Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Dec 27th, 2010 - Final Week of Releases

This is Week 52, the last week of 2010. My, my, my, how time flies. While we've seen plenty of great Blu-ray releases this year, both new and catalog titles, I'm afraid 2010 will close with just a whimper. Only two slightly known titles get a release this week, together with a couple of largely forgettable ones and some live-action ninja stories. So let's get to it, shall we?

Resident Evil: Afterlife [Blu-ray]Resident Evil: Afterlife [Blu-ray 3D]The American [Blu-ray]Battlestar Galactica: Razor [Blu-ray]Twelve [Blu-ray]And Soon the Darkness [Blu-ray]Kamui Gaiden: Movie [Blu-ray]Shinobi - Heart Under Blade [Blu-ray]

Alice, Claire and Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker. These names would be familiar to you if you are a fan of the long-running Capcom survival horror video game franchise, Resident Evil. Even if you've never played any of the games, you might be familiar with the previous three action-packed movies that carries the same title. The main antagonist in all of the Resident Evil titles, both in the movies and games, is the ubiquitous Umbrella Corporation. It unleashed the deadly T-virus upon the world, a virus that created zombie-like creatures that has devastated humanity and destroyed cities around the world. In the latest chapter in the saga to find survivors and destroy the Umbrella Corporation, Alice (Milla Jovovich) returns once again to do battle with the undead creatures. In Resident Evil: Afterlife (the fourth and latest movie in the franchise), Alice gets help from Claire (Ali Larter) and Chris (Wentworth Miller) Redfield as they come face to face with new nemesis, the superhuman Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). If you have watched any of the Resident Evil films, this latest one is largely more of the same: one action-packed sequence after another, with lots of CGI and Matrix-like effects that makes the film play out almost like a video game. Resident Evil: Afterlife is released this week in two flavors: in single disc regular Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D packages. It features 1080p video and a booming DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. Recommendation: Rent it first & buy it when the price drops below $10.

Anton Corbijn is a well known Dutch photographer and music video director who has worked with artists like U2 and Depeche Mode. As one can expect, many of Corbijn's images, whether they are stills or on video, are meticulously constructed, well-composed and admirably beautiful. In 2007, Corbijn turned his craft towards directing feature films with the Ian Curtis (the lead singer of British punk band Joy Division) autobiography titled, Control. This year, Corbijn returns with a more mainstream movie, The American, and it stars George Clooney as a hired assassin retreating to some peace and quiet in the idyllic and rustic Italian countryside but eventually finds that his job follows him wherever he goes. As it goes with Corbijn's style, The American can be too meticulously composed for some people, with very slow pacing, sort of a European mood piece that is short on dialogue and action but long on atmosphere and forced contemplation. The American has 1080p video and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio and comes in a 2-disc set, with the second disc being a Digital Copy of the film. Recommendation: Rent it first (this film might be a hard sell).

Battlestar Galactica: Razor is a standalone movie set in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica universe, as created by David Eick and Ronald D. Moore. It tells the story of Rear Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes) and the journey of the Battlestar Pegasus, as told through flashbacks by Major Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen). The crew of the Pegasus first appeared in the Battlestar Galactica series back in Season 2 and it was an extraordinary revelation that another Battlestar had survived the Cylon invasion. Fans of the series were curious, like I was, about the backstory of the Pegasus and NBC/Universal Studios choose to satiate our curiosity by producing this 99-minute movie that did just that. It was aired on the Sci-Fi (now Syfy) Channel in November, 2007, between the 3rd and 4th seasons of the series and ten days later, it appeared on DVD. Now, you can finally enjoy Battlestar Galactica: Razor on Blu-ray, just like the rest of the series. Recommendation: Buy it to complete your Galactica Blu-ray collection. Rent it if you are just curious.

Next are two largely forgettable releases Twelve and And Soon the Darkness. I thought that I should mention them seeing that we are lacking many exciting releases this week. All I can say is, avoid both of these titles if you can. Don't waste your time or your money.

Also releasing this week are two live-action anime/manga releases, Shinobi - Heart Under Blade and Kamui Gaiden, both from FUNimation Entertainment studio. Kamui Gaiden is an live-action adaptation of Sanpei Shirato's 1965 manga series and is directed by Japanese Oscar winner Yoichi Sai. Shinobi - Heart Under Blade is a 2005 film that depicts the war between two rival ninja clans and was a very successful film in Japan. If you are a fan of the ninja lore, these two releases should be of great interest to you.

Oh, one last thing, there are a couple of great Blu-ray discounts on Amazon this week. Both The A-Team and The Expendables are $12.99 each. These are great prices for these two very recent releases.

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