As I type up this week’s Blu-ray bonanza, I have a clear view of a beautiful mountain range that surrounds Park City, Utah. It is Sundance week, and I’m ready to brave the cold and discover some wicked new indies — the next 500 Days of Summer, or perhaps something better. Maybe not, but perhaps. But first, there is work to be done. This week we’ve got a bunch of movies that didn’t really play at Sundance — including Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball. Yes, I reviewed that movie. And yes, it isn’t in the avoid section. Please try to contain your anger until the plane has come to a complete stop, then unleash yourself in the comment section below. Go ahead, I dare you.
As you’ll notice, I’ve also enlisted the help of one Robert Fure for This Week in Blu-ray. He reviewed both Weeds and Gamer for me.
Weeds: Season Five
This is a buy for fans of the series. If you haven’t seen Weeds, obviously start at the beginning. But anyone vested in the show would be wise to pick up Season Five on Blu-ray. In addition to being a clever show with a couple of MILFs and a way to make Alanis Morrisette look hot as hell, the disc comes with a bunch of nice surprises in the extras. Though they aren’t Blu-ray exclusive, so DVD users can get them too, the discs come with commentaries, bloopers, some featurettes on weed, and some backstage stuff. If you’re among those who think Seasons Four and Five are right up there with the rest, there’s no reason not to put this in the buy column. - Robert Fure
Another really good movie gets a painfully mediocre Blu-ray release. Why do these things not surprise me anymore? Because it happens all too often. Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie is a wonder — it has everything. From Tom Cruise telling you how to tame the vagina to the frog shower. It’s a great example of how to tell a weaved narrative with many different storylines, as opposed to that not-so-great film that won Best Picture in 2004. The Blu-ray release, however, is just another wash. The transfer is fine, but it lacks anything inspired in the special feature selection. I’m happy to have this in my collection, but was hoping for something better.
No Blu-ray exclusive features are listed for this title.
Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball
The highly energetic sequel to Joe Carnahan’s manic shoot ‘em up isn’t much to shake a stick at, in so much as it accomplishes much shooting and little plotting. But it does give us a few things worth seeing. Energy, check. Martha Higareda in several situations that involve undergarments, check. And ending that absolutely blew my goddamn mind. That last part I didn’t see coming. The film is spastic, Tom Berenger is weird and old, and much of the story makes little sense. But I will be damned if I didn’t have some fun. And did I mention the ending? Worth a rent, if you ask me. Which you are, by way of reading this column.
Blu-ray special features include BD-Live, PocketBlu, My Scenes and D-Box enhancements (which may actually be good for this flick.
My heart isn’t in it this week. Not enough to get excited about seeing Smokin’ Aces again on Blu-ray. They’ve beefed up special features with U-Control functionality (including the sort of neat ‘Assassin Tracker’) and BD-Live, but they couldn’t make the movie better than average. Joe Carnahan made a mildly offensive, mostly manic and somewhat exciting film about a bunch of sexy people trying to kill Ari from Entourage, on coke. This is that same movie, in HD — just as you remember it from the big screen.
Blu-ray exclusives include BD-Live and U-Control.
The Invention of Lying
The week of mediocre movies being released on Blu-ray continues. Ricky Gervais is a mad, mad, mad good comedian. But for some reason, his work does not translate quite so well to American audiences. However, our own Robert Levin said that it “demonstrates an ingrained classical sense of the proper mixture of heart and humor to be put in a story that earns its positive vibes.” That has to count for something, right? The Blu-ray is an average creation, with Digital Copy as its claim to Blu-ray exclusivity. I yawn at you, Warner Bros. But your movie wasn’t all that bad (despite the fact that it didn’t do well at the box office). You get a rent, I get to move on.
Even our own resident guy who likes movies that aren’t that good, Kevin Carr, didn’t like this movie. Since then, I’ve heard moderate grumblings about it. To my own credit, I’ve managed to miss is several times — including not yet having a chance to catch it on Blu-ray. I will say this: the disc itself is void of Blu-ray exclusive special features. That doesn’t speak well to you being able to buy this and maintain a clear conscience. It’s a rent, at best.
No Blu-ray exclusive special features are listed for this title.
The Bourne Trilogy (Flip Discs)
Universal is testing our patience with these flip discs. Sure, since I bought that big Bourne Blu-ray box set a year or so ago, they’ve added BD-Live to these two-sided BD/DVD hybrid discs, but that just isn’t enough. If you’re someone who’s been itching to buy these movies on Blu-ray and you didn’t know that the box set already existed, go for it. Otherwise, if you feel the need to buy these flippers and own the box set, please hit yourself in the head with a hammer. Hard.
Blu-ray exclusives include BD-Live and U-Control.
If you’re a fan of Neveldine/Taylor, you might want to go ahead and buy this. It has some good extras. If you’re a fan of good movies, you’ll want to avoid it. The dreary duo hit us with more of the same this time around as Gerald Butler makes manly faces in between fast cuts, random close-ups, and meaningless explosions. It’s a shame, as there is a brilliant idea here called The Running Man but with more guns. Gamer is content to take the low road, flash some boobs and blood, and never go beyond the shallow end of the plot or commentary pool. There’s little to commend here in terms of story, or even enjoyable action, as Neveldine/Taylor prove to be directors who lack direction. For insight into their brilliance (for fanboys) or a look at their madhatter approach to filming, the making of featurette is worth a watch. – Robert Fure
Blu-ray exclusives include I-Con mode, Gamer Cheat Codes, a Never-Before-Scene Theatrical trailer,Lionsgate Live, and a D-Box MetaData track.