Blu-ray Highlights for November 20th, 2012 – Gobble, Gobble…

It’s a holiday week here in the United States, which means that the Blu-ray release schedule has slowed down significantly. After the deluge of major titles that have come at us in recent weeks, my wallet sure is thankful for the break, however brief it may be.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (11/20/12)?

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New Releases

The only major new title to hit store shelves today is ‘The Expendables 2‘. The ‘roid-fueled sequel reteams Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews and Randy Couture, as well as adding new roles for Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and Liam Hemsworth. Missing are Mickey Rourke and Steve Austin. Despite this surplus of testosterone, the original movie kind of sucked. This looks like more of the same. Stallone couldn’t even be bothered to direct this time, so he farmed that duty out to hackmeister Simon West (of ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ and the remake of ‘The Mechanic’).

The Blu-ray is notable for being the first title to include coding for a DTS Neo:X 11.1 soundtrack. What this means is that the disc has a standard DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that’s been mixed with matrixing cues that can be decoded for extra channels if you have an equipped receiver and enough speakers. Somehow, that’s just not enough to get me to buy this.

Catalog Titles

Criterion adds one of the most notorious box office bombs of all time to the collection this week. Michael Cimino’s ‘Heaven’s Gate‘ was such a disaster that it bankrupted United Artists and spelled the end of the auteur movement of the 1970s. Despite that, the Western has a small following of fans who have lauded it as a misunderstood masterpiece. Personally, the last time I watched this, I thought it was an interminable bore. But that was a long time ago. Perhaps I missed something. I’m curious enough to revisit it. However, the prospect of sitting through Cimino’s nearly four-hour director’s cut is daunting, to say the least.

Warner Bros. recently announced that it’s (finally) expanding the Warner Archive Collection movies-on-demand service to include Blu-ray discs as well as DVDs. For those who’ve never used this, the gist of it is that the studio sells no-frills editions of some of its catalog titles (movies that aren’t expected to have high demand volumes) direct to consumers, bypassing any retail distribution middlemen, and only manufactures as many copies as are ordered. While the DVDs are burned DVD-R copies, Warner claims that the Blu-rays will be normal pressed discs. The first two titles, available today, are the musical ‘Gypsy‘ and Sidney Lumet’s comedic thriller ‘Deathtrap‘. The latter is pretty fun.

According to the studio press release, the ‘Tarantino XX‘ collection contains “eight films chosen by [Quentin] Tarantino to illustrate the first 20 years of his career, featuring the films that helped define his early success.” In other words, it’s as many Tarantino films as Lionsgate could afford to license: ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘True Romance’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Jackie Brown’, ‘Kill Bill’ (both Vols. 1 & 2), ‘Death Proof’ and ‘Inglourious Basterds’. Given that all of these are already available on Blu-ray separately, the selling point for the box set is the “five hours of all-new bonus material.” In his review (linked above), Nate found that content better than expected.


Speaking of dubious double-dips, did any fans of ‘Game of Thrones‘ honestly hold back from buying the show’s first season on Blu-ray to wait for the Collector’s Edition box set version – the one that comes packaged with a dragon egg paperweight that you’ll never use and a bonus disc with the first episode from Season 2 (which has already aired in its entirety)? This thing’s at least nine months late. Who wants it now?

As I said above, I’m willing to revisit ‘Heaven’s Gate’ somewhere down the road. Beyond that, I’m all set for this week. Does anything interest you?


  1. HuskerGuy

    Expendables 2 will be mine today, but that’s about it. Spending plenty of money on all the deals going on this week.

  2. Drew

    I’m extremely excited for ‘The Expendables 2’. The DTS Neo:X soundtrack has my mouth frothing. Finally a track with 11.1 discreet channels! I can’t wait to hear my height and width channels come alive like never before. This is such a pleasant surprise! I thought I would be waiting at least a few more years before I got to hear an audio track that actually contained information for my height and width channels. Looks like this will be my new reference track!

  3. Drew


    What you say isn’t entirely accurate. I understand they are, technically, not discreet channels. However, they are more than merely matrixed from cues in the mix. What you describe is what my receiver always does, to deliver audio to my height and width channels. This DTS Neo: X track is essentially somewhere in between. The audio track has been mixed with information specifically dedicated to the height and width channels. While the extra 4 channels won’t technically be discreet, they will still be receiving and pumping out aural effects that were designed specifically for them. It’s going to be fantastic! You can’t dampen my enthusiasm with your technicality buzz-kill.

    • Josh Zyber

      The Neo:X track works similar to a Dolby Digital-EX or DTS-ES Matrix track on DVD. Both of those are encoded as 5.1, but the soundtrack is mixed with back channel cues that are specifically designed to be pulled out by the decoder – as opposed to a normal track where the decoder has to make intelligent guesses as to what sounds ought to be steered to the extra channels. Same deal here. The track is 7.1 discrete, with embedded cues that the Neo:X processor should pick up on.

      Not trying to dampen your enthusiasm. Just wanted to clarify how it works for anyone reading who was confused about how Blu-ray can suddenly support 11.1 channels when that isn’t part of the format spec.

      DTS demoed Neo:X for me in their “Listening Room” lab. It was pretty good, but I was more impressed by their headphone prototype:

      That thing can’t come to market fast enough.

      • William Henley

        Would this be similar to how Dolby Surround worked back in the days, like on laserdisc and stuff, where it was technically a 2 channel mix, but with cues to the reciever on how to direct stuff to the rears?

  4. Drew

    Fair enough. I know exactly how it works. And as I said before, it’s definitely more than merely 4 extra channels created via matrixing from cues in the mix. You admit as much in your reply. The biggest difference is that the guesswork has been eliminated. When your receiver puts out 11 channels, matrixed from cues in the mix, you have no way of knowing that it properly guessed which cues to import. With DTS Neo: X, you are hearing exactly what was intended for the extra height and width channels. There is no guesswork involved, at all.

    I read that other piece, when you originally posted it. I couldn’t agree with you more. I can’t wait for that headphone!