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Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of June 28

Top 5 New Blu-ray releases for the Week of June 28

It’s another crazy week of Blu-ray releases, with one of the most significant boxed sets of the year hitting at the same time as three new Criterion discs, a couple of quality horror films and a bunch of anime. There are a lot of good deals to be had on these titles this week, so if you strike while the iron’s hot, you just might be able to save a few bucks on these discs!

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.


The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Extended Edition + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]

    The Quest Is Over: All three extended versions in dazzling 1080p and DTS HD-MA 5.1 Audio. Deluxe set includes over 26 Hours of spellbinding behind-the- moviemaking material, including the Rare Costa Botes documentaries, on 15 discs.

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition: With the help of a courageous fellowship of friends and allies, Frodo embarks on a perilous mission to destroy the legendary One Ring.
    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Edition: In the middle chapter of this historic movie trilogy, the Fellowship is broken but its quest to destroy the One Ring continues.
    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended Edition: The final battle for Middle-earth begins. Frodo and Sam, led by Gollum, continue their dangerous mission toward the fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy the One Ring.

Here it is, the big day… come yet again! It was a few months past a year ago that we were all snapping up the Lord of the Rings Blu-ray boxed set that included the theatrical cuts of the trilogy. You might recall that there was a lot of dissatisfaction with that release, specifically in regards to the very soft transfer of The Fellowship of the Ring. Much was made about the fact that the production team went back and supervised new transfers for the extended versions of the three films and that those updated, more detailed presentations would be the ones that would appear on the Blu-ray discs. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when review copies of the massive, 15-disc boxed set began showing up in the hands of the press and wouldn’t you know it, but controversy regarding the transfer of Fellowship erupted once again.

This time around, there’s no debating the quality of the high-def presentation. All who watched the discs were in agreement – they’re simply stunning. Fantastic work. The concern was that the updated colour grading on Fellowship had been mistakenly pushed too far at some point in the mastering of the disc. That director Peter Jackson and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie hadn’t intended the disc to look as it does. Well, Bill Hunt at the Digital Bits got the definitive answer, straight from the horses mouth, yesterday:

    Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group confirms that The Lord of the Rings The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition Blu-ray accurately represents the intended look of each of the three features.

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring™ was remastered from the original digital production files in order to reproduce the full color imagery of the feature.

Also of note, Harry Knowles of Ain’t it Cool News independently confirms through direct communication with the filmmakers that indeed, Fellowship looks exactly as intended in this new Blu-ray set. So go ahead, disregard the controversy and grab yourself a copy of, what will no-doubt be one of the most comprehensive Blu-ray sets to be released this year. 15-discs, remastered extended editions of all 3 films, all the special features from the Extended Edition DVDs, the 3 Costa Botes documentaries and digital copies of the films all in one big box. And if you buy now through, you get it all for for 42% off the suggested retail price. Sold.

READ MORE: The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition Blu-ray disc set officially announced

AMAZON: $69.99


Black Moon: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] (1975)Zazie dans le metro: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] (1960)People on Sunday: The Criterion Collection [Blu-ray] (1930)

Three new releases from Criterion take the number two slot this week. Cheating? Yeah, a little bit, but there’s a good reason for it – outside of the new Lord of the Rings boxed set, these are the discs I’m most excited about this week but I haven’t seen a single one of them yet (damn you Canada Post and your mail strike, keeping me from receiving screeners!!!) , so in my mind, they’re all equal!

I can tell you, however, that Black Moon and Zazie dans le metro, both Louis Malle films, have been receiving rave reviews from critics, with transfers that best any previous presentation of the films on home video. Black Moon is apparently stunning. Robert Siodmak‘s silent People on Sunday is surprisingly presented in 1080i – a step-down from Criterion’s usual full-progressive transfers. I’m sure there’s good reason for this and I look forward to looking into it when I get my hands on the disc.

AMAZON: $29.99 each


Barney's Version [Blu-ray]

    Based on Mordecai Richler‘s prize-winning comic novel, BARNEY’S VERSION is the warm, wise, and witty story of Barney Panofsky, (Paul Giamatti), a seemingly ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life. Barney’s candid confessional spans four decades and two continents, and includes three wives (Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, and Rachelle Lefevre), one outrageous father (Dustin Hoffman), and a charmingly dissolute best friend (Scott Speedman). BARNEY’S VERSION takes us through the many highs — and a few too many lows — of a long and colorful life with an unlikely hero at its center —the unforgettable Barney Panofsky.

After all the hoopla here in Montreal surrounding the filming and release of Barney’s Version, an adaptation of late local hero Mordecai Richler’s 1997 novel of the same name, I can’t but feel a little let down by the film. It’s mostly fine work and, without question, a stand-out Canadian film but on the international stage, it falls flat. To be fair, it’s a complex story, well juggled by screenwriter Michael Konyves, of a complex, well rendered character, played by Giamatti. But between his often reprehensible actions and Giamatti’s often overheated performance, it’s tough to feel like spending time with Barney Panofsky. In fact, many of the performances feel artificial or forced (as is often the case in Canadian films, I find), with Hoffman’s portrayal of ex-cop dad, ‘Izzy’ Panofsky the standout exception and the real life of the film.

It can’t have been easy translating a famous novel, written in the first person and cut into episodes, one for each of the main character’s three wives, into a cohesive whole and I give director Richard J. Lewis props for assembling a film that works well enough and feels organic from beginning to end. I just didn’t engage with it as much as most critics seem to have.

The Blu-ray disc presentation of Barney’s Version looks fantastic. Detail is plentiful and colour is spot on and the whole thing maintains a very film-like appearance throughout. The film is dialogue heavy, of course, and the 5.1 DTS-HD track keeps it crisp and clean. Musical cues are given plenty of headroom to breathe and ambient sound, while limited, is effective.

There’s a surprising amount of bonus goodies on the disc starting with a pretty decent writer and director commentary track, that brings producer Robert Lantos along for the ride. There’s also a lot of deleted scenes on the Blu-ray, over half an hours worth, that seem to be exclusive to the eOne disc release from Canada (I don’t see them listed on Sony‘s US version.) Add to that an hour-long conversation between Giamatti and Annette Insdorf (truncated to 35-minutes on the US disc), red carpet interviews and a few minutes with the late author discussing and reading from the book and you’ve got one hell of a nice Blu-ray package!

AMAZON: $ 22.93 CDN


Barney's Version (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2011)

AMAZON: $28.99


Sucker Punch (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)

    Born from the creative vision of filmmaker Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300), this epic action fantasy launches from the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Locked away against her will, Babydoll (Emily Browning) has not lost her will to survive. Determined to fight for her freedom, she urges four fellow captives – outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung) and reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish) – to band together and try to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors Blue (Oscar Isaac), Madam Gorki (Carla Gugino) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm).

There’s a lot of hate going around for Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. And rightly so, I guess. It’s certainly got a lot of problems. And they’re core problems, at that. The mishandling of story and theme is almost unforgivable, not to mention the fact that he mistakenly presents fetishisized female characters when his intent was clearly to show young, empowered women. That said, Snyder really knows how to fashion a scene and bleed every ounce of production design from every frame of film. This is a great looking, incredibly imaginative film. And the scenes where the girls are lost in his various fantasy lands are stunning and, if taken out of the context of the rape and subjugation of the girls that the action sequences are meant to represent, a whole lot of fun. Honestly, some of the best sci-fi/fantasy, robot riding, sword swinging, gun-toting, steam-powered-Nazi-zombie killing action scenes I’ve ever seen. I’m anxious to see what Snyder cooks up for his Superman film (coming up in December 2012) when he’s directing someone else’s (hopefully) much more coherent script. Sucker Punch is an ambitious project, to be sure, but in the end, one that simply proves that Snyder should stick to doing what he does best – adapting comics and genre films.

You might argue the merits of the film itself but the Sucker Punch Blu-ray is beyond reproach. This thing is very nearly perfect. It looks amazing in high-def, with blacks so inky you’ll get lost in them, blazing colours and tons and tons of detail. And just when you think things can’t get any better, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track will sneak up and “sucker punch” you in the gut! This is reference quality audio here, with wall-shattering lows and screaming highs, dead-clear dialogue and more surround activity than your speakers have seen in ages.

I have only three words to say to you regarding the special features on the Sucker Punch Blu-ray – Maximum Movie Mode! That’s right, Snyder is back for another walk-on commentary and, much like his Watchmen walk-through, this one is almost worth the price of the disc itself. There’s a ridiculous wealth of information here, with pop-up interviews, still galleries, storyboards and more. The MMM is only on the Extended cut of the film. The disc package also includes a Blu-ray with the Theatrical Cut of the film, which features a collection of animated shorts (motion comics detailing the background of each of the films fantasy sequences) and a 3-minute look at the creation of the soundtrack of the film. The Blu-ray combo pack is rounded out with a DVD and Digital Copy of the film and BD-Live functionality.

AMAZON: $22.99


Wake Wood [Blu-ray]

    Still grieving the death of their only child Alice at the jaws of a crazed dog, vet Patrick and pharmacist Louise relocate to the remote town of Wake Wood where a local pagan ritual gives them three more precious days with her… but what will they do when it’s time for their new daughter to go back.

Again with my expectations.

Wake Wood is one of the first productions of the new Hammer films and, as such, I entered into my viewing of it expecting a certain type of experience. I have to admit, I was immediately thrown by the low-budget look of the film – shot on video, with a lot of shaky looking, muddy-dark night footage. One thing is too be certain, this isn’t the Hammer of old. Once I acclimated to the look of the picture, I found the tone of the film to hew closely to the studio I’ve known and loved for years.

Wake Wood isn’t a particularly inventive or scary film. But it hits a lot of the right notes. It comes across like a latter day, smaller scale Wicker Man, with Timothy Spall filling in for Christopher Lee as the father-figure of the titular, closed-off, pagan-magic-filled community. Spall does his best but never rises to the levels of overpowering creepiness that Lee is capable of. The suspense is, for the most part, nicely handled throughout but the filmmakers tend toward accenting spookier moments with unnecessary music and effect cues that keep the film from feeling as polished and modern as it could. All in all though, a good early effort from the reborn Hammer studios. I look forward to their next fright night.

The Wake Wood Blu-ray disc, available today in Canada from eOne and next week in the US from Dark Sky Films, can only ever look as good as its source material. And in this case, the source isn’t very pretty. The HD cam-shot film looks digital from beginning to end, often appearing flat, dark or washed out. The filmmakers make the most of it though, using it to effect in quite a few scenes. But the Blu-ray, while the best presentation possible, simply can’t hold a candle to bigger budget offerings. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is quite effective in adding suspense through ambient noise, while keeping dialogue clean and clear up the middle. I did, however, find the balance a bit off at times, which doesn’t seem to be the case with the Dolby Digital 2.0 track.

Extras include 14-minutes of deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.

AMAZON: $24.21 CDN


The Nesting [Blu-ray] (1981)

    Agoraphobic mystery novelist Lauren Cochran decides to leave the city in an attempt to cure her recent writer’s block. She rents an old Victorian house in the quiet countryside, unaware of its shocking history. As those around her suffer increasingly violent deaths, Lauren begins to unravel the truth: the house was once an infamous brothel now haunted by the victims of a bloody massacre. Will her terrifying phobia allow her to escape from “The Nesting“? Long unavailable on home video, “The Nesting” has been newly transferred in High Definition from the original camera negative and is presented here in a never-before-seen Director’s Cut.

All right, I admit it. More cheating. I’ve added a number six this week just to let you know that there’s a new Blue Underground release. I haven’t seen it yet (nor had I even heard of the film before seeing the listing for this Blu-ray disc!) but just the fact that BU is releasing it is enough to sit up and take notice. I should be getting my hands on a copy this week, at which time I’ll let you know what I think of it. I’m not usually a fan of the ‘blind buy’ but I make exception for a few boutique labels – Criterion, Severin and Blue Underground among them.

AMAZON: $15.99

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

Season of the Witch [Blu-ray] (2011)High School of the Dead Complete Collection [Blu-Ray]Beastly [Blu-ray] (2010)Cowboy Bebop: The Movie [Blu-ray] (2001)

Warrior's Way [Blu-ray] (2010)Rideback: The Complete Series (Limited Edition) DVD/Blu-ray ComboJumanji (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1995)Zathura (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (2005)

Zombie Holocaust [Blu-ray] (1982)George Gently: Series 3 [Blu-ray]To the Ends of the Earth: Complete 3 Part Miniseries [Blu-ray] (2005)Above and Beyond - Blu-ray - Complete Two Part Miniseries (2005)

The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant: The Complete 2 Part Miniseries [Blu-ray] (2005)Alpha Dog (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2006)Britten: Billy Budd [Blu-ray] (2011)Lebanon, PA. [Blu-ray]

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Blu-ray Picks for the Week of November 10

Blu-ray Picks for the Week of November 10

Clip from UP bonus short feature, Dug’s Special Mission

I wasn’t going to do these weekly pick articles anymore. Every site has got one now. And it just seemed like this was the least interesting or original thing I could offer. And then my good buddy, editor of the popular celebrity gossip site, bought himself a Blu-ray player (it’s about time!) After pressing me for details on the best Blu-ray discs he could pick up to show off his very impressive new home theatre system (60″ Pioneer Kuro! So Jealous!!!) he asked if I still publish a weekly list of new releases. Umm…

So here we are. A new picks column. Just for you buddy! Now get out there and grab a copy of UP before they’re all gone!

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

UP Blu-ray DiscMonsters Inc. Blu-ray DiscWatchmen: The Ultimate Cut Blu-ray Disc

Heat Blu-ray DiscBuster Keaton The General Blu-ray DiscDiscovery Atlas: Complete Collection Blu-ray Disc Set

Near Dark Blu-ray DiscGodzilla Blu-ray DiscLogan's Run Blu-ray Disc

The Negotiator Blu-ray DiscRed Heat Blu-ray DiscThe Ugly Truth Blu-ray Disc

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UK to finally get Watchmen: Director's Cut in November (UPDATED w/ Disc Details))

UK to finally get Watchmen: Director's Cut in November (UPDATED w/ Disc Details))

What?! Huh?! While we’re set to get the Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut 4 Blu-ray disc set on November 3rd here in the US and Canada, the UK will only see the Watchmen: Director’s Cut finally hitting store shelves November 30th?! Are you serious?! Wow…I feel awful for fans of this film on the other side of the Atlantic…

DVDActive is reporting that Paramount will ship a new 2 Disc Special Edition set in the UK priced at around £26.99 but doesn’t yet have any details on the release. Is it possible that Paramount, as the British distributor of the film could be at the mercy of Warner, producer and owner of the film and its elements, when it comes to available cuts of the film? Is Warner only doling them out to Paramount UK as transfers become available? Warner offered up this Director’s Cut to North America in July as, at the same time Paramount was only able to offer UK fans the Theatrical Cut. While the UK version contained some featurettes that we missed out on (all of which will be on the Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut Blu-ray discs. Details here…), the Warner version contained a wealth of exclusive bonus content, the most amazing of which could only accompany the longer Director’s Cut of the film – the Maximum Movie Mode!

Will Paramount’s edition of the Watchmen: Director’s Cut feature the Maximum Movie Mode or is it a Warner-only extra? Will the disc have all the other special features the UK initially missed out on? And what about the Watchemen: The Ultimate Cut Blu-ray that ships to North American stores in November? Will the UK ever have the opportunity to see this complete, much longer version?

So many questions…

UPDATE: We just got a hold of the disc details. NO MAXIMUM MOVIE MODE and a NEW commentary! Here’s exactly what you get:

Disc One

  • 2.40:1 Widescreen Transfer (1080p)
  • Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Audio
  • New Commentary from Zack Snyder and Dave Gibbons

Disc Two

  • The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics
  • Real Superheroes, Real Vigilantes
  • Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World
  • Video Journals (Webisodes): Minutemen; Sets & Sensibility; Dressing for Success; The Ship Has Eyes; Dave Gibbons; Burn Baby Burn; Shoot to Thrill; Blue Monday; Attention to Detail; Girls Kick Ass; Rorschach’s Mask
  • Viral Videos: 10 Years Of Dr. Manhattan (1970: NBS Special News Report); The Keene Act & You (1977: US Public Service Announcement); Who Watches the Watchmen? (1983: Celebrity News Feature); World in Focus (1985: British Late Night Discussion Programme)
  • Music Video: My Chemical Romance, Desolation Row

    Watchmen Director's Cut UK Blu-ray

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Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut Announced and Detailed

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut Announced and Detailed

We found out about this bad boy ages ago but now Warner has unleashed the official details of the Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut 4 Blu-ray disc set. Hitting shops on November 3rd, this set features the long awaited cut of the film that includes everything but the kitchen sink. You get all the footage missing from the theatrical cut, the extended and deleted scenes and the animated Tales of the Black Freighter woven into one 3 hour and 58 minute “Ultimate” cut of the film. I’m not sure if I can sit through all of that but I’m willing to give it a shot, at least once! Details and images below:

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut Blu-ray

215 minutes (vs. 162 minutes for Theatrical Cut and 190 minutes for Director’s Cut)
Video: 1080p VC-1
Audio: 5.1 Dolby TrueHD

Special Features:

Disc 1:

    • Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut Film
    • Audio Commentary with Zack Snyder and Dave Gibbons

Disc 2: Over 3 Hours of Special Features

    • The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics
    • Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes
    • Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World
    • Watchmen: Video Journals
    • My Chemical Romance Desolation Row
    • Under The Hood
    • Story Within A Story: The Books of Watchmen

Disc 3: Digital Copy of the Theatrical Version

Disc 4: Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comics

Watchmen: Ultimate Ad Blu-ray

Via: DVDActive

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Blu-ray Picks for the Week of July 21 – Watchmen: Director's Cut (Review)

Blu-ray Picks for the Week of July 21 – Watchmen: Director's Cut (Review)

WATCHMEN: DIRECTOR’S CUT (2009, Blu-ray released July 21, 2009 – MSRP $35.99)

Watchmen: Director's Cut Blu-rayIt’s two in the morning and I can’t stop watching the Watchmen Blu-ray disc. I got home late from work. Totally bagged. Ready to hit the sack minutes after kicking off my shoes. I had been seriously committed to sleep before finding the Watchmen disc in my mailbox. And now I’m done. I can’t tear myself away. Zack Snyder has me held enthralled, talking at me from the blackened studio of his Maximum Movie Mode, unveiling the secrets of his violent, masked universe.

I was all ready to slam this disc. I admit, I didn’t care for Watchmen in the theatre. The film has, to my mind, too many problems to be considered a success. While a lot of my issues with the theatrical cut still exist in the Director’s Cut featured on the Blu-ray disc (awkward dialogue, wooden performances, horrific music choices) I’m delighted to say that this version works a hell of a lot better! Wow. Consider me shocked. Watchmen actually needed that extra 30 minutes or so to breathe. To be honest, I had to hit the internet after watching to figure out where most of the “new” footage was found. To my surprise, a good percentage of it comes from simple scene extensions, longer takes, fewer cuts. That’s why it plays a bit better. It doesn’t cut abruptly away from a character moment. It lingers a bit longer and allows the weight of its world to sink in. In this three hour cut, the Watchmen actually works.

On top of enjoying the film itself, I was drawn in by Warner‘s new Maximum Movie Mode, where the director literally steps into the picture to walk you through a sequence. This works brilliantly well (watch a preview over at our previously posted article here) but only pops into the movie periodically. This is a crying shame. I could watch the entire film over again like this. When Zack isn’t on screen Maximizing the Movie, the rest of film plays through with pop-up facts, timelines, Picture-in-Picture interviews, comments and behind-the-scenes footage and offers to zap you out of the film to look at other content. I’ve never cared much for that, you know. As much as some of these features might interest me, I don’t ever want to leave the film to see them! There’s some great stuff there too, you know: artwork, designs, photos, focus point videos (which you can thankfully access outside of the “Mode”.) I just don’t want to have to stop the film to experience them. You hear me, Warner?! Give me the same content but never stop the show. That’s what Maximum Movie Mode is for. To display lots of stuff while the film rolls on.

Oh yeah. Almost forgot. The 3-Disc Watchmen: Director’s Cut set has more stuff to appreciate too! There are a handful of featurettes and things on the second disc and they’re great. Really nice stuff. None of it is going to blow your mind but its all a nice compliment to the bounty of information found on disc one. There’s also a digital copy of the film, found on its own, on a third disc. Yeah. I know. Digital Copy. Who cares…

For a full run-down of the discs features, read our detailed article here: Watchmen: Director’s Cut Detailed, includes Facebook Social Media Connectivity


Coraline Blu-ray DiscI can’t speak intelligently about this Blu-ray disc as the studio didn’t send me a screener but I can tell you that I’ll be heading out directly after work to pick this up tonight. I loved Coraline in the theatres. It was my first 3-D experience. Yes, I’m serious. No, I haven’t been living in a cave.

I was dazzled by the tech, the polarized-lens 3-D thing. I thought it looked amazing without having to sacrifice the colours of the film itself, as red-blue anaglyph 3-D does. Sadly, that’s the only kind of 3-D we’ve got available to us at home at this time and the Coraline Blu-ray disc provides a version in that style. I don’t hesitate to tell you that I’ll be avoiding that version, however and enjoying the film for the first time in standard old, flat 2-D. I wonder how it will hold up?


300: The Complete Experience Blu-ray Disc I’m not going to try to sell you on 300. You either like the film or you don’t. If you’re here, reading this review, you probably think the movie’s all right and are no doubt familiar enough with the story, so I’m not going to bore you with it. It is, at its core, a two-hour fight scene. It’s an amazing battle, and incredible eye candy to be sure. But really, this sort of action epic, light on story, heavy on special effects is either your bag or you’re going to look elsewhere for your cinematic delights.

That out of the way, let me say WOW! I love this Blu-ray package. What an amazing job Warner has done with this set. Double-dip be damned, if you care at all about this film and are the sort of person who enjoys bonus features on a disc (I know there are two or three of you out there who couldn’t give a Spartan’s spear about them) then it’s worth ditching the old bare-bones one in favour of this, the 300: The Complete Experience.

Read my full review here: 300: The Complete Experience Blu-ray Disc Review

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