Blu-ray Highlights: Week of March 1st, 2015 – Catch That Fox

March gets off to slow start, as far as new Blu-ray releases go. The biggest title of the week is an Oscar nominee that came away empty-handed at the awards last month. Perhaps if you’re a fan of classic singin’ and dancin’, you might have more to be excited about.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (3/3/15)?

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New Releases

Foxcatcher‘ – Wearing heavy prosthetic makeup, Steve Carell earned an Oscar nomination for playing nutjob billionaire and wrestling enthusiast John du Pont in this story that would seem too crazy to believe if it didn’t happen to be true. The film was also nominated in four other categories, but took home none.

The Humbling‘ – I’m honestly surprised that Barry Levinson is still out there directing. The former Oscar winner hasn’t had a hit since ‘Wag the Dog’ in 1997. I guess he must still have a lot of friends in the industry. In his latest effort, Al Pacino stars as an aging actor suffering a mental breakdown during production of a new stage play. Yeah, that sounds kind of like ‘Birdman’, doesn’t it? The similarities might explain why the film was shelved for a year and had a negligible theatrical release. Our reviewer Phil liked the movie and says that Pacino gives one of his best performances in quite some time.

The Last of Robin Hood‘ – Kevin Kline strikes me as very astute casting as screen legend Errol Flynn, even if he is about 17 years older now than Flynn was when he died. However, it’s probably not a good sign that I’d never previously heard of this bio-pic about the last days of the icon’s life, including his affair with an underage girl. The plot description sounds like a reverse-gender ‘My Week with Marilyn’, and the many scathing reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are not encouraging.

Catalog Titles

Warner Bros. is in a musical mood this week with deep-cut catalog releases of ‘The Band Wagon‘, ‘Calamity Jane‘, and a 3D restoration of ‘Kiss Me Kate‘.

Tim Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘ also has plenty of musical numbers in it. Despite making a lot of money, the film doesn’t seem to be well-loved by many. I enjoyed it, personally, but not enough to double-dip on it. The packaging for the 10th Anniversary Edition boasts an “Exclusive Photo Book,” but otherwise sounds like the same Blu-ray released four years ago, which was in turn a clone of an HD DVD from 2006.

Even the Messiah can’t help bursting into song in Universal’s release of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar‘. However, bear in mind that this is the filmed version of a 2000 stage revival, not the famous 1973 movie version.

Also from Universal are the animated ‘Curious George‘ movie from a few years ago, plus the “Young Guns with Gangsters Instead of Cowboys” flop ‘Mobsters‘ that I can’t imagine anyone has been pining for.

New distributor Lionsgate has reclaimed a number of Miramax titles that were formerly licensed out to Echo Bridge, including ‘The Grifters‘, ‘Full Frontal‘, ‘Equilibrium‘, ‘The Yards‘ and ‘The Lookout‘. (Strangely, that last one is apparently only available in a double-feature with ‘The Yards’, even though you can also get ‘The Yards’ separately.)

Finally, Scream Factory resurrects the Blaxploitation classic ‘Blacula‘ and its sequel.

Television

The Starz network’s time travel romance ‘Outlander‘ is doing that annoying thing where one season gets divided into two halves separated by a long hiatus. While fans wait for the second half to start airing in April, they can content themselves with the first eight episodes on Blu-ray.

The same network’s ‘Da Vinci’s Demons‘, on the other hand, gets a full release of the complete second season.

Warner Bros. previously issued the first two seasons of ‘Longmire‘ exclusively through the Warner Archive. It must have sold well enough for the third season to get a normal retail release.

My $.02

‘Foxcatcher’ looks like a good rental this week. Maybe ‘The Humbling’ too. I also have some passive interest in ‘Kiss Me Kate’ for the 3D aspect.

I own the original Echo Bridge Blu-ray for ‘The Grifters’, which I bought for $5 and feel was probably $3 overpriced. I would love to own a better quality transfer for this great movie, but my fear is that the new Lionsgate edition will be the same disc in new packaging.

Will you spend any money this week?

19 comments

  1. I’ll redbox Foxcather tonight if available. Kiss me Kate for some vintage 3d. Blacula two pack. I remember when my dad rented this and we thought it was so silly we couldn’t get into it. I’m ready to revisit it, I think hell is finally freezing over because I never thought Exterminators of the Year 3000 would get a blu release. Even in the glory days of dvd, I don’t remember seeing the Italian post apocalyptic / Mad Max ripoffs getting any love. At least in this region. They’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for content now aren’t they? I mean that in a good way. I see Blue-Underground has a couple of these titles coming in the summer. To have a library of of Road Warrior Italian ripoffs, I’m liking where this is headed.

    • Chris B

      Speaking of Blue Underground, I doubled back and ordered last week’s release of God Told Me To. I’ve never seen the film but felt it was worth a blind-buy. Judging from your frequent comments on this blg I get the feeling you’re quite a big fan of cult films. Are you familiar with it at all?

      • I love cult films and i love bad movies. I can’t help it. God Told Me To is a good bad movie, but not at the top of my list. It can be boring at times, but it has some pretty cool and batshit crazy ideas. You have to have an open mind and embrace the silliness of it. I have the dvd for this and it looks pretty damn good. I meant to get the blu last week, but I never got my ass up to the store. Larry Cohen is a good cult director. If you look him up, he’s done a lot of writing as well and chances are you’ve seen or heard of something he’s been involved with. He’s also known for guerilla style shooting on location without permits. Cult movies are an acquired taste, but become extremely addictive. I support any company that takes the time and money to restore these flicks and bring them out to new audiences or nostalgic ones like myself. Often times they look and sound better than catalogue titles from the big boys. Half these movies I saw on vhs as a kid and it still fascinates me when a new one comes out with a good restoration.

        • Chris B

          Cool man, thanks for all the info, I looked up Larry Cohen and he actually wrote the screenplay for “Phone Booth” which is pretty much the only decent movie Joel Schumacher ever did…with the half-ass exception of Flatliners.

          I’m fascinated by cult films as well, I like watching stuff off the beaten path and am usually able to embrace pretty crazy shit so I’m lookin forward to it. From what I hear the restoration on it supposedly phenomenal…

          • Chris B

            I will reserve judgement because I’ve actually never sat down and watched The Lost Boys, but ya gotta admit; Schumacher has one of the worst filmogrophies in the business.

  2. NJScorpio

    I too am looking at ‘Kiss Me Kate’, just because I’ve been looking for a “new” 3D title. Nothing else that I’m looking to blind buy, and no catalogue title releases I’m looking to pick up. I DID pre-order the first season of Gotham, just to (hopefully) catch a prerelease bargain price.

  3. William Henley

    Woot! Barbie in Princess Power! REally excited about that one! ;-p

    No truthfully, nothing this week, although I may eventually pick up the Tinkerbell movie. Going to look to see if it is in 3D anywhere – I think the last one was only in 3D on VUDU. This one might not even have gotten a 3D release.

    • William Henley

      Looks like there is not a 3D disc version anywhere. You can get it in 3D on Vudu, but it looks like you have to buy a bundle with both the 2D and 3D version for $35.

      I am a bit reluctant to buy it, though, because the last one was 3D only on Vudu, and I cannot find it listed at all for buy on Vudu. Does anyone know if movies that you BUY off of Vudu can disappear? I don’t think any of the movies I own have disappeared, but I have many, and probably wouldn’t notice if one disappeared. That concerns me now.

      • William Henley

        One more annoyance with Vudu – if you redeem the Disney anywhere code for a 3D Blu-Ray, it only gives you access to the 2D version on Vudu. Don’t see why, I already bought the 3D disc, Vudu has the 3D version of the movies, why not give you access to both the 2D and 3D version?

  4. C.C. 95

    Wow. KISS ME KATE 3D is awesome! The big soundstage dance scene with Bob Fosse is gonna rock!
    I love these days when they actually painted and turned an entire soundstage into a backdrop!
    Thank god for new releases of THE GRIFTERS and EQUILIBRIUM. THE GRIFTERS was previously only in a blu ray PAN & SCAN, and the EQUILIBRIUM blus were incorrectly framed 1.85 instead of its scope aspect of 2.35. Echobridge should really not be allowed to release anymore media. They have crap bitrates, incorrect aspect ratios- just straight-up CRAP.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      For all its other faults, the old Grifters Blu-ray was 1.78:1, which is acceptable for a movie with an OAR of 1.85:1.

      Until we have confirmation, I’m working under the assumption that the new Lionsgate re-releases will be the same Echo Bridge discs in new packaging to reflect the change of distributor.

  5. itjustWoRX

    I had no interest in the movie, but I noticed “The Captive” was “unavailable” for preorder from Amazon. Then I looked and saw that the “Hunger Games” installment coming out this Friday was also unavailable.

    So what, another dispute between studio and Amazon? I remember we already went through this with WB and Disney.

  6. Am I the only one getting Hunger Games this Friday? My vote is the only one for “Other”
    Will pick up the Best Buy Steelbook if I can.
    This household will pick up both the TinkerBell and Barbie releases this week.
    Maybe Foxcatcher this week as well.
    Mobsters on a distant maybe list.

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