Back in the saddle again here on This Week in Blu-ray. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I will say that I’ve been on-time (read: published sometime during the week) for several weeks now. Pretty soon Rob Hunter will stop snickering every time he writes “Neil Miller’s hilariously titled This Week in Blu-ray” in his well-read column, This Week in DVD. But until then, I press on with a passion for that which can only be enjoyed in 1080 lines of resolution. This week we explore the past with several very old men, the likes of Fritz Lang and Sylvester Stallone. We also get to enjoy a light week that should have you (and your pocketbook) well rested for the upcoming holiday weekend. Apparently people shop like crazy on Friday, but I’ll believe it when I see it. For Tuesday, I will spare you the erroneous purchases so that you might sniff out the best Blu-ray deals Black Friday has to offer…
The Complete Metropolis
When releasing something like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and wanting to call it “Complete,” you’d better make sure that your ducks are all in a row. Complete, by definition, means that every possible angle has been explored. Luckily, the folks at Kino own a dictionary and seem to be acutely aware of the concept of complete-ism. It’s the extended footage, the original 1927 score from Gottfried Huppertz presented in glorious 5.1 DTS audio, the 50-minute making of documentary, and perhaps even the ridiculously crisp remastering and HD transfer. All of this make for an experience that can only be described as “complete.” It is my sincere hope that you were able to re-connect with Lang’s masterpiece during its theatrical re-release earlier this year. But if not, there is always the Blu-ray. If you can get it on a good enough system, you might just have a similar experience to seeing it projected on the side of a power plant. This release is almost that good. It only falls short by the slim margin created by your lack of ownership of an iconic central Texas power plant. For shame.
Call it what you’d like — bloated, scatter-shot and clunky — but there’s no denying that The Expendables is a sensory overload. Seeing it a second time on Blu-ray has caused me to rethink some of the things that I wrote in my review of its theatrical release. It’s still not the movie we wanted, but it may just be the ride that we needed this summer. Big action, big egos and some even bigger explosions will fit right in with all of those watts of speaker power that you’ve installed in your home theater. The even better news is that not only does it rock your living room with a picture and sound explosion, this Blu is loaded with extras. The kind of thing that makes its core audience — those of us who obsessed over every detail from announcement to production to release — salivate. An “Ultimate Recon Mode” with in-movie behind the scenes, featurettes and commentary, a look at the Comic-Con panel, a rather entertaining gag reel and of course, Sly Stallone’s audio commentary — a must listen, as per usual. It’s all a pretty damn fine package, if you ask me.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
Once again I am left kicking myself for skipping the theatrical release of a movie starring Eddie Marsan. That guy is creepy to the nth degree. And director J Blakeson uses him effectively to create a surprisingly tight, intimate thriller that also includes plenty of Gemma Arterton (Clash of the Titans) in various stages of undress and duress. The Blu-ray sadly keeps things just as simple as the movie itself (which is set all in one location) by limiting the amount of special features that have graced the disc. A few extended scenes (with commentary), a director’s commentary track and a featurette about storyboards are all that made it onto this release. It sounds about right though, as it mimics that rather slim theatrical release given to this movie by Magnolia Pictures. It’s disappointing, as this turned out to be one of the more interesting little thrillers of the year. Hopefully you’ll check it out and see for yourselves.
Eat Pray Love
If you know me — and I’d think after four and a half years of reading this site that you might — you know that I’m a big fan of eating and loving. Not often at the same time, but I enjoy them equally nonetheless. The praying is something I could take or leave, depending on the day. One thing I can’t stand: impossibly superficial films starring Julia Roberts. Go figure, as this is exactly that. The other problem, on a less hyper-subjective thematic hatred note, is that the Blu of Eat Pray Love is full of empty calorie special features. A few featurettes, a music video, that lovely MovieIQ trivia track and BD-Live, which leads you to trailers for other less interesting Sony releases. It’s a very underwhelming package, even if you enjoyed the film. Then again, it’s hard to say whether or not this film’s core audience will be picking apart special features. Not that they don’t like quality, it’s just that it’s not their bag. For the rest of us, this is an easy skip.
The Search for Santa Paws
“Magic dogs and an elf team up with two children to rescue Santa who has lost his memory.” If this was followed by “their mission is to find Santa and stop the alien invasion before the world is destroyed,” it might not be a bad hook. But it’s not… Cute as they may be, puppies are not going to deliver the next generation in holiday entertainment. Especially when they arrive so early that it reminds us of the impending season of the consumer, leaving that bitter taste in our mouths (and pocketbooks) as they try to find a magical doggie Santa. Instead of getting suckered, I would suggest showing the young ones some classics — like A Christmas Story or Santa Claus: The Movie starring Dudley Moore. Or even Jingle All The Way, for the requisite amount of holiday Sinbad.
And now, the rest of the story…