Blu-ray Highlights: Week of November 27th, 2016 – All Fired Up

Is everyone feeling rested up and refreshed from the long holiday weekend? Were you able to avoid arguing politics with your relatives at Thanksgiving dinner? That may have been tough this year. Anyway, we’re back to work today, and the new week brings us some Blu-rays of family films that didn’t do too well at the box office this year.

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New Releases

Pete’s Dragon‘ – Disney had high hopes for this remake, but I’m not convinced that the original 1977 movie is particularly beloved or even well remembered. I suppose the old one had a certain amount of charm to its innocence in letting a goofy cartoon dragon interact with live actors. The update substitutes a furry green CGI thing that, frankly, looks kind of weird and creepy. At least, that’s the vibe I got from the trailers, which left me baffled at how Robert Redford could have gotten roped into something that appeared to be insanely terrible on every level. To my surprise, the movie actually got pretty good reviews from critics. Nevertheless, audiences didn’t bother to turn out. They must have felt the same way about the trailers that I did.

The BFG‘ – Back in the day, Steven Spielberg directing a kids’ movie was a guaranteed home run. Not so much today. Perhaps modern kids aren’t familiar with the classic Roald Dahl story it’s based on (the title stands for “Big Friendly Giant”), or perhaps the awkward Uncanny Valley motion-capture CGI stuff turned them off. Either way, this is another case where even generally positive reviews from critics couldn’t convince anyone to see the movie. In fact, with a budget of $140 million and a worldwide gross of only $116 million, it was a straight-up flop. For a man who used to rule the box office, that has to sting.

The Wild Life‘ – I can’t imagine that anyone was surprised that this CG-animated family flick that loosely adapts ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as told from the point-of-view of a parrot would bomb. It looked awful. Everyone who saw it said it was awful. This never had any chance to succeed.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie‘ – Back in the day, I bought my wife a VHS collection that was labeled as “Ab Fab: The Complete Series.” I believe it had three seasons. Even then, the joke felt stretched very thin by the end. Somehow, the show just kept going and going and going even after that with an endless string of specials and extra seasons, all repeating the same situations and gags. I can’t fathom what the point of a feature film extension nearly 25 years later would be.

Don’t Breathe‘ – The new thriller from the director of the ‘Evil Dead’ remake attempts to flip the tables on the home invasion genre. In the one, the idiot teens who break into a house to loot the joint become the victims when the old blind man who lives there (‘Avatar’ baddie Stephen Lang) stalks and kills them. It’s a reasonably clever premise, and word-of-mouth on it was strong. With a modest budget of just $9.9 million and worldwide grosses of $152 million, it’s not just the only box office hit among this week’s day-and-date releases, the movie was a huge success story.

Catalog Titles

If you’re a fan of the ‘Back to the Future‘ trilogy, odds are you probably already own all three movies on Blu-ray. They’ve been available in various configurations (box sets, individual standalone copies, SteelBooks, etc.) starting in 2010. Last year’s Complete Adventures collection bundled the three movies on Blu-ray with the short-lived spinoff cartoon series on DVD, inside a gimmicky Flux Capacitor package. The latest permutation has a somewhat streamlined package size and a reduced price.

Disney’s ‘Avengers: 2-Movie Collection‘ is a simple double-bill of ‘The Avengers’ with ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. I’d be very surprised if any Marvel fans didn’t already buy both movies when they were released individually.

My $.02

This is a pretty slim week. I might catch ‘Don’t Breathe’ or ‘The BFG’ when they eventually hit cable. In terms of purchases, I’m giving my wallet a rest this week. After all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I don’t have much spare cash left right now anyway.

Do you feel differently?


  1. Bolo

    I missed ‘Don’t Breathe’ in cinemas. It looked good and I will definitely rent it.

    I used to catch ‘Ab Fab’ on television back in the 90’s. I was never the world’s biggest fan, but it was entertaining in that it seemed to be written and acted by people as drunk as the characters. It would alternate between really pat sitcom stuff and really zany out of nowhere gags. Might give the movie a rent for nostalgia’s sake. I’m not expecting big things, just a long episode of a show I haven’t seen in a while.

  2. Csm101

    I only have about 20 bucks left from all my spending. I kind of want to blind buy Don’t Breathe, but I’ll probably hold out. Ive been wanting to start Game of Thrones in Atmos and I’m trying to see if Best Buy will price match with Amazon, which has season one and two for 20, but I have to wait until tomorrow until they start price matching again. I saw BFG in theaters this summer and enjoyed it enough to own at some point, but maybe I’ll wait around and see if a 3d version is released, if at least overseas. Same for Pete’s Dragon. Maybe I’ll just hold on to my 20 and start watching the shitload of movies I bought. We’ll see.

  3. William Henley

    Looks like Funimation is double dipping on several properties. I already have Tales of Vesparia and Heaven’t Lost Property on Blu.

    I enjoyed Pete’s Dragon. i am going to hold out a bit and see if they will do a 3D release (right now, not even the UK or Germany has one). The BFG is available in 3D from the UK (not a Disney release, so it is expected to be Region B locked). I will probably pick both up here before too long, but right now, I need to pick up a few Christmas presents. I also just bought tickets to Europe for me and my mom (that’s not really a Christmas present, she is paying for her own), so yeah, gotta start watching that spending.

    • I have just received the ‘The BFG’ Zavvi Steelbook, and the packaging says ‘Region B’. Haven’t had the chance the check the disc myself, so it may still be regionfree. No idea why this isn’t a Disney release, by the way.

      • William Henley

        My guess is third party company (like Walden Media or whatever) who does third party releases. Like all three of the Chronicles of Narnia were made by Walden Media, the first two were released in the US by Disney, the third by Fox. So that is my guess – the movie was not made by Disney, just distributed by them.

        I think Flight of the Navigator Blu-Ray in the UK was also distributed by a company other than Disney

      • William Henley

        So we were actually discussing how we were going to do Europe. As we got friends in Switzerland and Austria, and family in Germany, we are pretty much sticking to central Europe. It’s my mom’s first (and possibly only) time to Europe, and so we decided to do Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Munich, Prague, Opatia (Croatia) and Ljublijana and Bled in Slovenia. I think she is looking forward to Italy over anything else. Going to take her to Rome and Venice.

        I have been to Belgium once, but its been a while. If we were hitting more of Germany than Munich, I would throw in Belgium and Luxamburg

  4. Chris B

    Yeah nothin for me this week. I saw Don’t Breathe a while back and thought it was pretty good. Plus Jane Levy is a total fox with blonde hair 😉

    I’m actually kind of glad that this is such a light week because I’m saving up to buy a region-free BD player. How reliable are the ones on Amazon? I’m currently eyeing a few major brand-name models (Samsung, Sony), but I’m worried they’ll turn out not to be region-free after all once they arrive on my doorstep. Anyone here have experience buying one of these from a major vendor? Did it turn out ok?

  5. Trond Michelsen

    What’s the point of the Avengers double pack, really? Why don’t they release phase1 and phase2 collections instead (and I don’t mean $200 super collector’s limited exclusive editions, complete with toys and cards and suitcases and whatnot)

  6. Deaditelord

    I’ll pick up Don’t Breathe when it goes on sale and rent BFG, but otherwise I don’t see myself buying anything this week… especially since I bought a new 4K HDTV over the weekend and will likely pick up Oppo’s UDP-203 when/if it comes out later this year.

  7. Al

    Josh, just wanted to being this to your attention…

    (I think you’ll find it really interesting and appealing).

    The UK version of ‘The BFG’ contains a Dolby Atmos track on both the 3D and 2D versions. If you are at all intrigued by the film, I think the addition of Atmos might be enough to justify a blind-buy.

    It should be noted that the UK version is region-B only, but I know you have a multi-region player.

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