Another week, another round of dollars to be spent here on This Week in Blu-ray. And just like last week, there are a few movies worth buying. Well alright, maybe only a few — which is a welcome sign for anyone who lives by this particular column, as I recommended an unprecedented seven titles as ‘buys,’ including two television sets (one complete series) and the Gone with the Wind gift set. This week, I’ve got a much lighter selection of big purchases and a few movies that I think you should probably rent. We begin though, with another must-have title.
Check out my picks below, and remember to support your local movie blog (us) by clicking the links and buying from Amazon.
The Monster Squad: 20th Anniversary Edition
Yeah, it isn’t the best movie in the world. I am well aware of the campiness and the cheesiness of Monster Squad, the 1987 film directed by Fred Dekker and written by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon). But for me, it has always been a b-movie version of The Goonies, a horror-lovers ride through an almost Spielbergian world. Also, it is the movie that taught us how to make our Wolf Man models anatomically correct. On BD, Monster Squad sports all of the same features that we saw in the 1997 DVD release. And while that’s normally not a good thing, it is passable in this case. Why? Because the transfer (audio and video) is fantastic. This film has never looked better. And if you’re like me, then this is probably one of those Blu-rays that you’ve been waiting for.
There are no Blu-ray exclusive features.
This trend of Christmas movies coming out during one holiday season, then not hitting DVD until a year later. This comedy, starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, hit theaters on November 26, 2008. Almost a year (to the day) later, it is on Blu-ray. I enjoyed it when I saw it in theaters a year ago, and I enjoyed it just as much watching it on Blu-ray. Director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong) and Vaughn elevate it from being a formulaic holiday comedy to something worth adding to your ‘every year’ list. The Blu-ray has a few great BD-exclusives as well, including a ‘Seven-Layer Holiday Meals’ featurette with Paula Deen, a funny gag reel and BD-Live. Do yourself a favor and add this movie to your holiday flick selection. You won’t regret it.
Blu-ray exclusive features include a cooking featurette, a ‘holiday moments’ clip reel, a gag reel and BD-Live.
I was very lukewarm to Judd Apatow’s latest movie, a slightly bloated and too intimate tale that doesn’t move quite the same way his other movies have. And I was about ready to put this one in the ‘rent’ column, but then I started digging into the special features — and what I saw was a ridiculous amount of extras. Not only does this disc feature the Pocket Blu functionality (for iPhone and iPod touch) that we talked about with Bruno last week, it also has extra deleted scenes, the My Commentary feature that allows you to record your own commentary, additional music from James Taylor, more hilarious prank calls featuring a young Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow. Also, BD-Live. I’ve said it before and I will say it again — the folks at Universal are on a roll with Blu-ray, and they once again earn my recommendation with Funny People.
Blu-ray exclusives include prank calls, deleted scenes, my scenes, my commentary, BD-Live and U-Control commentary.
Angels & Demons
Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard are back with another adaptation of a Dan Brown novel. And as with The Da Vinci Code, this movie has a certain lumbering nature that makes for an interesting, but also tiresome experience. It’s not a bad movie, but it certainly isn’t the most energetic. Luckily for fans of the movie, the special features on the Blu-ray are solid. It includes both the theatrical and extended (yikes!) cuts of the film, as well as a Path to Illumination featurette. It also includes movieIQ feature, which is similar to interactive video commentary, but with less commentary and more pop-up facts. Think of the movie equivalent of VHI’s Pop-up Video, but without the awesome sound effects. For fans, Angels & Demons is worth buying. For the unindoctrinated, its a rent and nothing more.
Blu-ray exclusive features include movieIQ, Cinechat, Theatrical and Extended versions, Digital Copy and an added featurette.
Robert Rodriguez is back at the well, making those kids movies so that he can pay for films like Machete and Predators. You can’t blame the guy. In fact, you should go a step further and rent Shorts because (a) you like supporting Rodriguez and (b) its not that bad for a kids movie. That, and Warner Bros. has done a good job with extras. Take for example, two exclusive featurettes and BD-Live to go along with another episode of Ten Minute Film School and a Ten Minute Cooking School: Chocolate Chip Volcano Cookies. Robert Rodriguez will teach you how to make delicious treats! If that isn’t worth a rent, I don’t know what is.
Blu-ray exclusives include two featurettes, BD-Live and Digital Copy.
Cujo: 25th Anniversary Edition
Have you ever been trapped in a vehicle with a vicious dog outside who wants to eat you? Yeah, me neither. The closest either of us will get is this movie — and its 25th Anniversary Blu-ray. A solid transfer and a moderate set of special features are enough to tell me that fans should enjoy the terrifying moments of Cujo on Blu-ray, whereas everyone else would be satisfied with a rental on this title. Beware though, as it is scary as all hell at times.
There are no Blu-ray exclusive features listed for this title.
A very critically acclaimed film, Matteo Garrone’s has been compared with The Godfather, but said to be grittier. So it’s no wonder that Criterion is releasing it as part of their 2009 slate — an honor bestowed upon films that Criterion deems to be “important.” They have also loaded Gomorrah with special features, including four behind the scenes featurettes, a series of short stories — all of which adding up to about 2-hours of extras. There are also deleted scenes and the Blu-ray specific Timeline feature that is standard on all Criterion releases. This is the kind of release that reminds me that I need to be on the Criterion press list, so that I can begin reviewing these titles in greater detail for you each week. I’m buying it. I would suggest that you at least rent it.
Blu-ray exclusives include the Criterion timeline.
Bill Paxton directs Matthew McConaughey in one of the duder’s best performances. Years after terrorizing a small Texas community, the God’s Hand Killer has returned — leaving in his wake a perplexing trail of fear and death. And now, years (about 8 to be exact) after this movie terrorized audiences, it is back on Blu-ray and ready with three audio commentaries and a host of featurettes. The only problem is that the special feature selection mirrors that of the original DVD release. And this film (and this transfer) are not good enough to overcome a lack of special features.
There are no Blu-ray exclusive special features on this title.
From The Asylum comes another fantastically bad movie playing off the success of another movie. Megafault is one of two responses to Roland Emmerich’s 2012. Brittany Murphy stars as a seismologist who is trying to stop a massive earthquake that threatens to tear the world in half. In effing half! In… half! I have not seen this film, but I can only assume that she stops it — or the classic Asylum CG-effects kick in and the Earth is ripped in half by my 10-year old cousin using Paint Pro on his Macintosh II. Either way, I call it awesome. You probably would not.
There are no Blu-ray exclusive features for this title.
As much as I love what Disney does with their Blu-ray releases — specifically with those from their Pixar arm — I am not going to support Santa Buddies. This obsession with dogs that play basketball and deliver presents to kids on Christmas has gone to far. Even though this thing is filled to the brim with special features that would keep your kids (or the kids of that hot single mom that you’re trying to get with) silent for hours, there’s no reason for you to pick up this release. That, and it only comes with BD-Live. Give us some major Blu-ray features and we might think about giving into this kiddie schlock.
Blu-ray exclusive features include BD-Live.
Also out on Blu-ray this week:
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