Blu-ray Highlights: Week of March 30th, 2014 – Here Come the April Fools

All things considered, March turned out to be a pretty good month for some major Blu-ray titles. Unfortunately, as we leave that month behind, April gets off to a less impressive start. [Post has been updated since it was first published.]

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (4/1/14)?

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New Releases

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues‘ – Forgive the late update. You’ll see this listed at the bottom of the poll because the title was missing from our release schedule when I prepped this post last week. Serves me right for trying to do some work in advance, I guess. In any case, Will Ferrell finally broke his losing streak by churning out a sequel to one of his past beloved comedies. I didn’t get to see this in theaters (I didn’t see much of anything in theaters last year), but pretty much every scene in the trailers looked like a repetition of jokes already told in the first movie. The Blu-ray contains three different versions: the original PG-13 theatrical cut, a slightly longer Unrated version, and the R-rated theatrical re-release. From what I gather, the latter is sort of like the ‘Wake Up, Ron Burgandy’ alternate version of the original, which added new jokes and storylines as well as substituted alternate takes to essentially create a separate movie. Having not seen any of them, I think I’d probably start with the Unrated version.

47 Ronin‘ – The original tale of the forty-seven ronin recounts a famous historical event from 18th Century Japan, which is often used as the defining example of bushido, the samurai code of honor. The story has been told in several previous feature films, the most popular being 1962’s ‘Chūshingura’ starring Toshiro Mifune. This latest version is a $175 million action fantasy in which the decidedly not-Japanese Keanu Reeves battles demons and monsters and mutants in overly-dim 3D. Every line of dialogue in the trailer sounds like it was copied directly from the Big Book of Action Movie Clichés. They’re all, “If we do this, there’s no coming back” and “This ends here” and “I’m not afraid of you…” / “You should be.” The movie was a massive flop, released at the tail end of 2013 only so that Universal could claim it as a tax write-off. If its existence serves any purpose at all, perhaps it might inspire Criterion to look into releasing ‘Chūshingura’.

At Middleton‘ – Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga play single parents who meet and fall in love while dropping their kids off for a college campus tour. The movie sounds like ‘Before Sunrise’ but nowhere near as interesting. Vera Farmiga’s sister Taissa Farmiga plays her daughter. That must have been awkward.

Knights of Badassdom‘ – I swear that I saw trailers for this LARPing comedy at least three years ago. Even with nerd-friendly faces Peter Dinklage (‘Game of Thrones’), Ryan Kwanten (‘True Blood’), Danny Pudi (‘Community’) and Summer Glau (just about every other nerdy TV property ever) in the cast, the film was shelved and is essentially being released direct-to-video now. That can’t be a good sign.

Catalog Titles

Perhaps the most appealing release of the week is a reissue. The 2009 Blu-ray edition of the Coen brothers’ blacky comic suspense thriller ‘Fargo‘ suffered a pretty crummy, edge-enhanced video transfer. MGM has decided to rectify that with a new 4k scan. Let’s hope the colors haven’t been tealified, as happens to far too many catalog remasters. The prospect of teal snow worries me.

With the stage musical spin-off still going strong on Broadway, 20th Century Fox finally remembered that ‘Once‘ was a pretty great little movie first. Be warned to keep your expectations low for the quality of the Blu-ray, though. The movie was a very low-budget production shot on video with prosumer cameras intended to shoot TV footage, not designed for feature film work. It looked like garbage when I saw it in the theater. I think there’s a limit to how good the material can look.

Universal is on a Western kick this week. The studio offers up two John Wayne classics: ‘Rooster Cogburn‘ (the sequel to ‘True Grit’) and ‘The War Wagon‘. Also on tap are a couple starring Clint Eastwood: ‘Two Mules for Sister Sara‘ and ‘Joe Kidd‘ – the latter directed by John Sturges from a screenplay by Elmore Leonard.

Finally – and I have trouble believing that this isn’t an April Fool’s prank – Image Entertainment is really releasing the cheesetastic Hulk Hogan vehicle ‘No Holds Barred‘. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to watch the whole thing, but I definitely saw enough bits and pieces of it on cable rotation back in the early 1990s. This may be somebody’s guilty pleasure cup of tea, but I fear that it would be more guilt than pleasure for me.

I’m really hopeful that the ‘Fargo’ remaster turns out to be worthwhile. ‘Anchorman 2’ is rental material for me. Other than that, and perhaps a mild interest in ‘Joe Kidd’, nothing else calls out to me this week. (I already own a Region B import of ‘Once’ that I’ve never gotten around to watching.) What do you see that will get you to open your wallet?


  1. William Henley

    Once again, the two things I am getting, while listed, Josh didn’t even touch on. 🙂 That’s okay, I know he has no interest in Anime, so I was not expecting to see Dragonball Z in his synopsis, but kind of surprised the two King Kong movies were not listed, especially considering one is King Kong vs Godzilla. I don’t think I have ever seen it (if so, I was really little – don’t remember which Godzilla movies I saw when I was little, but I know I saw a few that came on television at like 2 AM), but with it being less than $14, I blind bought it. I MIGHT pick up King Kong Escapes eventually.

    The Little Rascals is also a possibility for me. Wonder if it will be on Netflix or Redbox, sounds like a good rental.

    Back on the DBZ stuff, Funimation is releasing these faster than I can watch them! I only get a few hours a week to watch stuff (like maybe 10 hours over a week, some weeks more, some considerably less), and last week, watched a couple of episodes of STTNG Season 5 and Saving Mr Banks (last week was one of those considerably less weeks). I also watched one episode of DBZ Season 2. I am not complaining though, the seasons are cheap, and IMHO they are pretty good quality (although user reviews at You Know Where tend to disagree with me), so if I get backed up on that show, its not that big of a deal.

    Once again, I have been acquiring discs faster than I can watch them. 🙂

  2. Drew

    No mention of easily the biggest new release of the week? ‘Anchorman 2’ was more relevant, and was a bigger box office hit than any of the other new releases that were noted.

  3. EM

    Are you sure John Wayne had something to do with Two Mules for Sister Sara? That starred Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine.

  4. NJScorpio

    I have a feeling it is unwarranted, but I’m excited about ’47 Ronin – 3D’. I have low expectations, but that may not be enough.

  5. Chris B

    I’m a big fan of samurai flicks in general so I was disappointed to see 47 Ronin get such terrible reviews, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and at least give it a rent. It will be interesting to see if Carl Rinsch is able to salvage his career after such a catastrophe, will he fade into obscurity ala Michael Cimino or Kerry Conran? Or go on to make some great movies after an initial flop like David Fincher and Guillermo Del Toro? I guess we’ll see…

    I’ve never understood a studio entrusting a huge project to a young first time director in the first place and then meddling the whole way through production.

    I’ll be checking out Anchorman 2 for sure even though everyone I’ve talked to who’s seen it tells me it’s awful and forced.

    I remember watching Fargo years ago and it struck me as one of the most depressing films I’d ever seen…don’t really feel the need to revisit it any time soon.

  6. Timcharger

    Underwear edition of Anchorman is too funny. Not gonna pay the higher premium price for it, but if it goes on clearance eventually, I might have to double dip.

    Owning that underwear puts a different meaning to:
    let me show you my blu-ray collection…

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