Monday, November 22, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Nov. 22nd, 2010 - Are You Expandable?

Are you going Blu? With the holiday season drawing near, there are plenty of reasons to convert to Blu-ray for your home entertainment. Prices for Blu-ray players are dropping like stones in a pond and the hi-def movies themselves are coming down to DVD-level prices as well. This upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday should see record-breaking deals for both Blu-ray hardware and software. In some cases, it is even cheaper to buy the Blu-ray version of a movie. If you are not looking to brave the massive crowds this coming weekend, why not shop online? Amazon.com is already starting their Black Friday sales today (11/22). Just go to their "Black Friday Deals" page. New deals will come online everyday for the rest of the week. Happy shopping!

So what's coming out this week on Blu-ray? Well, headlining this week's release list are the aging-action stars ensemble film The Expendables, the romantic drama, Eat Pray Love and the epic miniseries, The Pillars of the Earth, adapted from Ken Follet's best-selling novel of the same name. There are also a bunch of Lionsgate Blu-ray Legends 2-packs that pairs two action flicks in a single package at a super low price. So, without further ado, here's the list of interesting Blu-ray releases that you should watch out for this week:



The Expendables (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)Eat Pray Love [Blu-ray]The Pillars of the Earth [Blu-ray]Deadwood: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]Flipped [Blu-ray]

First up is The Expendables, which is coming in a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy set. To tell you the truth, I had my reservations about this film when I first heard about it. An aged Sly Stallone does not exactly inspire a lot of confidence these days, especially when he's also directing and co-writing the screenplay in addition to acting in the film. However, in one of a few smart moves that Stallone made in this movie, he chose to surround himself with a galaxy of other action stars instead of hogging the spotlight, getting Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke and Terry Crews to work on the film. The other good move he made is to keep the story of the film simple. In a movie about tough guys, it's all about the action and if you follow the same dependable plot formula, you can't really go wrong. And in that limited sense, The Expendables works. It doesn't try to concoct a complicated or far-out story to convolute the plot. It is just plain entertaining--sweet and simple. Like most new releases, The Expendables features great video (1080p) and audio presentation (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) that will literally blow your socks off! Recommended as a stocking stuffer for the action movie fans in your life.

Next, we have Eat Pray Love, an adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling novel of the (almost) same name, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. Julia Roberts, Billy Cudrup and James Franco stars in this Ryan Murphy ("Glee," "Nip/Tuck")-directed film that explores a woman's journey of self-discovery as she journeys to exotic locations and meets interesting people and most importantly, falls in love. Unfortunately, most critics did not like it and Roberts seems so lackadaisical in this film, showing no passion and very little personality. A lot of people were excited for this film but most of them came out disappointed. Eat Pray Love comes in a minimal single disc release with 1080p video and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio and some nice extras. My recommendation is to rent or just catch it on HBO/Cinemax.

A sweeping epic 8-hour miniseries produced for the Starz premium movie channel, The Pillars of the Earth is adapted from Ken Follet's historical novel that was first published way back in 1989. I remember reading he book a long time ago and was surprised that it took 20 years for it to be transformed into movie form but here it is. Better late than never, I guess. Follet's novel is 1000+ pages long and I can see why adapting it for the screen can be a major undertaking. To compress the many stories and subplots within the book into an 8-hour miniseries is quite an achievement. The Pillars of the Earth is set in 12th century England and centers around the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge during the tumultuous time known as The Anarchy. It stars Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland and Hayley Atwell. Reviews have been mostly positive and on this 3-Blu-ray disc set, The Pillars of the Earth is presented in 1080i and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio.

Up next, we have the HBO series, Deadwood, that made its stars Ian McShane and Timothy Olyophant household names today. With creator David Milch's ("NYPD Blue") highly profane but poetic and Victorian-esque prose peppering every scene, Deadwood was must-see TV when it was on the air for a short-lived three seasons. HBO released Deadwood: The Complete Series on DVD a couple of years ago and we are finally seeing it coming to Blu-ray this week. With a whopping total of 13 Blu-ray discs, this set is presented in 1080p video, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio and with a multitude of extras. For fans of the show, this is a must-own set.

Another one of Rob Reiner's feel-good, slice of Americana circa 1960's romance drama, I remember watching the trailer for Flipped in the theaters and thought (with a groan) that it is just another formulaic drama cut from the same cloth as Reiner's other movies. Turns out it was not that bad, if you happen to like films from that genre. Flipped tells the story of a budding romance between Juli (Madeline Carroll) and Bryce (Callan MacAuliffe) as they move from grade school to their teenage years. Expect lots of Reiner's sweet, sugary moments plus his signature comedy as well. A great family-type movie, Flipped is released in a 3-disc set (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with 1080p video and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio.

That's it for this week but before I go, here is a list of the Lionsgate Blu-ray Legends 2-pack releases that can be had for a mere $10.99 on Amazon.com. That's 2 movies for the price of less than one regular Blu-ray disc. If you don't already own these movies on Blu-ray, now is the time to stock up! Happy Thanksgiving and go do some shopping, will ya!
Crank / Crank 2 (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Running Man / Red Heat (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Terminator 2: Judgment Day / Total Recall (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Rambo: First Blood II / Rambo III (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Rambo: First Blood / Rambo: The Fight Continues (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Chaos / The Bank Job (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Black Mask / Forbidden Kingdom (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]War / The Condemned (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Universal Soldier / Lock Up (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]Angel Heart / Johnny Handsome (Two-Pack) [Blu-ray]

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