Monday, December 13, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Dec. 13th, 2010 - Despicable Me!

There are not that many big releases this week but there is something for everyone, from an animated action adventure, to an action-crime adventure to action comedy to classic action films. Yes, it's a week of action, which reminds me, if you're not done with your Christmas shopping, you might want to start now. The countdown is now down to less than 2 weeks. Maybe there is something in this week's release that would catch your fancy as a great gift.

So here are this week's Blu-ray releases:
Despicable Me (Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)Despicable Me (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy)The A-Team (+ Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]Hard Boiled [Blu-ray]The Other Guys (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)True Grit [Blu-ray]The Black Pirate [Blu-ray]

"It's sooo fluffy!!!" For some reason, I remember that line very well from the movie, Despicable Me. Not because it's super funny but the slightly crass way the little character says it just sticks in your mind. And Despicable Me is certainly not on par with Pixar's classics but in a kooky, crass way, it works. Apart from Toy Story 3, this movie has got to be one of the best family entertainment films of the year. With Steve Carell as the lovable wanna-be villain Gru and surrounded by his vast army of overly cute yellow minions, Despicable Me should be on many kids' wishlist this year. Despicable Me is available in two versions, the first a 3-disc version that contains the Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy and the other has 4 discs, adding a Blu-ray 3D disc to the set. It comes in solid 1080p resolution, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio and a host of extras including mini-movies that stars the Minions. Banana! Recommendation: Buy It!

What was once old is suddenly new again. It sounds ridiculous but 2010 is the new 80's! With "Hawaii 5-0" and "V" returning to television and Mission Impossible already remade for the theaters, what better time but now to bring back The A-Team! Well, my next question is: Can a film be sustained by nostalgia alone? And the answer is: Barely. The A-Team, like most testosterone-filled action films to date has a lot of flash but falls short on substance. Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Rampage Jackson and Sharlto Copley (from District 9) make up the new cast but something's definitely missing. Oh yes, chemistry. The A-Team is not a bad movie but it is also not a good one. The A-Team comes in with an unrated "Extended Cut" plus Digital Copy. It features 1080p video and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio. We shouldn't be expecting any problems with either the transfer or the booming soundtrack. Recommendation: Rent First

Next up is John Woo's classic Hong Kong triad film, Hard Boiled, starring Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung. This film is classic Woo and should please his fans that it is finally available on Blu-ray. While the audio quality is improved by upping it to a lossless Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, the video quality is somewhat inconsistent and not up to par. You can read my full review of this Dragon Dynasty release here. Recommendation: Wait for Price Drop to Buy

The Other Guys is a hit-and-miss action comedy that works on the buddy cop formula but with a twist. Most buddy cop films focuses on the heroes ala Bad Boys. But what about "the other guys," you know, the ordinary cops standing in the background while the heroes get all the fame and glory. Well, this is a story of The Other Guys, played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who tries to fill in for supercops Danson (The Rock) and Hightower (Samuel L. Jackson) and of course, mishaps and comedy ensues. This is an entertaining enough film but certainly not a comedy classic. This release comes in two forms, a Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy set and a single Blu-ray-only disc. It features great 1080p video and a robust DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Recommendation: Rent First/Wait for Price Drop to Own

Finally, we have two film classics releasing on Blu-ray: John Wayne's 1969 Western, True Grit and from 1926, The Black Pirate, which starred Douglas Fairbanks. True Grit releases this week to coincide with the Coen Brothers' theatrical remake of the same film that is creating some pretty good buzz in anticipation of its release on December 22nd. John Wayne garnered an Oscar for his role as Marshall Rooster Cogburn and Jeff Bridges, coming off his own Oscar win for Crazy Heart last year, certainly has big shoes to fill in the remake. As for The Black Pirate, this silent film classic from Kino is presented in a sepia tone look instead of in true black and white. It may be slightly jarring but give it a whirl and you should warm up to it (1.33:1 aspect ratio and 1080p resolution). The orchestral performance of the original score is presented in Linear PCM 2.0 mix and it certainly delivers. If you are into classic films, you should certainly check out these two Blu-rays. Recommendation: Buy Them!

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