Sort of a busted up week ahead for Bluer Chewers. A couple big event films meet their street dates today, while Les Miserables and This is Forty buyers have to wait until Friday to watch their films at home. There’s a little bit of something for everyone this week though, and if 3D 1080p hobbits aren’t your thing perhaps you can dig on a couple of new Criterion releases. The Hobbit presents a tricky conundrum for Lord of the Rings completists today, so let’s waste no time addressing the issue at hand. As always, clicking pics will take you to the site to buy. Not to grovel but buying through CHUD is always appreciated:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy Combo Pack ($27.99) or Blu-ray/DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy Combo Pack ($25.99)
Both combo packs are the same save for cover art and that $27.99 copy nets you a Blu-ray 3D as well. I liked The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, though I couldn’t bring myself to love it. It’s a disc I have to own in some form eventually, but is it a film I enjoyed enough to wait for? Thing is, the Extended Edition lies somewhere in the not-too-distant future. In addition to the benefits of a more fleshed out film (or simply longer, depending what you thought of this), those Extended sets have traditionally offered beefier features and more refined interface than the initial releases. The Collected Extended Trilogy Blu-ray Set ($49.99) that New Line Home Video put out last year is what Blu-ray’s all about. I want to revisit Jackson’s latest in the comfort of my own home, but this latest film just doesn’t necessarily justify a need to double-dip.
These standard sets are loaded though. So you’re getting the film and a wealth of special features: trailers, numerous making ofs, and all ten of Jackson’s video journals that ran online last year. If you’re a fan, you’re mind’s rightfully made up. Personally, I’ll likely wait for the Extended set if only because it was the horse I bet on when I began collecting the series.
Zero Dark Thirty Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy ($22.99)
Inarguably one of the best films of 2012. Debate the depiction of torture, debate the historical accuracy; but it doesn’t change the fact that Kathryn Bigelow directed one of the most complex and engaging character studies in film. This is a tight procedural centered around one character: Jessica Chastain’s Maya, the enigmatic CIA operative who, in the film, almost single-handedly leads the charge in keeping the US on the hunt for Bin Laden. The hunt is all she has. When it ends, what’s left?
The set comes with the Blu, a DVD and the Ultraviolet. Only four short features (the longest is still a scant 9:25) make up the disc’s extra content. By no mean’s a special edition, the best is likely yet to come for this film on home video. Still, I can justify the price for what I’m getting here, even if a better version’s coming.
The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp Criterion Collection Blu-ray ($31.99) / Badlands Criterion Collection Blu-ray ($26.86)
Criterion is the fine wine of home video and this week is no different. The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp was universally derided at the time of release (1943) for its friendly depiction of a German military officer (even as German loyalist Theo was by no means a Nazi). There’s a great deal of ideological subversiveness happening here, though it didn’t stop Winston Churchill from calling for the film’s banishment. This is a provoking piece where the less you know the better, so if you buy I suggest going in cold, enjoying the as-intended 1.37:1 aspect ratio and taking in the sweet intro by one Mr. Martin Scorsese.
Then we have Badlands, a Martin Sheen/Sissy Spacek vehicle I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never seen. Apparently it was the debut of some guy named Terrence Malick, who didn’t go on to do much of anything except deliver on some of the finest films of the last 40 years. Bullet bitten, I’m buying this immediately.
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann Blu-ray ($14.99)
Fred Ward (he played “not Kevin Bacon” in Tremors) as a time-traveling off-road racing champion who winds up getting zapped 100 years into the past? Stop drilling, we’ve hit oil. Shout! Factory is putting this disc out and this is the sort of find that companies like them should be commended for. Supposedly Ward’s character sees his precious motorbike stolen by some bandits and the task of getting it back and fighting the future befalls he and his newly acquainted hooker friend. This was written by William Dear who gave us Joseph Gordon Levitt action vehicle Angles in the Outfield as well as Bigfoot/Lithgow action vehicle Harry & the Hendersons. I’m not joking in the least when I say I may have gone mildly broke for this disk just now.
Gorgo Blu-ray ($14.99)
Meet Gorgo, Great Britain’s 1961 answer to what Japan had been doing with another, more badass monster by the name of… something or other. Gorgo has its issues but it’s still widely accepted as an honorary Kaiju offering amongst the diehards. I’ve only ever seen the film when it was lampooned on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, so I can only really speak to it’s ripe readiness at being ripped in that forum. Truth be told, the man-in-suit element, limited as it is in the first two acts, is pretty decent. If you’re a Kaiju Completist and you don’t own Gorgo then now is your chance to rectify. Some touching elements with decent special effects, suppose we could all do worse.
Bachelorette Blu-ray ($16.99)
Quite possible this week’s version of “worse.” I can’t speak to this film’s quality. I sprung for it when it was in VOD release, fell asleep 10 minutes in and had no qualms with not revisiting and getting my money’s worth. I like most everyone involved here and still can’t figure as to why Isla Fischer’s been blowing in the wind with crud like this for years now. It’s like she’s on her way downstairs, Rebel Wilson’s on her way upstairs, and they just sort of pass each other in the middle. The stench of “Bridesmaids cash-in” may be a touch too much to bear. Then again, the hell do I know? I just bought Timerider.
Miles Davis: Live at Montreaux 1991 Blu-ray ($17.98) / O.A.R. Live at Red Rocks Blu-ray ($19.99)
Two musical releases out this week that oddly reflect different periods of my music-listening life. I was big into O.A.R. in college, even spending a spring break (cue Franco’s “sprang brayyyk”) following them around the midwest with some friends and their drugs. Somehow this gave way to my future self as a hermit curmudgeon that listens to old Miles Davis vinyls on his record player while indulging my Earl Grey tea. Both discs have different things to offer and, even, if I don’t listen to the band anymore, the glow of Morrison, Colorado’s Red Rocks venue is surely a sight to behold on Blu. Whatever, Miles Davis and I will be in the corner grooving on the horns.
Schoolgirl Hitchhikers Blu-ray ($19.99)
At first glance I dismissed this as another of the crappy modern-day exploitation throwbacks we’re seemingly inundated with lately. Turns out French filmmaker Jean Rollin’s 1973 film, released here by Kino, is the genuine article. Amazon describes this as a “Gallic gala of forbidden love.” So if that’s how you like to get your rocks off, y’know, keep that to yourself but also buy this Blu-ray.
Zeta One AKA The Love Factor Remastered Edition Blu-ray ($22.46)
Barbarella hit in 1968, this followed in short order in 1969. I guess what I’m trying to say is buy Barbarella for $12.99 instead.
Les Misérables Two-Disc Combo Pack: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet ($19.99)
I hated it, Renn loved it and neither one of us can really see where the other is coming from on Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables. And if you ask me, that’s a very cool thing indeed thanks to the two larger camps of opposing ideologies toward the film, of which my associate and I are card-carrying members on opposite sides. I’ll say that the Les Mis fans in my life all seem to share Renn’s enthusiasm for the film, so this is a set that will no doubt be a must in many collections. For me, nothing ever clicks with Hooper’s approach. The one bright spot is seeing Anne Hathaway earn the shit out of her Academy Award here. Of that, there can be no debate. A film where the discourse surrounding it interests me far more than anything I saw on screen.
This Is 40 Two-Disc Combo Pack: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet ($19.99)
On the flip side of Les Mis is This is 40, a film where I completely understand the criticisms lobbed against even as I enjoyed it nonetheless. I think Apatow let his ambition get the best of him here as his message gets mired in the melodrama of a film that can’t figure out how to balance the comedic with the dramatic. The characters float from relatable to unlikable at the drop of a hat and a tighter cut would’ve done a great service to a pretty bloated film. Still, these are doldrums of adulthood Apatow is exploring. And around an age that makes it all the more personal for the filmmaker (nepotism aside). I’m conflicted between my enjoyment of the film and my acknowledging just how much of a “fuck you” to the middle class this film really is. This set includes both rated and unrated cuts. Amazon lists the running time at 405 minutes; either a typo or a playful commentary on this film’s predisposition towards its own excess.
That about does it for this week. Next week shit gets bananas with dinosaurs, time-traveling robots, and Daniel Day Lewis’ home movies.