Like Vanilla Ice, I’m back again with new smooth sounds for This Week in Blu-ray. Only a few days late this week, so it would appear as if things are improving. Lucky for all of us, this week’s Blu-ray selection is all over the map — mostly on the South side where titles go to be rented or avoided, so I’m not too worried about it. However, if you’re a fan of average films in above average resolutions, this week’s selection is for you.
Pitch: An Israeli film director interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories of his term of service in that conflict.
Why Buy? One of the most visually stunning and inventive films of last year, Waltz with Bashir seems to be an obvious choice this week. This is what the Blu-ray format is really for, showing off brilliant films in your home in the best possible resolution. It is not only a beautiful, but a touching film as well. It’s a creative hybrid documentary and animated film, Waltz tells a harrowing story of the invation of Lebanon in a way that is not only interesting, but at times entertaining. On Blu-ray, it is assisted by a beautiful transfer and some awesome special features as well. And even though Blu-ray exclusive features are sparse, the entire package works quite well.
Blu-ray Exclusives? BD-Live is the only real Blu-ray exclusives.
Pitch: Inspector Clouseau joins a ‘dream team’ of inspectors tasked to find the diabolical thief known as The Tornado, in HD.
Why Rent? For such a painstakingly average film, the second Pink Panther film does get quite a few laughs. Most of its success can be attributed to the film’s wonderful cast, including the likes of Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina and John Cleese. A cast like this can’t help but get some laughs, even when they’re being absurd. Speaking of absurdity, Steve Martin is at the height of absurdity (and comical racism), while co-star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is at the height of hotness. It all makes the movie worth watching. A side note: As someone who is a huge fan of CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, I must say that her cameo alone had me sticking with this film for the entirety of its runtime. That, and Steve Martin still gets laughs. Did I mention that?
Blu-ray Exclusives? Want to know how much fun it is make a silly movie like this? Check out the sick amount of special features on this 2-disc set. Of course, the real gem here is the second disc, which includes 27 classic Pink Panther cartoons. They’re not in high definition, nor are they exclusive, but they make this release worth buying.
Pitch: Brendan Fraser and a miscellaneous child go on a literary adventure, in HD.
Why Rent? This week’s selection of painfully mediocre movies continues with this better than average (but not by much) family adventure. It features a really great cast, including Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, Jim Broadbent and Paul Bettany. It’s all anchored by Brendan Fraser, who is exactly what you would expect he might be in such a film. It has inventive moments and will entertain the kids, making it prime for a rental. As a Blu-ray, this release does feature both Blu-ray and regular DVD versions of the film, something that is great if you’re a family film collector. It also has a ton of special features, all of which are in HD. Overall, its not the best release you’ll see all year, but definitely one worth checking out with the kids.
Blu-ray Exclusives? The only ‘exclusive’ Blu-ray feature is BD-Live, which Warner Bros. doesn’t exactly do well (their user interface is clunky and not friendly at all), but the film does look nice in HD.
Pitch: Isla Fischer goes shopping, in HD.
Why Rent? The intense mediocrity continues this week as the hot, funny girl from Wedding Crashers comes in with her own little comedy. In his review of the film’s theatrical release, Kevin Carr said that “Fisher makes this movie work, and she’s proving herself as an adorable screen presence, likely to be the next Reese Witherspoon. Fisher’s goofy attitude makes the fluffy story bearable, and her knack for comedy works, at least in the first part of the film.” And I would concur, she’s a funny gal. Which is what makes this worth a spot on your Netflix queue. As well, of all the Blu-ray releases this week, this one actually has the best special feature selection. It’s not the most interesting stuff, but at least they put in the effort to make the Blu-ray solid for those who like the film and want to pick it up. And if you’re into light, funny romantic comedy fair, this is at least worth a rental.
Blu-ray Exclusives? Some good stuff — an extra behind the scenes featurette, and two special music videos from Jordyn Taylor and Trey Songz.
Pitch: Shia LaBeouf can act, and play golf in the 1800s, in HD.
Why Rent? A highly underrated film, The Greatest Game Ever Played will have you forgetting about Shia LaBeouf’s most recent conquests and hearkening back to a time when the kid could just plain act. In this film — one of the better golf movies in the modern era (post-Caddyshack), LaBeouf plays Francis Ouimett, an amateur golfer from the working class section of Boston who uses his natural talent to compete with the world’s greatest golfer, a Brit named Harry Vardon (Stephane Dillane). It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill heartwarmer, but the performances and the way that director Bill Paxton inventively executes some of the actual golf scenes make it an above average sports hero tale.
Blu-ray Exclusives? Sadly none, which is why this isn’t in the buy section. If you haven’t seen it, rent it on Blu-ray. If you have seen it, I’d give it a pass.
Pitch: Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas steal some Faberge eggs, in HD.
Why Avoid? My how director Mimi Leder (Deep Impact) has fallen. Ok, so maybe the drop from the height of making the second biggest asteroid destruction film of 1998, but hey, at least she’s still working with Morgan Freeman. This time Freeman is a high-class art thief who teams up with a rival thief (Banderas) to steal some Faberge eggs. It’s a movie that’s full of deceit, intrigue, bad dialogue and zzzz… That’s about as far as I got. There’s a reason why these things go straight to DVD — and it isn’t because they’re ‘too hot’ for the big screen. Sadly, even this wannabe actioner can’t deliver enough bullets in the end to keep its minuscule audience focused, leaving us wondering why they even spent the money to go Blu-ray in the first place.
Blu-ray Exclusives? No Blu-ray exclusive special features.. except the packaging, it’s blue.
Pitch: An animated adventure that involves a little girl tagging along with some serious dragon hunters, in HD.
Why Avoid? While this movie has a few really cool CGI moments, at times it falls somewhere in with the best of computer animation from 1998 — like the absolute best, but of 1998. There are a lot of CGI movies these days in which we are able to get lost in the animation, no matter how far away from reality it may be. Think Shrek or anything from the Pixar library. Where Dragon Hunters falls short is in execution of story, making it a completely digestible and forgettable release. Adding to the temporarily impressive, but completely dismissible nature of the film itself is the minimal special feature selection. We get one interview with star Forest Whitaker, which only takes up about 4 minutes of your day, another featurette about the animation and a BonusView storyboard presentation. The storyboards would’ve been way cooler, if this film had more interesting story.
Blu-ray Exclusives? The BonusView is cool, but again, I never got interested enough in the story to have a need for it.
What do you think of the new format for This Week in Blu-ray? Also, what are you buying this week?