It has become quite obvious that there is nothing you need more in your life than This Week in Blu-ray. Over the past few weeks I have received email upon email, pleading with me to get my Blu-ray purchase picks up on the site — many of you require my guidance before laying down your hard earned, recession-busting dollars at your local retailer. Well fear not, my sheep, as I am back to shepherd you to the promise land — the land of high resolution picture, Dolby 5.1 HD sound and more special features than you can shake your walking cane at.
This week I bring you may highlights from this week’s releases, along with a few must-haves from the past few weeks.
Pitch: After beating a video game on Earth, twenty-something Alex is called upon to join the Star League and save the galaxy with his awesome skills.
Why Buy? Yes, this is one of the first movies to ever use CGI for an entire battle sequence. And yes, the dialog and story scream 80s material. But when you watch The Last Starfighter on Blu-ray for the first time, the quality of the digital transfer and the nostalgia factor take over — and almost instantly, you forget that this movie was made in 1984. As someone who knows movies and the people who watch them, I am almost certain that each and every one of you has someone near you who hasn’t seen this film. Whether it be a youngling or a friend who just missed all of the 1980s, there is someone. You’d be remiss if you didn’t pick this up in stunning HD and share it — you know it’s a classic. And even though the BD-Exclusive features are limited, the 25th Anniversary edition has plenty of behind the scenes. Oh, the 80s, you had me at ‘play video games, save the world.’
Blu-ray Exclusives? One of three featurettes are in HD, but beyond that it is limited on exclusives.
Pitch: A biker gang in central California defends its turf — by being badass to the bone.
Why Buy? When this show hit F/X late last year, I believe I called it the best new show on TV. And even in a month when the final season of Battlestar Galactica hits DVD, this is still easily the best new show on DVD as well. Follow the sexy, brutal escapades of Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and the rest of the ‘Sons’ as they run guns, ride big hogs and bring in some beat downs. And do it on Blu-ray, damn you. This show features an awesome ensemble cast, a surprisingly talented writing team and enough grit to have you picking it out of your various orifices. The only disappointment here is the special feature selection, which is mediocre at best. Three basic featurettes are shared with the DVD release, as are the deleted scenes. But that won’t stop me from recommending this set. It could be bare-bones and the show’s good enough to be worth it.
Blu-ray Exclusives? None.
Pitch: Paul Rudd is about to get married to the girl of his dreams. Now all he needs is a best man. Enter Jason Segel.
Why Buy? It seems to be unnecessarily rare that not only is a movie good, but its Blu-ray release also brings the heat. In the case of I Love You, Man we have a very funny film led by Paul Rudd, Jason Segel and an awesome cameo from Iron Man director Jon Favreau. It is a comedy about relationships that never takes itself too seriously, but remains both restrained and inventive — something that isn’t easily done these days. And on Blu-ray, it is a great release. Tons of behind the scenes footage, as well as more outtakes and deleted scenes than you think you need. Only, you need them. Trust me.
Blu-ray Exclusives? All featurettes are in HD, but beyond that it is limited on exclusives.
Pitch: She’s the perfect girl for any occasion, and now she’s doing badass stuff in HD.
Why Buy? This Joss Whedon led show has been the topic of geek conversation for quite some time now, has it not. It made a splash on Fox and even got picked up for a second season, giving all those heavy Whedon fans something to cheer for. Another thing they can get excited about: an extra episode (“Epitaph One”) and a few really interesting behind the scenes production featurettes on the Blu-ray release. Also, Joss Whedon commentary! I’m not even sure why that excites me so, but it does. Plain and simple: this set is ripe for the pickin’.
Blu-ray Exclusives? Nothing more than HD special features and crisp, sexy picture quality.
Pitch: One of the greatest sci-fi series of all-time comes to a close in glorious HD.
Why Rent? There is a part of me that wants to say something along the lines of “if you don’t know why you need Battlestar Galactica on Blu-ray, you just don’t get it.” And I suppose that’s true, in more than just a dickish way. By now, you’ve either gotten on the BSG bandwagon or you are still waiting to get started. If you haven’t started yet, go back to season one and get moving. If you are already on the BSG bandwagon, you know what to do. And you know that you should be doing it on Blu-ray.
Blu-ray Exclusives? U-Control features are very cool, BD-Live is still not doing anything for me, and the My Scenes feature which allows you to track your favorite frakking scenes.
Pitch: Miley Cyrus stars in the movie you’ve all been waiting for…
Why Buy? Bare with me on this one. And no, that’s not a joke abut Miley Cyrus. She’s underage, that’s gross. The joke this week is on all of us who aren’t fans of Miley (which for most of our readership is probably a good thing based on local and state laws). Disney has packed this Blu-ray release with special features, enough to keep any Hannah Montana fan locked to their HDTV screen for hours and hours and hours. It even has a BD-Exclusive ‘Hoedown Throwdown Dance-Along’ feature that allows you to learn the moves right alongside Miley! No, I didn’t learn them, but I’d be willing to bet that there are millions of little Miley-ites out there who are going to eat that up while robbing daddy of his HD NFL Football action. I’m not ashamed to say it, but Disney and Hannah Montana win this week’s best special features award, if for no other reason than pure volume.
Blu-ray Exclusives? Two ‘learn to dance’ features that are engaging, if you’re a teen girl.
Pitch: The critically acclaimed story of a French teacher and a class of racially mixed students from the tough hoods of Paris.
Why Buy? Based on the immense buzz surrounding this film, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, I’m recommending The Class blind. I have not seen it yet, but I will be picking it up soon. From what I hear, it’s one of those special movies that come along in rare instances, and on Blu-ray it sports a bunch of great, engaging special features. Thus, I’m making the jump. Who’s with me?
Blu-ray Exclusives? There are two extended ‘actors workshop’ featurettes on the disc that aren’t with the DVD release, but sadly they are both in standard definition.
Pitch: A girl gets brutally raped. Her parents exact revenge. That last part is fun to watch.
Why Rent? “Darker and more brutal than to be expected from a studio film, sweeter and funnier (not a laugh riot, but a couple funny lines) than any rape/revenge movie should be, populated by solid characters brought to life by some fantastic performances, some deliriously squirm-inducing violence and gore, and the best balls-to-the-wall piece of cathartic cinema in years.” Our own Rob Hunter said that, and he’s right. It’s much better than it should be. The only thing holding this release back is DVD extras. Someone should tell Universal that we can’t live on Digital Copy alone. There is one ‘look inside’ featurette and a few deleted scenes, but beyond that all we get is the Unrated cut of the film — which I am sad to report doesn’t add much by my count.
Blu-ray Exclusives? None.
Pitch: Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx try to figure out how a blind man can be such a great musician.
Why Rent? It’s a solid drama with two quality actors who deliver solid performances. Beyond that, I can’t see much of a reason to extend this beyond the ‘rent’ category. The Blu-ray release is strangely lacking in the special features department, with a single behind the scenes featurette and only a few deleted scenes to its credit. Director Joe Wright provides a relatively generic commentary track and the disc is without any additional BD-Live functionality. Not that I’m complaining, BD-Live is yet to impress me. What would impress me is if this disc had anything but a solid movie on it.
Blu-ray Exclusives? None.
Pitch: The Rock and Carla Gugino escort alien kids to a mountain… in HD.
Why Rent? While I’m usually a big fan of Disney releases — because lets face it, they always put effort into their Blu-ray titles — this release is getting the pass based on its moderate amount of special features. To its credit, Witch Mountain does have a Blu-ray exclusive feature called “Which Mountain?” It is a track that points out all of the references to the original film. All that did was have me wanting to watch the original and send this one back. Sadly, I didn’t get my copy from Blockbuster. I’m stuck with it.
Blu-ray Exclusives? One BD-Exclusive feature (described above) that is cool, but nothing beyond that.
Pitch: It’s packed with Zac!!
Why Avoid? Oh, the things I do to keep myself in good standing with movie studios — like review movies such as 17 Again. Sadly for Warner Bros., reviewing a film doesn’t mean that I have to like it. It just means that I have to write about it. And what is there to say about a half-hearted attempt at gender-flipping Freaky Friday and playing off of my heart strings for young Tom Hanks in Big? Well, for one, Zac Efron isn’t a bad actor — in fact, he has his moments — he just needs to pick better projects. The same can be said for Thomas Lennon and Leslie Mann, who also show up in this wretched waste of time. Matthew Perry on the other hand, well, it’s good to see him working. Sadly, this Blu-ray release has the best BD-Exclusive special features, including several featurettes and a “Tell-All Trivia Track” for Zefron fans of all ages. It saddens me a little, but should be very exciting for the Efron fans of the world. This disc is quite literally packed with Zac, and I suppose that’s better than the Jonas Brothers.
Blu-ray Exclusives? A very solid selection, including an assortment of BD-Live content and a bunch of HD featurettes. Not a bad value, if you’re really, really into Zac Efron.
Pitch: A young warrior sets out on an epic journey to harness the power of dragonballs…
Why Avoid? First Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, now this. Haven’t we had enough of poorly scripted, under-funded and badly acted adaptations of beloved manga and video game properties? Despite of bevy of special features, Dragonball: Evolution just isn’t a good enough film to earn my recommendation. It features some so-so special effects and a story that put me asleep during the opening credits. Even more annoying than that — a criminal lack of Emmy Rossum in tight clothes. Come on director James Wong, you know you can do better for the kids at home. I would only recommend this one if you’re a big fan already and you’re a special features hound, as there are quite a few featurettes on the disc. None of them, in my eyes, make u for the quality (or lack thereof) of this film.
Blu-ray Exclusives? None.
Pitch: Lindsay Lohan fakes a pregnancy in glorious hi-def.
Why Avoid? Admittedly there might be a few fans out there, but for all intents and purposes, it belongs on the ABC Family network. Which is why it premiered on ABC Family. This is the kind of averagely-written, averagely-acted movie that most normal people would watch and forget about instantly, but the trick Labor Pains has up its sleeve is that the premise is so ri-goddamned-diculous that it stays with you. Unfortunately, it stays with you like the aftertaste of an onion and old sock sandwich. It’s hard to be too mad at this movie, though, because it’s just appallingly mediocre. Plus, it sees fit to get Lohan in her underwear several times with little more pretense than they figured the audience would want to see it.
Blu-ray Exclusives? Not even the regular special features are in HD.
What are you buying on Blu-ray this week?