This Week in Blu-rayNow that Christmas is over, those of you who partake in the getting of gifts from relatively clueless relatives may have emerged victorious with gift cards to delightfully under-stocked retail stores. What will you do with said gift cards? Will you buy something to put into that shiny new Blu-ray player you also received from Santa (I know you still believe!)?  Unfortunately for many of you, this week’s round of Blu-ray releases isn’t quite as fruitful as one would hope for the week after the big holiday. But I’m sure if you come along with me on a little journey, you might find something worthy of your time and magnetically-striped money.

Merantau

This little gem from Indonesia you might recognize from my list of the ten best films of 2010. Yes, it’s the same film. And yes, it is good enough to make my top ten. So almost by default, it earns a spot in the buy column of this week’s Blu-ray report. With copious amounts of ass-kicking goodness and a charismatic lead performance from Iko Uwais, Merantau is a solid choice this week, as its one of the best martial arts movies I’ve seen in a long while. And as you may know, I’ve got a little thing for martial arts movies. The Blu-ray is short on extras, but Gareth Evans’ film looks and sounds great as it demands to be played loudly. Do yourself a favor and crank it to 11. Don’t worry about the neighbors, they’ll get over it.

The American

Meticulous is the word best used to describe the work of Anton Corbjin with The American, the George Clooney-led thriller about an assassin trying to make it through one last job before he leaves a life of killing behind him. While most “one more job” films fall victim to cliches like “constant action” or “car chases,” Corbjin’s film needs not these things. It needs a methodical, steely performance from George Clooney, the beauty of Italy and timing. And while it’s a slow, slow burn, it works very well. On Blu-ray, should you desire to explore further, The American comes with a wealth of extras, though most of them are shared with the DVD release. The recommendation here is to see it on Blu-ray, but don’t spend your money blindly.

Battlestar Galactica: Razor

This one goes out to my fellow BSG lovers — after seeing the entire universe of Battlestar properties come and go on Blu-ray, Universal has finally released Razor. This should complete your collection nicely, if you don’t already have it. It’s got a series of U-Control extras that are fun and surprisingly in-depth with the trivia (it’s a vast, rich world, that of BSG) and it has plenty of extras carried over from the DVD release. Now, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, steer clear (at least for now). Razor is not a stand-alone property. It’s narrative runs parallel with the second and third seasons of Battlestar Galactica. If you go in fresh, the odds of you getting lost are about as high as the odds of Lee Adama’s chances of needed an oversized belt aboard the Pegasus (Nerd giggle.)

And Soon the Darkness

And not soon enough… the credits. It takes a lot of talent to go from promising to mundane to completely ridiculous to outright stupid over the course of only 91 minutes, but this film accomplishes all of that in spades. It begins with Odette Yustman and Amber Heard scantily clad and flirty, it morphs into an abduction thriller that forgets to sprinkle in a little element called suspense, and eventually transforms into the usually bland straight-to-DVD fare with an ending that you’ll see coming from a mile away. It’s all in the setup, is the advice I’d give to the filmmakers if I had a time machine and could go back and right the wrongs of this Anchor Bay release. Then again, if I had a time machine I’d probably use it for something more useful — like going back to the mid-90s to kill George Lucas, or something.

All of those delightful releases that I did not have a chance to review this week. Though I am curious to check out that latest Resident Evil flick — I’ve been guilty of liking its predecessors.

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