This Week in Blu-ray, I’m late. Only a day, but late nonetheless. I suppose it has something to do with Kick-Ass Week here on FSR, but that’s no excuse. You need your fill of what’s happening in the ultra-crisp world of high definition home entertainment. Luckily this week is a slow week, with very few titles that have been deemed worthy of your attention. Even though it’s a light week, we still do get some movies worth buying — like Apollo 13, a movie I’ve been waiting to own on Blu-ray for a while — and a few worth renting — like the latest entry from the guys at Broken Lizard. And I throw in one late arrival from last week…
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It always pains me to see great movies get lackluster Blu-ray releases, as if the studio rushed through them just to get them out, worrying about special features and presentation later in a ‘special edition.’ On the flip side, it’s nice to see a release like Apollo 13 that not only looks and sounds great — James Horner’s score has never sounded so good in a home setting — it also features some pretty cool Blu-ray exclusive special features. Universal has included U-Control, which features an interactive guide through the Apollo space missions that pops up while you’re watching the movie. It also shows little in-movie vignettes about some of the science and technology of the time. In addition to this, you also get the full assortment of special features from previous DVD releases, including the mini-doc “Lucky 13: The Astronauts’ Story” and a commentary track featuring Ron Howard, Jim Lovell and Marilyn Lovell. For a space geek like me, this release is a delight.
Some would tell you that the guys at Broken Lizard have fallen off since the success of Super Troopers. I would argue that they’re just as good now as they’ve ever been, it’s just that Super Troopers is hard to top. And while they don’t exactly deliver their funniest movie to date, The Slammin’ Salmon is certainly an absurd reminder as to why Broken Lizard was great in the first place. With an inspired performance from Michael Clarke Duncan as a former boxer turned sea food restaurant owner, Salmon is the world of food service, as seen through the twisted lens of Broken Lizard. The only reason it ended up in the rent column is the special features selection — two commentary tracks (which are great) and one behind the scenes featurette. That’s just not enough to push this one over the edge. The movie is good — nay, worth your time — but the Blu-ray is just okay.
For audiences in the United States, it may not have been easy to catch Richard Curtis’ latest film — the highly energetic and well-acted comedy Pirate Radio – as it was saddled by a limited release. It deserved more, but sadly didn’t get it. However, with it coming to Blu-ray you finally have a chance to see it for your self. With an excellent cast, a sweet soundtrack and all of the wit that has made Curtis’ films such a joy in the past, it’s one of those very easily enjoyable movies that should be part of your weekend plans. On Blu-ray, it features a very standard set of extras — including a few Blu-ray only featurettes, BD-Live and that strange iPhone app ‘PocketBlu’ — but its the movie that is the draw here. Do yourself a favor and give it a shot.
Movies from the 1980s are always so hit-or-miss on Blu-ray. If the transfer is done poorly, it looks like polished VHS. If the transfer is done well, it looks like VHS. A Nightmare on Elm Street in high definition looks like VHS, for the most part. It’s also a wonderful reminder that sleeping is for the weak and the soon to be dead. As a child of the 80s, I was scared shitless be Freddy Krueger then, and I’m scared shitless of him now. This Blu-ray is not helping. It is a nice warm-up for the release of Warner Bros. upcoming remake, which I’m told isn’t quite as funny. This one still brings the laughs. Now that I’m older and more stable, I was able to keep my eyes open for both the funny and scary parts. It was hard, but I made it work. The special features are solid, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Buy it if you’re a fan, rent it if you’re anyone else.
Wolfgang Peterson has done worse. Not much worse, but worse nonetheless. It’s sad really, that I didn’t receive this Blu-ray until after last week’s column was already written. That last entry of TWiBD could have used a bit of spice. Spice in the sense that I would rather pour loads of pepper and salt on this thing and cook it in a fire in the backyard than watch it. It’s a mostly tolerable disaster movie made worse by a long list of B-level actors doing their best to look like they didn’t do it all for a paycheck. Sorry Richard Dreyfus, you’re getting lumped in here, too. You must sleep in the bed you make. On top of containing a disastrous (pun intended) movie, the Blu-ray is stocked with a limited supply of extras. None are new. It’s almost as if Warner Bros. knew it wouldn’t matter. You can put lipstick on a pig… or something like that.
Also out on Blu-ray this week, but not reviewed due to a lack of available review material: