Blu-ray Highlights: Week of March 20th, 2016: A Bird in the Hand

It’s time to say goodbye to Katniss and her friends as the finale of their blockbuster franchise comes to Blu-ray this week. After that, geek out and get your freak on with an exciting TV box set.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (3/22/16)?

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New Releases

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2‘ – In retrospect, splitting Suzanne Collins’ final book in the dystopian future series into two movies may not have been the wisest decision. During its theatrical release, many critics and viewers complained that the story felt needlessly extended and eventually just fizzled out. The last movie also had the lowest box office gross of the four. Still, the completist collector urge is strong with this one. I doubt that anyone who owns the first three movies on Blu-ray will be able to resist buying this one too. I know that the “H” section of my movie shelf won’t feel complete until I add the Best Buy exclusive SteelBook.

Daddy’s Home‘ – Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg made a great comedy team in ‘The Other Guys’. From most accounts, their reunion project, about a divorced dad vying for his children’s affections against their much cooler stepdad, isn’t half as funny. Too bad Ferrell’s frequent collaborator Adam McKay was too busy directing a big-time Oscar nominee to help him out again.

Catalog Titles

Taiwanese filmmaker Edward Yang made long but engrossing movies. His period piece drama ‘A Brighter Summer Day‘ clocks in at just under four hours. (‘Yi Yi‘, which is already part of the Criterion Collection, ran nearly three.) These are the sort of films you need to set aside a good chunk of time to invest in.

In addition to that, Criterion is also reissuing Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights‘ and Yasujiro Ozu’s ‘Tokyo Story‘. Both were previously released as Dual-Format (Blu-ray + DVD) editions but have now dropped the DVDs.

The latest title to get dug out of the Warner Archive is Neil Jordan’s historical bio-pic ‘Michael Collins‘. It’s not Jordan’s best movie, but has some merits that the director’s fans should appreciate.

Arrow Video worships at the altar of Pam Grier with the Blaxploitation classic ‘Black Mama, White Mama‘.

Among Olive Films’ latest eclectic mix of titles are Roger Corman’s LSD freak-out ‘The Trip‘, David Gordon Green’s Southern-fried thriller ‘Undertow‘, and the mostly-forgotten ‘A Christmas Story’ sequel ‘My Summer Story‘ (a.k.a. ‘It Runs in the Family’).


Before he became a powerhouse movie producer, Judd Apatow struggled to keep his critically-beloved high school dramedy ‘Freaks and Geeks‘ on TV for a single season. Even though it only ran 18 episodes, the show launched the careers of a lot of big talents, including James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel. Shout! Factory has gone all-out with the Blu-ray collection, remastering every episode twice – once in their original pillarboxed 4:3 aspect ratio for the purist geeks and again in widescreen 16:9 for the screen-filler freaks.

The first season of AMC’s zombie spinoff ‘Fear the Walking Dead‘ didn’t come anywhere close to living up to its potential, but got renewed for a second season anyway. As we hope that the show gets better, now’s as good a time as any to catch up with the first batch of episodes in case you missed them.

Lionsgate almost didn’t bother releasing the eighth season of the family classic ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ on Blu-ray until disgruntled fans raised a stink about it. The show still has one season left. Although I’m not personally invested in this series, my fingers are crossed for its fans that the studio will do the right thing and see this through.

Also available is a collection of the fifth and sixth seasons of the dopey Canadian fantasy series ‘Lost Girl‘.

My $.02

I have ‘Freaks and Geeks’ on DVD but definitely need to upgrade when funds are available. I’ve also preordered the SteelBook for the latest ‘Hunger Games’ and will put ‘Michael Collins’ on my wish list for some later day.

How about you?


  1. Chris B

    I’ve been wanting to see A Brighter Summer Day for a long time but like you said it’s a major time commitment I’m not sure I can make at the moment.

    There’s a Dana Carvey comedy being released by Olive Films called Clean Slate. I used to watch it all the time when I was younger and remember loving it. It’s sort of like a comedy version of Memento. Carvey plays a P.I. in Los Angeles with amnesia that resets his memory every day. He winds up getting tangled up in an insanely convoluted kidnapping plot and (you guessed it), hilarity ensues. I’ve always thought it was way underrated but haven’t seen it in quite some time. I’m really looking forward to revisiting it.

  2. Lord Bowler

    I’ll be picking up ‘Disturbing Behavior’, a really entertaining movie that holds up pretty well with a great young cast. This movie had a great story, great music, and great acting with relatively unknowns at the time. I’m a big fan of Bruce Greenwood.

    Also, ‘Mockingjay, Part 2’. I have to complete the series, even though I was disappointed with the ending.

    And, ‘Clean Slate’. While not my favorite Carvey Film (Opportunity Knocks), it is still a very entertaining movie! I just wished it had some bonus features like a commentary or interviews with the cast or something! I may not pick it up right away, but it will be on my list. Now, if Opportunity Knocks ever comes out on Blu-Ray, that would be a blind buy. I loved that movie! Carvey at his best.

  3. Csm101

    As potential interests, I checked Disturbing Behavior, enjoyed it in theaters whenever it came out, but I don’t have to have it this week. I own all the other Hunger Games movies, but I usually get them at discount prices, so I may wait for this one to drop, not sure. I haven’t even watched the first half of Mockingjay yet. I may of watched Undertow years back, but don’t have much memory of it. It seems interesting. I also checked nothing this week because nothing is worth running out and immediately owning. If I buy stuff this week it’ll probably be catch up titles or stuff from Amazon that I can’t find in stores.

  4. Les

    It does not appear that these last couple of seasons of Little House On The Prairie come with Digital HD versions. All previous versions did. I had been purchasing these Blu-ray seasons and one of the main draws was the Digital HD remastered copies. A month or two ago, on Vudu, the last remaining seasons of LHOTP were on sale for like $20 total. $20 for all (3) remaining remastered Digital HD seasons (60 plus episodes). So, I grabbed all three seasons up. Glad I did now since the last remaining Blu-ray seasons of LHOTP appear to now have no Digital HD copies at all. Just one more reason to not purchase Blu-rays anymore for me.

  5. I had no idea KILL ME AGAIN was due on Blu-ray, so thanks for listing it! It never even had a DVD with proper aspect ratio.

    It’s a minor noir mashup, but Val Kilmer + Joanne Whalley = must have.

  6. William Henley

    Hunger Games for sure.

    The completionist in me says to pick up Little House. I will get it for sure for my mom, she’s been eating them up (that, and the fact that she still hasn’t figured out how to use Netflix, much less Vudu, but she knows how to load a disc). I only have the first two seasons right now, as I am so far behind on my disc watching (I am back in school working on my masters while working full time, so I am getting to watch 1-2 movies a week on a good week), and its driving me nuts that its not complete. Actually, I don’t think my Dragonball Z disc collection is complete yet either, I need to fix that issue.

    I actually haven’t been watching anything that wasn’t 2.35:1 or 2.4:1 in about two months. The reason is, I went projector and went CIH. Problem is, I didn’t do enough research on the projector – it only has a 1.2 zoom lense, so if I zoom all the way in and fill my screen at 2.35:1, then even when I zoom out, 16:9 and 4:3 still spills off the screen. Also, there is no lense shift in the projector (MAJOR shortsitedness on my part) and the lense is mounted in the projector in a way that, if you use the zoom when the projector is sitting on a table, it zooms just fine, and the angle is right and all of that, but if you mount it from the ceiling… I am having major issues with the tilt (my mount doesn’t want to tilt enough to keep me from having to use keystone) and then the zoom repositions the image on the screen because of the way the lense is mounted. Really annoying. I finally made the decision to unmount the projector (will probably do that this evening) and will have it on a table / stand until I can get an anamorphic lense (I will probably build my own, as you can build them for under $100, versus $2000 to have one premade).

    • Josh Zyber

      A proper anamorphic lens requires precision optics to keep a clear, sharp image. Most of the DIY solutions I’ve heard of have serious compromises. Honestly, I think your smartest option would be to return the projector and get a different model with better zoom range. You will only make yourself increasingly unhappy the more you try to jury-rig a fix for this problem.

      • William Henley

        Sadly, I bought the projector back in October, moved into the house in January, and didn’t get it mounted until February, and didn’t get a chance to really start messing with it until a few weeks ago. It’s way pass the return window. Best I could do would be to see if I could sell it used on Amazon or eBay.

        I am just frustrated with this projector – I LOVED it until I tried to mount it. Beautiful image quality, bright, sharp and crisp, amazing 3D, great response time so I can use it for gaming if I want, good bulb life, and bulb replacement costs are not that bad.

        I’m kinda stuck at the moment. I have weighed many options, and the two options I have are to either unmount it and sit it on a stand, or to do a DIY anamporphic lense. I am a bit skeptical on the DIY, but they are claiming if you get good qualtiy prisms, they are almost as good as the professional ones. The only thing they say you may notice is bluryness around the edges, but I tend to overscan my projector just a hair anyways and let the excess information fall on the black boarders of the screen.

        • Josh Zyber

          I’m sure you don’t want to drill any more holes in your ceiling, but is it not at all possible for you to move the mount? Are you already up against the rear wall?

          • Oh, that was my original thought. I now have about 16 holes in the ceiling.

            If I move it close enough that 16×9 fits when zooomed in, when I zoom it out, it won’t fill the entire screen when watching 2.35:1 content – I have about 5-10 inches on each side. And vice versa – if I position the projector where it fills at 2.35:1 when zoomed out, when I zoom it in for 16:9, I then have picture spilling off the top and bottom of the screen.

            My thought was to place it on the ceiling between the two.

            However, this raised two problems 1) as there is no lense shift on the projector, zooming the image doesn’t just change the size of the image, but the position of the image on the screen, which means I would have to raise and lower the projector for different aspect ratios 2) moving the projector changed how it needed to be tilted to be proper geometry on the screen. With the way the lense is in the projector, after moving the projector forward, I could not tilt it enough to get proper geometry – I had to keystone, which then affected picture size, which meant moving projector again, which means keystoning it again, which means smaller picture again, which means moving it…..

            What I think would be the BEST option, I actually could not find anyone who made something like this. My thought was to spend a couple of hundred to get a video scaler. Problem is, without an anamorphic lense, what I need is really more of something that would scale video DOWN, not up. That is, take 16.9 content and pillarbox it all around to fit in the 2.35:1 space. I would loose resolution, sure, but it seems to be the best option. However, I could not find a video scaler that would do that.

            Sigh. next time I buy a projector (probably 5 years down the road), I will make sure it has a lense shift and a better zoom – perferably one I can control with the remote.

            Pitty, I did TONS of research on projectors before I picked that one, its just that this wasn’t an issue that even occured to me. I thought as long as the projector had a zoom lense, it would work for me.

          • Josh Zyber

            A video scaler with the type of control you describe will run a couple thousand dollars, not a couple hundred. Not to rain on your parade further, but in your plan to add a DIY anamorphic lens, I hope you’re taking into consideration that the lens will need to hang in front of the projector. That means you’ll need a lens mount that attaches to the projector mount, preferably one with a slide so you can move the lens in and out of place. That’s going to cost some serious money too, assuming you can find one that’s compatible with the DIY lens body.

            This may be hard to hear, but I honestly think your best option will be to sell the projector on eBay and start over with another model. It sounds like what you have now just doesn’t fit your needs. All your work to kludge together some sort of makeshift solution will probably cost you as much money or more than replacing the projector, and you’ll never be satisfied with the results.

            The fact that you say you have to use keystone to fit an image on your screen sets off a million alarms. Keystone does nasty things to your picture quality and is never an acceptable solution.

          • I’m actually going to write a blog about all of this eventually, to warn others of the issues I faced. I read your blog as well as a few others, and thought I had considered all of the “Gotchas”.

          • William Henley

            You are probably right, I should bite the bullet on this one and go with a different projector model. I’ll need to do some research, and check my budget (after all, I just bought a house and I am back in school – I would most likely buy the new projector before I sold the old one). What I would love is like a similar projector, just with better lens options.

            I got the projector down last night. I think I am going to take a couple of weeks and just use a stand and enjoy some movies and television while I decide what to do.

            I was expecting to run into some annoyances with CIH, but I certainly was not anticipating anything like this.

          • Hey Will, there is another option; just build or buy a 16:9 screen. They’re really cheap to make and that way you get the best of both worlds. I have my projector on a coffee table in front of me and use a 96″ 16:9 screen hung from the ceiling for a lot of my content. When I want to watch something in scope, I just roll up the 16:9 and use a 10 foot wide screen thats mounted on the wall behind it. This way you get a nice big image regardless of content.

          • William Henley

            So, Chris, you have two screens? Interesting, yeah, I could hang a 16:9 in front of the 2.35:1 – that would certainly be a cheaper option, and it would take care of the issue with the Zoom changing the height of the picture. If I got a pull down 16:9, I could just hide the 2.35:1 behind a curtain. Most of what I watch on the projector is scope (MOST television viewing is actually done on the television in the bedroom), so having a pull down screen for the 30% of 16:9 I would want to watch wouldn’t be so bad.

            How do you like the pull down vs a fixed screen (since you have both)? My fear is that the screen would sway when I had the air on. With a pulldown, is there a way to adjust the height ie where the screen is on the wall)? The screen would need to be higher than my 2:35:1 screen, probably about a foot down from the ceiling.

            I must say, though, that this is probably the best idea I have heard yet, and would mean only another $150-$200ish

          • Josh Zyber

            I agree with Chris. This is a better solution that I hadn’t thought of. Although you wouldn’t be “Constant Image Height” anymore, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. When you’re ready to upgrade your projector in a couple years, you can easily remove one of the screens.

          • Hey will, yeah I have two screens. I have a 10 foot wide by 4 foot tall screen mounted on my basement wall and a pull-down 16:9 screen hanging from the ceiling joist about 2 feet in front of it. I utilize either screen depending upon what content I’m viewing to get maximum image size and it works great. A good way to hang the pull-down screen is with simply ceiling hooks that are provided with the screen itself. That way you can remove the screen in fron entirely if you have people over for a movie night and want to remove all distractions it only takes a second to take the screen down an put it back up if need be.

            It might not be a perfect longterm solution since I have to zoom and refocus my projector based on what screen I’m using, but hey at least this way you won’t have to return yours…

  7. Bryan

    Even though I have all three of the previous “Hunger Games” steelbooks, “Mockingjay Part 2” was such a terrible ending to the series that I’m going to divest myself of all of them. I held out hope after the excellent “Catching Fire” that these films would improve upon the books, but alas.

  8. Al

    Josh, not to go off topic, but in a different blog post (can’t remember which one, or track it down), you mentioned that you had a post about a new subwoofer in the pipeline. It seems like you wrote that a couple of weeks ago. Any ETA on when we can expect it. My favorite posts are for gear write-ups. I don’t even care which subwoofer it is, I’m very interested to read about it.

    • Csm101

      Ditto on that comment. Also waiting for some follow up on Duarte’s DIY subs. I believe he was going to talk about some fun subwoofer flicks.

        • Al

          Cool. If you’re gear list on the main site is up-to-date, I’m guessing that the post will be about the SVS SB-2000. I have two SVS subs (The SB13 Ultra, and the PB-2000), and I love them. I’m very much looking forward to this post. SVS makes some of the best subs on the planet and they are the undisputed king of “BANG FOR THE BUCK.”

          • William Henley

            🙂 I got a Polk Audio sub, with the same thought of “bang for the buck” (at around $100). My sub has excellent sound and oomph. Anything more, and it would be a distraction from my viewing experience.

            I am sure the SVS is better than my Polk, but I couldn’t see paying the extra money. I just looked up the SB13 Ultra, and it looks like that costs about twice as much as my sub, speakers and amp combined. Other than the fact that I really want to go Atmos, I am really happy with the sound quality of my system. Could I get better? Oh yeah! Could I tell the difference? Well “I” could, I am willing to bet my guests wouldn’t.

            But I have always been like that, with the Bang for the Buck. I buy Vizios when my friends by Samsungs and Sonys, I buy AMDs when my friends buy Intel, I buy Polk when my friends buy Kilpsch or Bose, I bought a BenQ projector when friends are buying Sonys, JVCs, and one bought a Christie, I bought a Google Nexus when friends are buying Galaxys and iPhones / iPads, I buy Amazon Basics when my friends are buying Monster.

            Funny thing is, my family and some of my friends think I have spent a fortune on my computer and home theater, yet I have others who think I am cutting corners on quality.

            I think its whatever makes you happy. With me, while I know there are better quality products, I don’t think I would be happy knowing I paid a higher price.

            Still, I do like going to the showrooms at the stores and playing with the higher priced equipment, then disappointing the salesmen. I know I bought my Polks at Frys, where they work on comission, and the guys seemed pretty disappointed when I told him what model I wanted. He tried talking me into a more expensive set, saying I wouldn’t be happy with these, and I was like “I have done all my research and listening tests already. I could pull the box off the shelf myself and you not get any comission. Just write up my order with what I want, you don’t have to do anything, and you still get something off of it.”

            Wow, I went really off topic, and added way too much fluff to this response. This is what happens when i decide to jump on HDD for a few minutes to take a break from a research paper, and your mind is still engaged on writing.

          • Al

            William, pull up the PB-2000. It’s $799. It gives you the quality of many $2000+ subwoofers. That’s BANG-FOR-THE-BUCK!

          • Al

            And one more thing… That $100 Polk sub is decidedly not BFTB. It probably gets down to about 50Hz. A lot of full-range floorstandinf speakers will go lower than that. I think my brother-in-law probably has the exact same Polk sub. I don’t mean any offense; I truly don’t; but there’s just no possible way that you can try to claim that the Polk sub is suitable, or that it offers great quality for comparatively little money. Put it this way: SVS sells a $499 PB-1000. It’s literally 50 times better, in every measurable regard than the $100 Polk subwoofer. It will go all the way down to 19Hz!

          • 50Hz sounds about right.

            I actually have hearing loss in the lower frequencies. I start having trouble around 100Hz, and it cuts out completly around 45Hz, so I doubt I could hear the difference, and when noises do start getting down to that range where my hearing drops out, those frequencies are painful to me. (The normal man’s speaking voice is 85Hz to 155Hz, so I have trouble understanding some men when they speak)

            While human range goes from 20Hz-20000Hz, very few people can hear the whole range. Most people have trouble with higher frequencies, but some, like myself, have issues with the lower. It’s why many people can’t tell the difference between $10 earbuds and $200 earbuds, or why they can’t tell the difference between MP3 and Flac in blind listening tests. Many can’t tell the difference between Dolby Digital and LPCM. As such, the bang for the buck for the majority of people is considerably lower than what it would be for an audiophile. This is why for many people, a sub that cuts off at 50Hz is just fine, and is a good BFTB

          • Chris B

            Lol, that’s the exact same sub I have and I’m happy with it. I find it hard to wrap my head around people who are willing to spend several thousand dollars on a single subwoofer.

          • Al

            Chris, as we discussed previously, there’s no need to spend several thousands on a single subwoofer. The SVS PB-1000 is $499, and gets down to 19Hz. I promise you, having heard both models, that it literally outperforms that Polk model by such a wide margin that it’s probably immeasurable. We can easily call it 50 times better, and yet, it only costs less than 5 times as much.

            William, when you get down to the sub 20Hz range, it’s not about hearing it, it’s about feeling it. You don’t need to be able to hear that particular range, in order to FEEL it.

  9. Deaditelord

    Nothing for me this week. Just as well since I still haven’t had a chance to watch any of my Dario Argento blu-rays yet or the Venture Bros. Season 5 blu-ray my brother sent me for my birthday. (Damn school and work duties…)

  10. This week brings a few purchases and a couple of wishlist items.

    Firstly, already bought the BB Steelbook of Mockingjay Part 2 and just like you it’s only for completion really. Also already picked up the Monster High feature at Walmart (but at Amazon’s price.) Arrived from Amazon Tuesday was LHOP Season 8 and yes Josh Season 9 is slated for April 19th.
    Now, slight interest/wishlist: Jinxed, Black Sheep

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