In one of the weaker weeks of new releases in recent memory, Blu-ray is giving the world a few re-release treats. This week in "The Breakdown" we spotlight some old and new classics making their way to the specialized format and a couple of box office duds debuting on shelves.
It doesn't get too much better next week, but getting the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on Blu-ray should leave you with plenty to watch until the next big release comes along. While the new releases this week are favored by some, they were financial nightmares, collecting less than $10 million combined at the box office. But who knows, some films have a fantastic shelf life after fairing poorly in theaters...
All of the following can be purchased on both DVD and Blu-ray online and in stores as of today.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans- For a Nicolas Cage film that cost $25 million, it's hard to defend a $1.7 million domestic gross, even in small release (96 theaters). That amounts to $168, or about 16 viewers, per day, per theater, over the film's 15-week run. That is a lot of numbers to digest, but take it into account when deciding whether to dish out the money to see it at home.
Still, there are a handful of people who did see the film and loved it. The line between love and hate is a thin one, but both sides passionately share their opinion. Meanwhile, the original Bad Lieutenant starring Harvey Keitel is still considered a cinematic classic. Both are visceral pieces dealing with questionable morals, but maybe it was the addition of a post-Hurricane Katrina atmosphere that drove people away from the Werner Herzog sequel.
The Collector- The appeal of this gore-fest seemed to be a Saw-like torture-porn film with less Jigsaw and more potato sack mask. Ironically, co-writer Patrick Melton discussed that the film was at one point going to be a kind of prequel to Saw. Had they gone that route, it may have fared better than a $7.7 million box office over 1,325 theaters. Similar to Bad Lieutenant, the daily numbers are scary, coming in at around $104 per theater, per day, over its 8-week release.
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Theatrical)- Peter Jackson's trilogy is undoubtedly one of the greatest overall achievements in film history. It had an immediate impact on cinema, and will no doubt influence filmmakers for generations to come. We've called it one of the ten movie events that shaped last decade, and now it has finally arrived on Blu-ray. It's arguably the most anticipated Blu-ray release yet, though many hardcore fans remain adamant about waiting until the extended cuts find their way onto the format, which may not happen until The Hobbit hits theaters.
So, is Lord of the Rings getting the Blu-ray release it deserves? Reviews across the board have stated disappointment in the video transfer, particularly with The Fellowship of the Ring. For those who appreciate Blu-ray, but don't have the videophile eye for intricacies of the transfer, it'll be more than satisfying.
Meanwhile, the audio has been praised across the board, so if you want to annoy your neighbors, now is the time. The bonus features are, as with the theatrical DVDs, a disappointment as well. They are not in HD and nothing new is featured apart from what is in the original DVD release. Also included are digital copies of each film bringing it to a 9-disc set.
In the end, it'll come down to you as a fan: Can you be patient and wait for the release of the extended editions, which will be possibly the most comprehensive home video set ever released? Or will you double dip to satiate your lust for Lord of the Rings on Blu-ray for the time being?
The Thomas Crown Affair- Say what you will about Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, but in the midst of earning his license to kill, the Irish actor turned in one of his most memorable performances. As a suave billionaire art thief, Thomas Crown was as smooth as James Bond and as sly as The Pink Panther. The film accompanied that personality nicely.
Nobody would suspect the man who can buy anything and have any woman to steal art straight from a museum, right? That's what Rene Russo is on the hunt to find out and the complicated relationship between the two main characters sizzles while the rest of the film intrigues. This remake of a 1968 Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway film brought in a modern-day audience and an upgrade to Blu-ray will give it a nice shiny coat befitting its subject matter.
The Natural- It's likely no coincidence this sports classic released on Major League Baseball's opening week. One of the most revered sports films of all time undoubtedly deserves a Blu-ray upgrade. The format will help scenes where golden rays of sun shimmer on the back of a woman's dress or engulf a baseball in the hands of Roy Hobbs, one of the greatest fictional baseball players ever.
If you are not a fan of sports movies, the tale of romance and mystical personas is still worth a watch. There is an unprecedented love for the characters within The Natural and their own conflicts, as opposed to creating problems for the sake of an athletic feat.
The Blu-ray review scored a near-perfect 4.5 out of 5 on Blu-ray.com. A three-part documentary about the influences of the characters in the film and the filmmaking process itself will be worth a look. Most interesting is the 15-minute "Clubhouse Conversations," featuring a roundtable discussion between stars of the movie, baseball historians, and current MLB stars, regarding the aura of baseball and why it is the greatest sport in the world.
DEAL OF THE DAY:
There are a handful of good deals out there today for all kinds of genres. All three have hardcore fan bases who follow devotedly, so these discounts are worth a look.
Firefly (Complete Series)- Get the entire series on DVD for only $20. Knowing the intense passion that fans of the show exhibit, this will be a pleasant 60% saving if the $50 tag was too much. The single-season Joss Whedon sci-fi show is available on Amazon at this special rate.
Monty Python (Complete Series)- One of the most cherished comedy series has dropped from the $100 price tag to a reasonable $40 price on Amazon. The 14-disc megaset includes a Monty Python Live and a handful of bonus features. With 1,749 minutes of the comedy troupe, you are only really spending two cents per episode.
Sex and the City (Complete Series)- If there are any fans of the female-centric sitcom who don't get enough on TBS, Amazon is presenting a fantastic discount. For a series usually running at $300, it is now available for $113. Considering that means saving more than you are spending, there are not many deals as appealing as this.
INTRIGUING RELEASE OF THE DAY:
Lord of the Rings (Animated)- Some may be unaware this even exists, but Ralph Bakshi animated the J.R.R. Tolkien saga on Middle Earth in 1978, long before Peter Jackson and his fancy computers. It arguably stays truer to the dark tone of the books, so if you felt the live-action trilogy strayed too far from that vision, this is your best bet.
What do you think? Planning on buying anything today? Have you been waiting for what seems like a lifetime for Lord of the Rings on Blu-ray?