My Two Cents

Pardon Our Server Issues, Plus LOTS More 4K Titles, Sgt. Pepper, Lion in Winter, a Word on Rogue One Extras & More

April 7, 2017 - 9:51 am   |   by
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All right, first things first: We had a hard drive meltdown at the server farm a couple of days ago, the upshot of which is that The Bits (and several other sites) crashed for about a day. We’re on a newly-built server now and we seem to be back up and running, but it’s likely that there’s going to be some tweaking needed to get back to full stability. So anyway, we appreciate your patience. With a little luck, full normality should be restored by Monday morning.

In the meantime, I posted my in-depth review of Disney and Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Blu-ray on Tuesday afternoon in case you missed it. I’ll have more to say about that subject in a minute.

Also, our own Tim Salmons has posted a new Pick-Ups review of Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life: 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray. And Russell Hammond has posted the weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. Don’t forget, you can now sort titles by format in 4K in addition to DVD and Blu-ray. And a portion of anything you order from Amazon, after clicking to them from our links, goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it. [Read on here…]

LICK HERE to shop through our Amazon.com links and SUPPORT THE BITS  CLICK HERE to visit The Bits on Facebook  CLICK HERE to visit The Bits on Twitter

Now then… let’s get to some new 4K release news…

Amazon.com has begun taking pre-orders on the 4K Ultra HD release of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus from Fox, no doubt tied to the 5/19 theatrical release of Alien: Covenant. There’s no street date listed at the moment. It’s possible that the original Alien will be released in 4K later this year as well (perhaps when Covenant itself arrives on disc), but we’ve seen no indication of it yet. In any case, you can see the Prometheus temp cover art below. Fox has also officially set Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on 6/13, and you can see that cover artwork below too.

Meanwhile, Amazon is also taking pre-orders on the Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD release of Daniel Espinosa’s Life. Again, street date is TBA. There’s no official cover artwork yet, but you can pre-order it here. So too is the case with Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell, Sony’s T2 Trainspotting and Universal’s The Boss Baby, all of which do have cover art available below.

We’ve gotten more confirmation too from sources that Sony is preparing The Bridge on the River Kwai for 4K UHD release later this year, and that Paramount is preparing The Godfather films for 4K UHD, though we don’t have a timetable for that release. I’ve actually seen tests of both titles on the format and they’re impressive as hell. And while it has no English subtitles, it appears that Toho’s Shin Godzilla is being released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format in Japan on 3/22. FUNimation has the U.S. rights to this film, so it’s possible it could see release here later this year.

In other announcement news today… Universal Music and The Beatles are releasing new Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: 50th Anniversary Edition CDs, LPs, and deluxe box set (with BD and DVD) on 5/26. The sets will include the album remastered with all kinds of great extras, bonus recordings, promotional films, and behind-the-scenes materials. You can read more on all of this here at The Beatles’ official website.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has set Van Helsing: Season One for Blu-ray and DVD release on 6/6.

Scream Factory has revealed the street date for their upcoming Species: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. Look for it on 7/11, mastered from a new 4K scan of the film.

Scream is also releasing a double feature Blu-ray of The Night of the Sorcerers and The Loreley’s Grasp, both 1974 Spanish films by director Amando de Ossorio (better known for his Blind Dead films).

Here’s great news: Kino Lorber has just announced that they’re going to be releasing the new 4K restoration of Anthony Harvey’s The Lion in Winter (1968) on Blu-ray. The film stars Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, and Anthony Hopkins. There’s no street date yet, but we’ll update you when there is.

Also coming to both Blu-ray and DVD from Kino is Sergio Corbucci’s The Mercenary (1968), starring Franco Nero.

And finally this afternoon, FUNimation has released a promotional trailer for their forthcoming (5/30) Blu-ray release of Speed Racer: The Complete Series. You can see that here…

Their English-subtitles BD release of the original Japanese Mach Go Go Go: The Complete Series is still coming later this year. We expect to learn more about that in the weeks ahead.

Now then… back on the subject of Disney and Lucasfilm’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Blu-ray release. The upshot of my review is that it’s a reference quality A/V experience, with HD video and 7.1 surround that’s nearly everything you hope it will be. But the extras are… well, they’re really not good. At all. And I say that as someone who’s covered this industry for more than two decades now, going back to before the dawn of DVD. I know what great special features look like. These aren’t it.

The problem isn’t that the Rogue One extras are bad exactly; it’s actually worse than that. They’re boring… run of the mill, glossy, milled in-house by the studio promotional squeeg, with no substance and little entertainment value. 5 minutes on this, 5 minutes on that, all of it an inch deep and adding up to Zzzzzzzzzz…. This is not at all what dedicated fans have come to expect from the extras on Lucasfilm Blu-ray and DVD releases. It’s frustrating for a couple of reasons. First, this is Star Wars. This beloved franchise should be getting only the very best treatment in terms of its bonus content. But it’s even more frustrating because Lucasfilm used to know how to create great special editions! Go back and look at the extras on The Phantom Menace on DVD. Check out that first Star Wars Original Trilogy DVD box set. Hell, look even more recently at the Star Wars Saga Blu-ray set.

Let me speak frankly to any Lucasfilm and Disney executive who might be reading this. In fact, let me speak directly to Kathleen Kennedy: I’m sorry to have to say this, but you guys are really dropping the ball on the special features on your Star Wars Blu-ray product. It happened on The Force Awakens, it’s happened again on Rogue One, and it’s probably already happening on The Last Jedi and Han Solo too. You’re frustrating your best customers – by which I mean NOT your retail partners clamoring for exclusives, but the actual diehard Star Wars and Blu-ray fans who buy this content. You’re letting them all down. It’s a real problem. Please take it seriously.

All right, that as much of a rant as I have the energy to muster at the moment. We’re going to leave you for the week with a look at some new cover artwork for those 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles that I mentioned at the outset today. Click on each cover to pre-order the title on Amazon.com…

Ghost in the Shell (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) Rise of the Planet of the Apes (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

T2 Trainspotting (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) Boss Baby (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray) Prometheus (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

Back on Monday. Have a great weekend! Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt

 

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