Blu-ray Highlights for 9/13/11 – How Broke Are You Going to Be This Week?

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:

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.


  1. Donat Torres

    I’ll be waiting on Citizen Kane and The Big Bang Theory to drop in price a bit. So nothing this week. Next week, though, is Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Dumbo. 😀

  2. From here on out it’s going to be painful. Already picked up Trainspotting and have the complete Star Wars set coming from Amazon. I’m going to have to hold off on Kane either for a stand-alone, or preferably, if Netflix picks it up. Film quality notwithstanding, I’m bound to get more mileage out of Star Wars than Citizen Kane. Halloween II, The Frighteners, O Brother, and Thor will have to go on my “don’t forget to buy these at some point list” as there are so many more things coming in the next few weeks (Jurassic Park)

    • Oh and I’m with you about Buffy 100% Josh. Having that and Angel on blu ray would be my ultimate holy grail. Hell, at the very least make some “best of” collection with “Once More With Feeling” “Hush” “The Body” etc. But instead we get the completely unwatchable and unlistentoable motion comic and this travesty. Not cool.

  3. Jane Morgan

    Do the Star Wars blu-ray transfers have any color issues like LOTR:EE?

    What’s the buzz in the videophile community?

    • Donat Torres

      The original trilogy still has an ugly blue tint, something that’s stuck in the 2004 master that is being used here that also contains some light DNR and crushed blacks.

      • Drew

        You don’t know this. Why would you respond and say that the original trilogy still has an ugly blue tint, when you don’t know that to be true?

        You probably read this on another site that doesn’t even have the review samples yet.

        Please hold off on commenting when you have absolutely no basis to form an opinion.

        • Donat Torres

          Well, I don’t know if you know this, but the set was released in the UK yesterday, and the color timing has been reportedly unchanged from the 2004 DVDs. And the tint is also visible in the screenshots on’s review. So, while it’s still a guess, it is an educated guess. The 2004 DVDs were pretty bad looking in terms of color.

          • Drew

            Is the U.S. definitely getting the exact same editions as the UK?

            A lot of times, the U.S. editions are completely different from those of the UK.

            Unless you know, for certain, that the U.S. editions are identical to the ones already released in the UK, this information is irrelevant.

          • Donat Torres

            Well, most of the time when that happens, it’s because the studios handling the releases are different. For example, here in the U.S., Criterion released The Thin Red Line on Blu-ray, while in the U.K., I believe Masters of Cinema(not sure if that’s right) distributed the movie, and the transfer had slightly different color timing and compression. But I believe the discs are identical(aside from disc art and packaging) due to both being handled by 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm and both having similar release dates. I don’t see why they could be different.

  4. Drew


    …Paging Mr. Peck… Paging Mr. Peck

    I believe you said that you are reviewing ‘Star Wars’ for the site.

    Any early word on the video transfers?

    Throw us a bone here, please!

    I’m sure we are all frothing from the mouth to hear any little tidbits.

    • I have no idea since review copies have not been sent out. So, shenanigans on “sites” trying to pass off a review of this set without actually having the set.

      I’ll let you know, but as of yet, review sites don’t actually have it in hand if they’re going through proper channels.

      • Although, that said, the UK edition HAS been released and most of the word of mouth on those sets has been good, except for ‘Phantom’ which has been DNR’d all to hell (their words not mine). As I said, I’ll let you know as soon as the review copy arrives.

        • Jane Morgan

          Does ‘Return Of The Jedi’ still have sexy green nudity?

          Are Natalie Portman’s nipples still missing?

          As a “concerned parent,” I hope your review with cover these issues in great detail.

  5. Super-VHS

    “Citizen Kane” is also available in a digibook exclusively at Best Buy ($39.99 MSRP). I don’t know the particulars, but the picture on their site makes it look like a 2 disc release, with the blu-ray (obviously) and, I’d assume, “The Battle Over Citizen Kane” on DVD.

  6. Tony

    Going for Kane and Count of Monte Cristo. Monte Cristo has always seemed like an under the radar movie but I found it really enjoyable.

  7. Couple reviews have already been going up, AVS has a thread with current reviews and info about the release

    General consensus is that all the movies look fantastic, Phantom has a few issues of softness according to most of the reviews up so far, but it isnt DNR’d to hell like other people were saying (that was rumor only obviously) overall the sets are getting 4/5 or 5/5 on video and of course 5/5 on sound, technically they are great and most of the issues they’ve found seem to just be with the source material itself, we wont go into the movies themselves in here though 😉

    Hope its ok I posted that link…..

  8. I had to cancel all my preorders for the next few weeks. Times are tough right now. On the plus side, I can tell my mom I want Star Wars, The Others, DragonBall, and Thor for Christmas