Blu-Ray

Disc Collection

These are hard times for physical media devotees. The format isn’t dead yet – Blu-Rays and DVDs still represent 61% of home video spending – but it may as well be. Streaming, video-on-demand and digital downloads are becoming the standards for home viewing. Between 2007 and 2012, sales rose from $1.3 billion to $5.5 billion and researchers say online revenues will increase to ten times their 2007 level by 2017. Digital superiority seems to be a foregone conclusion, and there’s a pressure for physical media lovers like me to concede that resistance is futile. We’re becoming extreme hobbyists, collecting the unnecessary and perpetually having to justify our unwillingness to succumb to the new status quo. We may as well be collecting stamps or beta tapes. When Ain’t It Cool’s Alan Cerny recently tweeted “I wish I knew how to quit you, physical media,” it struck me as a capsule of the current climate: it doesn’t matter how much we love discs, we know we’re supposed to be moving on.

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Holiday Gifts for Movie Lovers

It’s that time of year again when we scramble around looking for the perfect present for the people we love and like. While we’re big fans of movie-watching around the holidays we don’t recommend seeing one in a theater on Christmas day. Your patronage is requiring some poor shlub to have to work, and that’s not cool. But movies to own are never a bad gift idea, and with that simple mantra we present our second annual Blu-ray & DVD Holiday Gift Guide featuring items that were released in 2012! Click on the image to check current prices and buy a copy!

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When the stars align and both Neil Miller and Rob Hunter agree that a stoner comedy transcends the genre and manages to deliver laughs rather than just jokes about being high (and potentially hungry), you know you’ve got a special film that’s a toke above the average drug comedy. In High School, valedictorian Henry Burke blazes for the first time only to be faced with the introduction of mandatory drug tests the very next day. Timing is everything, right? Putting that big brain aside for a minute, he lets his stoner buddy come up with what is perhaps the most illegal plan one could do – get the entire school high. Hey, if everyone fails the drug test, something is wrong with the test, right? If you’re a fan of movies, laughing, eating, brownies, or the appropriate medical use of marijuana, how about you do yourself a favor and enter to win a copy of this flick on Blu-ray?

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Lawrence of Arabia Restoration Trailer

Director David Lean’s sweeping tale of the life of British intelligence officer T.E. Lawrence is one of the most beloved films of all time. Lawrence of Arabia is packed full of iconic images, unforgettable performances, instantly recognizable music, and it just may be the greatest epic that Hollywood ever produced. But, unfortunately, many of us have only had the opportunity to watch it on our little TVs at home, and not projected up on the big screen like God (Lean) intended. The last time the film saw a big re-release, it was for the debut of the director’s cut, and that was all the way back in 1989. We’ve all got another chance to change that coming up, however, as a 4K digital restoration of the film has been done to commemorate its 50th anniversary, and this fall Sony Pictures will not only be putting the restored version out on Blu-ray, but they’re also going to be giving it a run in theaters.  Which, finally, gives those of us too young to see it on the big screen either the first or second time around the opportunity to take in the Arabian desert in all its glory.

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Chuck Norris is the reason Waldo is hiding. Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits. There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live. Chuck Norris is also coming to Blu-ray in a big way thanks to Twentieth Century Fox and MGM. His starring roles have been inexplicably unavailable in high definition until now (unless you count Forest Warrior, which no one should), but this summer sees the debut of five of his classic action titles. Delta Force and Missing In Action 1 & 2 all hit Blu-ray last month, and two more arrive on July 17th. Code of Silence and Lone Wolf McQuade are two of his best from the mid-eighties, and they can be yours if you play your cards right. The former is a fantastic Chicago-set action film with Chuck as a detective forced to fight corruption with nothing but his fists, his attitude and his bitching robot, Prowler. The latter sees him trying on his Texas Ranger shoes as he goes toe to toe with TV’s original Asian, David Carradine. Keep reading to see how you can win these two Chuck Norris classics on Blu-ray.

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Culture Warrior

It’s difficult to think that something as definitive of modern-age movie-watching as DVD special features could become a thing of the past, but there are plausible scenarios in which that could happen. DVD and Blu-Ray sales have slowed in the past few years as viewers become more and more accustomed to streaming services as their go-to means of watching movies in the home. However, when viewers streams a film via Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, or Hulu, more often than not, they receive the film itself and nothing else. The attraction for audiences who use streaming services is exclusively the film and the film alone, not the film in conjunction with other supplementary materials that immerse the viewer further into the creation of that film. The film – for the first time since the days of VHS – now speaks for itself. After DVDs first became popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, the value of the DVD could be determined (and often manipulated) by how much material the discs provided for outside the running time of the film. The appeal of buying a DVD of a particular film did not lie in owning the film itself, but having access to that film in connection to a web of information related to it. Documentaries, commentaries, and deleted scenes provided a DVD experience that felt definitive – these discs made available the notion that herein was everything to know and understand about a particular film. The Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy, […]

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Universal Monsters Blu-ray

Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera, The Mummy and The Creature From The Black Lagoon are finally all together on Blu-ray. Universal will be releasing a massively awesome set called “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection” on October 5th, and there are a ridiculous amount of extra features in addition to the horror flicks. Production photos, behind-the-scenes stuff, trailers, tributes to Jack Pierce and Lon Chaney, Jr. That’s the tip of the horror iceberg (which is also the name of the script I just finished. Call me, Asylum). The movies have been together on DVD before with a decent collection of features, but this Blu-ray collection seems absolutely stunning. A big upgrade for true classics. Plus, there are books involved! Everyone loves reading. The big question is…at a pre-sale price of $112, is this a necessary upgrade or a dreamy luxury?  

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What is Movie News After Dark DRINKING? It’s the end result of a long work day, a half dozen mini doughnuts, a glass of cheap Canadian whisky, Robert Fure, and a keyboard. Suck on it, suckers! This week’s movie news after Drinking is brought to you by Revel Stoke spiced whisky (We should not get paid for this because I’m not drinking this again. Or no we should still get paid, but I’m not drinking this again). But basically the deal is I get kind of drunk and then try to type up a whole bunch of movie news before my arms stop working. If you’re wondering why I’m typing all this nonsense, it’s because we need a certain amount of buffer before we move into the news to put a proper text break in here. But totally keep reading because Will Smith NO JOKE SLAPS A RUSSIAN IN THE FACE IN THE FIRST STORY. (OH LOOK AT ME I’M FRILMCRIT HULK BECAUSE THIS IS ALL CAPITALS)

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On Charlie Rose last night, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes explained his desire to shorten the time between theatrical releases and home entertainment availability. His reason? It’s great for everyone ever. It makes sense that Time Warner (which owns New Line, Warner Bros., HBO, DC Comics, Castle Rock Entertainment, and other media ventures) would want to shorten the window. Bewkes evoked the dreaded P-word in his initial rationale for getting movies to television screens sooner, but he also recognized that there’s an audience beyond pirates that wants to have home-viewing options. “Everyone in the business, including theater owners, has an interest,” said Bewkes. But what exactly is in the theater owners’ best interest? And what will broadband bundled with shorter waiting periods mean for DVD and Blu-ray?

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Sion Sono‘s work is not for everyone, but it should be. The writer/director explores themes of family, modern social trends and violence better than almost anyone, and with films like Cold Fish, Suicide Club and Noriko’s Dinner Table under his belt, it’s shocking that each new work doesn’t automatically receive the Blu carpet treatment automatically. Sadly, that’s not the case, but happily, a grand injustice is being rectified. According to Twitch, Sono’s four-hour-long exploration of young love, cults, faith, family (of course), and upskirt photography is finally coming to Blu-ray in August. Love Exposure focuses on a young man whose father is a priest obsessed with getting his son to repent, but without any real sins, Yu begins sinning just to have something to report back. His main sin is flashing his camera under the skirts of girls in the city, and his misadventure leads to encounters with a young woman stalking him, a strange religion trying to recruit his family, and a girl he falls in love with while in drag (and naturally has to continue pretending to be a woman in order to date).

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Robert Towne won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, but what most don’t realize is that the original script for Chinatown was over 300 pages long. That would have made quite the shooting schedule. Roman Polanski‘s enduring noir classic is headed to Blu-ray soon which means seeing J.J. Gittes getting his nose cut in high definition. Plus, we’re giving a copy away, and the one we have has Robert Towne’s signature on it (thanks to the intrepid team at Dolby Labs who secured it legally). If you’re into that sort of thing. So how do you get your hands on it? Glad I made it seem like you asked.

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There are still a lot of films that have yet to see a release on the Blu-ray format, and to be honest, most of them never will. The more recognizable ones seem destined to reach the format eventually, so hopefully we can look forward to Blu releases of The Black Stallion, High Fidelity, True Lies and (a proper transfer of) The Game sometime in the near future. But for now we can at least rest easy knowing that one of the greatest summer blockbusters ever made is getting the Blu-ray treatment mere months from now. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is being released on Blu-ray as part of Universal’s 100th anniversary, and the studio appears to be giving the release the special attention it deserves.

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The Coroner

When you hear that a movie called Camel Spiders is coming out, you can’t help but think “Wait that doesn’t already exist?” Camel Spiders, aka wind scorpions, aka solifuges, made the front page of your nightmares during the Iraq war when images of these seemingly gigantic monstrosities were e-mailed around the world. The arachnids, which are not actually spiders, were rumored to run at speeds surpassing 30 miles per hour, regularly chasing down military Humvees, and said to be capable of leaping great distances, say, from the ground to your face. Their bite was rumored to be fatal and their size seemingly ranged up to two feet. Much of this is wildly inaccurate and stems from a photograph of two solifuges which were stuck to each other and held in the foreground of the photo, making them appear huge. In actuality, this nightmare fuel only measures six inches for the head and body sections, which is five and a half god damn too many inches. Anyway, Jim Wynorski made a movie about these things, and it’s not good.

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Popular (I think) online comic website The Oatmeal recently uploaded an entry titled “I tried to watch Game of Thrones and this is what happened,” a riveting tale of online piracy. As this is the Internet, the comic has already been widely disseminated with many individuals championing it as a justification for piracy, while others have rallied against it as a perfect example of why pirates are big fat babies. For one view, you can go to what seems to be the first response from Andy Ihnatko, while Devin Faraci also weighed in at Badass Digest. Both of these gentlemen have mostly targeted the pirates themselves in terms I agree with. Let’s run down that quickly before I move on to something both of them have missed.

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Boiling Point

I’ve got a bit of an obsessive compulsive issue when it comes to DVDs and Blu-rays. I’m one of those suckers who will get caught every so often in a double-dip if I’m not paying attention. If I am being observant, I’m the guy who waits four extra months to get a disc with some special features attached. I really dug Transformers 3 and wanted to watch it again, but I’ll be damned if I was going to buy a disc with no extras on it! The issue that has my panties all aflame this week is all about special features and the lack thereof. Oh, most discs today come with some special features on them, but the “featurette” has become the bane of my existence. It used to just be what they called small extras on the disc, but now they’ve really emphasized the -ette, meaning mini, small, or useless.

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Warner Bros. Logo

It’s been my opinion for a while now that all-you-can-eat subscription services like Netflix are going to be a temporary thing with a limited window of success. Back when movie streaming was a minor thing aimed at a niche, tech savvy audience, it probably made sense for studios to sign deals with Netflix giving them access to their film libraries. Even five years ago high speed Internet wasn’t so ubiquitous, and if you wanted to stream something over the Internet, that pretty much meant you were streaming it to your computer monitor. But in today’s world of omnipresent wifi and apps that allow everyone to stream movies to smart TVs, video game consoles, app-enabled Blu-ray players, smart phones, and tablet computers, the entire game has changed. Now people can stream movies wherever they are, whenever they want. And they do… a lot. I think we’ve all seen that statistic floating around that 1/3 of all Internet traffic in the evenings comes from people streaming movies through Netflix. While I’m not in any position to prove that such a statistic is true, let’s just assume that it’s mostly true; that accounts for a huge amount of movie watching that ten years ago was being done through the more profitable to studios vehicle of DVD purchases and rentals.

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Coming off a year where box office sales showed some of the most disappointing weekends in quite a few years, and where the DVD buying bubble has now clearly burst, you could say that it’s starting to look like the film industry is in some financial trouble. They’ve tried to find new revenue in the form of 3D films, but as the months have worn on ticket sales to 3D showings have been bringing in less and less extra cash, and sales of 3D enabled home equipment pretty much never got out of the gate with any momentum. Factor in the rise of cheap rentals through Redbox kiosks and all-you-can-eat streaming services like Netflix, and the film industry as a whole is faced with the daunting task of how to keep their content seen as being a commodity. All hope doesn’t seem to be lost for makers of motion pictures, however, THR talked to a number a studio heads about what’s been working for them over the last year and where they expect to see growth in 2012, and there seems to be some hope. Over and over again the two areas where movies seem to be making more money than they did in year’s past is through video on demand services and sales of Blu-ray discs. Dennis Maguire, the president of worldwide home media distribution for Paramount said, “2011 showed that home entertainment continues to excite and enthrall consumers. Blu-ray and EST continued to surge, and new delivery systems […]

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Boiling Point

Hollywood is a business. A big business. A ten billion dollar box office per year kind of business. While that is an impressive number, you also have to remember that I said “box office,” which is ignoring the home video market. If you include direct sales only, that’s another $5 billion. I swore that I would never do math again after college, so I’m not going to bother with rentals and licenses and all that shit. Suffice it to say, Hollywood is a big business. And they want to be bigger, like all businesses. Enter the shady world of rehashing. The repeated raping of your wallet. There was a time when it was as simple as releasing a Special Edition or Collector’s Edition of a movie. Now, films have two theatrical releases, get remastered in 3D and sent to theaters, and are then released on three to four separate DVD releases. As a super-fan, I’m excited to get Collector’s Editions – I’ll even double dip now and then, but the process has gone too far and offers too little.

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Boiling Point

If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid this news until now, I’m sorry, it’s about to get shitty. George Lucas, in a move that surprises no one but angers anyone who’s ever seen Star Wars, has excessively tinkered with the movies in the saga, taking the beloved and dropping a pile of turds on it. It’s true Lucas has been wallowing in the sewage pool after tweaking the original movies in shitty ways (Greedo shoots first, Jabba looks like ass, etc) and making three bad movies to utterly destroy the awesome coolness that was Darth Vader and irreparably rupture the continuity of the franchise. Not content to stop there though, ol’ Georgie-poo has decided to add another notch to his bulbous neck by ignoring (mostly) fan outcry and amplifying the shit we already hate. Let’s break it down.

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It was only a matter of time before George Lucas started making more changes to his Star Wars movies. The guy has seemed to crack the code that the more versions of something he makes, the more times he can sell it to his hopelessly devoted legion of fans. Or, more accurately for what he did with the Special Edition Star Wars DVDs, all he has to do is sell everybody a screwed up version of the movies they love, and then he can go back later and make double the money by selling them the original versions that they wanted in the first place. The only thing he has to worry about is fanboy gripes, but I’m sure he’s able to get over that as he cries himself to sleep on mounds of fanboy money.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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