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Top New Blu-ray releases for the Weeks of May 8 and May 15

Top New Blu-ray releases for the Weeks of May 8 and May 15

I’ve fallen disastrously behind on my updates folks and for that, I’m sorry. But with a little elbow grease I should be all caught up by the weekend. Please bear with me. In the meantime, check out some reviews of recently released Blu-ray discs, below. And remember to scroll all the way down for additional recent releases.

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Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of May 1

Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of May 1

I guess we’re edging into that weird summer limbo, where Hollywood studios offer fewer catalogue releases, assuming few of us want to spend our hard earned cash on old stuff. They couldn’t be more wrong! I find myself itching for the holidays, when we’re going to get the chance to own great, older titles like the Indiana Jones trilogy and Columbia‘s new restoration of Lawrence of Arabia, a disc I’ve been looking forward to since the advent of the format. Sigh. Only a few months still to wait…

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Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of April 24

Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of April 24

There’s so much more out on Blu-ray this week than I was able to screen. If the titles at the top of my list don’t thrill you, scroll down for additional gems like Marky Mark in Contraband, the 5-movie Samurai Assassin set and another awesome Blue Underground release in Killer Nun.

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Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of April 17

Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of April 17

Still playing catch-up with all these late-arriving Blu-ray screeners, this past week was a hell of a strong one. Aside from the discs in my Top slots, if you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find a handful of additional titles worth noting, including Abbott and Costello in Buck Privates, Robert Rodriquez‘s Roadracers and the individual disc releases of Sean Bean‘s Sharpe television series, previously only available in a very expensive boxed set.

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Top New Blu-ray releases for the Weeks of April 3 and April 10

Top New Blu-ray releases for the Weeks of April 3 and April 10

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks. I’m putting a new project together while juggling screenings and the good old day job. It’s kept me from updating for a bit. Sorry about that. Thankfully, there haven’t been too many great new Blu-ray discs hitting the shelves. So, we haven’t missed out on much. Without further ado, here are my Top Picks for the last couple of weeks.

As always, clicking the Blu-ray package art will zip you over to Amazon where every purchase you make through our links helps the site stay on its feet. We appreciate every single click and thank you again for continuing to read The Blu-ray Blog.


Blu-ray disc of the week: CHINATOWN

Chinatown [Blu-ray] (1974)


    In a legendary performance, three-time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson stars as private eye Jake Gittes. Hired by a mysterious woman to investigate Hollis Mulwray, the chief engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Gittes’ sleuthing brings him into contact with Mulwray’s wife (Academy Award® winner Faye Dunaway), a stunning socialite with secrets of her own. As a determined Gittes delves deeper he soon realizes that even the City of Angels has a dark side. Director Roman Polanski’s Chinatown has evolved from an atmospheric film noir mystery into a modern day classic, with Robert Towne’s Academy Award-winning script unforgettably and brilliantly capturing a lost era of deceit, corruption and treachery.

WHO SHOULD BUY: If you don’t own a copy of Chinatown already, we’re probably not friends (Kidding!) But seriously, this is a great opportunity to discover a true cinema classic if you haven’t seen the film, or a great opportunity to add it to your collection if you’re already familiar with Chinatown but have neglected to purchase a DVD copy over the years. The upgrade question is a little tougher, though, as the quality of the Blu-ray does not ascend to the heavenly heights the content deserves (more on that below.) It’s certainly a step up from DVD but cinephiles who thrive on classic movies looking like film when transfered to Blu might want to hold out for a couple of years to see if Paramount decides to afford this jewel in their crown a worthy image harvest in honour of its 40th Anniversary.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: This is a very strong upgrade from the image we’ve seen on previously released DVD editions of Chinatown. It’s vivid and bold with a ton of detail. My only real issue with it is that it doesn’t look as film-like as it should. It’s glossier than it should be with a grain structure that appears muddied and subdued. Considering the status of this legendary film in Paramount’s pantheon of classics, it’s a crying shame that the studio didn’t invest in a new 4K image harvest to preserve the elements and afford us a better looking transfer. Audio is available in a newfangled Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track and a restored version of the original mono, also presented in lossless TrueHD.


  • Commentary with Robert Towne and David Fincher— Towne and Fincher offer unique insights into this classic film. No matter how many times you’ve watched Chinatown, this commentary will open your eyes to a whole new experience.
  • Water and Power (HD)— In this three-part documentary, Robert Towne visits sites along the original Los Angeles Aqueduct for the first time. He is informed of the social and environmental impacts and given insight into the major issues around the creation and ongoing operation of the aqueduct.
    • The Aqueduct (HD)— The City of Los Angeles completed the 233-mile gravity-fed aqueduct from the Owens Valley in 1913, under the leadership of a self-taught engineer named William Mulholland. L.A. Department of Water and Power representatives along with Catherine Mulholland, granddaughter of the engineer, discuss the development of the aqueduct and its contribution to the growth of the nation’s second-largest city.
    • The Aftermath (HD)— For decades a large rural community was desiccated under the management of water rights by the City of Los Angeles over a vast area of the Owens Valley. Legal victories beginning in the 1970’s lead to successful reductions in environmental damages and the restoration of some natural habitats. Historians, local ranchers and activists discuss the up-to-date impacts of the aqueduct and struggle to maintain a stable environment and community.
    • The River & Beyond (HD)— Prior to the building of the first aqueduct a century ago Los Angeles relied solely on its own local water supply: the Los Angeles River and its aquifer. Today the river as a water resource is largely forgotten. Currently there are plans to re-develop the river to reduce L.A.’s dependence on imported water, reducing the environmental impact on distant communities, while creating parks and open spaces for the city.
  • Chinatown: An AppreciationChinatown has been hailed as a perfect film.
    Robert Towne’s cynical labyrinth of secrets and sin, Roman Polanski at the top of his form, Jack Nicholson in all his glory, Faye Dunaway at her sexiest and most mysterious, John Huston as one of the creepiest and most unrepentant villains of all time, the great cinematography, the wonderful score, the bandage on the nose…

    In this featurette, prominent filmmakers express their personal admiration for the film:

    • Steven Soderbergh – Director – Traffic
    • James Newton Howard – Composer – The Dark Knight
    • Kimberly Peirce – Writer/Director – Boys Don’t Cry
    • Roger Deakins – Cinematographer – No Country For Old Men
  • Chinatown: The Beginning and the End
  • Chinatown: Filming
  • Chinatown: The Legacy
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)

AMAZON: $18.99


War Horse (Four Disc Combo: Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy) (2011)

    From legendary director Steven Spielberg comes the epic adventure War Horse, a tale of incredible loyalty, hope, and tenacity. Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, and set against the sweeping canvas of World War I, this deeply heartfelt story begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and his young trainer Albert. When they’re forced apart by war, we follow Joey’s extraordinary journey as he changes and inspires the lives of everyone he meets. Filled with spectacularly rich visuals — and complete with never-before-seen bonus features — War Horse is a “Genuine movie masterpiece,” (Rex Reed, The New York Observer) and one of the most powerful and moving stories of friendship ever told.

WHO SHOULD BUY: War Horse sure is a sappy Spielberg film. Devout fans of the filmmaker will no doubt enjoy the skill with which he’s assembled this over-long WWII tale and horse freaks will probably be in heaven. The rest of you will wish he’d found a way to chop a good hour out of this colourful throwback. The war-time action is extremely well realized and the photography and music are to die for but the characters feel less like real people and more like emotional triggers slotted into the appropriate places in the narrative. Borrow a copy to casually check out how great it looks and sounds. Buy, if you’re a Spielberg or horse nut.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: This is demo quality material through and through. Outside of some relatively soft images (which, I’m certain, is a deliberate choice meant to echo an older Technicolor style of shooting) this a detailed and very colourful transfer that really shows off your home theatre screen. Audio is presented in a reference quality DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that’ll bring your house down, if you don’t mind your levels. Dialogue is clear, John Williams incredible soundtrack is dynamic and vivacious and the atmospheric effects in the sound field will have you believing you’re right out there on the front line with the troops. The 4-disc combo pack I was able to review packs a couple of featurettes onto the first disc, 4 docs and featurettes totalling nearly 90-minutes on the second, a DVD of the feature and a digital copy.

AMAZON: $24.99


We Bought a Zoo (Blu-ray/ DVD + Digital Copy) (2011)

Oscar Winner Matt Damon gives a heartfelt performance in this “delightful surprise” (Lou Lumenick, New York Post) that’s based on a true story. When his teenage son gets into trouble, Benjamin Mee (Damon) gives up a lucrative newspaper job to move his family to the most unlikely of places: a zoo! With help from an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, Benjamin embarks on a fresh beginning to restore the dilapidated zoo to its former glory, while uniting his family. From the director of “Jerry Maguire”, “We Bought a Zoo” is a “wonderful, warm and witty” (Bill Bregoli, CBS Radio News) celebration of the human spirit.

I didn’t see We Bought A Zoo but I haven’t heard a lot of kind words about it. Then again, it’s a Cameron Crowe film so, you know, I’ll gladly give it a shot on a quiet week like this one.

AMAZON: $22.99



A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) [Blu-ray] (2006)

    A Streeetcar Named Desire: The Original Director’s Version” is the Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams film moviegoers would have seen had not Legion of Decency censorship occurred at the last minute. It features three minutes of previously unseen footage underscoring, among other things, the sexual tension between Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), and Stella Kowalski’s (Kim Hunter) passion for husband Stanley. Catch all of the classic – nominated for 12 Academy Awards(R) including Best Picture and winner of 4 – that introduced a new era of filmmaking. Step aboard this “Streetcar”.

WHO SHOULD BUY: Any and every film fan who doesn’t already own a copy of A Streetcar Named Desire should probably grab up this digibook-packaged Blu-ray release. The film is a classic, with Brando at his best. Tennessee Williams’ screenplay, based upon his stage-play of the same name, is beyond reproach, as is the timeless filmmaking of director Elia Kazan. Harry Stradling‘s photography is nothing short of stunning in stark black and white, complimented by Alex North‘s sweaty, jazzy score. There really isn’t a sour note in the production. You need this.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: But maybe you don’t need it now. I’m sad to say that this looks like an older HD transfer. Warner has been delivering some stunning HD presentations lately, and while this is the best Streetcar has ever looked, the transfer is inconsistant, appearing unusually soft in parts and sporting a strangely window-boxed main title sequence. That said, I found it a mostly enjoyable Blu-ray viewing experience and I doubt that many but the most critical will find issue with the disc. Purists will be overjoyed with the surprisingly robust DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track. It can’t compete with modern soundtracks but it sounds great for this vintage.

Extras are carried over from the previously available DVD edition of the film and include an exceptional commentary track from star Karl Malden and historians Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young as well as screen tests, outtakes, trailers, a ton of featurettes and a feature length doc on director Kazan.

READ MORE: A Streetcar Named Desire: 60th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray announced

AMAZON: $23.99


The Iron Lady (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)

    The most celebrated actress of our time stars as the most powerful woman of her time. Oscar(R)-winner Meryl Streep, the most nominated performer in Academy Award(R) history, delivers the definitive portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, the enigmatic, highly controversial figure who became the first and only female Prime Minister of England. Much more than a biographical epic, “The Iron Lady” is also the surprisingly intimate journey of a “common” grocer’s daughter whose social ambition and steel will – along with the love of her husband and confidant, Denis (Academy Award(R) winner Jim Broadbent) – propelled her to unprecedented power in a world dominated by men.

I didn’t see The Iron Lady. I’m sticking it here on the list as it’s a fairly substantial release with an Oscar winning performance on a really, really slow week. I’ll be honest and tell you that I have no desire to see the film but am impressed with what I’ve seen of Streep’s take on Margaret Thatcher.

AMAZON: $19.99


A Trip to the Moon Restored (Limited Edition, Steelbook) [Blu-ray] (2012)

    No original hand-colored copies of A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune – 1902), by Georges Méliès, had been known to survive until one was miraculously found in Spain in the mid-1990s, but in a fragmentary condition thought too fragile to handle for either viewing or restoration. In 2010, three experts in worldwide film restoration – Lobster Films, and two non-profit entities, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage – launched one of the most complex and ambitious film restoration projects ever to bring an original, colored version of Méliès masterpiece back 110 years after its first release. Using the most advanced digital technologies now available, the team reassembled and restored the fragments of the 13,375 frames. The two foundations, which carried out specifically the music part of this project, decided to approach AIR s Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, to compose an original modern soundtrack to accompany this cinematic milestone. Packaged in a limited-edition, SteelBookTM case, this publication also features The Extraordinary Voyage, a fascinating new documentary, directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange, which chronicles the journey of A Trip to the Moon from the fantastical Méliès production in 1902, to the astonishing rediscovery of a nitrate print in color in 1993, to the premiere of the new restoration on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. The documentary includes interviews with contemporary filmmakers, including Costa Gavras, Michel Gondry, Michel Hazanavicius, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet on Méliès enduring significance to cinema.

This release looks amazing. It’s near the top of my list of Blu-ray discs to order.

READ MORE: Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon on Steelbook Blu-ray

AMAZON: $35.99


Terrorists [Blu-ray] (1975)

    Sean Connery delivers a compelling performance as Nils Tahlvik, the tough-as-nails security chief of a wealthy Scandinavian country. Tahlvik faces his ultimate challenge when a ruthless group of terrorists take the British Ambassador hostage and hijack a passenger jet. Tahlvik’s government orders him to cooperate fully – but he’s not about to give in! This riveting action film is a thrilling adventure from beginning to end.

WHO SHOULD BUY: The Terrorists is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. It feels like a made-for-TV affair through and through, from the ham-fisted dialogue to the bland over-all style of the piece. It’s kind of shocking that such a muscular talent pool would deliver such a tepid piece of entertainment but it proves that it doesn’t matter how good a crew is (cinematography by the great Sven Nykvist, music by the amazing Jerry Goldsmith!!) when the captain of the ship is lost. And I have a feeling that writer Paul Wheeler and director Caspar Wrede (both of whom appearing to have racked up more TV credits than feature film) didn’t really have a grasp on how to make this material exciting. Even Sean Connery appears to be sleepwalking through this film. That should tell you all you need to know. As tough as it is to make it to the end of the film, however, the story does pay off. It’s a solid yet simple plot that could’ve used some stronger scenes to bring it life.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: The Terrorists looks and sounds better than it deserves on this Anchor Bay Blu-ray. There’s nothing fancy about the HD transfer here but the aged, grainy presentation looks like film, without any digital affectation. Audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. There are no special features.

AMAZON: $13.99


The Boy In Blue [Blu-ray] (1986)

    In this entertaining turn-of-the-century drama based on a real-life story, Nicolas Cage stars as Ned Hanlan, a juvenile delinquent who rises to become a world-class rower. Seeing in Hanlan a chance to make some fast cash, Bill (David Naughton), a gambler, has Hanlan trained as a sculler and begins to promote him on the racing circuit. Eventually, Hanlan’s ability grows, and so does his fame, but success comes at a price when Hanlan falls prey to a ruthless businessman (Christopher Plummer). Through it all, Hanlan becomes a world champion, garners awards on three continents and becomes the first to successfully utilize the “sliding seat”.

WHO SHOULD BUY: Have you ever seen a sports movie? Have you seen Rocky? Well, you can probably avoid The Boy in Blue then. It’s your standard old sports-film structure, this time centered around sculling (or as we layman call it, rowing.) The cast is relatively stellar with recent Oscar winner Christopher Plummer doing his best not to look embarrassed beside an early wackadoo Cage performance and David Naughton’s distractingly fake moustache. But even a strong stable of performers can’t save the film’s limp script and uninspired direction. Only devout fans of sports films, rowing and Nicolas Cage need apply.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: On a bright note, Anchor Bay delivers The Boy in Blue to Blu-ray in a very respectable 1080p transfer. There’s print damage present but it doesn’t distract from the overall pleasing and generally film-like appearance of the image here. Audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. There are no special features.

AMAZON: $14.99

Clicking an image will take you to where you can learn more about and purchase the Blu-ray disc:

Madonna: Truth Or Dare [Blu-ray] (1991)Torchwood: Miracle Day [Blu-ray] (2012)Miracle of Marcelino (BLU-RAY): Restored 1955 Version (1955)Chasing Madoff [Blu-ray] (2010)

Black Butler: Complete First Season (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2012)Black Butler II: Complete Collection (Limited Edition, Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2012)Okami-san and Her Seven Companions: Complete Collection (Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2012)Turtle's Tale: Sammy's Adventures [Blu-ray] (2010)

Masterpiece Classic: Great Expectations [Blu-ray]Girls Just Want to Have Fun [Blu-ray] (1985)Angels Crest [Blu-ray] (2011)Shergar [Blu-ray] (1999)

Discover Planet Ocean [Blu-ray]Titanoboa: Monster Snake [Blu-ray] (2012)Cook County [Blu-ray] (2009)London River [Blu-ray] (2009)

The Darkest Hour (Blu-ray 3D) (2011)Kate & Leopold (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (2001)Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1985)Don Juan Demarco [Blu-ray] (1995)

Into the Abyss [Blu-ray] (2011)Bounce [Blu-ray] (2000)Charlotte Rampling: The Look [Blu-ray] (2011)Conversation Piece / Gruppo Di Famiglia In Un Interno [Blu-ray] (1974)

Littlerock [Blu-ray] (2010)Truth About Cats & Dogs [Blu-ray] (1996)The Witches of Oz [Blu-ray] (2011)The Terror Experiment [Blu-ray] (2010)

Death Stop Holocaust [Blu-ray] (2009)Female Convict Scorpion [Blu-ray] (2008)Infinite Stratos Complete Collection [Blu-ray] (2012)Sekirei: Complete Series (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2012)

Squid Girl: Season 1 Complete Collection [Blu-ray] (2012)Jillians Travels-Africa 3D [Blu-ray] (2012)

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Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of March 27

Top New Blu-ray releases for the Week of March 27

Another big Blu-ray release week is upon us with a lot of amazing releases for you to sink your teeth into. I’ve included the two new Criterion releases in my recommendations, sight unseen, as a matter of course. I’m itching to get my hands on them and, if I do, I’ll report back on their quality but, come on, is there any doubt that they’ll be amazing? Scroll down to see a few more releases not covered like Oscar-nominee Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Whitney Houston‘s star-powered The Bodyguard.

As always, clicking the Blu-ray package art will zip you over to Amazon where every purchase you make through our links helps the site stay on its feet. We appreciate every single click and thank you again for continuing to read The Blu-ray Blog.

Blu-ray disc of the week: A DANGEROUS METHOD (Canadian version)

A DANGEROUS METHOD (2011 - Canadian version)

THE FILM:Seduced by the challenge of an impossible case, the driven Dr. Jung (Michael Fassbender) takes the unbalanced yet beautiful Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) as his patient in A DANGEROUS METHOD. Jung’s weapon is the method of his master, the renowned Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Both men fall under Sabina’s spell.

WHO SHOULD BUY: This is a tricky one. I really enjoyed A Dangerous Method but my girlfriend barely made it past the ten-minute mark. And I’m hearing the same from a lot of my colleagues and friends. This film is even dividing the Cronenberg faithful! I have a feeling that a lot of what you get from it depends on your expectations going in. My girlfriend thought it was an action film (no, really) and, I understand, a lot of folks are expecting it be a typical Cronenberg flick, with demented sex and in your face gore. Well, there is sex and a lot of spanking but all in all, it’s pretty tame. Method was adapted from a stage play and betrays its origin in the very “talk-y” nature of the beast. It’s really great, compelling historical drama, with brilliant performances from all actors – and, holy shit, but what a cast – but if stagey, talkative films aren’t your thing, you should probably steer clear.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: No matter your taste in film, you won’t be disappointed with the technical presentation of the A Dangerous Method Blu-ray. The film has been afforded a pitch-perfect encode, exhibiting tons of detail and very natural colours. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also quite capable but with a great deal less to offer, in that its most often called upon to deliver dialogue. Howard Shore‘s excellent score sounds full and rich when present.

The Canadian edition of the Blu-ray from eOne only differs from the US release in its special features. I’m gutted that our version doesn’t contain the Cronenberg commentary or ‘Master Seminar’ interview with the director, but the 30-minutes worth of cast and crew interviews present are worthy and informative. The B-roll footage (which isn’t really “b-roll”, per se, but more like “behind-the-scenes” footage shot over the shoulders of the crew) provides a fascinating look into how David Cronenberg runs his shoots.


  • Cast and crew interviews (30 minutes)
  • Film clips (7 minutes)
  • Production B-Roll (19 minutes)
  • Theatrical trailer

AMAZON: CDN$ 22.99

Also available: A DANGEROUS METHOD (US version)

A Dangerous Method [Blu-ray] (2011)

AMAZON: $19.99


Casablanca (70th Anniversary Limited Collector's Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

THE FILM: Casablanca“: easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you’re wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one – especially Victor’s wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo’s transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more – personal happiness or countless lives hanging in the balance. Winner of three Academy Awards(R) including Best Picture, “Casablanca” marks its 70th anniversary as a beloved favorite with so many bonuses that no matter how often you’ve seen it, this beautiful 70th Anniversary (Limited and Numbered) Edition looks like yet another beginning of a beautiful friendship with an unforgettable classic.

READ MORE: Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Disc Review

AMAZON: $44.99


A Night to Remember (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1958)

THE FILM:On April 14, 1912, just before midnight, the unsinkable Titanic struck an iceberg. In less than three hours, it had plunged to the bottom of the sea, taking with it more than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers. In his unforgettable rendering of Walter Lord’s book of the same name, A Night to Remember, the acclaimed British director Roy Ward Baker (Don’t Bother to Knock) depicts with sensitivity, awe, and a fine sense of tragedy the ship’s final hours. Featuring remarkably restrained performances, A Night to Remember is cinema’s subtlest, finest dramatization of this monumental twentieth-century catastrophe.

WHO SHOULD BUY: Me! I haven’t seen the film or this new Blu-ray disc from Criterion but you better believe this and the Lean box are at the top of my “must purchase” list this week.

READ MORE: Criterion March Blu-ray titles

AMAZON: $27.99


Confucius (DVD/Blu-ray Combo) (2012)

THE FILM:Screen legend Chow Yun-fat stars as Confucius in the inspiring, action-packed saga of a leader whose wisdom and cunning were more powerful than any sword. In this sweeping battlefield epic, Confucius finds his lands threatened by the fires of war. After leading the nation’s most powerful army to victory against hordes of invaders, the new hero finds even greater danger in the jealous eyes of the aristocrats he fought to protect. From the Producer of John Woo’s Red Cliff and Jet Li’s Warlords, and captured on camera by Oscar-winning Director of Photography Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Chow Yun-fat delivers the award-nominated performance of a lifetime as a teacher, a military leader, and a legend in Confucius.

READ MORE: Confucius Blu-ray Disc Review

AMAZON: $10.49


Corman's World [Blu-ray] (2011)

THE FILM:CORMAN’S WORLD: EXPLOITS OF A HOLLYWOOD REBEL is a tantalizing and star-studded tribute to Roger Corman, Hollywood’s most prolific writer-director producer, and seminal influencing force in modern moviemaking over the last 60 years. Featuring interviews with Hollywood icons and cinematic luminaries, some who launched their careers within Corman’s unforgettable world of filmmaking, including, Paul W.S. Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert DeNiro, Peter Fonda, Pam Grier, Ron Howard, Eli Roth, Martin Scorcese, William Shatner and many others, this documentary chronicles how Corman created his cult film empire, one low-budget success at a time, capitalizing on undiscovered talent, and pushing the boundaries of independent filmmaking.

READ MORE: Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel Blu-ray Disc Review

AMAZON: $20.99


David Lean Directs Noel Coward (In Which We Serve, This Happy Breed, Blithe Spirit, Brief Encounter) (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1945)

THE FILMS:In the 1940s, the wit of playwright Noël Coward and the craft of filmmaker David Lean melded harmoniously in one of cinema’s greatest writer-director collaborations. With the wartime military drama sensation In Which We Serve, Coward and Lean (along with producing partners Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan) embarked on a series of literate, socially engaged, and enormously entertaining pictures that ranged from domestic epic (This Happy Breed) to whimsical comedy (Blithe Spirit) to poignant romance (Brief Encounter). These films created a lasting testament to Coward’s artistic legacy and introduced Lean’s visionary talents to the world.

WHO SHOULD BUY: Me me me!!! I’m so excited to get my hands on this boxed set full of David Lean films. I’m bonkers for his epic films but have a great appreciation for this work as well, with great performances all around, in all four films and brilliant Noël Coward scripts. Drool…

READ MORE: Criterion March Blu-ray titles

AMAZON: $68.99


Monster Brawl BD [Blu-ray]

THE FILM:It’s midnight at the Hillside Necropolis and the stage is set for the first ever Monster Brawl main event! Eight of the world’s most legendary monsters along with their diabolical managers compete in a wrestling tournament deathmatch to determine the most powerful champion of all time. Interviews, pre-fight breakdowns, trash talking, and monster origin segments round out this ultimate fight of the living dead. Monster Brawl is “the undisputed smackdown hit of this year’s bumper crop of comedy horror!” (Twitch Film). This award-winning monster mashup features an ensemble cast of comedy, horror and wrestling icons, including Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall), Art Hindle (The Brood), Lance Henriksen (Aliens), Robert Maillet (Sherlock Holmes), Kevin Nash (The Punisher), Herb Dean (UFC), and Jimmy Hart (WWE).

WHO SHOULD BUY: Monster fans who love wrestling and have always dreamed of seeing their favorite ghouls bash about in the ring will love Monster Brawl. Wrestling geeks looking for a little something different will most likely get a kick out of this graveyard send-up of popular WWE top-rope hijinks. But those expecting any semblance of traditional narrative filmmaking won’t make it past the first few minutes of this one. There’s no story here. Yes, each of the monsters has a backstory, explained in fun vignettes before each of their matches, but the there’s no overarching themes or plot points to glue everything together. But that won’t really matter for the target audience of this no-budget fight-fest. This is a love-it-or-leave-it affair that seems perfect for a drunken night with the boys and little else.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: Monster Brawl was shot digital on RED and has, for the most part, made the transition to Blu in as much style as a film of its barely-existent budget can hope for. Yes, a lot of the effects work looks fake and, I have a feeling, contributes to the moiré present in a few scenes of the disc. All in all, though, for what it is, it looks nice and detailed. Extras include a commentary by Cook, with producers Matt Wiele and John Geddes, a half-hour long “behind-the-scenes” featurette, “Tales from the Hart: Jimmy Hart Outtakes” and the trailer.

AMAZON: CDN$ 25.49


Strip Nude for Your Killer [Blu-ray] (1975)

THE FILM:The stunning Edwige Fenech (THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS, THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS. WARDH) stars in this infamous shocker that packs more grisly violence and sexual depravity into each frame than most any other film in the entire giallo genre. There’s succulent flesh aplenty as a mysterious killer dressed in black leather and wearing a motorcycle helmet begins butchering beautiful young fashion models with no mercy and one deranged request: STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER! Nino Castelnuovo (THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG) and Femi Benussi (HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON) co-star in this sleazy 70s classic directed by Andrea Bianchi (BURIAL GROUND, MALABIMBA), now presented in a brand-new High Definition transfer from the original uncut and uncensored camera negative!

WHO SHOULD BUY: Well, I imagine that fans of Strip Nude for Your Killer will be pleased with this Blu-ray release, as, until now, it’s been tough to find on home video. But honestly, this one is a stinker. Probably the most haphazard, sloppiest filmmaking I’ve ever seen in a giallo horror to date – and that’s saying something!! The plot is ridiculous and poorly assembled, the characters illicit little sympathy and even the horror is barely horrific, bordering on the nauseatingly repetitive. The best part about the entire film is lead actress Edwige Fenech, who hardly figures into the story but manages to light up just about every dull scene she’s in. Oh yeah, and there’s a lot of nudity. So, the film lives up to its title. Which, ultimately, is the most positive thing I can say about it.

THE BLU-RAY DISC: Either Blue Underground is also ambivalent about this release or they had some pretty dull source material because Strip Nude for Your Killer is the least impressive Blu-ray I’ve seen from the label. The transfer is soft with poor contrast that rarely exhibits true-black and lacks the usual detail that BU is able to cull from the old, low budget b-movies they tend to put out. But, in this case, the cinematography is so poorly handled that it barely matters. On a positive note, colours seem stable and rather accurate. Italian and English audio is available in mono DTS-HD Master Audio tracks, both solid and clean affairs. There’s little in the way of extras here. Only a 12-minute long interview with actress Solvi Stubing and co-writer Massino Felisatti, a poster and stills gallery and the theatrical trailer.

AMAZON: $24.99


BBC Natural History Collection (Planet Earth: Special Edition / Galapagos / Ganges / Wild China) [Blu-ray] (2012)

THE SERIES:Experience the best the Earth has to offer in stunningly clear high definition. Witness rare action, impossible locations and intimate moments with our planet’s best-loved creatures with the critically acclaimed, Emmy-winning Planet Earth Special Edition, now packed with over seven hours of extras; travel the length and breadth of China and discover the fabulous diversity of its natural wonders in Wild China; visit the home of the most astonishing creatures found anywhere on Earth with Galápagos; and discover a kaleidoscope of color and energy as you explore the river that shaped the wildlife, culture and beliefs of India in Ganges. It’s your world as you’ve never seen it before in dazzling Blu-ray high definition!

WHO SHOULD BUY: I guess the real target for this umpteenth re-package/re-release of the popular and worthy BBC Planet Earth franchise Blu-ray collection is those few consumers yet to invest in the set. The High Definition Natural History collection packages together not only the mutli-disc, award-winning Planet Earth series but also includes the follow up releases Ganges, Galapagos and Wild China. This collection of series was originally made available in 2008 but since then, BBC and Warner have updated the Planet Earth set to the Special Edition category, affording it new transfers, much improved audio and hours upon hours worth of special features that make upgrading from the original 2007 release seem very tempting. Those who only own the old PE set and are interested in the other three series packaged into this set will certainly find it a worthwhile upgrade. Those who don’t own any of the discs will absolutely be blown away by both the quality and quantity of content here. If you already own the original Natural History collection, well, it’s up to you. If you really need those Special Edition features and the audio upgrade on Planet Earth, you should probably just pick up that 6-disc set on its own and give your old PE discs to a pal.

THE BLU-RAY DISCS: This is one hell of an amazing looking set of discs. That said, it’s not perfect. There’s a lot of content here and, it goes without saying, that if you look closely, you’re bound to see just about every encoding mishap pop up at some point across one of the many, many episodes and features on the 10-discs. But that occasional banding and noise is so rare, I can easily give it a pass. The new transfers of Planet Earth are 1080i this time around but I don’t see a difference. I don’t know why they’re not progressive but the results appear identical to the old 1080p transfers, so I’m not bothered. Audio is now presented in improved DTS-HD High Resolution 5.1 tracks (not lossless Master Audio tracks but still, a notable upgrade.) Extras are voluminous – over 13-hours worth on the PE discs alone and way too many to list here (sorry!) – and include commentaries, music-only viewing options, Diaries (short featurettes on the making of each episode), 7 docs that run nearly an hour in length each, deleted scenes, and various other “making of” docs and featurettes. It’s a crazy amount of content.

If you don’t already own these discs, this exceptional boxed set is SUPER-HIGHLY-EXTRA-RECOMMENDED!

AMAZON: $101.99

Clicking an image will take you to where you can learn more about and purchase the Blu-ray disc:

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