Blu-ray Highlights for 9/6/11: X-tra, X-tra, Read All About It!

Brace yourselves, folks. September is going to be an expensive month for Blu-ray fans. While the barrage of huge, long-awaited titles won’t hit its peak until next week, this week already brings us several worth consideration.

Here’s the list:

The big (mutant) dog this week is ‘X-Men: First Class‘, available on Friday. Although this new prequel wasn’t quite the massive summer blockbuster as previous franchise entries, it garnered a lot of praise from both critics and fanboys, and will undoubtedly do well on video. Personally, I was underwhelmed. I found it kind of boring and repetitive of the earlier ‘X-Men’ movies. Director Matthew Vaughn does basically nothing interesting at all with the ’60s setting, and January Jones delivers what is certainly one of the worst performances of the year ā€“ perhaps of any year. On the other hand, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Kevin Bacon are all good. And the movie is nowhere near as awful as the atrocious ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine‘. I’ll probably give it another shot to see if my opinion changes. I’m pretty sure that the movie did well enough that another sequel is already in the works. Will it be called ‘X-Men: Second Class’?

The next significant day-and-date title is ‘Hanna‘, director Joe Wright’s spy thriller starring Saoirse Ronan as a young assassin and Cate Blanchett as the enemy agent who wronged her father. This one blinked in and out of theaters fairly quickly earlier this year, but got some good reviews, including one from our reviewer E. I’m intrigued.

I wrote a little bit about the Will Ferrell dramedy ‘Everything Must Go‘ in last week’s VUDU update‘. I haven’t seen it, but I still think that it looks like an interesting rental.

On the catalog front, Brian De Palma’s gangster cult classic ‘Scarface‘ blazes its way onto Blu-ray in two separate “Limited Edition” packages: a Steelbook case or a ridiculously overpriced box set with cigar humidor. I’m sure that every hip-hop artist in America has already placed a preorder for the latter. The Steelbook will do nicely for me, thank you. (I’m sure that a regular keepcase will also come along shortly.)

As a reminder, we’re giving away one free copy of the ‘Scarface’ Steelbook . Be sure to enter our contest soon, if you haven’t already.

On the subject of Brian De Palma, the director’s signature thriller ‘Dressed to Kill‘ also hits Blu-ray this week. Judging it in a modern light, younger viewers may find some of the film’s much-imitated and much-parodied plot twists a little silly today. And indeed they are, but that’s really all part of the fun. I love this movie.

On a more serious note, Paul Greengrass’ difficult-to-watch 9/11 thriller ‘United 93‘ finally makes its Blu-ray debut. The movie was a marketing nightmare when it was released theatrically in 2006. Frankly, I don’t think that situation has changed much in the years since. I still can’t bring myself to watch it, despite the positive things I’ve heard about it.

It’s a big week for thrillers, apparently. Bracing for the upcoming remake, MGM gives us Sam Peckinpah’s controversial revenge flick ‘Straw Dogs‘, starring Dustin Hoffman as a meek mathematician driven to violence after his wife is raped. As was often the case, Peckinpah proved that even uncomfortable subject matter could make for compelling cinema. We’ll have to see if the remake can claim the same.

In TV news, we get new box sets of both ‘The Office‘ and ‘Fringe‘. We covered both of these shows here in the blog during their broadcast runs. ‘The Office’ had a really uneven season. So did ‘Fringe’, but I’m more inclined to watch those episodes again.

Of final note, DreamWorks Animation will finally release its 3D editions of ‘Monsters vs. Aliens‘, ‘How to Train Your Dragon‘ and ‘Megamind‘ from the purgatory of Samsung exclusivity. Unfortunately, now they’re exclusive to Best Buy, but at least you can purchase them at retail. That’s an improvement. From what I hear, ‘Monsters’ has also been given lossless audio.


  1. Drew

    If you think that September is going to be an expensive month for collectors, just wait until October!

    Have you looked at the October release lineup lately? I’m scared!

    With that said, I’ll comment that this week was an expensive one for me. I picked up Scarface, Fringe, Hanna, United 93, and X-Men: First Class (Will be here Thursday most likely).

  2. This is me making a frowny face that neither Parks and Recreation nor Community manages to score Blu-ray releases. I did my duty and bought both of them on DVD, though.

  3. bruce

    I piked up Scarface, Hanna,Hellboud and X men.. Will pick up United 93 a little later. Shit it’s over priced!

  4. “Iā€™m sure that every hip-hop artist in America has already placed a preorder for the latter”

    Laughing out loud, Josh, laughing out (very) loud. Thank you for making my day!

  5. Josh Zyber

    So I made a trip out to Best Buy last night to pick up How to Train Your Dragon and Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D. None on the shelves. I ask a kid working there (who was admittedly very friendly and helpful). He scours the shelves and can’t find them either. He goes to the stockroom and comes back telling me that they’re marked “Not for sale until 9/11/11.” The store has them, but he can’t sell them to me.

    I make him look at the web site, where the discs are clearly listed as streeting on the 6th. He says that the web site must have listed them wrong. At this point, I have to hunt down a manager to explain the situation and tell him that I’m not coming back next week, so that he can authorize the cashiers to sell the damn discs to me.

    Finally, an hour after I went in, I walk out with the discs. I’d expected to be in and out in a few minutes.

    Damn Best Buy. Grrr… šŸ™

    • Drew

      Holy shit! That is probably the most unbelievable retailer story I have ever heard! How do they make that big of a mistake?

  6. Barsoom Bob

    Actually I had the exact same scenario yesterday, only I did not press the point. I will go back today and “not take NO for an answer”. Thanks for the tip !

  7. ben

    I mean honestly, there’s a review for the counting crows? I am addicted to hidef digest, and I love Josh, E, and the whole crew but the counting crows! Please hook me up with a review for xmen, if y’all need another reviewer I work for cheap

    • Josh Zyber

      We can’t review what we don’t have. Fox typically will not send screener copies in advance of release day. Once our reviewer gets it (and honestly, I’m not sure who was assigned this one), he’ll have to find time to watch the movie and all the bonus features, and then write a review.