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.
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.
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?