A week after this column exploded with over 2,000 words on some 15+ releases, we get some downtime. It’s difficult to say whether it’s the slim pickings on the release schedule or the fact that there were several titles that weren’t received for review (shame on you, studios who didn’t want your product reviewed), but this week is wash of four releases. Yes, I will be reviewing four Blu-rays this week. And though it breaks my heart to offer you such measly morsels in This Week in Blu-ray, I must press on. Because I know that there are a few titles worth looking at in this week’s selection. And because I know what’s coming next week — and you’re not going to want to miss that.
All of my selections for the week are below. Click any of the links to support this column and buy your DVDs and Blu-rays at Amazon. This column paid for by readers like you.
It’s not just about Carey Mulligan. In fairness, it is absolutely about the performance of young Carey Mulligan, who bursts out in this film tears through it with her endless grace and charm. The rest of the movie around her — in which she plays a young school girl who meets a much older man (Peter Sarsgaard) and yearns for a life full of excitement, rather than one of dedication to studies — is great as well. Lone Scherfig’s film is stylish and well-paced, and incredibly well-cast. It’s one very deserving Best Picture nominees, and a movie you should own. It’s also quite stunning visually, which makes all the more reason to get it on Blu-ray. This stunning visual nature of the film makes up for this release’s less than impressive special features. No high def. exclusive features, but there is an interesting commentary track with Scherfig, Mulligan and Sarsgaard. There is also a making-of featurette, a featurette about the red carpet (boring) and deleted scenes, but only a few. It’s a tough buy recommendation with a set of extras like that, but I’m doing it anyway. The movie is just too good to ignore.
A quick screening here at Reject HQ on Blu-ray yielded a less than enthusiastic response from our managing editor Cole Abaius, who had not seen the film until I cracked open the Blu-ray case this past weekend. But for me, it was the affirmation upon second viewing that Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes was a lot of fun. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have great chemistry, the film has that classic Ritchie energy and the delivery is clever enough. In high definition, the film is still dark and dirty, but also very sharp and expertly detailed. Even the CGI — which is for the most part, rather silly — looks good. The most impressive thing about the HD experience though, is the score. Hans Zimmer’s score booms in DTS-HD surround, injecting the film with purpose and passion to match the wit and silliness of Downey’s Holmes. As for special features, we get WB’s Maximum Movie Mode, of which I’m a fan. It’s picture-in-picture commentary with a twist. If you’re going to include one Blu-ray feature other than BD-Live (which they did), Maximum Movie Mode certainly isn’t a bad one. This one is great for anyone with a solid sound system and/or anyone who is looking for an enjoyable 2-hour romp through old London town.
I Sell the Dead
I’ve long been a fan of Dominic Monaghan. He was great in Lord of the Rings and as Charlie on Lost, giving every role he’s ever encountered a much-appreciated sense of levity. So it fits that he’s carrying the load in this little gem of a horror comedy. He plays a man who’s been caught grave-robbing and is facing execution. Now he must tell his story to a strange priest, played by Ron Perlman. His story, coincidentally, not only involves grave robbing, but also zombies and vampires and other things that go bump in the English countryside. It’s a fun film with more scares than laughs, but scares nonetheless. Worth a rent for a dark Saturday night viewing, unless you have other plans. On Blu-ray, the film’s excellent cinematography shines and the special features are passable. Like I said, worth a rental if you’re looking for something fun (and bloody) to discover.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
I’m not an ageist. I know that certain films are made for little kids, some are made for screaming teen girls and others are made for the demographic in which I reside. But intended audience is not a crutch. Just because you’re making a movie for little kids, doesn’t give you an excuse to make an awful movie. Nor does it give you license to make a dumb movie. That’s exactly what we have with the Alvin and the Chipmunks “Squeakquel.” There’s nil clever about it, and it makes me want to cry. Sure, the special features are off the charts and they’re tailor-made for anyone who enjoyed this film. But people, the film is void of any intelligence and/or artistic merit. Sure, it’s made for kids — but it shouldn’t play like it was made by kids.
Also out on Blu-ray this week, but not reviewed due to lack of available review material:
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