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page updated: 4/22/09



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/10/09 - 3/11/09)


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4/10/09

Afternoon, folks. We've got a couple last release announcements for you, then we're going to close out the week with some new Blu-ray Disc reviews.

First, as expected Disney has set Confessions of a Shopaholic for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/23. Available will be single-disc DVD (SRP $29.99), a 2-disc DVD edition (SRP $32.99) and a Blu-ray (SRP $39.99). Both the Blu-ray and the 2-disc DVD will include Disney File digital copy versions. Extras will include deleted scenes, bloopers and a music video, with additional content available on the Blu-ray.

Disney also has Adam Sandler's The Waterboy due for release on Blu-ray on 7/28. The title is already available on DVD.

Also, Warner has announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of New Line's Inkheart on 6/23. Extras appear to be set to include deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

And we have more details today on the contents of Sony's Glory on DVD (due 6/2). The disc will include the 122-minute version of the film, along with a Virtual Civil War Battlefield Interactive Map, director's commentary, deleted scenes, The True Story Continues documentary and 2 featurettes (The Voices of Glory and The Making of Glory). Audio will be Dolby TrueHD.

Okay... now let's have some reviews. Here's Jeff's take on Universal's Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, as well as DreamWorks' The Kite Runner. All are now available in stores. Enjoy!

Here's some more new cover art... Sony's Glory and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete (due 6/2), as well as Disney's The Waterboy...

Glory (Blu-ray Disc)Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete (Blu-ray Disc)The Waterboy (Blu-ray Disc)

Have a great weekend! Stay tuned...

4/9/09

We're a little short on announcement news today, other than this... Warner has set New Line's direct-to-video The Cell 2 for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/16. Like this movie needed a sequel, but what the hey...

Also today, Matt over at our partner site MusicTAP posted details on this earlier this week, but Apple Corps and EMI have announced that they're releasing remastered CD versions of the entire Beatles catalog on 9/9. Individual CD titles will available along with two box sets, one featuring the stereo albums and the other the earlier mono albums. Matt's pretty excited about this, but I'm a little less than blown away. Unfortunately, these are not coming on either DVD-Audio or SACD, and other than documentary DVDs available in the early pressings of the box sets, there are no bonus tracks or other extras. You can read more here via the New York Times.

Finally this afternoon, this may surprise you guys a little: Our very own Dr. Jahnke has a few critical words for the Hollywood studios regarding some of their Blu-ray Disc efforts of late. (Actually, so do I - read on...) You'll find that in his latest (and in my opinion MUST READ) Bottom Shelf column. For the record, he makes a number of absolutely valid points that I agree with, so I'm hoping you studio insiders are reading and will PAY ATTENTION. Look... Blu-ray has most of us here more excited about movies on disc than we've been in a very long time and, despite the fact that we still love standard DVD, it's definitely become the best way to watch movies at home. BUT... the studios are still paying way too much attention to BD-Live games and other wizbangs that nobody with half a brain is going to play with more than once, they're still not including lossless audio on every disc, they're still using too much Digital Noise Reduction to scrub away film grain (and thus image detail), software prices are still too high, there have already been some unforgivable double-dips on the format, playback problems are too often being left to firmware updates to resolve and the damn discs still take too long to load... especially if you've hooked up your BD-Live player to the Internet. That damn "Internet Connection Established" message adds about about 15-20 seconds to the load times. Ugh. Select studios aren't bothering to include all of the previously released DVD extras on the new BD editions. Several studios, notably including Sony, drop the theatrical trailers on nearly every disc (irritating when you have friends over and you're trying to decide which of a handful of titles to watch - the trailers help you choose). Worse yet, MGM is still releasing movie-only editions for about half their titles. I mean, seriously... you guys couldn't port the DVD extras over for Ronin?! A number of previous HD-DVD releases STILL haven't found their way to BD. And some studios are being a lot more aggressive than others in terms of releasing great catalog titles on the format - something most of our readers really care about judging by the e-mails I get every day wondering when different movies are coming to BD. (This is my biggest point of disagreement with Adam's column, and one of the few.) I'm particularly impressed with Paramount in this regard. They might have been flip-floppers during the format war, but they're doing very good BD work now - great A/V quality, lots of big catalog titles, nearly all DVD extras (including Easter eggs) are being carried over. Other studios could do more. Look, we love the Blu-ray Disc format. But Jahnke's right... some of you studios really need to raise the bar a little more and try harder to clear it. Bottom line: The Bits held Hollywood's feet to the fire regarding DVD quality in the early days of that format, and we mean to do the same with Blu-ray too. 'Nuff said.

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

4/8/09

We've got more new announcements for you today, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has officially set Lost: The Complete Fifth Season for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/8 (SRP $59.99 and $79.99). Each will be a 5-disc set including all 17 episodes, along with commentaries, deleted scenes, cast interviews and behind-the-scenes features (TBA). The Blu-ray set will also include additional exclusive features (also TBA).

Warner Home Video has announced the DVD release of Third Watch: The Complete Second Season on 7/7, followed by Global Metal and Dim Sum Funeral (for HBO) on 7/21, and Daffy Duck's Quackbusters and Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!: Season 3 (for Adult Swim) on 8/4.

20th Century Fox has set Saving Grace: Season 2 for release on DVD on 6/16.

MGM's Stargate Atlantis: Season 5 will street on 6/30.

And in "across the pond" release news, Icon Home Entertainment has just announced the 6/29 U.K. DVD and Blu-ray release of the sci-fi actioner Push. Extras will include 4 deleted scenes, audio commentary with stars Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning, and the Science Behind the Fiction "making of" featurette. We expect a U.S. release to be announced soon from Summit Entertainment.

In other news today, Home Media has a good story on a new Parks Associates consumer electronics story that finds some 2.5 million Americans would be willing to buy a Blu-ray player if they cost no more than $50 above a standard DVD player. That threshold will almost certainly be crossed later this year, in time for the holidays. Also, the study finds that consumers are most interested in TVs with access to online rental content. This is why I think more Blu-ray players with VOD access make sense - you'd give consumers access to Blu-ray, DVD AND online VOD programming... in other words, the best of all worlds.

Finally, it looks like the early reviews for Paramount's new Star Trek are very positive. (See this report from my friend Anthony over at Trek Movie.) After that last trailer, I'm definitely sold. I can't wait to see this film. Speaking of which, here's a couple of great new clips that should get even more excited - Karl Urban absolutely nailing DeForrest Kelly's mannerisms as Dr. McCoy and Chris Pine delivering nicely on Kirk's arrogant swagger. That McCoy clip had me laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair."I suffer from aviophobia. It means fear of dying in something that FLIES!"

Stay tuned...

4/7/09

First up this afternoon, we've got our weekly update of the Release Dates and Artwork section, complete with new Amazon.com pre-order links and covers for tons of new DVD and Blu-ray Disc titles. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking to them through our links helps to support our work here at The Bits, and we appreciate it very much.

Now then... here's the big news today: Our own Robert Harris has informed us that the Jacob Burns Film Center is acting as the charitable sponsor for his new effort to save MGM's The Alamo. The Center is now accepting tax-deductable donations that will help fund the restoration. You can currently send donations via check to:

Jacob Burns Film Center
405 Manville Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570
Att: Dominick Balletta


Please include "f/b/o Alamo Restoration" in the memo field. Links will soon be available to allow PayPal and credit card payments as well, and we'll let you know as soon as they're ready. We know times are tough, but please consider making a donation because the film elements have deteoriated to the point where it's now or never - if the film isn't restored this year, people will never again be able to experience it in its original 70mm/6-track stereo glory. And the result of this restoration will be new restored DVD and Blu-ray releases of the general release and roadshow versions of the film, as well as select theatrical screenings. This is your chance to play a direct role in saving one of John Wayne great films, so please don't miss it.

In announcement news today, Sony has set The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume 1 for release on DVD on 5/5, followed by the Jack Lemmon Film Collection (6 discs, includes Under the Yum Yum Tree, Good Neighbor Sam, Phffft!, The Notorious Landlady and Operation Mad Ball) on 6/09, and No Way Back (Blu-ray), The Strange One, Striking Distance (Blu-ray), Jesse Stone: Thin Ice, What Goes Up and The Three Stooges Collection: 1949-1951 (24 shorts on 2 discs) all on 6/16.

Also, Paramount has set Matlock: The Third Season, Petticoat Junction: The Official Second Season (both for CBS) and Reno 911!: The Complete Sixth Season (for Comedy Central) for DVD release on 7/7.

HBO has officially announced the DVD only release of Eastbound & Down and Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season on 6/30 (distributed by Warner Home Video).

Meanwhile, Warner has set He's Just Not That Into You for release on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/2.

And based on new listings on Amazon.com, it looks as if 20th Century Fox is getting ready to announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of a few new TV titles, including Sons of Anarchy: Season 1, Dollhouse: Season 1 and The Unit: Season 4. Street dates are still TBA.

Speaking of Fox, the morons at Fox News (and I'm not making any kind of political comment here) committed a big no-no this past week. When a workprint version of their affiliated movie studio's new film Wolverine leaked online... Fox News actually downloaded a copy and REVIEWED it on air! I'd expect that from some Internet movie site, but a major news organization?! Good grief! According to Variety, Fox News entertainment blogger Roger Friedman was fired over the gaff, which probably comes as no surprise to anyone... save perhaps for Friedman himself. Guess there weren't enough videos of guys fighting sharks underwater to cover that day. Is it just me, or does the 24-hour news cycle encourage some of these reporters to flinch at the most absurd news items like cats to a feather toy? All three of the major cable news networks are going downhill as far as I'm concerned. When you're covering major, complex issues via Twitter, something's gone seriously awry...

Here's more new cover art... HBO's Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season on DVD, and MGM's Out of Time and Rollerball remake on Blu-ray (both due 6/2)...

Entourage: The Complete Fifth SeasonOut of Time (Blu-ray Disc)Rollerball (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

4/6/09

Morning, everyone! Sorry I disappeared on you all late last week. It wasn't planned to be sure. It's a long story, but the short version is that we've got some home renovation working going on here. So last Wednesday night I found myself unexpectedly unable to access my office for a couple days there, which meant no computer access and thus no posts. D'oh! We forget how dependent we are on technology sometimes.

Anyway, first up today, we've got that new Golden Hollywood column from Rob Siegel that I promised you last week. Given our recent announcement of Robert Harris' new effort to restore MGM's The Alamo, we figured the title would be a great subject for Rob's column too. So this time around, to help you all understand why the film is so important, Rob takes a look back at the making of this John Wayne classic. We hope you enjoy!

In announcement news today, MGM has set a number of new catalog Blu-ray titles for release on 6/2, including The Graduate, To Live and Die in L.A., Walking Tall, Out of Time, Roadhouse, the Rollerball remake and Navy Seals (all distributed by Fox).

Speaking of Fox, that studio also has some new catalog titles on the way to Blu-ray, including The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition on 6/16 (also available on DVD), and The Towering Inferno and M*A*S*H on 7/14. Fox has also set TV's Burn Notice: Season 2 for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/16.

Speaking of TV titles, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced the DVD only release of Army Wives: The Complete Second Season and Raising the Bar: The Complete First Season on 6/2, followed by Samantha Who?: The Complete Second Season and Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season on 8/25, Castle: The Complete First Season on 9/22 and finally ABC's Life on Mars: The Complete Series on 9/29. I have to say, I actually quite liked Life on Mars. The ending was silly, but the cast, acting and period dialogue and production design were all very good. I wish the producers had simply used that same cast to tell a straight-laced 1970s cop story, because I think the slight sci-fi element just didn't catch on with people. Ah well... see ya 'round, Spaceman.

By the way, while we're talking TV series, you may recall that I'm a fan of NBC's Friday Night Lights. The Third Season comes out on DVD from Universal on 5/19, and the even better news is that NBC has just picked up the series for TWO more seasons. Like season three, these will be co-financed with DirecTV and will include 13 episodes each. You can read more here. Hopefully, Universal will release the series on Blu-ray one of these days.

And back to Disney for a moment, the studio has announced plans to bow their forthcoming new Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs edition on Blu-ray+DVD Combo format on 10/6 (SRP $39.99), while the standard 2-disc DVD version will follow seven weeks later on 11/24 (SRP $29.99). The move is obviously designed to help drive consumers to upgrade to Blu-ray if they haven't already done so. Some standard-def fans will no doubt be put off by this, but we think it's a great idea and it's about time a major Hollywood studio had the balls to do it. First, the film has already been released on DVD once back in 2001, so it's not like SD fans of the film are really being denied. Plus, there's a DVD copy right there in the package in addition to the Blu-ray. Also, Blu-ray players have never been cheaper, and they'll be priced even lower come the holiday season - some below $150 and a few models could even reach $100 in select retail promotions. And Blu-ray is WELL worth the upgrade. Don't think of it as buying a new format - think of it as replacing your old DVD player with a newer, better one that plays all your existing DVDs AND new high-definition movies too. Anyway, says Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek in the studio's official press release:

"We are thrilled that the consumer has clearly recognized the value in our Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack releases and will have another opportunity to maximize their viewing options in October with Snow White. With today's technological breakthroughs found in Blu-ray, we are confident that this version of Snow White will easily become the reference point for high definition home entertainment libraries and family collections all over the world."

Note that the Blu-ray will include significant new bonus material (TBA) and 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio. You can read more at Home Media and Video Business.

FYI, also soon to be announced for release on both DVD and Blu-ray by the studio are Confessions of a Shopaholic and Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience (street dates TBA). Watch for official details in the coming weeks.

Finally this morning, I've recently had the honor to become a member of Home Media Magazine's Tastemakers Forum, which is "small, private group of academics, technology experts, bloggers and families from select cities around the country" that will demo "new products, concepts and technologies in home entertainment" and offer feedback to the industry at large. Forum members were recently asked to offer our picks for the Top 10 Blu-ray Releases to date - titles we feel are essential to any good Blu-ray movie collection. The nominations were collected and the top choices of the Tastemakers have just been announced. They are (in no particular order): Warner Home Video's Blade Runner, The Dark Knight and 300, the BBC's Planet Earth, Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Wall-E and The Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, Universal's The Bourne Trilogy, Paramount's The Godfather Trilogy and Sony's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I'm pleased to say that fully half of my personal choices made the final list (Blade Runner, Planet Earth, Wall-E, Godfather and CE3K). For the record, the other five titles I nominated that didn't make the group cut were Paramount's Iron Man, MPI's Baraka, MGM's The James Bond Ultimate Editions, Fox's Planet of the Apes: 40-Year Evolution and Criterion's The Third Man. I mention them here, because I highly recommend each of them to anyone who enjoys the Blu-ray format. You can read more on the official picks here.

We'll leave you with a bunch of new cover art this morning... here's a look at Fox's The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition, MGM's Road House, The Graduate and To Live and Die in L.A. and Warner's Pushing Daisies: The Complete Second Season (7/21) all on Blu-ray, as well as Disney's Life on Mars: The Complete Series on DVD. ALL are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the covers...

The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Road House (Blu-ray Disc)The Graduate (Blu-ray Disc)

To Live and Die in L.A. (Blu-ray Disc)Pushing Daisies: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray Disc)Life on Mars: The Complete Series

Stay tuned!

4/1/09

Afternoon, folks. No April Fool's here today, just FYI. You're probably as tired of those shenanigans as we are, so we abstain...

First up today, it looks like there was a mix-up at the replication plant, and a number of people have inadvertently purchased barebones "rental only" versions of Fox's Slumdog Millionaire on DVD - a title that's supposed to include deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette. If you've been affected by this, you can call Fox's hotline number for this (1-888-223-4FOX) to arrange for a replacement disc. You can read more on this here at Content Agenda.

Also today, we've learned a little more about Criterion's cancellation of Ran on Blu-ray, but just so you know this is NOT official, so it should be considered Rumor Mill-worthy. It seems that the U.S. home video release rights to the film are owned by Wellspring (who have released it on DVD in the past), the parent company of which is Genius Products, now 70% owned by The Weinstein Company. There have been industry rumors over the last year that Weinstein Co. is in some financial difficulty, so it's possible the Brothers want a better deal with Criterion (i.e. more or too much money) from Criterion to licence the title for Blu-ray. Hopefully, a deal of some kind will be struck soon, because (I'll say again) nobody would do better by this title in high-definition than Criterion. We are SO dying to see Kurosawa films in 1080p...

In announcement news today, Warner Home Video has set Pushing Daisies: The Complete Second Season for release on both DVD and Blu-ray on 7/21 (SRP $39.98 and $49.99). There will also be a combo back of both the first and second seasons on DVD the same day (SRP TBA). Also newly announced by Warner for release on DVD and Blu-ray is NBA Champions 2008-2009 on 7/14 and National Geographic's Rhino Rescue on 7/28.

By the way, remember that new Monty Python documentary series that IFC is working on for later this year - the one we mentioned the other day? Word is that when Eagle Rock releases the DVD (reportedly in October, shortly after the cablecast), they may release a Blu-ray as well. You can read more here at the U.K. funnies site Chortle.

And in news around the Net this afternoon, Home Media has a story up on the possibility of 3-D at home on Blu-ray, but without the need for glasses.

We've got more Blu-ray reviews coming over the next day or two, as well as another Golden Hollywood column from Rob, so stay tuned...

3/31/09

We're very pleased this morning to bring you another new High-Definition Matters column from Barrie Maxwell. In this edition, Barrie reviews 7 great new Blu-ray Disc releases, including Sony's I've Loved You So Long, MGM's The Silence of the Lambs and Quantum of Solace, Warner's An American in Paris, 20th Century Fox's The Robe and South Pacific, and Disney's Bolt. All are now available in stores and are WELL worth your time. The classic titles in particular are spectacular. Enjoy!

Elsewhere here at the site today, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming Artwork & Release Dates section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits, and we appreciate it!

We've also kicked off a new Giveaway here at the site, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's South Pacific and The Robe on Blu-ray. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, April 12th, so click on the links to enter and good luck!

In announcement news today, Genius Products and The Weinstein Company have officially set Fanboys for release on DVD on 5/19. Extras will include audio commentary with the cast and filmmakers, deleted scenes, webisodes and 4 production featurettes (including The Truth About Fanboys). It doesn't appear that a Blu-ray is planned currently.

Also, Sony has set The Shield: The Complete Seventh Season for release on DVD on 6/9 (SRP $59.95). Extras on the 4-disc set will include commentaries and deleted scenes.

In other news today, blistering first-week sales have powered Summit Home Entertainment's Twilight into becoming the top selling DVD of year so far. Some 5.2 million combined copies were sold on DVD and Blu-ray in its initial week of availability. The exact sales numbers for Blu-ray haven't been released, but it's reportedly less than 5%. That's somewhat misleading however, because the Blu-ray versions of the film are only available at Best Buy (a single-disc version), Target (a 2-disc special edition) and Amazon.com (an exclusive collector's box set) until 5/5 (more on that here and here). Former Warner Home Video SVP Steve Nickerson is Summit's guiding hand now, and one can't help but wonder if that had anything to do with the decision to restrict the Blu-ray release. Nickerson previously worked for Toshiba, and was a strong supporter of the now defunct HD-DVD format. It's clear that without this restriction, many more copies could have been sold on Blu-ray. From this Video Business piece on first-day sales of the title, comes this comment on the Blu-ray from Hastings VP Victor Fuentes:

"We had to explain to customers that Blu-ray was only available at two other retailers. Regardless, these loyal Hastings Twilight fans bought the standard version but could have easily been upgraded to buying Blu-ray. Instead, they purchased the standard DVD, counter to what we are trying to do as an industry."

On the other hand, it's also quite possible that Target and Best Buy offered Summit some kind of special incentive (advertising, promotion, etc) to have the Blu-ray version exclusive for a limited time... though the arrangement can't have made Wal-Mart and other retailers too happy.

Also today, Sony has just cut the price of its PS2 game system to $99, and a number of analysts predict that price cuts on the Blu-ray equipped PS3 will follow later this year, though Sony has so far denied it. More here at Video Business.

Finally, here's a little more new cover art... Genius/Weinstein's Fanboys DVD and Warner's Spring Breakdown on both formats (6/2)...

FanboysSpring BreakdownSpring Breakdown (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/30/09 - 1:30 PM PDT)

We've got a couple more notes for you today...

First, Netflix is apparently upping its Blu-ray subscription fees on 4/27, though title selection and availability have also apparently recently increased. The new monthly premium for Blu-ray rentals will range from $1 to $9 depending on your plan of choice. You can read more here at Video Business.

Also today, IFC and Eagle Rock Entertainment have just announced that they've convinced all the surviving Monty Python members to participate in one final documentary re-telling of their story later this year. Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) will be a 6-part, 6-hour series set to air on IFC from October 4th through the 10th. IFC will also air three of the films - Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Life of Brian and Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl - that same week. Eagle Rock will then release the series on DVD (street date TBA). From the official press release:

"The Pythons will tell their life story and reveal deeper truths alongside more tried and tested Python history lessons.

"This is the documentary I always hoped that would be made - something so complete and so faithful to the truth that I don't need to watch it," said Terry Jones.

This series will study the Pythons up close and in some cases against their contemporaries: rock stars, comedians, actors, politicians, writers, broadcasters, religious groups, Python-haters and potential axe murderers. Every opinion on Monty Python will be brought to life on-screen for the first time with never-before-seen material. Dozens of featured guest interviews will include Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels, Hugh Hefner, Eddie Izzard, Olivia Harrison, Steven Merchant, Dan Aykroyd, Tim Roth, Seth Green, among many others."


Pretty cool. Speaking of which, we have good information from our industry sources that Sony will be releasing Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Blu-ray Disc later this year as well (street date TBA).

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/30/09 - 1 PM PDT)

Afternoon, all! Welcome to another new week...

We've got a couple of quick new title announcements to report today, both from Warner. The studio has set New Line's He's Just Not That Into You for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/2. The DVD will include deleted scenes with optional commentary and the ability to download a Digital Copy version of the film. The Blu-ray include the deleted scenes, along with multiple behind-the-scenes featurette, BD-Live and a Digital Copy version on a separate disc. Also newly announced is Warner's Spring Breakdown on 6/2. Both the DVD and Blu-ray will include audio commentary, deleted scenes and a gag reel.

Also this afternoon, our own Rob Siegel has turned in another new Golden Hollywood column, this time looking back at the making of (and promotional artwork for) MGM's Gigi. The film was released by Warner Home Video in a new 2-disc DVD special edition last September, and it streets on Blu-ray Disc tomorrow. Enjoy!

Finally today, we want to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of a film legend... composer Maurice Jarre, who died yesterday in Los Angeles. He was 82. Among his best work are scores to such classics as David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago and A Passage to India (he won Oscars for each), along with The Longest Day, Grand Prix, Topaz, The Mosquito Coast, Max Max: Beyond Thunderdome, The Year of Living Dangerously, Firefox, Fatal Attraction, Ghost, Dead Poet's Society, Gorillas In The Mist, Witness, TV's Shogun and many more. You can read more here at CNN and at the BBC.

Here's also some new cover artwork... the DVD art for Universal's Land of the Lost: The Complete Series (due 5/26, sans the lunchbox packaging), Sony's The Sky Crawlers on DVD and Blu-ray (also 5/26), Blu-ray art for Uni's Frost/Nixon (4/21) and DVD and Blu-ray art for New Line's He's Just Not That Into You...

Land of the Lost: The Complete SeriesThe Sky CrawlersThe Sky Crawlers (Blu-ray Disc)

Frost/Nixon (Blu-ray Disc)He's Just Not That Into YouHe's Just Not That Into You (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

3/27/09

Okay, we've got just a couple odds and ends for you to close out the week...

First up, Anchor Bay has officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of Children of the Corn on 7/28 (SRP $29.97). Extras will include commentary with director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains, 3 HD featurettes (It Was The Eighties!, Stephen King on a Shoestring and Welcome to Gatlin: The Sights and Sounds of Children of the Corn), 1 SD featurette (Harvesting Horror: The Making of Children of the Corn), galleries of poster art, storyboard art, the original title sequence and photos, and the film's theatrical trailer.

Also today, Blue Underground has announced a trio of new horror titles for release on 7/28, including The 10th Victim and Torso on DVD (SRP $14.95 each), as well as Bad Boy Bubby on Blu-ray (SRP $34.95). All three will include trailers, while Bad Boy Bubby will also include 2 interview featurettes (Christ Kid, You're a Weirdo and Being Bubby) as well as the Confessor Caressor short film. Here's a look at the cover art...

TorsoThe 10th VictimBad Boy Bubby (Blu-ray Disc)

Here's some bad news unfortunately: Criterion has had to indefinitely postpone their planned Blu-ray release of Akira Kurosawa's Ran due to rights issues. The disc had been set for release on 5/12. Hopefully, the situation will get straightened out soon. I can't think of another Blu-ray release I was looking forward to more than that one, and you know Criterion would have done a helluva great job on the transfer too. We'll post more on this as we have it.

Finally, a number of people have been asking about the "new" Blu-ray edition of The Terminator that's set for release on 5/12 by MGM. We've looked into it, and there's no new extras. This is just the existing BD release being repromoted in new lenticular packaging. Just so you know.

Before we go today, I thought we'd leave you with a couple of cool pictures. The first is of a trio of longtime Digital Bits readers (and BIG Blu-ray fans) who work pretty cool jobs in a pretty cool place - they're CG effects crew members up at Industrial Light and Magic in San Francisco! Pictured left to right below (with Yoda) are Jean Denis Haas, Frank D'iorio and David Lenihan, fresh off working on Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation! Glad to have you guys as readers!

Bits readers at ILM

Finally, here's another cool picture just because: One of the first shots ever of the International Space Station near complete with all solar arrays (the last one was just added by the STS-119 astronauts), taken in space a couple days ago. Construction's been going on for 11 years, and of course the project's been underway for a lot longer than that. All that's left to add are another couple modules and a few additional pieces of equipment. You see, this is what the world can do when when its countries and best minds apply themselves to good purpose. Pretty damn cool, if you ask me. You can find lots more pictures here if you're interested. By the way, a little bit of trivia: There are more humans in space right now at once than there have ever been before: 3 on the station, 3 on the way there aboard Soyuz TMA-14 and 7 on the Space Shuttle about to come home tomorrow, for a total of 13. Again, pretty cool.

ISS

All right, that's enough for now. Hope you all have a great weekend. And once again, you folks up in North Dakota (and parts surrounding) hang in there and try to keep dry. Peace out...

3/26/09

Well... I'm up early today, or more accurately haven't slept yet, so I figured why not get a post up?

First things first: I just wanted to take a moment this morning to send out my best wishes to everyone back in Fargo, North Dakota. My old friend Weatherman Dave and I grew up there together back in the early 1980s. We go back far enough there to remember Mick's South and late night BFRs at Sher's Kitchen. Right now, folks up there are looking at the possibility of the worst flooding they've ever seen over the next couple days. I've been watching the reports on CNN, and you know something MAJOR's going on when Fargo makes it on CNN. The Red River, which runs through town, could top 40 feet - which is like two stories of water - and the problem is that the Red River Valley (yes, the one they sing about in the song) is some of the flattest land on Earth, so if the water breeches the dikes it goes absolutely everywhere. There's lots of sandbagging going on even as I write this, so my best to all of you guys who are gettin' dirty right about now. Hang in there, guys.

Now then, we're pleased this morning to bring you (as promised), Barrie Maxwell's latest installment of Classic Coming Attractions. This time around, Barrie looks at the new Warner Archive program, along with other upcoming Warner classic titles. He also reviews 14 new classic DVD releases, including Warner's Waterloo Bridge, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Rachel Rachel, Inside Daisy Clover, The Greatest Classic Films Collection: Best Picture Winners, The Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romantic Dramas, Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume Three and The Sidney Poitier Collection, Sony's Our Man in Havana and Five, Paramount's Funny Face: Centennial Collection, Criterion's Magnificent Obsession, Universal's Clint Eastwood: American Icon Collection and Acorn Media's Enemy at the Door: Series 1. Finally, Barrie runs down all the latest classic announcement news for the months ahead. Enjoy!

Around the Net today, there's an interesting story you Blu-ray/HD-DVD format war vets will find fascinating over on CNet. It seems that a top Microsoft lawyer has co-authored a book, called Burning the Ships, on intellectual property and Microsoft, in which it's revealed that the tech giant promised support of HD-DVD in the hope of winning a patent cross-license deal with Toshiba. Fascinating.

We've also got a little more new cover artwork for you this morning. Though it's yet to be officially announced, here's what the covers for the single-disc DVD, two-disc DVD and the Blu-ray of Fox's Taken will look like, all of them extended editions. There's no street date yet, but Amazon already seems to be taking pre-orders...

Taken: Extended CutTaken: 2-Disc Extended CutTaken: 2-Disc Extended Cut (Blu-ray Disc)

All right, that's enough for now. No bad for the wee hours. Stay tuned...

3/25/09

Afternoon, folks. Okay... with a little luck, we'll be back later this evening (or very early tomorrow) with Barrie's latest Classic Coming Attractions column. So be sure to watch for it.

First though, Adam's just turned in a new installment of Jahnke's Electric Theatre, featuring his thoughts on Knowing and more Tales from the Queue. Enjoy!

Also, as predicted after yesterday's post, we've gotten TONS of e-mails from fans of Let the Right One In who are upset that Magnolia isn't putting together some kind of exchange program for people who purchased DVD and Blu-ray versions with the substandard subtitles. For those of you who wish to contact Magnolia, here's the contact page on their website. We suggest you use the dvd@magpictures.com e-mail address. PLEASE BE COURTEOUS! Trust me, you're much more likely to get results if you're polite than just fire off an angry rant.

In title news today, Warner has announced a number of new DVD releases, including NHL Stanley Cup Champions 2008-2009 on 7/7, Bleach: Volume 18 on 7/14 (for VIZ Media), Cartoon Network Secret Saturdays: Volume One, The Mighty Boosh: The Complete Season 1 (for the BBC), Naruto Uncut: Box Set 15 (Viz Media), NANA, NANA 2 and a NANA Uncut: Box Set 1 (all VIZ) on 7/21, Pokemon Elements: Volume 1 - Grass (Viz) on 7/28 and Days That Shook the World: Season Two (for the BBC) on 8/4.

Here's more new cover art - Warner's Gran Torino on DVD and Blu-ray (6/9), along with the just-released Blu-ray art for Criterion and Paramount's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (5/5)....

Gran TorinoGran Torino (Blu-ray Disc)The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Blu-ray Disc)

Back later. Stay tuned...

3/24/09

Afternoon, folks. Boy, it's been a busy day today. TONS of e-mail to respond to.

Speaking of which, we've been getting a lot of responses to Robert's column about The Alamo restoration, and a lot of inquiries related to the effort. We're forwarding ALL of them on to Robert directly, so he's seeing and responding to each of them. Just FYI.

Here at the site today, our own Russell Hammond has just updated the Upcoming Cover Art/Release Dates section, as usual, with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon.com preorder links. As always, a portion of anything you order after clicking to Amazon through our links helps to support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it.

Also here at the site today, we've just posted the full transcript of last night's HTF chat with the folks at Warner Home Video. There are more details about the studio's new Warner Archives DVD-on-Demand program, as well as LOTS of upcoming DVD/Blu-ray catalog title news, so definitely do check it out! Thanks to everyone at HTF for sending it over, as always.

Speaking of Warner, our own Rob Siegel has just finished a new Golden Hollywood column, featuring a look back at the making and theatrical release of the classic Quo Vadis, which has just been released on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. There's lots of great art, as usual, so check it out.

We've also kicked off TWO new Giveaways (in addition to those already running), giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Being There: Deluxe Edition and Ace Ventura Jr. Pet Detective, as well as Universal's Milk and Tale of Despereaux, all on DVD. The giveaways will be open for entries until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, Match 29th, and we'll draw (and announce) the winners at random then. Good luck!

In announcement news today, Warner has just set Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/9 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99). The DVD will include at least 2 featurettes (Manning the Wheel and Gran Torino: More Than a Car). The Blu-ray will add The Eastwood Way featurette, BD-Live and a Digital Copy disc. Additional features may also be announced. Also coming on both DVD and Blu-ray (for National Geographic) is Great White Odyssey on 7/14.

In other news today, you might recall that we recently reviewed Magnet's Let the Right One In on Blu-ray Disc. Well, it's just come to our attention that the DVD and Blu-ray versions have English subtitles that differ substantially from those of the theatrical art house presentation, in that much of the subtle nuance has been lost and many original lines of dialogue are untranslated entirely. Unfortunately, having only seen the film once in theatres, I wasn't familiar enough with the translation to spot the differences. But Icons of Fright has posted some examples of just how different the subtitles are. We contacted Magnet directly on this issue this afternoon, and they were quick to respond as follows:

"We've been made aware that there are several fans that don't like the version of the subtitles on the DVD/BR. We had an alternate translation that we went with. Obviously a lot of fans thought we should have stuck with the original theatrical version. We are listening to the fans feedback, and going forward we will be manufacturing the discs with the subtitles from the theatrical version."

We asked Magnet some follow-up questions, specifically how people will be able to identify the new discs, when they'll be available in stores and if there will be an exchange program for those who have the existing version. Here's what they said:

"There are no exchanges. We are going to make an alternate version available however. For those that wish to purchase a version with the theatrical subtitles, it will be called out in the tech specs box at the back/bottom of the package where it will list SUBTITLES: ENGLISH (Theatrical), SPANISH."

The no exchange thing is going to upset many that have already purchased the disc, and understandably so. We're at least encouraged to see that the title is being corrected. We'll let you know when the discs are available, and rest assured we're letting Magnet know that an exchange program might be a wise idea...

Also, we wanted to let you know that Best Buy stores seem to have a retailer exclusive that Bond fans might be interested in. They're currently selling Quantum of Solace on Blu-ray in a 3-pack with License to Kill and The Man with the Golden Gun for about $69 (currently on sale for $10 less). Here's the thing - those last two Blu-ray titles aren't going to be widely available until 5/12. So if you want them early, Best Buy's the place to go. We're not sure what any of this means for the next combo pack release (James Bond: Volume 4) - it's not officially announced yet and MGM isn't saying peep on the subject. We suspect the Best Buy exclusive is WHY they aren't talking, and that there WILL eventually be a Volume 4, but nothing is official yet and so for now that's the best we can tell you.

And one quick follow-up: Yesterday, we mentioned that Peace Arch's JCVD will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on 4/28. Well, a number of readers have informed us that you can rent the film RIGHT NOW at Blockbusters stores. So there you go.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

3/23/09

Afternoon, everyone! As always, we hope your weekend was a great one.

I had the good fortune (and great pleasure) of attending the cast and crew screening of the Battlestar Galactica finale up at the Television Academy on Friday evening (you can read about it here and here). Nearly the entire cast was on hand, along with series producers Ron Moore and David Eick. Several hundred people in all were in attendance, with the large screening theatre packed. There was a reception in the lobby beforehand, and then a number of people made speeches including Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, SciFi's Mark Stern and, of course, Eick and Moore. Moore in particular gave a very emotional speech, the result of which was a lengthy standing ovation. Then the screening itself began and the end of Battlestar played out on the big screen. All in all, I have to say that I was completely satisfied by the finale, which is surprising given that I had almost impossibly high expectations of it (and I know I was not alone). I didn't much care for the last minute or so, which I felt was unnecessary and a little corny, but everything up to that point delivered so well and so fully that I can forgive a little self-indulgence right at the end. Thanks to everyone who worked on Battlestar for the most satisfying four years of TV that I think I've ever personally experienced.

By the way, a lot of people are (for obvious reasons) asking today when Battlestar will find its way to Blu-ray. As you know, the Caprica prequel pilot film streets on DVD only on 4/21. It's not official yet, but my sources indicate that Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series will street on Blu-ray sometime in late July (7/28 is the rumored date), and it's likely that the Season 4.5 DVD will street then as well, if not sooner. Watch for announcements in the coming weeks. One thing I CAN confirm for you today, as I learned at the finale screening, is that at least three of the Season 4.5 episodes will be extended on both DVD and Blu-ray, including A Disquiet Follows My Soul (about 10 minutes longer), Islanded in a Stream of Stars (about 20 minutes longer) and Daybreak (the 3-part finale, also about 20 minutes longer). We'll keep you up to date as official announcements are made.

Speaking of announcements, we've learned that JCVD (Jean Claude Van Damme) will be released on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 4/28 from Peace Arch Home Entertainment (SRP $19.99 and $34.99). I haven't seen it personally, but I've heard from a number of people I trust that it's pretty great. Looking forward to the Blu-ray.

Sony has set Paul Blart: Mall Cop for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/19 (SRP $28.96 and $39.95). Also coming from the studio on BD are Air Force One, Anaconda, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete and Glory, all on 6/2.

Paramount has set Fatal Attraction (as predicted in The Rumor Mill) and Indecent Proposal for release on Blu-ray on 6/9. Additional catalog BD titles are soon to be announced.

Finally, Warner has set Tiny Toon Adventures Season 1, Volume 2 for release on DVD on 4/21 (SRP 4/21).

In news around the Net today, we hear that Twilight sold like gangbusters on DVD on Saturday, moving some 3 million copies. You can read more here at Home Media.

Also, Warner Home Video has launched a "manufacturing-on-demand" program that will allow you to browse selections from the studio's massive catalog of 4,100 films, and place an order for either a $14.95 download version or a $19.95 DVD version (the latter will be replicated specifically for you and mailed). Some 150 titles are available now, and the plan is to eventually make many more available, particularly deep catalog titles that retailers are unlikely to want to stock on DVD given their limited shelf space. We think this is pretty cool - DVD on demand. Nice. You can read more at Home Media and Video Business, and be sure to check out the actual Warner Archive website.

Speaking of Warner, the studio is going to be participating in a live, online chat over at The Home Theatre Forum this evening, starting at 5PM Pacific. Click the link to participate. As always, we'll have the full transcript here tomorrow.

And if you missed it, don't forget to check out Robert Harris' new Yellow Layer column, which we posted on Friday. Robert's just announced a massive effort to restore MGM's The Alamo before the film is lost for good, and you can help! Don't miss it.

Here's the DVD and Blu-ray cover art for Peace Arch's JCVD and DreamWorks' Revolutionary Road (6/2), as well as Blu-ray art for MGM's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (5/12) and Spaceballs (6/16)...

JCVDJCVD (Blu-ray Disc)Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road (Blu-ray Disc)The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Blu-ray Disc)Spaceballs (Blu-ray Disc)

Last, but most assuredly not least, we want to take a moment to tip our caps in honor of our very own Matt Rowe (Mr. MusicTAP himself) and his family, who this weekend welcomed a brand new little girl to the Rowe clan! Yep, that's right: Matt's a grandpa! Click the link for all the details. Congrats, brother! Can't wait to see her. ;)

We'll be back tomorrow with a new Golden Hollywood from Rob Siegel, and there's a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie on tap for later this week as well. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/20/09 - 3:15 PM PDT)

Okay, I've gone round the horn this afternoon, and there doesn't seem to be any new announcements to report today. So let's just cover a couple other interesting odds and ends...

First, we're very pleased this afternoon to present a new Yellow Layer Failure column from our own Robert A. Harris. In this installment, Robert announces the commencement of his ambitious effort to fully reconstruct and restore a John Wayne classic from MGM, The Alamo, which is in danger of being lost forever. Robert's been trying to mount an effort to preserve this film for nearly a decade, and the time is now. To get the job done right, Robert and his team of restoration experts need YOUR help, so please read what he has to say. This is what it's all about, folks. This is why we do what we do here at The Bits, and it's why Robert is so passionate about film restoration. For The Alamo, it's now or never. Get involved!

Also here at The Bits today, we've got a review of MGM's new Quantum of Solace Blu-ray Disc. The disc streets on Tuesday (3/24), along with Never Say Never Again, The World is Not Enough, Moonraker and Goldfinger. We'll have reviews of the other Bond titles due on Tuesday soon as well, so be sure to check back for them.

In matters from around the Net today, our friends at The Home Theater Forum will be holding another live online chat event, this time with Warner Home Video, on Monday (3/23) starting at 5 PM Pacific. Click here to learn how you can participate. As always, we'll have the complete chat transcript here at The Bits the following day.

Meanwhile, our old friend David Boulet has posted a good piece on the future of 3-D on Blu-ray over at DVD File. Coincidentally, Time Magazine has also posted a story on 3-D cinema today, featuring comments by director James Cameron. This 3-D thing is going to get mighty interesting next year, but whether it has actual impact or is just a curiosity remains to be seen.

For you Twilight fans, don't forget that tomorrow's the big day: The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray in a variety of configurations tomorrow, with a number of retailers hosting Midnight release parties. Word is pre-orders for the title have set a record at WalMart.

Finally today, iTunes has announced that HD movies are now available on their media download service. More here.

Enjoy the Battlestar finale, college basketball or whatever your choice for weekend entertainment might be. See you Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/20/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... here's an early update. First things first...

Tonight is obviously the series finale of Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi (for now, I refuse to call the network by its new name, SyFy). We obviously can't wait, as you probably know if you've been reading this site for any length of time. Here's what you need to know about tonight's episode that you may not yet - it's going to run 2 hours and 11 minutes. So for those of you spinning hard drives tonight, you might need to add 11 minutes to the end time of your DVR recordings. These things are important, so we're just saying.

Also this morning, there's a new title announcement we wanted to mention: Stacey Spears and Don Munsil, creators of the DVD Player Benchmark and Progressive Scan Shootout at Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity, have just announced the forthcoming release of the Spears & Munsil High Definition Benchmark: Blu-ray Edition test disc. Available now (SRP $24.99), the disc features "test material and calibration patterns to help home theater enthusiasts evaluate displays and players and adjust their home theater systems to get the best possible picture." The disc is available from OPPO Digital's online store and also Amazon.com (click on the above link).

We've also got a little more new cover art for you... here's Paramount's single-disc DVD edition of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (5/5), along with their DVD and Blu-ray editions of Defiance (6/2)...

The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonDefianceDefiance (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/19/09 - 2:15 PM PDT)

I thought you guys might want to see some more new cover artwork this afternoon... here's the 2-disc Criterion DVD version of of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (5/5), Sony's DVD and Blu-ray art for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (5/12), Warner and Adult Swim's DVD cover for Robot Chicken Star Wars: Episode II (7/21), and Genius/Weinstein's The Reader (4/28) and Criterion's Last Year at Marienbad (6/23) on Blu-ray. Many are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com...

The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonUnderworld: Rise of the LycansUnderworld: Rise of the Lycans (Blu-ray Disc)

Robot Chicken Star Wars: Episode IIThe Reader (Blu-ray Disc)Last Year at Marienbad (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/19/09 - 12:30 PM PDT)

First up this afternoon, we should acknowledge the passing of Natasha Richardson yesterday. Richardson was the wife of Liam Neeson and daughter of Vanessa Redgrave, and also a mother of two. She appeared in such films as The Handmaid's Tale, Zelda, Nell and The Parent Trap remake, and was also an accomplished and Tony award-winning stage actress. You've likely already heard something of the fluke and tragic nature of her passing. Very sad.

In announcement news today, Paramount has officially revealed that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a co-production with Criterion. So there will be a single-disc DVD edition (SRP $29.99) and two-disc Criterion DVD and Blu-ray editions (SRP $39.99 each), all due on 5/5. The single-disc DVD is movie-only. The Criterion versions will include audio commentary with director David Fincher and the 4-part The Curious Birth of Benjamin Button documentary (on the beginnings of the project, the production from Day One, the visual effects and the release to theatres).

Also newly announced by Paramount today is Defiance on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/2 (SRP $19.99 and $29.99). Extras will include audio commentary by director Edward Zwick, 3 featurettes (Defiance: Return to the Forest, Children of the Otriad: The Families Speak and Scoring Defiance), the Bielski Partisan Survivors photo gallery and theatrical trailers.

Meanwhile, Universal has just revealed a number of new catalog Blu-ray titles for release in May, including Spy Game on 5/19, and Children of Men, Cinderella Man, Field of Dreams, Inside Man and Seabiscuit on 5/26. Most, if not all, of the previous DVD special features will be included. Each will sell for SRP $29.98. Fingers crossed, we're hoping The Big Lebowski, The Blues Brothers and Apollo 13 are coming soon too.

Also today, Warner will release Inside the Vatican and Inside the White House on DVD for National Geographic on 3/18.

Warner has also announced the DVD release (for Comedy Central) of Robot Chicken Star Wars: Episode II on 7/21 (SRP $19.97). Extras will include commentary, deleted scenes, video of an animation meeting and other behind-the-scenes featurettes and materials.

In a bit of interesting news from around the Net today, researches in Spain and the U.K. have recently published a scientific study of what your DVD purchase and rental habits reveal about your personality. Fascinating. You can read more on that here at Live Science.

Finally this morning, I got around to seeing Watchmen with Matt last night. We both enjoyed it for the most part, but neither of us was particularly blown away by it. You have to admire its visual style and attention to detail (the opening credit sequence is fantastic), and Jackie Earle Haley is terrific as Rorschach. But there's no character that you really emotionally invest in, which means that the film is more an intellectual viewing exercise than a truly enjoyable and fully-rounded one... and in that respect it falls somewhat short. Dr. Jahnke commented in his recent Electric Theatre column that the film is too slavish in its devotion to the original graphic novel, and I would agree with him. Very often in film adaptations, it's more important to be true to the spirit of the original material rather than the letter of it. I also think the bigger problem here is that the original graphic novel is particularly compelling on the page thanks to Dave Gibbons art, and the overall design and layout. But the film is just trying too hard to be important and groundbreaking. It assumes all the trappings of sophistication, but then occasionally reveals its rather... well, adolescent male idea of what sophistication is (and I'm not just thinking of the flamethrower gag here, though that would certainly be evidence enough). It's a little bit like Rush music. It sounds awesome initially, and all the big words in the lyrics blow you away as a teenager, but then you get a little older, and you hear truly sophisticated music, and it just doesn't always quite clear the high-bar for you anymore. It's not bad by any measure, and you still thoroughly enjoy it, but sometimes you just crave a little more. (And don't get me wrong, I like Rush music very much. So I don't want to hear from angry Rush fans. Seriously, I dig the band. They make the best concert DVDs ever. I mean f--k, I could have said KISS too, but what do you want? I'm trying to make a larger point here.) Superheroes work best on film, I think, when their premise is kept simple. For example, Superman speaks to us because he's symbolic of so many of the basic ideals we as Americans hold dear, even if we almost always fail to live up to them. Batman works because his is a very basic social, physiological and dramatic conflict - how do you fight monsters without becoming one yourself? Watchmen (the film, at least) is trying too hard. I also think the graphic novel is very much a product of the time in which it was written. And it simply works better on the page - it absolutely works on the page. Anyway, I think if I was grading the film, it'd be somewhere between a C+ and a B- depending on the day you pinned me down. You do have to admire Zack Snyder's effort and his obvious love of the material. Plus, he's just a genuinely nice guy - the kind of filmmaker I WANT to see hit it out of the park. For his next film though, I'd like to see him attempt something a little more genuine and heartfelt. I know he can rock the greenscreen stage, now I'd like to see what he can do without it. I'm just sayin'.

Stay tuned...

3/18/09

We've got word for you this afternoon that MGM is re-releasing The Terminator Blu-ray with a new lenticular cover on 5/12 (no word if there are any new features, but we suspect it's just new packaging).

Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has set Steven Seagal's Driven to Kill for release on both DVD and Blu-ray on 5/19.

In addition, Fox has set Burn Notice: Season 2 for release on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/16, along with Garfield's Pet Force and The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition, also on both DVD and Blu-ray.

Fox has also announced the DVD only release of Boston Legal: Season 5 on 5/5.

Warner has just officially announced the release of the Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Director's Cut - 40th Anniversary Special Edition on DVD on 6/9 (SRP $24.98), and the same title as an Ultimate Collector's Edition box set on both DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $59.98 and $69.99). Unfortunately, once again you can't buy the Blu-ray discs with out the box and swag.

Also today, Warner Home Video has set Torchwood: The Complete Second Season for release on Blu-ray Disc on 7/7 (SRP $79.98). This will be a 4-disc set, including everything that was available on the previously released DVD edition.

Other newly announced Warner DVD titles include NFL Arizona Cardinals: 2008 NFC Champions (6/2), E.R.: The Complete Eleventh Season and Bleach Uncut: Box Set 3 (both 7/14).

Here's a look at more new cover art... Warner's Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Director's Cut on DVD and the Blu-ray UCE box set (the Amazon version of the Blu-ray apparently comes with an exclusive bonus disc), as well as Sony's Underworld Trilogy Blu-ray box set (5/12)...

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Director's CutWoodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Director's Cut UCE (Blu-ray Disc)Underworld Trilogy (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/17/09 - 3:15 PM PDT)

As promised, we're back this afternoon with the complete transcript of last night's live online chat with 20th Century Fox restorationist Schawn Belston on the new Blu-ray release of The Robe over on The Home Theater Forum. As always, it's a good read, so do check it out.

Also, we've got some street dates for you on those BVHE TV titles we mentioned earlier. Samantha Who: The Complete Second Season and Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season are due on 8/25. Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Third Season and Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season follow on 9/1. Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD & Blu-ray) and Private Practice: The Complete Second Season arrive on 9/15. Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season and Castle: The Complete First Season hit stores on 9/22. Finally, Life on Mars: The Complete Series rounds things out on 9/29. I actually quite like that last show. Life on Mars has a great cast and the 1970s-era production design is very convincing. Too bad it didn't last longer.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/17/09 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Afternoon, folks. We've got some new title announcements and updates to report for you...

First up, Buena Vista has officially delayed the Blu-ray release of Monster, Inc. until a yet to be announced date in November. We understand that there's no production reason for this, just that the studio felt it was better to spread the two Pixar BD titles this year out a bit more. A Bug's Life is still set for BD release on 5/19 as announced.

Speaking of Buena Vista, the studio is soon to announce a number of new TV titles, including Life on Mars: The Complete Series, Castle: The Complete First Season, Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season, Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Fifth Season, Private Practice: The Complete Second Season, Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Third Season, Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season, Samantha Who: The Complete Second Season and Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season. Gray's will be DVD and Blu-ray, while the others will be DVD only. Also soon to be announced by the studio is the DVD and Blu-ray release of Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Paramount has set Hotel for Dogs for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 4/28. Extras will include audio commentary, multiple featurettes, deleted scenes and a photo gallery.

Warner has announced a pair of new Blu-ray releases, including a Batman: 20th Anniversary Edition in "Blu-book" packaging (the disc itself is same as the one in the Batman Anthology BD set) on 5/19 (SRP $34.99) and a long-awaited release of Grumpy Old Men on 7/7 (SRP $28.99). While we're talking Warner, we'd like to call for the studio to release Casablanca, The Notebook and the I Am Legend: UCE 3-disc set on Blu-ray sans the elaborate box set packaging. I've been getting tons of e-mail in the last week or so on this issue, from readers who would like the discs but don't want all the extras. Hopefully, the studio will consider doing this with The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind as well.

And Criterion has announced more new DVD and Blu-ray titles for release in June and July, including Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (catalog #11) on 6/16 and Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad (#478) on 7/23, each due on both formats. Also coming to DVD only (for now) are Marie Nyreröd's Bergman Island (#477) on 6/16 and Louis Malle's My Dinner with André (#479) on 6/23.

Here at the site today, our own Russell Hammond has completed the weekly update of Release Dates/Upcoming Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a small portion of the price of ANYTHING you purchase after clicking through our links goes to support our work here at The Bits, and we appreciate it!

We'll leave you with a little more new cover art... here's Sony's The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut (4/28), Criterion's The Seventh Seal and Warner's Grumpy Old Men, all on Blu-ray...

The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut (Blu-ray Disc)The Seventh Seal (Blu-ray Disc)Grumpy Old Men (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/17/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning, everyone! We'll be back later with our regular post, but first we've got a bit of exciting news...

Our Paul's Brain Trust screening of Blade Runner has been nominated for a Rondo Award in the category of Best Fan Event! The Rondo Awards are presented by fans, for the fans, so get on over there to the official site and cast your ballots for all the categories - but be sure to vote for our screening when you get to category #17! All you have to do is copy the ballot (available here) and e-mail it to taraco@aol.com with your selections. You have until MIDNIGHT on March 21st to cast your ballots, so waste not a moment! And it goes without saying that everyone at The Brain Trust appreciates your support! Speaking of which, we want you all to know that our friend Paul Prischman and his family are doing well, and they'd like YOU to know that they greatly appreciate all your kind words and best wishes. We're planning another big charity auction to support the Trust, and possibly another live event as well, so watch for more on all that in the coming weeks.

Also, in bit of site business... all the DNS issues we were having last week should finally be cleared (or clearing) up. So now that those of you who were having trouble reading the site can do so again, be sure to go back over the last week's posts to catch up on all the latest news, reviews and announcements. There's some good stuff to check out, so don't miss it!

Back later this morning. Stay tuned...

3/16/09

Afternoon, folks!

Well... we sure have been busy over the last few days. I know that some of you have been having troubles reading The Bits over the last week. Here's what happened: We had a very brief server crash last Monday, after which some of the DNS servers around the net apparently weren't directing our domain names properly. But the frustrating this is, most of them were. So only a few people were reporting problems seeing the site, depending on which ISP they use. None of us who actually work on the site had any problems, so we didn't even hear about or fully understand the issue until late last week. But our trusty Geek Squad did some work over the weekend, and we just refreshed the DNS information this morning, so that should take care of the problem. For some, the site should be readable again within the hour (make sure you refresh your browsers). For others, it may take up to 48 hours for the new DNS info to propagate out to all the DNS servers around the Net. But once that's done, we should be good to go. Sorry for the inconvenience folks. When you finally are able to read this again, be sure to check out all the news and review we posted last week, because there's a lot of cool new artwork and release information for you.

Okay, let's have some new announcements...

Paramount has set Revolutionary Road for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 6/2 (SRP $19.99 and $29.99). DVD extras will include audio commentary by director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Justin Haythe, deleted scenes with optional commentary and the Lives of Quiet Desperation: The Making of Revolutionary Road featurette. The Blu-ray will add to this the Richard Yates: The Wages of Truth featurette.

Sony has announced the Mamoru Oshii anime The Sky Crawlers for DVD and Blu-ray release on 5/26. Both will include 2 featurettes (Animation Research for The Sky Crawlers and The Sound Design and Animation of The Sky Crawlers). The Blu-ray will add the additional The Sky's the Limit: An Interview with Director Mamoru Oshii featurette.

Sony has also set The Devil's Tomb for DVD only release on 5/26. Extras will include audio commentary with Cuba Gooding Jr. and director Jason Connery, alternate scenes, outtakes and the Beneath the Sand: Behind the Scenes of The Devil's Tomb featurette.

Speaking of Sony, we announced last week that the studio's Underworld: Rise of the Lycans would arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/12. There will also be an Underworld Trilogy 3-pack on Blu-ray the same day (SRP $92.95).

Also, the studio's The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut will street on Blu-ray on 4/28 (SRP $38.96). The film will be 28-minutes longer, and will include select scenes commentary with director Ron Howard, the Unlocking the Code PiP viewing option, 17 featurettes (including First Day on the Set with Ron Howard, A Discussion with Dan Brown, A Portrait of Langdon, Who is Sophie Neveu?, Unusual Suspects, Magical Places, Close-up on Mona Lisa, The Filmmakers' Journey, The Codes of The Da Vinci Code, The Music of The Da Vinci Code, Book to Screen, The Da Vinci Props, The Da Vinci Sets, Re-creating Works of Art, The Visual Effects World of The Da Vinci Code, Scoring The Da Vinci Code and La Partie Francaise Du Da Vinci Code) and Cinechat.

And MGM has set Labou for release on DVD on 5/19. The studio also has Into the Blue 2: The Reef - Unrated for release on DVD on 4/21.

Elsewhere here at The Bits this afternoon, we've got an update in The Rumor Mill that you Lord of the Rings fans might want to check out. There's word of a couple additional Blu-ray titles expected this year as well, so don't miss it.

Also today, we've kicked off a trio of new Giveaways, offering each of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick on Blu-ray, Anchor Bay's Head Case: Season One on DVD and E1 Entertainment's Nickelback: Live at Sturgis 2006 on DVD. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, March 29th and the winners will be drawn at random. Good luck!

Don't forget about tonight's Home Theater Forum chat with Fox restoration expect Schawn Belston, which starts at 5 PM Pacific. You can participate by going here. We'll have the full transcript up tomorrow.

In news around the Net today, Sony's David Bishop had a few things to say about the future of packaged media on Friday, at the Screen Digest PEVE Digital Entertainment 2009 conference in Paris. You can read more here at Home Media.

Meanwhile, Panasonic has revealed a trio of new Blu-ray players (the DMP-BD60, the DMP-BD70V and the DMP-BD80), that will play Amazon VOD movies and even play VHS tapes. Fascinating. Here's more at ZDNet.

Finally, here's a couple of good laughs for you: Some clever fellow named Happy Harry at New Grounds has offered up his animated take on what a Watchmen Saturday morning cartoon might look like. (Just click on Watch this Movie and start laughing.) Also, Cinematical has a funny comic take on the Charles Schulz classic Peanuts, as filtered through the Frank Miller lens. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/13/09 - 5 PM PDT)

Yeah, remember how we said the 1:45 PM post was going to be our last for the week? Not so much. But there's a good reason we came back with one last post today: Amazon.com has just revealed at least the preliminary box art for Warner's forthcoming Gone with the Wind: Ultimate Collector's Edition and Wizard of Oz: Ultimate Collector's Edition Blu-ray Disc box sets. And the surprise is that the retailer is already taking pre-orders for both of them, with each priced at an $84.99 SRP but selling for $59.49 on Amazon. Street dates and other specs and details are still TBA, but our sources tell us that Wizard of Oz will street in late October, with Gone with the Wind following in early December. Here's what the early packaging looks like (obviously, it's subject to change)...

Wizard of Oz: Ultimate Collector's Edition box set (Blu-ray Disc)

Gone with the Wind: Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

There's no word yet as to whether you'll be able to buy just the discs without all the swag for a lower price, the way you were able to with the previous Blade Runner: Ultimate Collector's Edition. I certainly hope so. I love the cool box sets with all the cards and holograms and whatnot if you're a serious fan, but there needs to be a less expensive swag-free option for more casual fans as well. You know... not everybody wants to spend $60 on a film they've already purchased on disc 3 or 4 times before. I'm just saying.

All right... now that's REALLY it. See you Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/13/09 - 1:45 PM PDT)

Okay... it's come to our attention that a number of readers have been having trouble reading The Bits since we had a brief outage on Sunday night. It appears that we might be having some DNS issues, so rest assured we've got Chuck and the Nerd Herd working on it now. We should be able to get it all straightened out over the weekend.

As such, this is going to be the only update until Monday, so I just wanted to check in with some quick notes.

First of all today, Video Business has a good story up on the recent trend of lowering Blu-ray Disc prices at retail. Prices are trending downward, which is good news for all you guys that have been complaining about BD software SRPs being too high. We've been saying that it was only a matter of time before prices started to drop, and it looks like it's finally starting to happen more widely. We expect the trend to continue throughout the year.

Also, our friends over at the Home Theater Forum are going to be hosting a live online chat with Fox restorationist Schawn Belston next week, celebrating the forthcoming Blu-ray release of The Robe. The chat will be held on Monday night (3/16), starting at 5 PM Pacific. All the details on how you can participate can be found here, and we'll post the transcript the next morning.

Finally, I found this amusing: T.K. Arnold's latest blog post over on Home Media. For what it's worth, the Futuresource report he's referring to is discussed here and here. I've recently had a similar experience to T.K.'s... one of my neighbors here in the O.C. - not a particularly tech-savvy or early adopter-ish kind of guy - just got himself a Blu-ray player as part of a deal for buying a new flat-panel HDTV. I recently spent about an hour helping him get the firmware updated, making sure it was hooked up properly, and checking that his display was calibrated correctly. And now he's absolutely hooked on Blu-ray. This format has gone well past the early adopter market and in now into the early mainstream category, folks. I'm just saying. Good thing those prices are dropping!

Don't forget: The 2-part finale of Battlestar Galactica begins tonight for those of you who care. And for those of you who don't, never fear... you've got only one more week of me gushing about how great the show it until it's all over. Well... until the Blu-ray comes out, anyway. ;)

Have a great weekend!

3/12/09

Afternoon, folks!

First of all today, yes... I realize that Warner's Body Heat Blu-ray, which I mentioned in yesterday's post, is already available. Man, I envy websites that only have to report on DVD, or just on Blu-ray, because having to keep track of both formats, and then what I know is coming as opposed to what's been announced and then what's actually been released, is a huge challenge. So anyway, just know that it's out, and I know it's out, and thanks to everyone who e-mailed me about it. ;)

Now then... Paramount has just informed retailers that pre-orders for the DVD and Blu-ray release of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will begin on 3/24. That almost certainly means that the title will street in late April or very early May, and our industry sources suggest the date will be 5/5, with 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions available. Watch for the official release announcement soon.

Speaking of Paramount, those of you who have favorite catalog titles you're waiting for on Blu-ray from the studio will want to check out The Rumor Mill today, as we've got word on several more BIG titles due this year on the format. Strength and honor, friends!

Also newly announced for DVD and Blu-ray release on 5/5 is Anchor Bay's Last Chance Harvey, starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson.

In other news, we know that some of you have been concerned about the continued higher price of Blu-ray software over standard DVD. Well this one's for you: Amazon.com is currently running a sale on OVER 300 BLU-RAY TITLES, with many priced UNDER $20 and some as low as $13.99 each! And these aren't just Z-grade titles, either, but big ones like Iron Man and Wall-E. You definitely don't want to miss out! The sale runs until 3/22, so be sure to take advantage of it you're able. Just click this link to see a list of all the eligible titles.

Here's some more new cover artwork... Buena Vista's Miracle on Blu-ray (6/16), Warner's Peanuts: 1960s DVD Collection (7/7) and Paramount's The Machinist (5/19)...

Miracle (Blu-ray Disc)Peanuts: 1960s DVD CollectionThe Machinist (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally, for you Battlestar fans, there have been a lot of cool props from the show auctioned off in recent weeks on eBay. But this might be one of the most cool by a good measure: A giclée print of Adama's "First Cylon War" painting from his quarters on the show, signed by Olmos. Pretty frakkin' cool.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/11/09 - 5:45 PM PDT)

We've got more cool release news for you guys today...

According to Video Business, Sony has set the most overly-promoted film ever, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/12 (SRP $28.96 and $39.95). Extras will include audio commentary, 3 featurettes (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans - From Script to Screen, The Origin of the Feud and Re-Creating the Dark Ages - The Look of Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) and William Control's Deathclub music video. The Blu-ray will also add a Behind the Castle Walls PiP track, a Lycanthropes Around the World interactive map, and BD-Live downloads and Cinechat. I think for a while there, every commercial brake on Sci-Fi Channel had a Lycans promo.

Video Business also has a good piece on Warner's upcoming release of Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music - Ultimate Collector's Edition, set to be released on both DVD and Blu-ray on 6/9 (SRP 59.98 and $69.98). A whopping TWO HOURS of new material, featuring 18 performances by 13 band and artists, has been added to the original film's running time for this release.

Speaking of Warner, the studio has just set Body Heat for Blu-ray release on 4/7. It's already available on DVD.

In other release news, 20th Century Fox has just revealed that 24: Season 7 will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/19 (SRP $49.98 and $69.99). Extensive audio commentaries will be available, along with scores of deleted scenes and multiple featurettes, however it does not currently appear that the Redemption TV movie will be included. (We'll let you know for sure as soon as we can confirm this one way or the other.) Also coming on both formats that day is Driven to Kill. Meanwhile, Fox's Predator 2 will finally arrive on Blu-ray on 6/9, complete with extensive features from the DVD. The Siege will street on Blu-ray on 6/9 as well. Hopefully, the original Predator will be re-released on Blu-ray with the previous DVD special features at some point.

I believe we've mentioned these previously, but Buena Vista has officially set The Greatest Game Ever Played for DVD and Blu-ray release on 6/16. Also coming that same day are Blu-ray versions of Lost: The Complete First Season, Lost: The Complete Second Season, Miracle and Sling Blade, all of which are already available on DVD.

And Universal has set Smother for DVD release on 5/5.

Hey... we wouldn't leave you with this news without offering a little cover art, right? So here's Fox's 24 (both formats) and Predator 2, along with Buena Vista's Sling Blade and both seasons of Lost on Blu-ray...

24: Season 7 (Blu-ray Disc)24: Season 7Predator 2 (Blu-ray Disc)

Sling Blade: Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)Lost: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Disc)Lost: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally, before we sign off... I'd like to send out a couple of quick birthday wishes today to our old friend Weatherman Dave and also to Dr. Jahnke's significant other, Dr. Girlfriend. Oh happy day to you both!

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/11/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)

So... I couldn't for the life of me explain what took Sony so long to finish and approve the cover artwork for their long-awaited Ghostbusters Blu-ray Disc, because it seems to me that the only real difference from what we expected is that it's... well, blue. In any case, here it is...

Ghostbusters (Blu-ray Disc)Land of the Lost: The Complete Series DVD packaging

Thanks to the powers that be for sending it over. As you can see, we've also posted a look at Universal's totally 70s lunchbox packaging for their DVD re-issue of The Land of the Lost: The Complete Series, due on 5/26. The cool thing about that, is that it's an exact replica of a vintage LOTL box... which I would know, because I had one myself as a kid. Nice! Now all you need is some Wacky Packages, so you can sticker up the inside appropriately. I'll trade you a Gadzooka Gum and a Clammy Soap for your Blunder Bread...

Also this morning, our good Dr. Jahnke is likely going to set off a fanboy firestorm with his review of Watchmen in his latest Electric Theatre column. Never fear, though, he's wearing his asbestos pants today. They're scratchy, sure, but oh-so stylish! No, I STILL haven't seen Watchmen yet. And yes, I do still like the Star Trek trailer.

Finally, for those among you who missed them yesterday afternoon, be sure to check out Jeff's review of Disney's Pinocchio: 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition Blu-ray, as well as my two bits (no pun intended) on Magnolia's Let the Right One In also on Blu.

On a last and completely non-DVD-related note this morning, I'd like to shout out a huge hometown HUZZAH!! to the North Dakota State University men's B-ball team, for making it to the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament in their first year of eligibility. Go BIG BISON!

All right. That's it. Stay tuna-ed. (Yeah, I'm still thinking about those Wacky Packages...)


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