depression and Molly was WW2( were fantastic, but the modern-day movies kept getting weaker and weaker. The first 4 movies I would give them all 5 stars, Kitt was like 3.5 stars, but the movies continued to go down like half a star in my book since. So while the first 5 were all great family movies, every one after than has been more and more targeted for little girls. I haven’t even opened last year’s movie yet. So I am vaguely interested in this movie, but I don’t have high hopes for this being good, based on their last few movies.

    3D Rarities has shipped. Now I haven’t gotten around to replacing my 3D television, so I may be watching it in 2D when it comes in tomorrow. Based on last week’s blu-Ray highlights, there seems to be quite a bit of interest in this.

    • William,

      I didn’t watch the new American Girl movie but my 10-year-old daughter and 8 of her friends did at her birthday party. They enjoyed it which may or may not be a good sign for you. 🙂 I think it’s setting is a competition on a reality cooking show. I think I saw a mime in Paris when I walked through the room…


      • William Henley

        I think my question is more along the lines of “Did you enjoy the movie as well?” I don’t have kids. Samantha, Felicity, and Molly were great family movies, and Kitt was fun. Chrissa had a good story, but was when the movies started to suffer. McKenna is okay for a gymnastics-based movie, but suffered from bad directing and editing and a weak story. Saige was just a mess, and felt like the “Star Trek 5” of the American girl movies. The first four movies felt like they were made to be Hallmark-channel family movies. Chrissa, McKenna and Saige all felt like they were just thrown out to capitalize on the success of the earlier movies, felt like they were given a limited budget and decided that they were not even going to try to appeal to anyone over the age of 8. This is why I am so reluctant to pick up Grace.

  6. Deaditelord

    Can’t wait for my copy of The Castle of Cagliostro to arrive tomorrow! One of my favorite movies. I’ll spring for Needful Things when the price drops. Dog Soldiers is going to be a rent and see based on all the controversy about the transfer. Would have bought the Mission: Impossible films if Paramount had bothered to remaster the first 3 movies (the first two properly remastered are probably my most wanted on blu-ray along with the R rated version of Live Free or Die Hard), but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Paramount is trotting out the same mediocre transfers.

  7. EM

    After a wearying and quite overlong day at work, it was a special treat to find 3-D Rarities awaiting me when I arrived home. Like William, at present I have no 3DTV; but the state of my eyes after such a day somewhat made up for it. 😀 I enjoyed sampling the disc and look forward to watching more, both in 2D and eventually in 3D.

  8. I want to see both ‘Johnny Be Goode’ (I saw it standing in the video store in 1995, and it reminded me of ‘Back to the Future’. Twenty years down the line, I still haven’t seen it – it didn’t sound like a possible Blu-ray candidate, to be honest) and ‘Trashin” (Josh Brolin’s first movie after ‘The Goonies’).

    • I saw Johnny Be Good in theaters when it was released and the only thing I remember was the credits saying “introducing Uma Thurman”, I guess that was her first major motion picture. I’ve never seen it again after that. I thought they’re might be an R rated version and a pg-13 version, but not entirely sure.

      • Just saw the Blu-ray cover art, which is different from the VHS. No photos of Downey Jr. or Thurman on the cover anymore. Did they use their Hollywood clout to downplay their part in the flick?

  9. Anyone have links to the Mission: Impossible Blu-rays with DTS-HD MA. It looks like Paramount did release the first three once again with legacy audio and ‘Ghost Protocol’ with lossless.

      • Well, that really sucks! When the hell are we going to get a nice remaster of the first two movies?

        Wonder if Paramount will try to cash-in again when ‘Rogue Nation’ goes to Blu-ray.

        • Josh Zyber

          I think the first movie looks fine. Maybe a 4k rescan could improve on it, but it’s basically a solid transfer. That movie had been remastered for its “Special Collector’s Edition” DVD in 2006, and the Blu-ray uses that master. It doesn’t have any serious DNR or sharpening artifacts. Colors look great. On the other hand, the only video master for M:I-2 dates back to its original DVD release in 2000. Its very noisy and smeary and edge enhanced, and the colors are oversaturated. That one looks awful.

          • Chris B

            Although, the fact that MI:2 is easily the shittiest movie in the franchise and not really worth watching lessens the sting somewhat 😉

          • So, ‘M:I-2’ may be one of the last LaserDiscs that still looks better than the DVD? 😀 (also one of the most expensive)

          • Josh Zyber

            No, the Laserdisc has the same issues. Our standards have risen considerably since that format. What was acceptable back then does not hold up in high definition.

          • William Henley

            Yeah, but watching crappier transfers on a tube television is way more forgiving than seeing it on an HDTV. So the laserdisc on my tube will probably look better than the DVD on my LCD, even if they have the same transfer.

            I do have some laserdiscs that look better than SOME DVDs I have of the same movie, but I do have some crappy laserdiscs. I put in a movie I picked up at the resale shop called Firefox, and the audio is muffled and the colors are washed out and the details are so soft that I can’t tell what is going on half the time. A Little Princess looks fantastic on laserdisc, but I cannot get more than 15 minutes into the disc because of laserrot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *