March is ablaze with Blu-ray releases. Last week’s release slate was so packed with new discs that we actually missed some important Best Buy exclusives that we’ll cover today. On top of that, this week brings us another huge assortment of notable titles. Can your wallets handle all this excitement?
Here are the new discs being released today:
- ‘The Adventures of Tintin – 3D‘ (Paramount)
- ‘The Adventures of Tintin‘ (Paramount)
- ‘American Pie‘ (Universal)
- ‘American Pie 2‘ (Universal)
- ‘American Wedding‘ (Universal)
- ‘Bite the Bullet‘ (Twilight Time)
- ‘Body of Lies / Three Kings‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Demetrius and the Gladiators‘ (Twilight Time)
- ‘The Descendants‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Dumb and Dumber / The Mask‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Happy Feet Two‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Happy Feet Two – 3D‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle / Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Killer’s Moon: Remastered Edition‘ (Redemption)
- ‘The Killing: The Complete First Season‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘The Last Temptation of Christ‘ (Criterion)
- ‘Melancholia‘ (Magnolia)
- ‘My Week with Marilyn‘ (Starz/Anchor Bay)
- ‘Nature: Raccoon Nation‘ (PBS)
- ‘Neverland‘ (Vivendi)
- ‘Robin Hood (2010) (Reissue)‘ (Universal)
- ‘Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Squid Girl: Season 1‘ (Media Blasters)
- ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except‘ (Synapse Films)
- ‘The Three Musketeers (2011) – 3D‘ (Summit)
- ‘The Three Musketeers (2011)‘ (Summit)
- ‘True Romance / Natural Born Killers‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Under Siege / Under Siege 2: Dark Territory‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Virgin Witch: Remastered Edition‘ (Redemption)
- ‘Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘Wizards: 35th Anniversary Edition‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Young Adult‘ (Paramount)
Important Stuff We Missed Last Week
Honestly, I just don’t understand Best Buy’s marketing strategy. Why would the retailer bother to pay a studio like Fox for the right to exclusively carry certain Blu-ray titles, and then not bother to advertise that fact? Once upon a time, the store at the very least used to set up a dedicated end-cap to display exclusive titles, but that isn’t the case anymore. These discs are just intermingled with everything else on the regular shelves, with nothing to distinguish them. How is anyone supposed to know that these secret exclusives exist?
Last week, Fox launched a new line of titles called the “Filmmakers Signature Series,” exclusive to Best Buy. New to the high-def format are the Ed Burns indie dramas ‘The Brothers McMullen‘ and ‘She’s the One‘, neither of which is worth getting excited about. However, much more interesting are the reissues of William Friedkin’s ‘The French Connection‘ and Oliver Stone’s ‘Wall Street‘, both sporting brand new remastered transfers.
Yes, ‘The French Connection’ has been totally remastered with the supervision of cinematographer Owen Roizman, who has undone all of the stupid revisionist color timing changes that director Friedkin imposed on the previous disastrous Blu-ray release. The movie is no longer tinted purple for no reason! This should be a cause for celebration. So why is the disc being buried on the racks at Best Buy with no fanfare?
While at the store for that disc, collectors may also want to pick up the preorder metal case for next week’s release of ‘The Muppets’. This is the same case that Tom described in a post a few months ago as a planned exclusive for Future Shop in Canada. It seems that Best Buy in the U.S. has it as well. If you plunk down $7, you can walk out of the store with the empty metal case now. Bring your receipt when you buy the Blu-ray next week (in its normal packaging), and the store will deduct that $7 you already paid from the price. (Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from buying the disc elsewhere if the case is worth $7 to you on its own.)
With that out of the way, this week has it own selection of fresh discs vying for your attention. Perhaps the biggest title would be Steven Spielberg’s mo-cap animated ‘The Adventures of Tintin‘. While the movie was a pretty big hit overseas (in countries where the Tintin character is already beloved from his roots in popular Belgian comics), it underperformed in North America and failed to lock down the hoped-for Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature (though it did nab a nomination for John Williams’ score). Reviews were generally mixed-to-positive, with a few raves here and there. The Blu-ray is available in both 2D and 3D editions.
Oscar showed more love this year for ‘The Descendants‘ (five nominations, with a win for Best Adapted Screenplay) and ‘My Week with Marilyn‘ (acting nominations for Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh). If you missed these in theaters – and, be honest, you probably did – now is the time to catch up.
‘Juno’ writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman reunite for the dark comedy ‘Young Adult‘, starring Charlize Theron as an alcoholic teen-fiction writer who returns to her home town and sets her sights on reclaiming her old high school boyfriend, despite the fact that he’s now happily married to someone else. Luke here thought that this movie was a giant pile of crap, while Aaron liked it a lot more than he did. The film had supporters among some other critics, and received a bit of positive buzz for the supporting performance by Patton Oswalt.
I have a soft spot for the schlocky movies of director Paul W.S. Anderson, but even I couldn’t bring myself to see his steampunk reboot of ‘The Three Musketeers‘ in theaters. This is the sort of guilty pleasure I wait for video to watch. Our Blu-ray reviewer Steven Cohen thought it was pretty weak even by Anderson’s standards. I have a feeling that I’ll eventually check out the 3D disc anyway.
Frankly, I’m still in shock that the first ‘Happy Feet‘ actually won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature back in 2007. Did the Academy voters not watch it all the way through? That’s the only explanation I can fathom. Even though the first movie grossed a lot of money, its audience apparently drew a line at the imaginatively-titled ‘Happy Feet Two‘. The sequel was a huge critical and box office failure last year. I’m glad that I don’t have kids who might force me to buy this for them.
Next, we go from happy to sad with misanthropic Danish director Lars von Trier’s latest exercise in calculated misery, ‘Melancholia‘. The filmmaker is a very polarizing figure, with both ardent supporters and detractors. He was tossed out of the Cannes Film Festival last year for behaving like an ass, yet his movie still won an acting prize there for Kirsten Dunst and was nominated for the Palme d’Or. Personally, I have loathed every one of his films that I’ve tried to watch, and expect no different from this one.
Today’s batch of catalog releases contains a very weird mix of titles.
In anticipation of the latest theatrical sequel due in April, Universal gives us the three previous ‘American Pie‘ features. You know, the ones with the original cast that people actually paid to see in theaters, not the countless DTV spin-offs. While I enjoy these raunchy comedies, I’ve never felt the need to own any of them, not on DVD and not on Blu-ray. Your mileage may vary.
The Criterion Collection upgrades its previous DVD edition of Martin Scorsese’s controversial religious drama ‘The Last Temptation of Christ‘ with a new Blu-ray edition. This will make for a very surreal double-bill with the director’s recent ‘Hugo’, don’t you think?
Perhaps a more fitting co-feature for ‘Last Temptation’ would be the 1954 religious epic ‘Demetrius and the Gladiators‘, which was a sequel to ‘The Robe‘. This one’s available as a limited edition release by indie label Twilight Time, which also offers the 1975 Western ‘Bite the Bullet‘, directed by Richard Brooks and starring Gene Hackman.
Finally, Fox has a new 35th Anniversary Edition of Ralph Bakshi’s post-apocalyptic animated fantasy ‘Wizards‘, in which magical elves fight Nazi warlocks… or something. Bakshi’s movies don’t often make a lot of sense.
We’ll wrap things up to day with a look at the TV scene, which gives us the complete first season of AMC’s murder mystery thriller ‘The Killing‘, a show that seems to have pissed off about 90% of its audience with a cliffhanger season finale. I still don’t understand what all the furor is about. TV shows end seasons on cliffhangers all the time. What’s the big deal about this one? Whatever the reason, I’ll be very surprised if the series makes it all the way through a second season.
On a bit more of an upbeat note, ‘Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention‘ finds the beloved clay-animated duo hosting a ‘Mr. Wizard’-style TV show, in their own inimitable style, that introduces children to basic concepts of science and engineering.
Which of this week’s titles will you buy?