Grab something and hold on tight! This week brings us a virtual onslaught of new Blu-ray releases, including two cinematic titans battling it out to pry some of those hard-earned dollars from your wallets. I wish I could say that there was only one difficult choice to make this week, but the reality is that a ton of stuff may deserve your money. Quite frankly, ‘Star Wars’ is the least of them.
See what I mean? Look at this:
- ‘The 10th Victim‘ (Blue Underground)
- ‘3 Women‘ (Criterion)
- ‘35 and Ticking‘ (Image)
- ‘The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Boggy Creek: The Legend is True‘ (Hannover House)
- ‘Brand New Day‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Camelot: The Complete First Season‘ (Starz/Anchor Bay)
- ‘Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition (+ The Magnificent Ambersons on DVD)‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop‘ (Magnolia)
- ‘The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)‘ (Disney/Buena Vista)
- ‘Death of the Virgin‘ (Indican)
- ‘Don’t Say a Word‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part 6‘ (FUNimation)
- ‘The Exterminator‘ (Synapse Films)
- ‘The Frighteners‘ (Universal)
- ‘Ghost Hunters: Season 6: Part 1‘ (Image)
- ‘Glee: The Complete Second Season‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘The Hagstone Demon‘ (Pacific)
- ‘Halloween II: 30th Anniversary Edition‘ (Universal)
- ‘The Haunting of Molly Hartley‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Hesher‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘Hide and Seek‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘The Hills Have Eyes: Unrated Collection‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘The Hills Have Eyes‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Incendies‘ (Sony)
- ‘Inspector Lewis‘ (PBS)
- ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Season 6‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘K-On! Vol. 3‘ (Bandai Visual)
- ‘Lake Placid 2‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘The Last House on the Left: Collector’s Edition (1972)‘ (MGM/UA)
- ‘LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (Combo Pack w/ Minifigure)‘ (20th Century Fox – Sept 16th )
- ‘Le Quattro Volte‘ (Kino)
- ‘Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West‘ (National Geographic)
- ‘Lourdes‘ (Palisades Tartan)
- ‘Love Wedding Marriage‘ (MPI)
- ‘Manhunter‘ (MGM/UA)
- ‘Meek’s Cutoff‘ (Oscilloscope)
- ‘My Life as a Dog‘ (Criterion)
- ‘National Geographic Ultimate High Definition Collection Vol. 2‘ (National Geographic)
- ‘Nostalgia for the Light‘ (Icarus Films)
- ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?‘ (Disney/Buena Vista)
- ‘The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway‘ (Image)
- ‘Queen’s Blade 2: The Evil Eye‘ (Anime Works)
- ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Non-Digibook)‘ (20th Century Fox)
- ‘Sanctuary: The Complete Third Season‘ (E1)
- ‘Spartacus: Gods of the Arena‘ (Starz/Anchor Bay)
- ‘Star Wars: Original Trilogy‘ (20th Century Fox – Sept 16th )
- ‘Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy‘ (20th Century Fox – Sept 16th )
- ‘Star Wars: The Complete Saga‘ (20th Century Fox – Sept 16th )
- ‘Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season‘ (Warner Brothers)
- ‘The Tempest‘ (Disney/Buena Vista)
- ‘Thor‘ (Paramount)
- ‘Thor (Best Buy Exclusive)‘ (Paramount)
- ‘Thor – 3D‘ (Paramount)
- ‘Trainspotting‘ (Lionsgate)
- ‘True Legend‘ (Umvd/Visual)
- ‘Without Men‘ (Maya)
- ‘WWE SummerSlam 2011‘ (Vivendi)
Where to start here? I’m sure that the majority of our readers are probably most interested in the various ‘Star Wars‘ box set configurations. You can buy just the original trilogy, just the prequel trilogy (though who would want that one?), or the six-movie “Complete Saga.” If you want all of the tempting bonus features that have been promised, you need to shell out for the big set. They’re not available in the smaller trilogy boxes.
Unfortunately, the “Original Trilogy” is no such thing. As has been discussed endlessly on this web site and countless others, George Lucas is still holding the actual original theatrical cuts of ‘Star Wars’, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ hostage. He will only release the bastardized “Special Edition” versions, and has even made a bunch of stupid new changes (like blinking Ewoks) since the movies were last released on DVD.
I think I’ve made my feelings on this clear in recent weeks. I’ll just repeat what I wrote in last week’s poll topic:
I find George Lucas’ behavior to be reprehensible. The ‘Star Wars’ trilogy were incredibly groundbreaking and influential films that changed the cinematic art form (for better or for worse). By systematically dismantling and disfiguring them the way he has, while refusing the preserve their original presentations that made such a profound impact on both filmmaking and popular culture, George Lucas is destroying an important piece of our cultural heritage. Until he restores these movies to their original forms, I will not buy them again on Blu-ray or any format. Screw George Lucas. He’s an asshole.
If this were a just world, Warner’s monumental new Collector’s Edition box set of ‘Citizen Kane‘ (long regarded as the greatest film ever made) would sell a hundred times more copies than ‘Star Wars’. Sadly, this is not a just world, and I expect the opposite to happen. That’s a damn shame.
I’ll be honest, though. I’m not all that excited about the fact that Warner is only releasing the movie in another bulky box set filled with photos, art cards and other bric-a-brac. I’d rather just have the video content released in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. I’m sure that this will happen eventually if we can remain patient (as was the case with ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Casablanca’ and other Warner classics). I think the studio is doing itself a disservice by not making both options available to consumers up front. However, the Amazon exclusive edition also comes with a copy of ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’. Although that’s just on a DVD, this marks the first time that the film has been released on optical disc (in North America, at least) since the Laserdisc days.
Oh, you didn’t think that was all we had to look at this week, did you? Oh no.
Of the newer titles, ‘Thor‘ was (perhaps surprisingly) one of the biggest winners in this summer’s comic book superhero derby. Despite a goofy premise, the Marvel Comics adaptation (directed by Kenneth Branagh, of all people) fared well with both skeptical critics and skeptical audiences. It’s available on Blu-ray in your choice of standard 2D or post-converted 3D options.
The other day-and-date titles are mostly independent and foreign fare. I’ve heard very good things about ‘Meek’s Cutoff‘ and the documentary ‘Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop‘. The buzz on ‘Hesher‘ is a little more mixed, but generally favorable.
I’ve seen the French-Canadian ‘Incendies‘, which was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar earlier this year. In my opinion, it should have won. I went into the movie knowing pretty much nothing about it, and it just devastated me emotionally. It’s an incredibly powerful film. I recommend it highly.
Julie Taymor, on the other hand, is having a very bad year. In addition to being fired from that ridiculous ‘Spider-Man’ Broadway musical, her film adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest‘ was excoriated by critics and vanished from theaters in a blink.
Speaking of the Great White Way, once-scandalized comedian Paul Reubens revived his most famous man-child creation for a successful run in ‘The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway‘, a video recording of which is now available on Blu-ray.
As you may remember, Reubens also has a role in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘, the original 1992 feature film starring Kristy Swanson. The movie was a big flop, but screenwriter Joss Whedon refused to give up on his concept, and spun it off into a hugely successful TV series (sans Swanson or Reubens). The show was great, but the movie was (and still is) pretty terrible. It saddens me that this and that lousy Motion Comic are likely the only ‘Buffy’ we’ll ever get on Blu-ray. Due to limitations in its production, the TV series is not a good candidate for remastering into high definition.
‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?‘ is nicely timed to follow up on all the other Coen brothers’ releases we’ve seen in recent weeks. Other notable catalog titles include ‘Trainspotting‘, ‘Halloween II‘ (the one from 1981, not the stupid Rob Zombie remake), and Peter Jackson’s ‘The Frighteners‘. I happen to think that the latter is a laughably awful movie, but it seems to have a fan base for some reason.
This week, MGM offers Michael Mann’s superlative serial killer thriller ‘Manhunter‘ as a standalone release, finally broken out from the ‘Hannibal Lecter Collection‘ box set. I don’t normally highlight reissues here, but I really need to say that our reviewer Nate is way, way, way off-base in his hatred of this movie. I’ve given him grief for this before, and will do so again at every available opportunity. Sorry, Nate.
Are we done yet? No?! Are you kidding me? This week is crazy!
Look at this; we’ve even got a bunch of TV box sets on deck: ‘The Big Bang Theory‘, ‘Glee‘, ‘Camelot‘, ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘ (finally shot in real high definition!), ‘Spartacus‘ and ‘Supernatural‘.
Finally (yes, finally!), the Criterion Collection gives us two new releases of its own: Lasse Hallstrom’s affecting coming-of-age drama ‘My Life as a Dog‘ and ‘3 Women‘, Robert Altman’s homage to Ingmar Bergman.
Whew! This is a tough week, folks. Don’t buy everything all at once, or you’ll find your bank account depleted quickly. And the month isn’t even half over yet.