Blu-ray Highlights for 3/20/12 – It’s Time to Play the Music, It’s Time to Light the Lights

Did you burn through your Blu-ray budget for March last week? I hope you set at least a little money aside for today, because we still have a few notable new releases to look at.

Here’s the weekly release slate from now through Friday:

New Releases

The Muppets‘ are back, in a new hit movie shepherded to the big screen by writer/star (and long-time Muppet enthusiast) Jason Segel. While I may wish the film were a little less nostalgic and a little funnier, it’s clear in every frame how much Segel loves the Muppets and how much he wants to make their comeback work. Largely, he does. Despite its flaws, this is my must-have title of the week. I mentioned last week that Best Buy offered an exclusive metal case for shoppers who pre-ordered the Blu-ray through their store. Collectors may also note that Walmart has its own exclusive gift set that comes with some cool Muppet finger puppets.

Call it a remake of the previous Swedish movie or a re-adaptation of the bestselling novel. In either case, David Fincher’s English-language version of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘ wasn’t quite the mega-hit that the studio wanted. Nonetheless, star Rooney Mara managed to climb out from the under the shadow of Noomi Rapace and make the character her own. She even scored a much-unexpected Oscar nomination. Why didn’t the movie do better? Were people just Dragon Tattoo’ed out by the time it was released?

Also garnering an Oscar nomination (shockingly, his first) was Gary Oldman in the new adaptation of John Le Carre’s Cold War thriller ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘. Some of our readers may recall that divided opinions over this film sparked an interesting debate between Luke and Aaron during its theatrical release. I still need to see this one.

Controversial director Roman Polanski stepped back into the spotlight again last year with the black comedy ‘Carnage‘, based on Yasmina Reza’s hit play ‘God of Carnage’ about two sets of parents who launch into an epic battle over a minor skirmish between their children. The film is essentially a closed-room actors’ showcase for stars Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly. Am I the only one who’s completely over Reilly as an actor? I can’t take him seriously in dramas anymore, and he stopped being funny in comedies a long time ago. He seems desperately outclassed by his costars here.

The raunchy comedy ‘The Sitter‘ is so old that it was made back when Jonah Hill was fat the first time around, before he lost a bunch of weight and then started gaining it back again. The picture sat on a studio shelf for a couple years. Judging by the reviews, it probably should have stayed there.

Can anyone explain to me why ‘Hop‘, that kids’ movie about the Easter Bunny’s son, is being released this Friday, instead of… oh, I don’t know… a couple of weeks from now, when it will actually be Easter? Not that I was going to buy it, but this just strikes me as odd, like someone at the studio wassn’t paying attention.

Our last new release this week is the indie drama ‘Roadie‘, starring that guy who played Shep on ‘ER’ as, obviously enough, a band roadie. The movie doesn’t look even vaguely interesting and got terrible reviews, so let’s just move on.

Catalog Titles

The late Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku’s cult hit ‘Battle Royale‘, which is about a dystopian future where the government forces high school students to fight to the death for sport, was long unavailable in the United States due to legal issues. Starz has apparently sorted all that out just in time to release it on video here to coincide with Lionsgate’s theatrical release of ‘The Hunger Games’. Hmmmm… That couldn’t just be a coincidence, could it? Naaaaahhh…

Gore Verbinski’s American remake of the Japanese horror thriller ‘The Ring‘ is arguably as good as or possibly a little better than the original. Having seen both, I largely attribute this to the original film being wildly overrated. It’s a decent enough little shocker, though. Early reports claim that the Blu-ray has been slathered in teal in some attempt to make the 2002 film look more modern or something, and less like an artifact of the distant, distant past, from those archaic times before all movies had the same monotonous and gaudy color palette. So, umm, thanks a ton for that, DreamWorks.

Someone at Warner Bros. has either been feeling sorry for Demi Moore or is trying to capitalize on the publicity of her recent personal problems. This week, the studio issues two of the actress’s lesser 1990s efforts, ‘Disclosure‘ and ‘Striptease‘, both of which happen to have been based on popular novels by notable authors (Michael Crighton and Carl Hiaasen respectively), and neither of which turned out to be terribly good as movies.

Finally, the Criterion Collection brings us new editions of the 1960 Russian drama ‘Letter Never Sent‘, of which I know next to nothing about (it’s apparently about geologists searching for diamonds in Siberia, and has nothing to do with the later R.E.M. song of the same title) and ‘The War Room‘, D.A. Pennebaker’s acclaimed 1993 fly-on-the-wall documentary about Bill Clinton’s first Presidential campaign. The latter is the movie that made James Carville and George Stephanopoulos household names, for better or worse.

Are you buying anything this week?


  1. HuskerGuy

    Blind buying The Muppets. I haven’t decided if Dragon Tattoo is worth blind buying as well, so that’ll be a game time decision 🙂

  2. EM

    The Ring on Blu-ray is (for now) a Best Buy exclusive.

    I’m hoping that the reports of a teal-and-orange Ring are merely misinterpretation. The Ring has always had a somewhat unnatural palette. Here’s something I wrote about a year and a half ago, when Josh first posted about the teal-and-orange phenomenon:

    The first color film I watched after my reading was The Ring (2002), a favorite of mine that I watched again last night with a friend as part of a Halloween merrymaking. I’d always known that the colors in that film were a little unnatural, but I had never paid so much attention to them as I did last night. Although there were some shots that might look a little on the teal-orange side, I don’t think that’s really the film’s esthetic. I don’t have the training or, really, the eye for this sort of thing, but my estimation is that the film’s palette is somewhat drained of color in general; if there is a general push to a particular color, I think it’s more of a steely blue or maybe a cool-blue–cool green continuum. (A major exception is a recurring image of a tree at autumn sunset, in which red is quite vivid and even serves as a plot point.) It’s not just processing that shifts the hues; it’s clear that the general palette is also served by preproduction decisions about set design, wardrobe, and so forth.

    While The Ring’s palette looks more unnatural to me than ever, I am not at all displeased. It’s a movie about the supernatural, and it’s a movie with a somber tone, and so the colors enhance the experience.

    • EM

      Tonight I watched The Ring all the way through on Blu-ray, then did some A/B comparison with the 2003 DVD, which I have believed a more or less accurate presentation within its technology’s parameters. Although bluish hues as I’ve described above are frequently present in the BD, I see no reason to believe that the BD transfer has been slathered upon.

    • EM

      I don’t find it strange that the film would be released a couple of weeks in advance of its holiday…I do find it curious that it’s getting a Friday release in lieu of the usual Tuesday.

  3. JM

    ‘Dragon Tattoo’ was the highest grossing R-Rated drama of 2011. $230M worldwide off a $90M budget. How much better could it have done?

    ‘Hop’ was released early so busy moms can get it at the grocery store while picking up boxes of chocolate-covered marshmallow jesuses.

    John C. Reilly must have been a last-minute fifth-choice ‘Carnage‘ re-cast. Still, anything with Christoph Waltz I’ll watch twelve times.

    It’s shameful that it took YA shit like ‘The Hunger Games’ for them to release ‘Battle Royale’ in the US. I’ve had the import dvd for ten years.

    Fuck ‘The Muppets.‘

    ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy‘ is my greatest anticipation of the week, by a thousand orders of magnitude. I need a Gary Oldman action figure.

  4. Drew

    ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is my title of week.

    ‘Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy’ follows closely behind.

    Fuck ‘The Muppets’. A five-star review on this very site was patently absurd.

    ‘The Ring’ also gains a spot on my shelf.

  5. Why “fuck the Muppets” twice in a row? You have every right to dislike a movie, but this wasn’t the kind of movie to hate, right? You can call it mediocre, or meh, or unfunny … but “fuck the Muppets” sounds awfully harsh.

    • JM

      Muppet sexuality is a perversion.

      Pigs rape frogs. Aliens rape chickens. A talking clit and an autistic penis work together on dangerous experiments. Animal, the red hippie, is the physical manifestation of pure libido. Fozzie Bear glamorizes the hobo lifestyle. And Sam The Eagle is naked anti-Americanism.

      The Muppets use the lure of beastiality to entice young children into communism.

      And with all that source material, this was the best film they could make?

  6. Just picked The Muppets up from Redbox, and I am about 30 minutes into it. This movie is GREAT! I haven’t stopped laughing. Right now, this movie is 4 stars for me, but, like I said, I am only 30 minutes in, it may rise!

    • Well, I think that I would probably give Muppets like a 4.5, but I can’t fault Aaron’s review. Its spot on, and the movie was really well made. I think I would save 5 star ratings for movies like Gone With The Wind and The Artist, but I really can’t fault Aaron’s reasons. The review is spot-on.

  7. HuskerGuy

    Well, I got a little nutty and ended up blind buying Muppets, Dragon Tattoo, and Tinker Tailor.

    I’m not quite sure why I picked up Tinker Tailer, but I did.

  8. Drew


    I just finished watching ‘The Ring’. You were misled. The color timing has not been tampered with at all. ‘The Ring’ has not been “tealified”, even in the slightest.