Blu-ray Highlights for 9/14/10. What Are You Buying?

This week brings out another huge slate of Blu-ray releases, dominated once again by TV and catalog titles. If the major day-and-date offerings underwhelm, there should still be plenty else to drain your wallet.

Here’s the list of what’s coming out this week:

If ‘Prince of Persia‘ proves nothing else (and it probably doesn’t), the wannabe summer blockbuster once again demonstrates that movies based on videogames are never a good idea. Not even the backing of Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer could keep this one afloat.

I feel bad for Amanda Seyfried. She’s actually quite good in her role on HBO’s ‘Big Love’. Yet in her attempts to transition to the big screen, she’s been pigeon-holed in generic rom-coms like ‘Dear John‘ and now ‘Letters to Juliet‘. She deserves better. At least she doesn’t have to pretend to fall in love with Channing Tatum in this one. Making that seem plausible is too enormous a challenge for any actress to pull off.

Let’s talk about TV. There’s a lot of it coming out on Blu-ray this week. ‘Bored to Death‘, ‘Fringe‘, and ‘Glee‘ are all excellent shows, well worth owning. ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘ is flat-out hilarious, but unfortunately there’s little need to purchase it on Blu-ray given that the series continues to be shot on standard-definition video. Like the earlier release of the ‘A Very Sunny Christmas‘ special, the Fifth Season box set will be upconverted to HD.

I’ve gone out of my way to avoid watching ‘The League‘, because anything involving sports (and even more so fantasy sports leagues) bores me to absolute tears. People who do care about such things apparently find this comedy pretty funny. I will never know.

I’ve been informed that ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ is enormously popular, and that the show’s producers recently signed one of the biggest syndication contracts in history. I was astounded to learn that. I just don’t understand it. I don’t hate the series…any more. (It has very slowly grown on me over time to the point that I can tolerate it now.) But it’s a very rote, formulaic sitcom that trades in near-offensive nerd stereotypes and is plastered with a terribly obnoxious laugh track. On the plus side: no Charlie Sheen.

If modern TV doesn’t do it for you, how about the classic first season of ‘The Twilight Zone‘? I’ve heard that the DVDs look pretty great, so I’d expect good things from the Blu-ray set too.

All right then, let’s look at some catalog titles. David Fincher’s dark and disturbing serial killer thriller ‘Se7en‘ makes its way to Blu-ray in a swell Digibook package. I’ve seen the disc. It looks and sounds a-maz-ing. Really, trust me on this. The picture is as sharp and detailed (with no artificial processing) as anything I’ve ever seen on Blu-ray. My only disappointment is that all of the supplements are recycled from the Platinum Edition DVD. While the four commentaries on the disc are pretty comprehensive, far too many of the featurettes are devoted to covering the old DVD video transfer, which is completely irrelevant since the movie has been remastered from scratch for the Blu-ray. Honestly, both the “before” and “after” clips look like total garbage. The Blu-ray is vastly better. Vastly.

The Criterion Collection offers up Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless‘ this week. I saw the theatrical re-release a couple month ago, and found myself still conflicted in my love/hate relationship with Godard’s films. This is certainly an important piece of film history, however. I’m sure that I’ll wind up buying the disc.

Speaking of classics by people named “Jean,” Warner Home Video gives us a ‘Bloodsport / Timecop‘ double-feature starring the Muscles from Brussels himself, Jean-Claude Van Damme. ‘Timecop’ is a great guilty pleasure of mine. The movie is absolutely dumb as dirt, and the plot makes no logical sense at all. But its depiction of the “near future” year of 2004 is riotously hilarious. I love love love the tank-like monstrosities that we’re supposed to believe are just average everyday city cars. Rights to the movie have changed hands recently. The HD DVD from Universal looked fairly decent, considering director Peter Hyams’ propensity for underlit, grainy photography. However, its colors (especially flesh tones) were pretty badly oversaturated. I’m a little curious to see if Warner comes up with any better results, but I don’t know that it’s worth another purchase just for that.

Feast‘ is another guilty pleasure pick. You may recall the low-budget monster flick as the subject of an entire season of ‘Project Greenlight’. Like all ‘Project Greenlight’ winners, it was a disastrous box office flop. (Hence the series eventually getting canceled.) But it’s also lots of gory, goofy fun.

Decidedly less gory is ‘Monster House‘, the CG animated Halloween kids’ movie produced (but not directed) by Robert Zemeckis using his beloved motion capture technique. This wasn’t much of a box office hit, but I like it a lot. The regular 2-D version was released on Blu-ray back in 2006. Sony is now issuing it in a special 3-D version for compatible televisions and Blu-ray players.

Other re-issues this week include ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest‘ (now no longer a Digibook) and separate releases for each of the ‘Lord of the Rings‘ movies. Are there really any ‘Lord of the Rings’ fans out there who’d only want to buy one or two of the movies individually? I can’t imagine so. Nevertheless, if the trilogy box set was perhaps out of your price range and you’d prefer to split up the purchases, now’s your chance to pick them up one at a time. Don’t forget, we’re also running a contest right here at The Bonus View where we’re giving away win free copies of the ‘Rings’ movies. You won’t find a better bargain than free, so be sure to enter for your chance to win.

Wrapping things up, we have Adrian Lyne’s somewhat-overrated but still pretty creepy psychological horror thriller ‘Jacob’s Ladder‘ and Dan O’Bannon’s crazy zombie comedy ‘Return of the Living Dead‘. The latter is arguably a better sequel (however unofficial) to ‘Night of the Living Dead and ‘Dawn of the Dead‘ than anything George Romero has cooked up in the last 30 years – No, as a matter of fact, that’s not even arguable at this point. Have you seen ‘Survival of the Dead‘? Eek.


  1. Shayne

    Already snagged ROTLD, will be grabbing up Feast, Se7en and Invasion soon. I’ll have to wait a while for Twilight Zone, hopefully a good deal will come around eventually.

  2. lordbowler

    I’m waiting for the uber-Lord of the Rings set.

    I would definitely pick up Bloodsport/Timecop. Timecop is one of my favorites and Bloodsport is a classic Van Damme movie.

    After reading the review for Twilight Zone, I want Season 1 also on Blu.

    Big Ban Theory and Fringe of course are a must.

    I liked Prince of Persia, but I’ll wait for a price drop.

    Mercury Rising and Invasion of Body Snatchers are possible depending on reviews.

  3. Jane Morgan

    They should do a modern shot-for-shot remake of Bloodsport, with an all-midget cast, and call it Midget Bloodsport. I would pay money to see that.

  4. Oh wowser! Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Return of the Living Dead, and Twilight Zone here I come! I tend to pretty much stick with 60’s-80’s cinema, so it’s good to see those catalog titles a-crankin’.