Blu-ray Highlights: Week of September 27th, 2015 – Hi, Robot!

Looking for new Blu-rays to buy this week? You might find an interesting title or two. Let’s get avengin’!

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (9/29/15)?

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New Releases

Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ – It was perhaps inevitable that Marvel’s follow-up to ‘The Avengers’ would be a disappointment. Not a financial disappointment, mind you (the sequel still made a good $1.4 billion), but a letdown in terms of fan expectations. The studio did such a great job building up its Cinematic Universe in Phase One until the ultimate culmination where all its major superheroes finally came together. Having accomplished that, where do you go next? What can possibly top it? Not this, apparently. Marvel’s incessant meddling into the production probably didn’t help. Writer/director Joss Whedon walked away afterwards and will leave the next sequel in other hands. You’d think that a guy who made the studio a billion and a half dollars in his first attempt might deserve a little latitude in his second effort, but I guess that’s just not how the movie business works. Anyway, for as much as fans grumbled about the movie, I’m sure that the Blu-ray will still sell well and that the Hulkbuster sequence will be a popular home theater demo scene for some time. I’ve heard, however, that the Blu-ray’s soundtrack has been curiously throttled in the bass department.

Spy‘ – Despite its painfully generic title, the third collaboration between director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy is their most polished, well-structured (it actually has a structure, for one thing!) and funniest yet. Unlike either ‘Bridemaids’ or ‘The Heat’ (both of which I also enjoyed), this Bond movie spoof is more than just a bunch of ad-libbed riffing. It has a real plot that holds together – and it has lots of ad-libbed riffing. McCarthy gets to prove that she has way more range as an actress than other recent roles would suggest, and Jason Statham is truly hilarious in a supporting part. This bodes very well for Feig and McCarthy’s upcoming ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot.

Poltergeist‘ – The world probably didn’t need a ‘Poltergeist’ remake, and judging by its terrible box office performance, the world clearly didn’t want a ‘Poltergeist’ remake either. But if we’re going to have a ‘Poltergeist’ remake anyway, I can think of worse hands to put it in than Sam Raimi as producer and the guy who made the very fun ‘Monster House’ as director. Sadly, reviews and word-of-mouth were generally negative, but it’s difficult to tell how much of that was based strictly on comparisons to the original, versus judging this one on its own merits. I’ve heard some defenses as well. This seems like it would perhaps make good rental fodder.

Entourage‘ – Why does this exist? Nobody wanted this. HBO’s ‘Entourage’ series was great in its first two, maybe three seasons. But then it kept going for eight goddamn seasons and was so played-out that I couldn’t bother to watch the last one and never felt like I missed anything. The show said and did everything it needed to long before it dragged to a close. Yet now, four years later, creator Doug Ellin brought it back for a big-screen reunion that can’t possibly have anything to add. Even the R rating is neutered compared to some of the stuff the TV version got away with on premium cable.

Cop Car‘ – Kevin Bacon is a corrupt sheriff (well, I mean his character is) who terrorizes two juvenile delinquents that make the mistake of taking his police cruiser for a joy ride. The indie thriller was praised for its tightly-wound suspense and dark comedy.

The Duke of Burgundy‘ – The art house alternative to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, this surrealistic romance between two women in an S&M relationship was a hit on the film festival circuit and received mostly rave reviews from critics.

Aloft‘ – I can’t make heads or tails of the plot summary of this movie. From what I can tell, Jennifer Connelly (who’s currently 45-years-old) plays the mother of Cillian Murphy (who’s 39). After her other son dies, Connelly becomes a faith healer in the Arctic Circle and Murphy takes up falconry. Something like that, anyway. Is it any surprise that the film was lambasted for being a pretentious, incomprehensible mess?

The Connection‘ – Imagine if ‘The French Connection’ were made by and starred actual Frenchmen. That seems to be the pitch behind this crime thriller set in 1970s Marseille. Oscar winner Jean Dujardin, so charming in light comedy roles like ‘The Artist’ and ‘OSS 117’, tries his hand at much heavier material.

Unexpected‘ – Made while the actress was really pregnant, Cobie Smulders plays a high school teacher facing unplanned-for motherhood at the same time as one of her teenage students. Most reviews complimented the performances by Smulders and costar Gail Bean, but were less enthused by the dramedy itself. I imagine that this will be a staple in Redbox kiosks for a while.

Catalog Titles

Warner Bros. released the Oscar-nominated period piece ‘A Room with a View‘ back in 2008. The Criterion Collection tries to better that with a reissue that sports a fresh film scan and new supplements. The film is one of the few Merchant/Ivory productions I care for (‘The Remains of the Day’ being basically the only other).

Criterion’s other title this week is ‘The Honeymoon Killers‘, a 1969 crime drama based on the true story of the so-called “Lonely Hearts Killers” – a couple who conned and murdered wealthy widows. (If that description sounds familiar, I mentioned it last week in reference to the recent French film ‘Alleluia’ loosely based on the same story.)

If you missed out on Twilight Time’s limited edition of John Carpenter’s evil-car Stephen King adaptation ‘Christine‘ a few years ago, Sony has reclaimed the rights to the film and is re-releasing it under its own label. Those who refused to buy the expensive Twilight Time disc will no doubt feel vindicated for waiting.

Shout! Factory offers a 25th Anniversary Edition of director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s visually-arresting nature survival tale ‘The Bear‘. Parents expecting a DisneyNature-type venture to watch with the kiddos may have some explaining to do during the sequence in which the title creature munches on some funky mushrooms and has a vivid psychedelic trip. I’m pretty sure the movie also features animal sex.

Television

In comparison to recent weeks, this one is surprisingly light on TV fare. The only notable box sets are the fourth season of NBC’s ‘Grimm‘ and the second half of the first season of Starz’s ‘Outlander‘.

My $.02

I already received the UK SteelBook edition of ‘Age of Ultron’ about a week ago.

I thought ‘Spy’ was great and am down for adding that to my collection. Both the Criterion titles will also go on my wish list.

What will you put your money down on this week?

28 comments

  1. Chris B

    So stoked to be getting my hands on Christine tommorow!…and by that I mean the movie.

    Poltergeist, Spy, Cop Car and Avengers will all make good rentals down the road.

    The Bear sticks out in my memory as the very first movie I remember seeing theatrically…

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            According to the Twilight Time Facebook page:

            “Our sixth title, JOHN CARPENTER’S VAMPIRES, which was also scheduled to go up for pre-order on the 30th, will now be offered TWO WEEKS LATER – on Wednesday, October 14th at 4 pm EST. Our friends at Sony / Columbia have gone the extra mile for us making sure the color timing of the new master will more accurately reflect the original theatrical version, and not the alternate look of the international blu-ray releases, and also fixing the odd edit in one scene that is present in those transfers. We apologize for the slight delay, but rest assured the new blu-ray will be much improved as a result.”

          • Chris B

            Thanks for the info Josh. That should put a lot of worries to rest about the tint debate thats been going on. The superbit dvd has a distinctly (and purposely) reddish tone to it. I guess the french blu ray greatly improved the detail but also drastically changed the colour. Sounds like TT is shooting for the best of both worlds by restoring the red.

          • Csm101

            We’ve waited this long, what’s another few weeks? 🙂
            Especially if they fix the minor edit problem and the color issue.

          • Csm101

            It’s either that, or a scene replays itself over…maybe both. Movie censorship sort of explains it, but I don’t understand the caps. It would be easier to see it in action, but I haven’t been able to find it online. It seems like something that can be easily overlooked, but someone spotted it. From what Ive read, it doesnt seem like a total disaster, but it’s nice to see the quality control doing something about it. Now that the word is out that this may be the most definitive way of viewing Vampires, I wonder if this will be a Fright Night quick sell, or like The Blob which took a couple of weeks to sell out? As long as I get my copy I will be very happy.

          • Chris B

            I’ve also noticed for this run they’ve expanded it to 5,000 copies as opposed to their normal 3,000. it’ll be interesting to see if it sells out as fast as Christine or Fright Night did even with the extra 2,000 copies. October will be a good month with both this and the AoD Collector’s Edition on the same day.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            I could be wrong, but I think Twilight Time is being extremely optimistic in thinking that there are 5,000 people, even hardcore John Carpenter fans, who like Vampires enough to buy it on Blu-ray, especially at their standard asking price.

          • Chris B

            I think they are anticipating a lot of eBay speculators who buy multiple copies of highly collectible releases and then gouge the average movie collector through resales.

  2. Bolo

    ‘The Duke of Burgundy’ is the best film I’ve seen so far this year. I really dug it when I saw it at the cinema and look forward to revisiting it. I think it works on a lot of levels. Beautiful on its surface, with an interesting examination of power dynamics within relationships. The all-female universe in which it is set is one of the more interesting worlds I’ve seen put on screen in recent memory.

    I have fond memories of ‘The Bear’, so I’ll be picking up that one to revisit it.

    I saw ‘Cop Car’ at the cinema, and thought it was a good flick, but don’t feel any need to revisit it. I recommend it as a rental if you like Coen Bros type crime comedies.

    I realize ‘Avengers 2’ was a one of the most anticipated films of the year for a lot of guys, but I just don’t have any interest in seeing it. I’ve prettymuch checked out on these superhero movies.

  3. Csm101

    I’m picking up Avengers 3d version, I hate Friday blu releases. Christine will also be in my collection tomorrow, and Poltergeist 3d could be fun. There’s some other good stuff on the list, but those three titles I know I’m getting for sure. I’m actually more stoked for next week, with Spartacus and Dracula’s remasters, can’t wait to see how those turn out.

  4. William Henley

    Am I the only one who thought Age of Ultron was vastly superior to the first movie? I will be picking up this release for sure (and I don’t even own the first movie, not do I plan on owning it).

    Poltergeist was a fun movie. If you compare it to the original, you will be disappointed, but if you are not comparing it, the movie is actually pretty good. I should be getting this tomorrow.

  5. NJScorpio

    I’m glad we are getting into the holiday season, where the summer 3D blockbusters are hitting home!

    I can be forgiving with the quality of movies when they are presented in a fun 3D package.

    I have Avengers; AoU preordered from Amazon, which should make for an enjoyable weekend. I’m not the biggest Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, but having recently gotten into Agents of SHIELD, I’m more excited than when I first preordered it.

    I will most likely blind buy Poltergeist 3D. If it’s ‘average’, then it should be worth watching for a fun 3D ride. I only saw the original for the first time about a year ago, at a free screening at a local theater. Great stuff, but it also means I’m not bound by nostalgia to the original.

  6. Lord Bowler

    I already have Avengers: Age of Ultron pre-ordered from Best Buy for the Steelbook, both the Vision and Ultron Steelbooks.

    That and Grimm Season 4 is all I’m interested in buying.

    Others will be rentals.

  7. itjustWoRX

    Apparently Amazon’s latest quibble is with Fox…because all of their movies are “unavailable” for preorder. That also explains why I couldn’t get the Rocky Horror blu last week. Lame.

  8. Indeed, as Josh mentions, you’d think Joss would get some creative liberties after making a $1.5 billion grossing movie. Incredible. It’s like those police serials on television. Every week, they catch the culprit. The next week, they have to fight the odds and convince their superiors of the hunch they have.

    • T.J. Kats

      I haven’t read specifically about AoU but it the differences that the post references could be extension related. I know for a while Marvel was filtering their movies at 20hz. If you sub only goes to 20 or so but has tons of output in the 20-35 range it will kick ass for that that system can do. If you have multiple subs that can get down to 10-12hz or lower and experience that in other movies than the Marvel movies can come off as underwhelming/throttled in that regard.

  9. Already received – Monster High Boo York. Boo York
    Wishlist, in order of importance maybe; Poltergeist 3D, Cop Car, The Bear, Black Coal Thin Ice, The Connection, Rammstein USA Tour (not listed)

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