It’s always a sad week here on This Week in Blu-ray when I can’t even put together a full column because review material isn’t available. Then again, while I would have loved to dig into the releases of Stagecoach or Seven Swords, I have a feeling those of you with interest will already be renting those titles. I know I will be adding them to my Netflix queue. That said, there are a few truly worthy releases this week, including a beloved internet sensation and a movie that was breaking down barriers long before the internet generation began thinking it was cool. There is also one of the most interesting, if not overlooked movies of last year, and a movie that should have been eyed for deletion before cameras even rolled. All of this and more as we run through this week’s Blu-ray release selection, using our Freeze-ray to stop… the world.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
The release of Dr. Horrible on Blu-ray comes some time after it was released on DVD, this is true. But real fans won’t mind, as this web series turned culture explosion starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day looks great in high definition. And if you’re like me, you probably forgot to buy it when it hit DVD anyway, so Blu-ray is the way to go. On the special features front is Commentary! The Musical, perhaps the most inventive commentary track in the history of anything. The cast and filmmakers sing their thoughts on the process of creating the show in a way so infectious that you’ll want to rewatch it over and over again (as commentary tracks go, this is very rare). There is also a rather lengthy behind the scenes featurette, a standard commentary track and a series of “Evil League of Evil” application videos that are worth a chuckle. If you don’t already own Dr. Horrible, I would highly recommend buying it on Blu-ray.
John Hillcoat’s post-apocalyptic epic was easily one of the most overlooked movies of 2009. It was the second consecutive adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy novel (No Country for Old Men being the other) that truly captured the spirit of the author’s original text. Viggo Mortenson is incredible, as is Robert Duvall, who only pops up for a few moments of screen time. It’s without a doubt a film that you must see, in my humble opinion. It’s also a wonderful film to see on Blu-ray, as it was beautifully shot. Special features are pretty standard, including a commentary track, a few extra scenes and a Making Of featurette. BD-Live is the Blu-ray’s only claim to something exclusive, which is why this title has ended up in the ‘Rent’ category. Otherwise, I’d say buy.
Spartacus (50th Anniversary Edition)
When people celebrate their 50th anniversaries, they are usually pretty big ordeals. And when studios get ready to celebrate the big anniversaries of some of their most iconic films, they usually make a deal of it, as well. Not the case with Spartacus, celebrating the big five-0 this year. Sure, the Blu-ray release has a solid transfer that brings to life some of the amazing color and used by director Stanley Kubrick. It’s a restoration worth seeing. But beyond that, the packaging of this release is more than disappointing. It features nothing but recycled special features, including vintage news reels, archival interviews and a moderate amount of behind the scenes footage. But nothing that really jumps to make this Blu-ray release special. The transfer and restoration are worth a look, but this Blu-ray will only disappoint if it ends up on your purchase list.
Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum star in yet another sentimental, melodramatic, emotionally manipulative story from a Hollywood machine that markets sentimentality over depth. Yes, I said it, this is a shallow film. It has a few touching moments and bits of charm, but on the whole it’s a completely dismissible cinematic experience. In addition to not being a very good movie, the Blu-ray release isn’t exactly littered with captivating extras. Though, it is littered with extras. There are several featurettes that will serve as adequate fodder for anyone who’s already seen and enjoyed this film, as well as an alternate ending and a dozen deleted scenes. The only Blu-ray exclusive features are MovieIQ and BD-Live.
Also out on Blu-ray, but not reviewed due to lack of available review material:
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