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This Week on Blu-ray: November 27-December 4

Posted November 24, 2012 11:17 AM by Josh Katz

Show all Blu-ray releases this week

In terms of volume alone, the week of November 27th doesn't offer that many new Blu-ray releases, but there are definitely some gems within this limited selection. Case in point: Anchor Bay's Lawless disc. An adaptation of Matt Bondurant's historical novel The Wettest County in the World, the film centers on a bootlegging Virginia family trying to find success during the Depression. Despite the picture's high-profile cast (Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and the great Gary Oldman) and acclaimed director (John Hillcoat, of The Proposition and The Road fame), Lawless is really just a B-level exploitation thriller through and through - it's filled with country humor, car chases, and shootouts/stabbings/bludgeonings every couple of minutes. But it's also an exceptional B-level exploitation thriller, one that gives its exceedingly graphic violence real weight and contains striking images from cinematographer Benoît Delhomme.

Another high-profile new release is Universal Studios' ParaNorman. This animated adventure comes from the same creative brain trust that made 2009's Academy Award-nominated Coraline, and it shares that earlier film's penchant for macabre whimsy. ParaNorman follows young Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, who played a very similar outcast in Let Me In), a lonely outsider whose ability to communicate with the dead proves invaluable for dealing with a sudden zombie outbreak. The dead rising from their graves to destroy the living isn't exactly the most fertile topic for family-friendly film fare, and it's a credit to all involved with ParaNorman that the proceedings remain enjoyable for kids of all ages while still taking seriously the undead menace at hand.

Finally, we end with two examples of TV-on-Blu-ray. First is Season Two of Transformers Prime. Taking its visual inspiration from Michael Bay's Transformers film franchise, Transformers Prime tries to update the popular 1980's cartoon program for the twenty-first century. It isn't always successful - the animation style can be a little distracting, and the narrative developments never threaten to reach The Clone Wars-levels of complexity - but the series is a solid, engaging watch all the same.

Martin Liebman's Blu-ray review makes a similar assessment of the program, that it "works very well, even around some pacing issues. There are smart plots and strong character moments, an admirable effort at high-impact drama to shape the series beyond a bland action-only cartoon. Themes of loss, trust, loyalty, and the bonds of friendship shape much of the season, all of which work well around action that's sometimes repetitive and sometimes as big in scope as the Saturday morning canvas allows...It's a little bit less than its predecessor, but Prime remains a quality show that might frustrate purists with its ultramodern animation style, character evolution, and closer adherence to the Michael Bay vision even while retaining the core of what makes Transformers great."

The next Blu-ray set deserves some consideration into the "brilliant yet cancelled" TV realm; HBO is releasing the first - and only - season of Luck. The brainchild of Deadwood creator David Milch and Miami Vice executive producer Michael Mann, Luck was the subject of great controversy earlier this year; after the on-set deaths of three horses, animal activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the American Humane Association successfully lobbied HBO for the series' cancellation. From a moral and ethical perspective, this decision was the right one - a fact Mann admits himself in this interview with Vulture - but the fact remains that Luck's demise robbed viewers of what might have become into the Next Great Television Show. Working with a stellar cast that included Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina, Kevin Dunn, and Dustin Hoffman, Milch and Mann managed to blend the gritty toughness of, say, Deadwood with the wry humor and magical realism of a Damon Runyon story. It was thrilling, audacious television; we are lucky we have even the nine existing episodes.

Source: | Permalink | United States [Country settings]

News comments (11 comments)

  Nov 24, 2012
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Tony Joe White-Elements of Things

  Nov 25, 2012
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Step Up 4 for me. The story and acting are always terrible in these movies, but the 3D in part 3 was awesome and I expect no less from this installment.

  Nov 25, 2012
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ParaNorman for me this week, will also be getting Men in Black 3 but that wasnt mentioned on this list even though its released Nov. 30th, guess it will be on next weeks like you did with Amazing spider-man

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Top contributor
  Nov 25, 2012
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Just ParaNorman for me this week.

Boothill Gunslinger
  Nov 25, 2012
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@phantomcat: As far as I'm concerned, Step Up can take a running jump into the lake. Thank you very much.

My choices will be:

ParaNorman 3D
The Apparition
The Day
6 Degrees Of Hell

Top reviewer
  Nov 25, 2012
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I'd like to get Step up 4, But I think I will wait until the saga is complete and buy the box set
  Nov 25, 2012
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Luck for sure. Damn shame it got cancelled. It was head and shoulders above most TV shows.

  Nov 25, 2012
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I plan to eventually acquire Lawless and ParaNorman.

  Nov 26, 2012
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Boothill, that's cool if you hate the movies because of the acting and writing, but one place this franchise hasn't failed in is dance. The choreography is amazing in parts 2, 3, and 4. That's the only reason I watch these movies. Do you enjoy street dancing or hip-hop? Or good 3D? Because if you do, then that's two reasons to check out Step Up 3D. If you hate 3D and think hip hop dance is stupid, then definitely do not ever watch these movies.

Boothill Gunslinger
  Nov 26, 2012
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@thephantomcat: Love 3D. Hate hip-hop. It's the worst music there is, and every freakin' song sounds like the last. If you've heard one, you've heard them all.
Snake in my Boots
  Nov 26, 2012
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I'll get Paranorman for my kid, that movie was awesome and she really enjoyed it. I'm tempted by Serial Experiments Lain, that show was really well done. Highly recommended.

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