Blu-ray Spotlight

Blu-ray SpotlightYou’re not the average movie fan. You are the type who is up on technology, pushing the limits of your home theater (and your wallet) with the latest advancements in an attempt to achieve nerdvana in your living room. And the Blu-ray format is your weapon of choice. Come along on a magical journey with FSR Editor Neil Miller as he explores the best, worst and otherwise notable releases in the world of Blu-ray.

Updates Every: So Often

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

There’s an overwhelming notion that I’ve lived with for some time, a deeply person issue that conflicts me as a pro movie watcher. Unlike so many of my colleagues, I’ve just never been captivated with superfandom, not for Star Wars, nor Lord of the Rings, not for any number of geek fetish properties. Perhaps, I’ve wondered, I simply don’t have the capacity to love. Many of my ex-girlfriends might agree. Then there’s Indiana Jones. My hero. It takes a little bit, in each of the first three movies in this franchise, to get to the hero score composed by John Williams. You know the one. But once it hits and we meet our hero, my spine tingles and a part of my brain that’s usually deep in analytical thought is washed over with pure, unadulterated amore. Indiana Jones has always been my guy. A scientist, an adventurer, a cavalier man of the ladies. He belongs in a museum, as monument to absolute manliness. And this week, he’s making his big debut on Blu-ray. Lets explore.

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Adrien Brody in High School

“I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner…” No truer words could represent the existence of John Stalberg Jr.’s High School, a film that sat on a shelf following a blistering run at Sundance in 2010, only to be released theatrically, in a very limited fashion, in June of this year. It’s the simple tale of two former friends whose paths have diverged in their later teen years. Henry Burke (Matt Bush) is the soon-to-be Valedictorian of his class, with a promising future awaiting him at M.I.T. Travis Breaux (Sean Marquette) is a burnout who spends more time wiping sharpie marker penises off his face than he does hitting the books. After a pre-school accident lands them together in detention, Breaux convinces Henry that his path to relaxation must go through the forrest of the sticky green, the cannabis sativa. And so they smoke marijuanna, not knowing that tomorrow will bring about a school-wide drug test at the hands of their overly theatrical dean, Leslie Gordon (Michael Chiklis). It’s here that the story gets interesting, and soon after the film finds itself introducing a mad, tattoo-covered dealer named Psycho Ed, as played by Adrien Brody. It’s here that High School becomes something quite special, indeed.

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Blu-ray Spotlight

Anthologies are tricky business, especially with a beloved franchise that has taken some lumps over the years. For example, 20th Century Fox knocked it out of the park earlier this year with the Alien Anthology, mostly because it gave us ample reason to rebuy some films we’ve already owned for years. The packaging was brilliant, the box set included a bunch of new interactive features and the entire thing was easily one of the most impressive box sets we’ve seen in a long time, if ever. Even people who weren’t fans of the troubled third film or the odd left turn of the fourth film would be compelled to pick it up. It was that good. Conversely, The Terminator Anthology, released as an exclusive to Best Buy this past week as compendium on the sci-fi franchise that includes one of the single most iconic characters in cinema history, is not that good. It’s a nice little set that comes with all of the movies in a nice package, but it fails a lot of ways that other anthologies succeed. And I say this as someone who probably enjoyed Terminator 3 and Terminator Salvation more than you did.

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Visiting ILM

“Is it okay if I take a picture of that?” Visiting Industrial Light & Magic isn’t just another assignment. Even a seasoned movie blogger knows that much. This job takes you all kinds of interesting places — sets in the middle of the Bayou, the snow covered mountains of Utah, even the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. But a trip to San Francisco, home of LucasFilm and ILM, that’s something special. It doesn’t matter so much that my first trip to the house that George built (before he went crazy) was in honor of Battleship, a movie-sized adaptation of a classic board game. What matter is that I got to stand next to the original Vigo the Carpathian painting from Ghostbusters 2. Of course, there was also a bit of learning about visual effects from some of the brightest minds in the business, all in celebration of Universal’s big watery explosion known as Battleship.

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Blu-ray Spotlight

Duhnuh…. Duhnuh… Just when you thought it was safe to go out and buy some Blu-rays, here comes another Blu-ray Spotlight with a look at this week’s most prized and wallet-worthy releases. As our own Rob Hunter accurately tagged it on Tuesday, this is a wallet-busting week of new releases. And it all starts with the big guy. The Great White King of all summer blockbusters. The movie that has long been heralded as the first great summer movie. The one that birthed a sun-scorched blockbuster tradition that lives on today. He’s the reason you’ll never see me more than knee-deep in any large body of salt water. You know him as Jaws, and he’s back. With this edition of Blu-ray Spotlight, we take a look at the triumphant return of Jaws as well as one other movie worth adding to your collection. You may have heard of it. It’s a little action film out of Indonesia.

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Blu-ray Spotlight

As many a dedicated FSR reader will note, there has long been a column on this site called This Week in Blu-ray. The operative statement that illuminates the lack of effectiveness in its run is “week,” as it’s never been the most consistent feature we’ve run on this site. So as we do from time to time, we’re going to allow it to evolve into something new. Blu-ray Spotlight, it’s replacement, is a different concept for my coverage of the world of high definition home entertainment. This week, it will look similar to old entries. Reviews of the Blu-ray releases of the day. In coming weeks and months, we’ll expand it a bit to look at Blu-ray technology, news and other topics within the realm of home entertainment. Bigger releases (like the upcoming release of Jaws) will get the more in-depth treatment they deserve and we may even mix in a few giveaways. In the end, it will ultimately still serve the mission of highlighting the best of the world of Blu-ray. So lets get started, shall we? Pick of the Week Full Metal Jacket The Pitch: Stanley Kubrick’s classic Vietnam exploration explodes on its 25th Birthday. As you’ll see below, it was incredibly difficult for me to not place High Fidelity as my Pick of the Week. I love that movie fully and unabashedly. But the release quality of Warner Bros.’ 25th Anniversary Edition of Full Metal Jacket is far too strong. A brand new HD remaster of the film provides beauty, a […]

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Blu-ray Spotlight

Studios are celebrating, and it’s good for business if you’re in the business of collecting Blu-rays. Universal is celebrating their centential with releases of a number of classics, and it recently yielded us a Jaws Blu-ray that’s to die for. The same can be said for this Singin’ in the Rain collector’s edition from Warner Bros. In recent years, WB has put out new editions of Ben-Hur, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, each including more than just the movie. Much more than just the movie. But it’s not just a bevy of special features that makes this release of Singin’ in the Rain so special, it’s the film itself that demands your attention. Vibrant and biting, this Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds led musical is dazzling on Blu-ray. It’s sharp and crisp and bursting with a lively soundtrack that is almost too much for the format to handle. Given the fact that it’s a film from 1952, charting the times of conceited silent film star trying to make his way in the new world of talkies, that’s quite the accomplishment.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Brits running for the glory of the Empire, a fourth helping of Pie, an insanely brilliant racing hero and a few absolute bummers. That’s the company we keep This Week in Blu-ray as we take a look through the likes of American Reunion, The Flowers of War, Cherry Bomb, Spawn and Senna making their Blu debuts. It all begins, of course, with our pick of the week. Chariots of Fire Warner Bros. was able to kill two birds with one remaster this year. Not only are we getting this classic story of faith and fitness in a glorious Blu-ray release, but they’re also giving it a renewed theatrical showing in the UK in honor of the 2012 London Olympics. It’s all perfectly timed, as Chariots does tell the story of two Olympians, a Jewish man who runs to battle prejudice and a devoutly Catholic Scottish man who runs despite his dedication to his faith and its missions. Together, they brought glory to Britain in the 1924 Olympics. The result is a timeless convergence of sportsmanship and cinema showmanship, a well-acted, thoroughly emotional experience at the hand of director Hugh Hudson. The score, most notably the synthesizer heavy opening theme, is the stuff of pop culture legend. It will live on long beyond the memory of those who know where it originates, from the Academy Award winning score of Vangelis. The choice to go 80s synth instead of big, sweeping orchestral work for a triumphant story of national heroism in the 1920s was a bold one, […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

Between this week and last, the world of Blu-ray has been rather quiet. Each week provides its own go-to titles, but it’s not quite the deluge of high definition spirit that we’re seeing at the box office this time of year, there are a few real standouts. It’s our job to sift through the buffet of choices and find said standouts, and that’s what we intend to do with This Week in Blu-ray. We begin this week with one of this author’s favorite films of 2012 thus far… God Bless America The Pitch: One man’s rage over the fall of reason in American pop culture turns into a killing spree with a teen girl sidekick. This is known: Putting a quote from my theatrical review on the back of your Blu-ray packaging will not guarantee you pick of the week status, but it certainly won’t hurt. Purchasers of Bobcat Goldthwait’s excellent tale of a fed up guy (Joel Murray) and his bloodthirsty, pubescent friend (Tara Lynne Barr) will find the following quote on the back cover, accredited to this very site: “It’s a magnetic film that provides 100 minutes of subversive, blood soaked fun.” We do not print lies, friends. This one is highly political, hyper-violent to the point of being militant and above all, hilarious. Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr are a regular Butch and Sundance, if Sundance rocked an a-cup and the gang was out to kill the Kardashians. You won’t want to be the like who […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray we take a trip to Louie’s house for a season worth of awkward moments, we get our Beat Beat moon boots on for some warfare in The FP and we run around with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston before joining a commune that worships the gun work of Paz Vega. It’s another busy week, so bring your wallets. Louie: The Complete Second Season The Pitch: Louis C.K. returns to stand-up, awkward dates and fending off a nervous breakdown. Even though it lost a bit of momentum toward the end of its second season, Louie continues to be one of the simple pleasures that cable television has to offer. In his own Seinfeldian way, C.K. reminds us at every turn that being a divorced 41-year old man is not easy, even if you are a famous comedian with a steady gig. The show is best ingested, if you don’t watch it on FX, in a single marathon of episodes, making the Blu-ray release the preferred delivery method. It’s one of those shows that you’ll just want to keep watching until it’s over. And with only 314 minutes of show in its second season, it’s good for an entire afternoon. Repeat once a week until you’re appropriately satisfied with your own life. It should take only one or two viewings. Extras Highlight: Several episodes of commentary is more than enough, as commentary from Louis C.K. is almost like watching a completely new episode in itself.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Left, right, left we march out of March and into April with another sizzling edition of This Week in Blu-ray. Alright, so that’s not exactly true. Despite finding a number of titles to recommend in this week’s release offering, it’s not exactly a week that’s going to blow your socks off. Which begs the question: why wear socks in the first place if you’re constantly reading Film School Rejects? You know that eventually they’re just going to be blown off anyway. But not today, as you’re about to see. We take a stroll into the world of buying a zoo with Cameron Crowe, we get lost in a great release of Chinatown and we ride the War Horse to yawn-inducing victory. Come along and enjoy the ride. We Bought a Zoo There was a primo opportunity for me to make a ‘We Must Buy This Blu-ray’ joke here, but sadly I’m just not that kind of guy. Our own Jack Giroux love love loved this movie when he reviewed it in December, and it certainly does have its charms. Matt Damon plays a single dad who decides to buy a broken down zoo and nurse it back to health, finding love for family time and Scarlett Johansson along the way. It’s Cameron Crowe, so there’s undeniable sweetness. The one thing the Blu-ray has going in its favor is plenty of special features. From 37 minutes of deleted/extended scenes to a 7 min. gag reel to a 76 minute extensive, well-produced documentary style behind the […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

Tonight! We visit in with some of our favorite whacky Brits as they power through the seventeenth season of one of the greatest reality television programs in the history of time, space and everything else. We explore a historic, beautiful look at cinema’s start through the eyes of contemporary film’s biggest nerd. We watch a 9-foot tall man roundhouse kick an entire country. And we watch Rowan Atkinson continue to spit in the face of reason, churning out more laughs. Also, James May talks to a gurrrl. Top Gear: The Complete Season 17 If you are anything like me, then you’ve never really been much of a gear head or a car freak. That’s okay, we’re simply the kind of people who would rather be in the living room watching a movie than in the garage tinkering around with engine parts. That said, there’s nothing more magnetic to me than the musings of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. This triumvirate odd couple of motorist journalism is the most consistently entertaining group of hosts you’ll find anywhere on TV. Forget about Idol or The Voice, it’s all about these three middle-aged British men and their clear overcompensation issues. The fact that the BBC allows them to smash up expensive cars, light segments of Sweden on fire and hold monumental tributes to the Jaguar E-Type is all just a bonus in the end. Did I mention that they let celebrities drive around in reasonably priced cars? If you’re not giving […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray is back with another big week of releases. This is the time of year when a lot of great fall releases, Oscar contenders new and old, and even a few summer blockbusters going for the double-dip get their more impressive debuts on the mother of all HD formats. This week we get to explore my personal favorite film of 2011, as well as some fantastic re-releases of classic films like To Kill a Mockingbird and Malcolm X. There will also be a discussion of The Thing (2011), albeit a brief one. Drive In recent interviews, director Nicolas Winding Refn has promised fans that a fully loaded edition of Drive would eventually make its way to Blu-ray, with plenty of extras, interviews and other special features. While I, like you, find that to be a nice idea, it’s also hard to overlook the urgency of getting 2011’s best film into my collection as soon as possible. And much to my surprise, this Blu-ray release is solid. Ryan Gosling is still Driver, he’s still driving fast and fighting for the girl, and he’s still punching out Christina Hendricks and stomping dudes flat in elevators in between driving scenes backed by the pulsing score of Cliff Martinez. There’s also some special treats. No, not a toothpick. Although I’d take it. This release comes complete with four featurettes, all worthy of your time, and a documentary-length interview with the film’s director. It’s an efficient package that, like the film to which it’s […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray may be coming to you a few days later than usual, but fear not, as it was worth the wait. Fox and MGM decided to drop a number of great films on me at the last minute, meaning long hours of pouring over special features, drinking heavily and ultimately turning myself into a late-1970s Woody Allen character by the end. It was all worth it, as you’re about to experience 2500 words or so of the most full edition of this column we’ve seen in a long time. Plenty of unsung heroes of 2011, classics of yesteryear and boxing robots to go around. Also, Rob Hunter stops by for some cross-column reviewing with Rebecca. 50/50 In a week that will see the release of a bevy of classics coming to Blu-ray for the very first time, it would be a crime to overlook one of 2011’s most heartfelt works, complete with some ranged performances from the likes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Bryce Dallas Howard. Jonathan Levine (The Wackness), working from a script by Will Reiser based on a true story, tells the tale of Adam, a 27-year old guy who gets diagnosed with spinal cancer. Dealing with his overbearing friends, his smothering mother and a relationship that hangs on the edge, Adam must find a way to not only beat cancer, but all the situational drama it’s caused between him and those he cares about most. It’s funny, touching and full of memorable performances. […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This week provides another interesting round of Blu-ray releases. Just before George Lucas delivers Red Tails, HBO is ready to release the original — and great, if you ask me — Tuskegee Airmen film they produced years ago. But that’s not getting a review this week, as a review copy was not available. Notable as it may be, that original Tuskegee film doesn’t hold a candle to Ryan Gosling’s political career, or Criterion’s take on Steven Soderbergh’s drug trade epic, or even Ed O’Neill duking out with a pretentious kid on the way home for the holidays. It’s an exciting week, despite the fact that we’re clearly caught in the  doldrums of the winter movie season. The Ides of March In its own sneaky way, George Clooney’s high tension political drama stayed under the radar and snuck in late as one of 2011’s best dramas. The Golden Globes took notice, awarding the film four nominations — though it did not take home any awards. The key to the whole thing is Ryan Gosling, in his best performance of a year filled with best performances, as an idealistic campaign staffer who gets caught in some seriously dirty politics. In a world that is most often all talk, it’s his ability to weave a web of words that ultimately leads him through a forest of deception. Clooney delivers as director, assembling one hell of a cast — Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman and himself, to name a few — and keeps the pace with a […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

Hey look, it’s an edition of This Week in Blu-ray. We’d bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? Anyway, it’s back to the grind with plenty of great new Blu-ray releases to talk about. Everything from one of the best shows on television to Brad Pitt revolutionizing the game of baseball to a few releases from previous weeks that we’re sad to have missed. This includes, of course, a release from last week that has us developing a severe case of mysophobia. Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season It has taken HBO something like forever to get their premiere drama out on Blu-ray and DVD, but the story of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and his power struggles at the top of 1920s Atlantic City is more than worth the wait. From an all-star cast led by Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon and Kelly McDonald (alongside Paz de la Huerta’s naked body), Boardwalk is one show that does not fail to keep its audience glued from episode to episode. Which makes it the perfect title for a Blu-ray purchase, as you’ll want to keep watching until you hit the end. And with its beautiful menus, well-designed and sturdy packaging and decent assortment of extras, the Blu-ray set feels right at home in the stylish world of Nucky and friends. It’s the collector’s item that you’ll want to have on your shelf for years to come.

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray we celebrate the post-Black Friday hangover with a very light week. If you didn’t buy The Matrix trilogy for $28 dollars today, you should do that. Then move on to more pertinent matters, including the support of great horror comedies that sat on the proverbial shelf far too long, R-rated comedies about bombs and Werner Herzog’s journey into the depths of human emossshun, courtesy of really old cave drawings. It’s going to be a pretty diverse week, so you might want to keep reading. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil The Pitch: “What are you going to say? I don’t know what happened officer, these college kids just showed up and started killing themselves all over my property.” Why Buy? A few years back, when this unfortunately shelved genre comedy broke onto the scene in the snowy streets of Park City, Utah, I was one of those critics who was brave enough to name it one of my Must See Movies of Sundance 2010. We would later go on to include it in our list of Must See Movies of SXSW 2010. And it might as well have made our list of Must See Movies of SXSW 2011, as it played there, too. This movie spent more than its share of time in festival circuit hell. And now that it’s on Blu-ray, it’s time for folks like me to remind you that it’s one of the funniest, most clever flicks I’ve seen in a long while. And if […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This is the best week of Blu-ray releases of 2011. Mark my words. No seriously, write it into your calendars. Between the breakout geek genre hit of the year, a Blu-ray set 65 million years in the making, a hero we can all believe in, creepy Finnish Santas, some Criterion confusion and Serbians doing terrible, terrible things to each other, this may be the most well-rounded, exciting week of releases we’ve seen in a long time. And it all begins with a must-have Pick of the Week… Attack the Block When Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright got together and decided to make a film about a group of hoodlums who face down an alien invasion, they probably didn’t think of you or me once. They didn’t know that they’d be custom-tailoring a sci-fi comedy for the nerd set that would ignite crowds and become the cult hit of this (and probably a few other years). They couldn’t have known. But they moved forward anyway, with a cast of unknowns and some killer creature designs, creating what could go down as the geek film of 2011. What’s more impressive about this release? Even though I didn’t receive a review copy, I’m making it pick of the week. Usually I’m a big whiney baby, who gets a bunch of review material, only to pick it apart week to week. But this week I’m putting my own money where my mouth is. In a week when competition comes from one of the longest awaited Blu […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

It’s time for another day late edition of This Week in Blu-ray. I might as well just move this column to Wednesday, as I’m so often cramming to get releases from certain studios — who will remain nameless (Fox) — that send out their review material at the absolute last minute. That said, I’m glad they decided to send their releases this week, as they earned a Pick of the Week with one of the best shows on television. Also included in this week’s rundown: we fly into the danger zone, I admit to not hating something that screams Disney Channel, Criterion drops to juicy releases and Hugh Laurie is still so dreamy. All that and more in this week’s saucy selection of high definition accoutrement. Sons of Anarchy: Season Three With the seemingly obvious exception of Breaking Bad, there may be no better drama on television than Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy. Conceived with a great passion for the brotherhood of biker gangs and filled with characters, both main and supporting, that are infinitely engaging, it’s one of the grittiest, gnarliest and often best-acted shows around. In their expansive third season, the boys from Charming go on the hunt for Jax’s kidnapped son, Abel, a tour that leads the crew all the way to Belfast and one hell of an emotional finale. After season two’s finish, it’s hard to believe that a repeat is possible. But when it comes to SAMCRO, anything is possible. As for the Blu-ray earning […]

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This Week in Blu-ray

This Week in Blu-ray we take a late look at some of the best releases from four days ago, and eleven days ago. Okay, so it’s been a boring fortnight in Blu-ray, so were combining two weeks worth of coverage into one shot of high definition adrenaline. In this long list, however, you will find plenty of stuff worth your time and money. This includes a definitive release for The Dude, an adventure with Trolls, some time spent with everyone’s favorite serial killer and a few under-the-radar, direct-to-DVD films that are worth watching at least once. The Big Lebowski For The Dude shall get the release he so deserves. That’s how I would assume it is written in the Book of Lebowski. And that’s what we have here: the Blu-ray release — for the most part — The Dude has deserved all along. Not only is the Coen Brothers’ most popular cult hit presented in crisp, dynamically transferred and near-perfect HD, it is also presented with a few new special features. The packaging isn’t as impressive as the DVD edition I have on my display shelf that comes inside a bowling ball, but I’m willing to look past that for this particular release. It’s a great movie and this is a very good Blu-ray release. There is some HD-exclusive content, including a picture-in-picture commentary track and an interactive pop-up trivia track. It also comes with Digital Copy, because you never know when you might want to bust out Lebowski and […]

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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