Blu-ray Highlights: Week of May 18th, 2014 – Pomp and Circumstance

At high schools and colleges around the country, late May is graduation season for students. At the movies, however, it’s a season of mass destruction this year. As Godzilla smashes the theatrical box office, our new Blu-ray releases this week are fronted by another overblown disaster epic from earlier in the year. If that doesn’t work for you, perhaps we can find something else to suit your fancy.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (5/20/14)?

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New Releases

Pompeii‘ – Paul W.S. Anderson attempts to pull off the next ‘Titanic’, or at least the next ‘Pearl Harbor’, by turning a real historical tragedy into an overwrought disaster spectacle centered around a forced love triangle. American audiences had no interest in this one, but the movie fared better overseas. I have a soft spot for Anderson’s goofy cheesefests and may find myself renting this. If nothing else, I’m sure it’ll make some splendid 3D demo material.

The Monuments Men‘ – As a director, George Clooney appears to have peaked with his second feature, the terrific ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’. His following efforts have been decreasingly successful. Here, he tries to resurrect the style of light-hearted WWII adventure capers popular in the 1960s, notably ‘The Great Escape’. Neither critics nor audiences were impressed. With only the trailers to go by, it looks kind of boring. If even the trailers can’t make the movie look interesting, well…

3 Days to Kill‘ – About a year ago, I bet Kevin Costner believed that he was on the verge of a major career renaissance, with prominent turns in ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ about to put his name back in the spotlight. Although the former made a lot of money, it was mostly greeted with shrugs, and the latter surprisingly flopped outright. In the midst of those came this disposable star vehicle produced by Luc Besson and directed by McG. It looked awful and nobody cared. I guess Costner will just have to keep searching for the big comeback he wants.

About Last Night‘ – At the current rate we’re going, it won’t be long before every single movie released during the 1980s gets a watered-down remake that nobody asked for and nobody wants. The hook to this one is that the story now has a mostly black cast. Wow, how progressive. Kevin Hart fills the Jim Belushi role. Yeah, that seems about right. Kevin Hart is about the same level of talent as Jim Belushi.

Vampire Academy‘ – Another adaptation of a Young Adult literary property fails to kick-start a major movie franchise. They can’t all be ‘Twilight’ or ‘The Hunger Games’, though that certainly won’t stop Hollywood from trying.

Catalog Titles

Based on early reports, the disc that should be one of the most exciting Blu-rays of the week – Werner Herzog’s creepy and fascinating 1979 horror remake ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre‘ – is marred by a sub-par video transfer that suffers from excessive Digital Noise Reduction. In comparison, a Region B-locked edition released by BFI in the UK is said to look much better. This does not bode well for Shout! Factory’s upcoming (and expensive) ‘Herzog: The Collection‘ box set due on July 29th.

The latest title added to the Criterion Collection is Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami’s 2012 drama ‘Like Someone in Love‘. If you enjoyed ‘Close-Up‘ or ‘Certified Copy‘ (both also released by Criterion), this could be worth a look.

Fans of John Wayne should take note the Duke’s classic Western ‘McClintock!‘ has received a second Blu-ray release. Previously issued by Olive Films with a notoriously crummy transfer, the film has been remastered from the original film elements by Paramount for an “Authentic Collector’s Edition.”


Notable among this week’s TV offerings are the final season of ‘Nikita‘, the third season of BBC’s ‘Call the Midwife‘, and a new lower-priced reissue of the anime classic ‘Serial Experiments Lain‘.

Not a lot calls out to me this week. I passed over the previous box set release of ‘Serial Experiments Lain’ due to price. The reissue is a lot more reasonable. Anything other than that can be reserved for rentals. Are you more excited for something this week than I am?


  1. William Henley

    How did I miss Pompeii at the theaters? I was looking forward to seeing that. Oh well, I will Redbox it.

    Strangely enough, I am not picking up any of the Funimation releases today. Lain is just weird to me, I am watching Season 1 of Fairy Tale now (I think its on XBox Live, but I may be confusing it with another anime), and have no interest in the third release.

    However, there was a disc I picked up this week, mainly as a curiosity. I am sure it is going to be awful, but I picked up Sophia Grace and Rosie’s Royal Adventure. I will be surprised if I last more than 10 minutes. I had it preordered and forgot about it. I will probably end up giving it away to someone who has kids.

  2. EM

    Nothing for me, but I want to mention a film that’s on the list but not commented on. I saw Grand Piano at an arthouse series; while I wouldn’t call it a classic, I would say it’s a fun romp. It’s a stylish game-of-wits thriller that follows an anxious concert pianist, played by Elijah Wood, who is the target of a deadly cat-and-mouse game during the Wood character’s comeback concert. If that piques your interest at all, give it a rental.

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