Blu-ray Highlights: Week of May 29th, 2016 – You Down with PPZ? Yeah, You Know Me

Another long weekend has flown by too quickly. Let’s start the new week as we always do, by looking at all the latest Blu-ray releases. As few as there may be this week, perhaps you’ll find a disc of interest?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (5/31/16)?

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New Releases (Blu-ray)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘ – “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith was a hilarious parody of Jane Austen that was surprisingly faithful to the text of the original ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – just with the addition of zombies and ninjas to spice it up a little and keep the kids interested. Admittedly, trailers for the movie didn’t look great, critics’ reviews were underwhelmed, and it bombed at the box office. This wouldn’t be the first time that Hollywood screwed up a book adaptation. Even so, I’m amused enough by the concept to give this a rent.

Gods of Egypt‘ – I hardly thought he could ever do worse than the howlingly awful ‘Knowing‘, but director Alex Proyas proved me wrong with a ridiculous mashup of ‘300’, ‘Clash of the Titans’ and ‘Escape from New York’ (seriously!) that looks astoundingly terrible on every level. Released in the midst of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the movie was widely criticized for its 100% non-Egyptian cast all playing Egyptian characters, but honestly that seems to be the least offensive thing about it. Personally, I cannot imagine anyone wanting to watch this gaudy eye sore of CGI visual diarrhea on purpose, but if you were so inclined anyway, you have a choice of 2D, 3D, SteelBook or UHD options available to you. Have fun with that.

Race‘ – It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Hollywood would eventually churn out a bio-pic about legendary track and field star Jesse Owens, the man who humiliated Adolf Hitler and his Aryan regime at the 1936 Summer Olympics. The subject begged for an inspirational feel-good drama to be made about it, and now we have one. It does surprise me quite a bit, however, that the director of ‘Predator 2’ and ‘Lost in Space’ would get the job. (I know, maybe that’s not fair. He’s done a lot of decent TV work since then. Still…) Comedian Jason Sudeikis plays Owens’ coach, which is also weird. From most accounts, the movie is exactly what it looks like and exactly what you think it will be, clicking off every checkbox on the bio-pic cheat sheet as is goes.

Triple 9‘ – The new movie by John Hillcoat, director of ‘The Proposition’ and ‘The Road’, is a crime thriller about crooked cops working for mobsters to plan a big heist. Unfortunately, despite a pretty impressive cast (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Gal Gadot and Kate Winslet, among others), the film didn’t garner much enthusiasm from anybody.


In addition to the simultaneous day-and-date 4k editions of ‘Gods of Egypt‘ and ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies‘, the UHD format also catches a catalog title this week with the ridiculously nonsensical thieving magicians caper ‘Now You See Me‘, timed to promote the impending sequel that nobody asked for.

Catalog Titles

Criterion’s box set for Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy contains three of the filmmaker’s seminal early works: ‘Alice in the Cities’, ‘Wrong Move’ and ‘Kings of the Road’. It’s been years since I’ve seen any of these. (I went through a German cinema phase in film school). I recall struggling a bit through the first half of the three-hour ‘Kings of the Road’, but feeling that it really pulled together in the second half. Don’t let an early scene in which a character does something disgusting on camera turn you off from watching the rest.

His 1980 ‘City of Women‘ is pretty typical late-career Federico Fellini – a phantasmagoria of outrageous images strung together over a barely coherent plot. Viewed with modern sensibilities, Fellini’s sexism is also perhaps more uncomfortable than usual in this one. However, to be fair, the movie clearly shows the filmmaker trying to work out his issues with women. I wouldn’t recommend this as anyone’s first exposure to the maestro, but fans should still get something out of it.

If your tastes lean more towards exploitation cinema, Vinegar Syndrome offers ‘The Human Tornado‘ (a sequel to the Blaxploitation favorite ‘Dolemite’) and the supernatural slasher ‘Psychic Killer‘, while Arrow Video attempts to put together a comprehensive release of Roger Corman’s ‘Blood Bath‘.

My $.02

The Wim Wenders box set will go on my list for the next Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble. I’d also like to pick up ‘City of Women’. I’ll reserve ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ for a streaming rental.

Do you see anything you like this week?


  1. ‘Stripped’ is one of the best Rolling Stones live albums (and one that featured CD-ROM bonus content in 1995, something I found extremely exciting as an 11-year old). I have never seen the accompanying video footage. Sounds like a must.

  2. Despite mediocre reviews I might still rent Triple 9. I like Hillcoat and crime thrillers so I figure it’ll be worth a watch. Nothin else this week though.

  3. Csm101

    Gods of Egypt 3D. I enjoy Hillcoat’s gritty style and I’m sure Triple 9 will be enjoyable when extra funds are available. Pride Prejudice and Zombies is also a curiosity. Venom and Blood Bath are future wish list items.

      • William Henley

        Oh well, if so, I will finally have the US Blu-Ray version. I had Dune on HD-DVD before the fire and the Vudu version on Vudu of course, and after the fire, I have only picked up a couple of imports.

        You know, it seems that each time I watch Dune, I like it better than the previous time, and I liked it from the beginning. I think it has to do with the fact that every single time I watch it, I pick up on something new.

        • William Henley

          So the only thing that seems to be different is that this issue comes with a movie ticket voucher for Warcraft. Other than that, its the same disc and same packaging.

  4. NJScorpio

    I don’t know why, but I’m renting ‘Gods of Egypt’ from Redbox today. Living with a Gerard Butler fan, it may be worth watching, but I have a strong feeling this movie will end up melding in my memory with other forgettable movies of this period.

    The thing that struck me is how weak Butler looks in the commercials. Back for ‘300’ (granted that was many years ago) he was all shirtless and ripped. In the commercials I caught of ‘Gods of Egypt’, he looks small under his armor. Small shoulders, small arms….it used to be stars got all jacked up for these types of movies, but he looks like he is physically phoning it in.

  5. Lord Bowler

    Nothing for me this week.

    On my rental list are:
    ‘Gods of Egypt’
    ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’
    ‘Triple 9’

      • Lord Bowler

        That’s what everyone says!

        And in 99% of the cases they are right as nothing is going to compare to the visuals created by the mind for free!

        That being said, the best version of Dune that I liked was the Sci-Fi Channel’s John Harrison’s “Frank Herbert’s Dune” Mini-Series.

        The book, and the series in general, is on my ever-growing must-read list…

        • William Henley

          Both Dune and Children of Dune are available on Blu-Ray in France – I imported mine

          I should point out that, in Dune, any shot that has a special effects shot in it is SD, and there are a lot of scenes in the first episode that are like that (for example, when they are in the palace on Arrakis, a lot of the lighting is done in post. So in the first episode, probably a good half of it is SD upconvert. It is also obvious that special effects were done by different people – some look like interlaced video, some progressive, and a very few shots look HD. Once they get out into the desert, though, the majority of the rest of the show is in HD. Children of Dune looks considerably better,

          I agree with you on the Sci-Fi miniseries, but that is just from a storytelling and acting perspective and staying true to the book. The movie has significantly better music and visuals. The more I see the movie, the more I like it. 3 or 4 years ago, I would have held the miniseries over the movie, now they are about even.

    • Deaditelord

      I’m right there with you Julian. Dune seemed like it could be interesting, but I keep skipping it because it is directed by David Lynch. (I hate David Lynch’s movies with an absolute passion… especially Mulholland Drive.) I didn’t realize that Sci-fi made a miniseries though. Might give that a watch.

      • I’m not trying to start an argument here, but uh…why do you hate Lynch’s movies with a passion? At least he’s original, whether or not you like what he does or not.

        • Deaditelord

          I acknowledge David Lynch’s technical skill behind the camera; I just don’t think he’s very good at writing screenplays. Lynch has an annoying tendency to not wrap up his films in any sort of logical manner. It’s like he backed himself into a narrative corner and rather than try to come up with a solution, he just decided to throw up a bunch of incomprehensible scenes as a means to trick audiences into thinking there’s some “hidden meaning” behind the approach.

          That’s what really infuriated me with Mulholland Drive. Up until the opening of the box, the film is mostly coherent. While I don’t remember the particulars of what happens after the box is opened (I only saw the movie once when it first came out to rent) , I do remember thinking “WTF does this have to do with anything???” It’s all a big mess, with scenes piling up that seemingly serve no purpose other than to offer some gratuitous female nudity. I had a similar annoyed reaction to Lost Highway, although at least Lost Highway stops making sense a lot sooner.

          I don’t need my story dished out to me on a silver platter. In fact, one of the reasons I love mystery/thrillers is the joy of trying to piece together the story. However, that’s not possible with Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive because there’s no way to arrange the pieces so that they all fit.

          I also have a low tolerance for strange/weird/goofy characters in non-comedic films and I can’t imagine anyone denying that David Lynch’s films are largely populated by oddball characters. The Coen Bros.’ movies fall into this trap sometimes, although there are times when their movies still click with me (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and No Country for Old Men). Not so with David Lynch.

          • William Henley

            Well, the Dune movie certainly has a couple of goofy odd-ball characters in a non-comedy.

            I would start off with the Sci-Fi Channel’s miniseries, and if you like it, then one day you might want to consider giving the movie a chance.

    • Barsoom Bob

      You should read this book. It is really an important book. I consider it one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Way back there in the late 60’s, when I first read it, it introduced the words “prescient” and “Jihad” into my vocabulary. Under the guise of a sci fi tale, Frank Herbert laid out the geo political reality that we are living in right now, plus touched on ecology, personal manipulations on a GOT level, religious fanaticism and Campbell’s hero myths. Substitute the Middle East for Dune, Countries for Houses, oil for spice, and OPEC for CHOAM etc. Herbert spent several years as an oil worker in the Middle East and then wrote this very prescient book 50 years ago ! The first four books tell a pretty epic tale, after that they go off the rails, still fun but definitely off the rails.

      Lynch’s movie is truncated, at the studio’s demand, and leaves out the heart and soul of the Freemen, but is gorgeous to look at and properly wierd. The TV mini series does a much better job of filling out the story but is hampered by very limited budget. The Childrten of Dune mini series follow up does a pretty decent job of adapting the 2nd and 3rd books and is budgeted a little more generously than the first one. I enjoy them all for their different virtues.

      • Even though I’m a Lynch fan, I’ve tried watching Dune several times and can never get through it. I almost think the movie only works if you’ve read the novel and are familiar with the mythology, otherwise the film ends up being a narrative clusterfuck.

        • William Henley

          I was the same way, watched the movie a few times, could not get through it. Then I saw the miniseries, and understood it, then I read the book and realize the depth of the story and the world it takes place in, then I watched the movie again, and really like it. The sad thing is, it is a movie that is very hard to appreciate on its on, mainly because the story is so complex. If there was ever a book where the movie should have been broken into two or three different movies, Dune is one of them. Maybe not for the folllowup books, but with Dune, you practically need an entire movie to setup what all is going on. I think that is where the miniseries is regarded so highly – they had the time for exposition, to develop characters and the world, to develop mythologies, etc.

          • Josh Zyber

            Except that the miniseries didn’t do that. It just chopped out the entire first 1/3 of the book on Caladan and jumped into the action-y parts on Arrakis.

          • William Henley

            Yeah, but a lot of the exposition happened later in the miniseries, and Children of Dune did pretty well in covering what was in the books. No, neither the movie nor the miniseries really went into all the religious stuff that was in the books.

            The Dune movie is a great suppliment to fans of the series, but as a stand-alone movie, it kind of falls flat. As a single-stand-alone movie, the only way I think it would have been better recieved would have been to dumb down a lot of what was going on, which would have been an insult to what was great about the books.

            I would love to see yet another remake of Dune – a theatrical release up there on the scale, grandure and production value of the previous movie, but broken into two or three different movies – first movie would be tons of background events and pretty much up until when Paul and Jessica are driven into the desert, part 2 would be Paul’s life with the Fremen, and the third movie would be the battles and the final battle. Put the movie in the hands of someone like Peter Jackson. I mean, imagine a worm attack in 4k 48fps 3D with Atmos sound! And if they could bring Toto back to score the new trilogy as well…. Wow! And if they can’t get Toto, if they can get rights to the music and get John Williams to write a score based on Toto’s themes… And imagine the movie in Atmos – Paul calls a worm, his voice is heard front center. All around you you hear the winds of the desert. Above and behind, you hear some shuffling and shouts of the Freeman standing behind the camera on the cliff walls. The bass goes crazy as the thumper starts pounding. Then you hear the movement of the worm going throughout the soundscape of the 48 speakers, then the scream of the worm and see this thing come on the screen, fully rendered in 4k HDR! However, to create a greater sense of immersion, as many sets and props as possible should be shot optically rather than CG. Give it a full 4k Digital intermediary, and shoot the thing on Red Epic or Red Dragon cameras.

            In fact, imagine that in a Dolby Cinema – crisp laser projectors, dbox seats, etc! And if you show it at one of those premium theaters that servers the nice meals, have a unique dish with some unique spice that maybe too many people have not had before, and serve it with tons of alcohol!

        • Barsoom Bob

          The Lynch film is missing it’s heart and soul, that is why it doesn’t seem to make sense with out having read the book. As Josh said, Lynch did a far better job of setting up the the worlds and characters, but he was forced to cut the whole important middle section of the story into a brief montage. It kills the emotional logic and investment with those characters. Honestly, that isn’t exactly Lynch’s strongest suite anyway. The Fremen are the true heroes of this tale, with Paul as their leader. They are supposed to be noble, mysterious heroes. They should have been clothed like Lawrence of Arabia standing on a dune top at sunset but Lynch outfited them in some cross between an S&M outfit and a wet suit. If you don’t want to read the book, you have to shift between these two versions that are available on video to get the complete story.

  6. Okay so this week in particular cost me a little bit of money. One purchase may be regrettable, the other I don’t know and the third sounds like fun.
    Gods of Egypt 3D Steelbook – might be regrettable or I might like it!
    Venom – Blind Buy – Perhaps I remember this one from years ago, something jogged a neuron or two
    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – I blind bought the UHD Combo pack. BD for now, UHD for later. The reviews are leaning favorable on this one.
    Wish list – Blood Bath & Triple 9.

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