Consider this: in a week where the best options include a BBC Christmas special and the story of a runaway train that ain’t never comin’ back, I’ve chosen to spotlight as my pick of the week a Blu-ray release that I haven’t even held in my own hands yet. It’s a rather sad week, indeed. So sad that I felt the need to delay my column by two days with the hope that a copy of Network would magically arrive at my doorstep. It didn’t, but I’m still making the recommendation. Why? Because I’m mad as hell and it’s time to review this week’s selection of Blu-ray releases! That’s why.
We have ourselves a first — a blind pick for the best release of the week. I did not receive a copy of Network to review, but you can be damned certain that I will be picking one up at some point this week. Especially after reading the review from High Def Digest, who praised the transfer and the supplements. I’m mad as hell that I don’t already have this in my collection, and I’m refusing to take it any longer. Please join me in getting up out of your chairs… oh, you get the idea. With a quality transfer, this one is a sure winner.
“There’s no doubt the film is a visceral thrill ride, but it works as well as it does thanks in large part to the care given to the main characters.” I was taken aback when I read this in Rob Hunter’s review of Unstoppable during its theatrical release. Our own resident cynic was slinging such positive praise at the 480th runaway train movie to hit the market in the modern era? And it’s a Tony Scott movie? I had to see this. Fast forward to this week’s Blu-ray take and I have now seen it. It leaves me with a feeling that Rob was right. It’s simple, well-acted and full of blistering practical stunt work. That’s my kind of movie. It looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, as well. Cap it all off with a solid smattering of extras on the Blu release and you’ve got yourself a welcome diversion in a week full of otherwise uninteresting choices.
Top Gear: The Complete Season 14
Fans of this show will enjoy the care taken in releasing its 14th season on Blu-ray.
Top Gear: The Complete Season 15
Again, for the fans. Completely awesome.
Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol
Full disclosure: I am a Doctor Who completist these days, so I am buying this one. The first Christmas special for the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith is a tasteful and traditional tale with all of the Who quirk that you can squeeze into a single holiday season. And while you might not have much Christmas spirit left (I know I don’t), these specials are always important because they include connection points to past and future seasons. The nice part is that this one also stands tall on its own, once again proving that Matt Smith is at his best any time he is wielding a Sonic Screwdriver. A complimentary performance comes from Michael Gambon. And because it’s hard to pass up anything that includes Michael Gambon, I will keep this short. If you’re a fan of The Doctor, this is easily a must-watch. The two stray supplements on the disc keep it from being a must-own. That is, unless you are a desperate completist like yours truly.
Had I not recently picked up the anniversary edition of Robert Downey Jr.’s career-changing film, I might not have been so disappointed with what would come to pass as the Blu-ray release. Sure, the film still looks great and RDJ is still at the top of the game he had before he was a major drug addict, but there’s nothing by way of effort in this Lionsgate release. The special features can be found on any previous DVD incarnation and even the presentation is boring. It’s as if someone was rambling through the archives one day and happened upon a copy of the DVD. And instead of going back to the beginning and mastering a Blu-ray experience, they decided simply to throw it into a blue case and try to pass it off as a quality BD release. It’s a quality rental — especially if you’ve never seen the flick — but nothing more.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
In my quest to see one, but only one Woody Allen movie per year, I have already made my quota. That means that I can now skip the 4 other films he will likely direct before the end of this year. With this mediocre storytelling effort and brilliant cast, you might meet a movie worth seeing once.
Game of Death
With apologies to Wesley Snipes, his days as an action superstar are more than over.