My Two Cents
Monday, 18 November 2019 14:37

Thoughts on The Mandalorian, plus new catalog BDs from Shout, Scream, VCI & more

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All right, I promised my thoughts on The Mandalorian on Disney+. I have to say, I like it. It’s nice to watch a slice of Star Wars that doesn’t involve Jedi, Sith, and Skywalkers for a change. It’s a little in the mold of Rogue One, though that was more closely tied to the Saga films. But Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have crafted a half-hour series that feels like a slice of lived-in classic Star Wars, and is taking its time developing its story. The texture is right, the supporting cast is terrific (thus far including Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, and Nick Nolte), and I love the Bill Conti-infused score by Ludwig Göransson.

Pedro Pascal is good in the lead role, but to be fair we haven’t seen him outside the Mandalorian armor yet, nor have we learned very much about the character. But each episode seems to peel back the onion a little more, and again I like the fact that the show is taking its time. I would have thought that 30-40 minute episodes would seem too short, but I find I’m satisfied after each one. And reports from friends and Lucasfilm insiders who have seen more suggest that the show gets better with every new installment (there will be 8 in all in this first season). What I can tell you is that I’m certainly enjoying it. The show also looks great in 4K with HDR, and sounds great too in Dolby Atmos. [Read on here...]

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Speaking of Disney+, the company has just acknowledged the mistake they made in including Fox’s The Simpsons in 1.78 framing on their streaming service, and they’ll reportedly offer the proper 1.33:1 aspect ratio next year. Here’s the studio’s official statement:

“We presented The Simpsons in 16:9 aspect ratio at launch in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons. Over time, Disney+ will roll out new features and additional viewing options. As part of this, in early 2020, Disney+ will make the first 19 seasons (and some episodes from Season 20) of The Simpsons available in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, giving subscribers a choice of how they prefer to view the popular series.”

All right, in other release news, Shout! Factory has just set The Wizard: Collector’s Edition – Shout Select for release on Blu-ray on 2/18. They’ll also release the anime Another Day of Life for GKids that same day.

Scream Factory has announced some new catalog Blu-ray titles for February 2020 as well, including the My Bloody Valentine: Collector’s Edition, The Nightingale, Rabid, and White Snake on 2/4, X... the Unknown and Rasputin: The Mad Monk on 2/18, and Pet Sematary Two on 2/25.

Meanwhile, VCI is releasing a bunch more 2K restored classic serials on Blu-ray over the coming months, including The Mysterious Mr. M (13 chapters), The Phantom Creeps (12 chapters), and Buck Jones: Gordon of Ghost City (12 chapters) on 1/21, The Phantom Rider (15 chapters) on 2/25, and Jungle Queen (13 chapters) on 4/14. The company has also just released (on 11/12) The Roaring West (15 chapters) and The Red Rider (15 chapters).

MVD Classics is releasing Mind Games on Blu-ray on 2/11 and Hudson River Massacre on 2/25. MVD is also preparing to release the Fred Wolf animated film The Point (1971) on Blu-ray on 2/11, narrated by Ringo Starr.

Music Box Films will release The Returned: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray and DVD on 12/17.

And Film Movement is releasing a new 4K restoration of Fritz Lang’s The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb on Blu-ray on 12/10. Extras will include audio commentaries by film historian David Kalat, The Indian Epic documentary, Debra Paget, for Example (a video essay by filmmaker Mark Rappaport), and a 20-page booklet with an essay by film scholar Tom Gunning.

In other news, are any of you guys out there Space: 1999 fans? The recent Network HD remasters are now available for viewing on Amazon Prime. (Thanks to Bits reader Jason B. for the heads-up!)

And if any of you purchased Network’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus: Norwegian Blu-ray set (reviewed here on The Bits) and found that your packaging was damaged in shipment, Network is offering a limited replacement program while supplies of the extra packaging last. Please use this contact form on their website to request your replacement and follow the instructions as emailed.

We’ll leave you today with a look at the Blu-ray cover artwork for Criterion’s upcoming February 2020 slate of titles (plus The Wizard), with Amazon pre-order links if available...

Roma (Blu-ray Disc) Teorema (Blu-ray Disc) Paris is Burning (Blu-ray Disc)

Antonio Gaudi (Blu-ray Disc) Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman (Blu-ray Disc) The Wizard (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...!

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