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page updated: 3/18/10



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 3/12/10 - 2/12/10)


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(LATE UPDATE - 3/12/10 - 5 PM PDT)

As promised, we're back with more this afternoon...

First up, we're pleased to offer you Week Six of our look at The Films of Akira Kurosawa, with reviews of The Lower Depths from Doogan (AK100 and Criterion), Kagemusha from Barrie (AK100, Criterion and Criterion Blu-ray Disc) and Dersu Uzala from yours truly (available on DVD from Kino and the Russian Cinema Council, a.k.a. RUSCICO). We're getting pretty deep into Kurosawa's catalog now, and we've only got a few films (and a couple of weeks) left to go!

Speaking of Kurosawa, we've gotten our hands on that fantastic new book about the director's work from Rizzoli... Peter Cowie's Akira Kurosawa: Master of the Cinema. It acts as a companion piece to Donald Richie's The Films of Akira Kurosawa, in that it doesn't analyze the director's work film by film in detail, like the Richie book does. Rather, it looks at his films as a whole from various perspectives, and illustrates each visually, with stunning photographs of the director and his cinematic compositions, many never before seen. The photos are gorgeous, and you also get lots original poster artwork and many of Kurosawa's own hand-drawn or painted production images (storyboards, costume/set sketches and more). I'm only about 100 pages into it, but each page is a marvel. I would compare this favorably to the terrific Taschen book on Stanley Kubrick that came out a few years ago (only this one is a good deal cheaper). Anyway, if you're a fan of Kurosawa, this is a treasure trove. Do check it out if you're interested.

Akira Kurosawa: Master of the Cinema (Book)

In terms of announcement news today, Warner has set a Tom & Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary Collection for DVD release on 4/29 (SRP $26.99). The 2-disc set will include the 30 classic shorts (Puss Gets the Boot, Midnight Snack, Dog Trouble, Fraidy Cat, Puss 'n' Toots, The Lonesome Mouse, Yankee Doodle Mouse, Mouse Trouble, Mouse in Manhattan, Quiet Please, The Milky Waif, The Cat Concerto, The Little Orphan, Saturday Evening Puss, Two Mouseketeers, Johann Mouse, Touche Pussy Cat, That's My Mommy, The Egg and Jerry, Tops with Pops, Penthouse Mouse, The Cat Above the Mouse Below, The Cat's Me-Ouch, Cosmic Cat and Meteor Mouse, Jerry's Country Cousin, Flippin' Fido, Mansion Cat, Karate Guard and A Game of Mouse and Cat, along with excerpts from Anchors Aweigh and Dangerous When Wet).

Also, Warner, the BBC and the Discovery Channel have announced the DVD and Blu-ray debut of the documentary series Life, narrated by Oprah Winfrey, from the producers of Planet Earth. Both versions will be available on 6/1 (SRP $59.98 and $69.99). The 11-part documentary series will begin airing on the Discovery Channel on 3/20, and will be included on 2 Blu-rays and 4 DVDs.

Here's a look at the cover art for Warner's Tom & Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary Collection, as well as both versions of Life...

Tom and Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary CollectionLife (DVD)Life (Blu-ray Disc)

We've got one last cool thing for you today: The latest trailer for Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. Not too shabby, if you ask me. I'm starting to get pretty excited for this film.

And that's it for another week. Don't forget that Daylight Savings kicks in this Sunday night. Yes... we'll all lose an hour of sleep, but them's the breaks. Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/12/10 - 1 AM PDT)

Morning, everyone! We'll be back later with more, including this week's Kurosawa DVD reviews. But first I wanted to check in to say a few words about a long-awaited, soon-to-be-released pair of Blu-rays...

Disney and Pixar's Toy Story and Toy Story 2 street on Blu-ray on 3/23, and I've just gotten a hands-on look at the discs. I'll have a more detailed review soon, but I wanted to offer a few comments for those of you who have been eagerly anticipating this release. First, the picture and sound quality is fantastic. In fact, I think it's everything you'd expect it to be. The extras are also very good, but this is where I wanted to comment. Having gone through the discs, it looks as if these Blu-rays are essentially designed to replace the 2005 2-disc DVD special edition releases. With just a few relatively minor exceptions, nearly everything that was included on those DVDs has carried over here to the Blu-rays. The Blu-rays also add much new material - a good 30-40 minutes worth of new special features per film, including sneak peeks of Toy Story 3 hosted by director Lee Unkrich. BUT... and this is a big one... these Blu-rays DO NOT include all of the special features from the stellar Ultimate Toy Box DVD set released in 2000. Much material from that set is missing on the Blu-rays. So the bottom line is that if you love these films, and you want ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING that's been released extras-wise, you need to keep both DVD sets. On the other hand, if you're not quite that picky, you can probably get away with selling the 2005 discs and you'll only be losing a few things (the introductions to the films, the multi-angle progressions and a couple other relatively minor items). In any case, I'd definitely recommend hanging on to the Ultimate Toy Box DVDs even if you do upgrade to Blu-ray. That set was just way too good to part with, and there's a lot of extras only available there. So... that one caveat aside, the new Blu-rays are pretty terrific and I think they were well worth the wait. I suspect you're going to love them.

Toy Story (Blu-ray Disc)Toy Story 2 (Blu-ray)

Okay... that's it for now. Back later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/11/10 - NOON PDT)

Okay... we've got a couple more release announcements for you today...

First, the Discovery Store.com has an exclusive DVD version of Man vs. Wild: Season 4 set for release on 3/30 (SRP $39.95).

Icarus Films has announced that Rocky Road to Dublin is now available on DVD (SRP $24.98). Included is The Making of Rocky Road to Dublin documentary.

Timeless Media and NBC Universal have announced the DVD release of "one of the longest-running TV westerns" on 5/25 - The Virginian: The Complete First Season. The 10-disc set (SRP $79.98) includes all 30 first-season episodes plus extras, among them an exclusive bonus disc featuring all-new interviews with members of the cast.

Meanwhile, Vivendi will bow Stoic on DVD on 4/13 (SRP $19.93). The Collector and High Plains Invaders also street from the company on DVD on 4/6.

A&E has set the BBC's recent Pride and Prejudice for DVD release on 4/27, along with Sheri: The Complete Season One and Rita Rocks: The Complete Season One.

Anchor Bay has announced The New Daughter (starring Kevin Costner) for DVD and Blu-ray release on 5/18 (SRP $29.97 and $34.98). Extras will include audio commentary by the director, a behind-the-scenes featurette and the trailer.

The show's producer (Martin Tahse) is releasing the first 5 of some 39 planned "authorized" Kukla, Fran and Ollie DVDs, in a new Premiere Collector's Edition boxed set. The press release is unclear as to what the specific DVDs are, what they cost and when they'll be available, but you should be able to find out more at the official website for the release (www.kuklafranandollie.com). Talk about setting the Wayback Machine! Haven't seen that show since I was a kid.

And Eagle Rock has set the U.K. TV series Trinity for DVD release on 5/25 as a 3-disc set (SRP $29.93).

Finally, we have a look at some promotional artwork that Fox is using to promote the Blu-ray 3D release of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Still no word on the exact street date or SRP, though a Fox rep tells us the disc should hit stores in early April - just a few weeks from now.

Ice Age 3 on Blu-ray 3D in April

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/11/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Got your coffee ready? Good. Here goes...

Okay... Barrie's new column is up as promised! Technically, it got posted at 11:30 PM Pacific last night, so it's a few hours later than expected, but it DID make it up yesterday and it's now available for you all to enjoy. It just so happens to be a new High-Def Matters, featuring Barrie's reviews of 17 new and recent Blu-ray titles, including Warner's Mystic River, The Box, Analyze This/Analyze That, Whiteout and The Invention of Lying, Fox's The Last King of Scotland, The Mel Brooks Collection and Amelia, Sony's The Damned United, Universal's Atonement (available in Canada from the fine folks at Alliance), Couples Retreat, The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, Paramount's The Godfather, Part II and Paranormal Activity, Disney's Surrogates and Image's Billy Jack. Enjoy!

Also this morning, we've gotten word from our friends at Panasonic and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment that they're partnering to release the first Blu-ray 3D title in the U.S. in April - Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (street date and exact pricing are TBA). Also, yesterday morning the first Panasonic Full HD 3D Home Entertainment System was sold to an obviously eager consumer in Best Buy's Union Square store in New York City. The system is available now, exclusively at select Best Buy Magnolia Home Theater locations around the country. The system (SRP $2899.99) includes a 50-inch Panasonic VIERA VT20 Plasma 3D HDTV (the TC-P50VT20 to be specific - an exclusive Best Buy model equivalent to the VT25 - SRP $2,499.95), one pair of Panasonic 3D Active Shutter glasses (TY-EW3D10U), and the Panasonic DMP-BDT300 3D Blu-ray Disc Player (SRP $399.95). According to the joint press release: "Additional pairs of 3D eyewear will be available with an SRP of $149.95. The individual components of the system will also be sold separately." You can read the official press release here. Here's a product image of the system (the link takes you to Panasonic's product page)...

Panasonic Full 3D Entertainment System

More later. Stay tuned...

3/10/10

Morning folks. Barrie's column should be up later today, but first we've got a bit of a news rundown...

In announcement news, Warner Home Video has set Everybody Loves Raymond: Seasons 5 & 6 for DVD release on 4/20, followed by Naruto Shippuden: Volume 10 and Bleach Uncut: Box Set 5 on 6/8 (for VIZ Media), and Squidbillies: Volume Three on 7/6 (for Adult Swim). The studio is also planning a trio of 4 Film Favorites DVD box sets on 5/18 (SRP just $14.99 each), which will include Guy Comedies (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Unrated, Beerfest: Unrated, Semi-Pro & Mr. Woodcock), Survival (Twister, The Perfect Storm, Outbreak & Poseidon) and War Heroes (Kelly's Heroes, Where Eagles Dare, The Big Red One & The Hanoi Hilton).

In stuff that's not yet officially announced (so count this Rumor Mill-worthy) but news is leaking everywhere, we've learned that the Australian DVD retailer JB Hi-Fi is (or at least was) taking pre-orders for the 5/27 DVD and Blu-ray release of James Cameron's Avatar from Fox. Again, we expect an official announcement from Fox in the next week or two.

Meanwhile, word has leaked out of Universal's European operations (Gasp! Like THAT never happens...) that a Gladiator: 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Disc will be released in May (5/6 in Germany, 5/11 in France, 5/25 in the Netherlands, etc), timed as expected to take promotional advantage of the theatrical release of Ridley Scott's Robin Hood. The European AreaDVD site even has cover art. Sources indicate that this release includes the brand new and improved high-def transfer of the film that was recently completed in the wake of complaints about the previous BD release. We've contacted Paramount (which distributes the film here in the States for DreamWorks) to inquire about the title and a potential U.S. street date, but are still waiting on an answer. We'll let you know as soon as we hear anything.

And while we're on the topic of Rumor Mill-ish studio leaks out of Europe, we've gotten word from European studio and retail sources that Universal has at least the first Jurassic Park film set for tentative Blu-ray release (in Europe) on 11/4. All of this is (of course) subject to change until official announcements are made. But a Jurassic Park Blu-ray release this year IS consistent with information received from our own industry sources late last year that a number of major Steven Spielberg films would be arriving on the format throughout 2010 and beyond - information that's consistently been validated by the recent official announcements of Minority Report, Saving Private Ryan and War of the Worlds.

And we have one last Rumor Mill-ish report for you: Warner hasn't officially announced the title yet, but Amazon is now taking pre-orders for the U.S. release of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet on Blu-ray. SRP is $34.99, but there's no street date listed. Amazon DOES, however, have nice a Blu-ray Book packaging image posted. Here's what it looks like...

Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (Blu-ray Disc)Gladiator: 10th Anniversary Edition (German Blu-ray)Jade (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see, we've also posted the German cover for Gladiator mentioned above, as well as Lionsgate's Jade (due 4/6).

Finally this morning, a bit of sad news: Actor Corey Haim has died of an apparent drug overdose. Haim appeared in scores of films and TV projects over the years, most notably The Lost Boys and Lucas. He was 38.

Back with more later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

3/9/10

Okay... you've waited for it, now it's here: Disney's first full trailer for the forthcoming Tron Legacy is online today. And it's pretty cool. Do check it out.

Speaking of trailers, Paramount's new Iron Man 2 trailer is now available as well, and is also well worth checking out.

Meanwhile, here at The Bits today, Dr. Jahnke has just posted a new Electric Theatre column today, featuring his review of Tim Burton's new Alice in Wonderland. He also checks out a film called Quinceañera on DVD. Don't miss it.

Our own Russell Hammond has also posted his weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork section, featuring lots of new DVD and Blu-ray cover art as well as Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we certainly appreciate it.

In news today, we have word of a special offer for those buying Warner's The Lord of the Rings Blu-ray online from Best Buy - you can get free Steelbook packaging for the set. This packaging MIGHT also be available in Best Buy stores on street date (4/6) but we're unable to confirm it at the moment. [Editor's Note: We've learned that you can find this packaging in Best Buy stores and bring it home NOW, but you can ONLY get it with a $5 down-payment on a pre-order for the set.]

Speaking of online Blu-ray offers, it seems that Target stores have an exclusive 3-Disc Special Edition of Sony's 2012 Blu-ray available. It features a bonus disc containing Discovery Channel's full-length special 2012: Apocalypse. Here's the key point: Not all copies labeled with the sticker seem to have the bonus disc inside. We've had a number of readers purchase the disc in stores - labeled as the exclusive 3-Disc edition - only to find no bonus disc in the case. So buyer beware.

Meanwhile, Samsung has just unveiled its debut line of Blu-ray 3D players and 3D HDTVs - a line that's expected to arrive in stores later this month, packaged with an exclusive Blu-ray 3D version of DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens. You can read more here at Home Media.

There's also word at Home Media that Warner has joined (and leads) a new Blu-ray format licensing group. The idea is apparently to help make it easier for manufacturers and other interested parties to license and exploit the BD brand and patents.

Finally this morning, I've added a few comments of my own to Tim's review of The Hurt Locker on Blu-ray (which we posted yesterday). There's some controversy about the film's accuracy in the military community that I wanted to address. Soldiers feel that many of the tactics depicted are off-base, even as civilian audiences (and now Oscar) have still embraced the film. Bottom line: Everyone is "right" to feel the way they do. Check the review for more.

Here's a look at a little bit of new cover artwork... Sony's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus on DVD and Blu-ray (due 4/27) and also MPI's The Baader Meinhof Complex on Blu-ray (3/30)...

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Blu-ray Disc)The Imaginarium of Doctor ParnassusThe Baader Meinhof Complex (Blu-ray Disc)

Check back tomorrow for a new column from Barrie Maxwell. Stay tuned...

3/8/10

Afternoon, folks!

So... any of you watch the Oscars last night? I guess the only real surprise was that there were absolutely no surprises whatsoever. I can't recall a year where there wasn't at least ONE surprise winner. Not so this year. I'll be curious to see what the telecast ratings were. Like I said, I scanned 'em pretty quickly. The John Hughes tribute was nice to see. It was pretty cool to see The Dude finally take home an Oscar. And, I'll admit, I was pulling for The Hurt Locker. Not that I didn't enjoy Avatar and the other films, but Hurt Locker really blew me away. I wouldn't have minded seeing A Serious Man win either. REALLY liked that one. Anyway, the full list of winners is here, so do check 'em out if you care.

Speaking of The Hurt Locker, our own Tim Salmons has checked in this afternoon with a review of the film on Blu-ray Disc for you (now available from Summit). Enjoy!

Now then... some interesting stuff today...

In announcements news, Sony has announced a series of new Spanish language titles due on DVD on 5/11, including El Senor Fotografo, El Mago, Si Yo Fuera Diputado, Los Tres Mosqueteros, A Volar Joven, El Circo and El Gendarme Desconocido (SRP $14.94 each), all staring the great Mexican comic Mario Moreno, a.k.a. Cantinflas. (Thanks to Bits reader Carlos M. for the insight!) Also due on DVD on 5/18 are Jeremiah and Solomon.

Sony has also announced the 4/27 DVD and Blu-ray release of Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (SRP $28.95 and $34.95). Extras will include audio commentary with Gilliam, an introduction by Gilliam, a deleted scene with optional commentary by Gilliam, 7 featurettes (Behind the Mirror, Building the Monastery, Heath Ledger and Friends, The Imaginarium of Terry Gilliam, Doctor Parnassus Around the World, The Artwork of Doctor Parnassus and Cast & Crew Presentation on Stage). You'll also get a Multi-Angle Progression Sequence, Heath Ledger's Wardrobe Test with optional commentary by Gilliam and an interview with Ledger. Finally, the BD will add movieIQ+sync and BD-Live.

And Rob Marshall's Nine (2009) arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/4 from Sony. Extras will include audio commentary with Marshall and producer John DeLuca, 8 featurettes and 3 music videos. The Blu-ray will exclusively add 2 more featurettes along with movieIQ+sync and BD-Live.

Also today, you remember how we told you (in The Rumor Mill) that Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds was coming to Blu-ray this year? Well, here you go: DreamWorks and Paramount have just set it for release on 6/1. Also coming from Paramount on DVD on 6/1 are The Cleaner: The Final Season and The Cleaner: The Complete Series (for CBS). Following on DVD on 6/8 are MacGyver: The TV Movies, The Cry of the Owl and iCarly: iSaved Your Life.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/5/10 - 2:45 PM PDT)

Okay... just a couple last announcements to mention and we're done for the week.

First, Summit has set Bandslam for DVD only release on 3/16 (SRP $25.99).

Our friends at Fantoma are delivering Kenneth Anger's Complete Magick Lantern Cycle on DVD on 3/30 (SRP $37.98). Films will include Fireworks (1947), Puce Moment (1949), Rabbit's Moon (1950 - the rarely seen original 16 minute version), Eaux d'Artifice (1953), Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), Rabbit's Moon (1979 version) and Lucifer Rising (1981). The set will also feature screen specific audio commentary by Anger, rare outtakes from Rabbit's Moon, Anger's The Man We Want to Hang (2002), restoration demonstrations, restored stereo audio for Lucifer Rising, an additional audio track for Invocation of My Demon Brother and a booket with liner notes by Martin Scorsese, Gus Van Sant, and Guy Maddin and more. This 2-disc set apparently replaces the individual Anger DVDs from Fantoma, which will be going out of print.

Also, Shout! Factory has set G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero - Season 2.0 for DVD release on 4/27 (SRP $29.93).

And MPT Media Group is bringing the Oscar-nominated The Baader Meinhof Complex to 2-disc DVD and 2-disc Blu-ray on 3/30 (SRP $27.98 and $34.98 each).

Speaking of the Oscars, this weekend brings the something, something annual Academy Awards spectacular. Now, I'm not a big fan of these awards shows anymore. There's nothing I like watching less than self-important celebs patting themselves on the back. But with the Best Picture category back to ten nominees this year, it might be interesting to see which films cancel each other out and which one comes out on top. (My money's on Hurt Locker, but we'll see.) Plus Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin co-host, so there's probably going to be a couple of yuks. My plan is to TiVo and scan through it in about 10 minutes. We'll see.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this week's Kurosawa reviews and the other news. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday. Peace out.

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/5/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Good morning, everyone. Hope you're all well today. Fire up the coffee pot, 'cause we've got some reading material for you...

As expected, we're very pleased to bring you Week Five of our look at The Films of Akira Kurosawa on disc! This week, we've got reviews of FIVE of the director's classic films, available in no less than FOURTEEN different versions. Included are Adam's comments on I Live in Fear (AK100 and Eclipse versions), Todd's thoughts on Yojimbo (AK100, the Criterion reissue DVD, the original Criterion DVD and the new Blu-ray Disc that streets on 3/23) and Sanjuro (again AK100, the Criterion reissue DVD, the original Criterion DVD and the new Blu-ray due 3/23), and finally my own reviews of High and Low (AK100, the Criterion 2-disc DVD and the original Criterion DVD) and Rhapsody in August (available on DVD from MGM). Let me just say, the new BD upgrades of Yojimbo and Sanjuro are terrific - definitely the best way to experience the films. As always, we hope you enjoy the reviews!

Also this morning, note that MGM (via Fox) has set Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Series for release on DVD on 3/23 (SRP $199.98). The 26-disc box set will include all 100 episodes from the show along with all the extras released on the individual season DVDs, as well as an exclusive new bonus disc containing the all-new Mission 100: Atlantis Reaches a Milestone and Stargate Atlantis: A Retrospective featurettes.

Finally this morning, the HDMI Consortium has just officially unveiled the HDMI 1.4a spec, which will allow for added Ethernet and Audio Return channels, added color spaces, content "type" signaling between connected devices, video resolutions of up to 4K and, of course, 3D. You can read all the details here at their official web page, which includes a PDF file presentation with all the specific details.

We'll be back later today with any additional breaking news or announcements. Stay tuned...

3/4/10

Okay, we're working on a LOT of reviews again today, including a BUNCH more Kurosawa titles that will be posted tomorrow, so be sure to check back early tomorrow morning for those.

Here at the site today (well sort of), Dr. Jahnke's just kicked off a cool new interactive discussion over on his Electric Theatre Facebook page... JET's Most Wanted: Forgotten Films Not Available on DVD. Click on over there and chime on!

In announcement news today, Warner Home Video has set Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season for DVD release on 6/8, followed by Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season and Hung: The Complete First Season for release on both DVD and Blu-ray on 6/22 (all for HBO).

Here's a look at the cover art for Curb and Entourage, along with Criterion's By Brackhage: An Anthology - Volumes 1 & 2 Blu-ray (due 5/25) and Warner's previously announced A Star Is Born on both DVD and Blu-ray (also due 6/22)...

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh SeasonEntourage: The Complete Sixth SeasonEntourage: The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray Disc)

By Brackhage: An Anthology - Volumes 1 & 2 (Blu-ray Disc)A Star Is Born: Deluxe EditionA Star Is Born: Deluxe Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

In other news today, director William Friedkin has apparently leaked word that both versions of the classic The Exorcist will arrive on Blu-ray from Warner in time for this Halloween. You'll find this in interview quotes on Movieweb today. Special thanks to loyal Bits reader Dave C. up in Ontario, Great White North! Oh, Friedkin is apparently not a fan of 3D either. Somehow, I didn't expect he would be.

And finally, consider this Rumor Mill worthy, but there's been some concern about Fox's Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set. Specifically, people there are stories flying around the InterWebs to the effect that the set will include not only the four previous Alien films, but also the two Alien vs. Predator films as well. Not so. Our Magic 8 Ball says it's just the four classic Alien films. So feel free to rest easy... or freak out... as you will. But plan accordingly.

Stay tuned!

3/3/10

Okay, this post is a little later than normal, but we're all neck deep in review work here at The Bits. Plus, it was tax day today. So you know... plenty keeping us busy.

We've got a few new announcements to report this evening...

First, Warner Home Video has officially announced the BD release of The Notebook on 5/4, sans the elaborate "Valentine" packaging it previously came in. SRP is a more modest $19.98. We've also learned that those new Clint Eastwood BDs (due on 6/1) will carry an SRP of $24.98 each, including Absolute Power, Heartbreak Ridge and The Rookie, as well as the double feature BDs Heroes/Where Eagles Dare, The Enforcer/Sudden Impact and Dirty Harry/Magnum Force. The 10-film Clint Eastwood Collection Blu-ray set will sell for SRP $149.99.

Also newly announced for DVD release by Warner is The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season on 6/29 (SRP $39.98).

And in other news today, Sony and CBS have just opened their 3D consumer research center (a.k.a. the "The Sony 3D Experience") at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas. There you'll be able to see and experience Blu-ray 3D, 3D gaming and 3D HD displays first hand, and provide feedback to the industry. You can read more here at Home Media. If any of you happen to check it out, be sure to let us know what you think.

Finally today, per request of Fox Home Entertainment, we've temporarily "redacted" that Avatar Blu-ray packaging shot we posted last night. Of course, images of the same (and other) packaging are still available online at the Australian retailer EzyDVD, and here at Amazon.fr and Amazon.co.uk, and in many other online forums.

Anyway, we expect an official announcement soon, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/2/10 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Here's something interesting... a new image has leaked from U.K. retail sources of the packaging for Fox's Avatar 2D Blu-ray release, expected (though not yet officially announced) to street on BD and DVD around the world on (or about) Earth Day (4/22). Also today, an Australian reader (thanks Dave!) sent in word that his local video rental store expects Avatar to be available on disc there on 4/28. Anyway, here's the U.K. image (via our friends at Blu-ray.com)...

Avatar - Fox's U.K. Steelbook release

We'll post all the official details as soon as Fox makes their actual announcement. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/2/10 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Afternoon, folks! Okay, we've got some new reviews for you today, some news and more...

First, Jeff has checked in with reviews of a pair of new Blu-ray Disc releases, including Disney's stunning Ponyo (which streets today) and Fox's Stargate Universe: SG-U - 1.0 (now available).

Also this afternoon, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with lots of new DVD and Blu-ray cover scans, and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we greatly appreciate it!

In announcement news, Palm Pictures has set The Basketball Diaries for release on Blu-ray Disc on 4/20 (SRP $24.99). Audio is DTS-HD MA. Extras will include interviews with the cast and director, and a Jim Carroll interview and poetry reading.

New Video has set The Yes Men Fix the World for DVD release on 4/1 (SRP $26.95).

Here's something interesting: Universal just announced that they've started production in South Africa on Death Race 2, as written by Tony Giglio from a story by Paul W.S. Anderson, and directed by Roel Reiné. This will be part of Uni's DVD Originals line. Street date will be announced later.

Meanwhile, Uni's Leap Year will officially street on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/4.

And in other news today, Pioneer has just announced a pair of new 5.1 A/V receivers (110 watts per channel), the VSX-520-K and VSX-820-K (SRP $229 and $299), which feature wireless Bluetooth audio streaming, HDMI 1.4 (for compatibility with future Blu-ray 3D players, Dolby ProLogic IIz decoding and more. The 520 has 3 HDMI inputs, while the 820 offers 4 HDMI inputs, along with USB iPhone connection, Sirius satellite radio functionality, Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration and other convenience features. They can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com now (here and here) and are expected in stock later this month or early April. Sony also recently announced its own HDMI 1.4 compatible receiver as well, the 7.1 STR-DN1010 (SRP $500), due in stores in June. (Read more here). Other manufacturers with HDMI 1.4 receivers on the way include Denon and Onkyo, with others sure to follow.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/1/10 - 1 PM PDT)

Well... we've got a couple more quick announcements for you this afternoon - just off the wires from this morning...

First, Warner Home Video has revealed new DVD and Blu-ray Disc special editions of A Star is Born (1954) for release on 6/22 (SRP $20.97 and $34.99). Both will be 2-disc editions, and the Blu-ray will come in book packaging. The film has been lovingly restored by Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) for this release, based upon the 1983 reconstruction by archivist/historian Ronald Haver. From the studio's press release, extras will include scores of outtakes, alternate takes and deleted scenes, numerous excerpts from Garland's audio recording sessions for the film, newsreels, trailers, an introduction and a 40-page collectible book of "rare photos, press materials and an illuminating essay by film historian John Fricke." I'll tell you, it's sure nice to see more studios releasing classic catalog titles on the Blu-ray format.

Warner has also revealed that the studio is releasing The Eastwood Factor: Extended Version documentary on DVD on 6/1 (SRP $14.97). This is a longer version of 22-minute The Eastwood Factor featurette that's currently included in the Clint Eastwood: 35 Films, 35 Years at Warner Bros. DVD box set, but don't worry - if you've purchased that box set Warner is allowing you to trade up to the new version here at their Warner Shop website. Future copies of the box will include the full extended version.

Continuing with the Eastwood theme, Warner will also release a number of new box sets featuring the director, including the Clint Eastwood Collection (Blu-ray Disc - includes The Rookie, Kelly's Heroes, Where Eagles Dare and Absolute Power for the first time on the format, along with the existing Gran Torino, Letters from Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Unforgiven and Dirty Harry), the Essential Eastwood: Director's Collection (DVD and Blu-ray - includes Letters from Iwo Jima, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and Unforgiven), the Essential Eastwood: Action Collection (DVD only - includes Firefox, Heartbreak Ridge, Kelly's Heroes, Where Eagles Dare), and an Eastwood Blu-ray promotion involving new Blu-ray Double Features of Kelly's Heroes/Where Eagles Dare, The Enforcer/Sudden Impact and Dirty Harry/Magnum Force. Absolute Power, Heartbreak Ridge and The Rookie will also be released on Blu-ray individually. All of these will street on 6/1.

Given all this attention to Eastwood, look for his Invictus to be announced soon for release on DVD and Blu-ray in the May/June timeframe as well.

Also today, Lionsgate has set Mystery Team and Rain Fall for release on DVD on 5/25.

And Sony has announced a number of cool new catalog titles as well, including the Blu-ray releases of The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid II on 5/11 (available individually or in a 2-film box set), as well as DVD editions of the catalog films Sword of Sherwood Forest, The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, Robin and Marian, The Prince of Thieves and Rogues of Sherwood Forest the same day. These are no doubt meant to take advantage of the hype surrounding the new remake of The Karate Kid and Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, due in theatres on 6/11 and 5/14 respectively. The studio has also set the recent The Young Victoria for DVD and Blu-ray release on 4/20.

By the way, consider this Rumor Mill worthy, but one wouldn't be foolish to assume that the new re-issue Blu-ray version of Ridley Scott's Gladiator - with the NEW and improved HD transfer - will find its way to stores shelves around the same time as Robin Hood either hits theatres or (more likely) DVD and Blu-ray later this year.

Back tomorrow with more reviews. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/1/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Wow... is it March already? I guess so. Time is sure flying by. Guess it's looking at all these discs that's keeping us busy.

Did anyone happen to watch the Olympic Gold Medal hockey game between the U.S. and Canada? Man, that was sure a thriller! It was about as close as it could get, and even went into overtime. My hats off to the Canadian team and fans, and the U.S. crew too - hockey just doesn't get any better than that. Gold and Silver medals all around! Meanwhile, the rest of you sports fans can continue to anticipate World Cup football in a few months... ;)

Here at The Bits today, we've got a column double-whammy for you! Dr. Jahnke has turned in a new Bottom Shelf column, with reviews of Fox's Whip It and Universal's Couples Retreat on Blu-ray Disc. And speaking of Blu-ray, Dr. Barrie Maxwell has checked in with a new Classic Coming Attractions featuring a summary of all the classic film titles either available on - or known to be coming to - Blu-ray. Barrie even breaks out U.S. and international titles as well. Both columns are, as always, good reading so do check 'em out!

In announcement news this morning, you may have heard the good news from Shout! Factory: Thanks to a new partnership with Warner Home Video, they're bringing the original Max Headroom and The Norm Show TV series to DVD later this year! Yes, you read that right! They're already hard at work creating a wide range of new bonus content for Max Headroom: The Complete Series, and will be mastering the episodes from original elements to ensure the highest quality. VERY cool news indeed - TV fans have been waiting for Max on disc for a LONG time. Watch for additional details in the coming weeks.

Now then, there's nothing else new in the way of announcement news to report yet this morning (as I write this it's actually Sunday evening, so nothing's come sizzling across the wires yet). But we do have a couple interesting things to report from around the Net.

First, Home Media is reporting that market research firm Futuresource Consulting has done a little research on American consumer desire for 3D HDTV in the home... and the good news is that a whopping 72% of those surveyed want it ASAP. That is a HUGE number, folks. Now... there's obviously some concern about price, but still is a good omen indeed, especially when you consider that the best quality 3D experience is going to be delivered by Blu-ray for the foreseeable future. I still do think videogaming and live sports broadcasts are going to be the real driver for 3D in the home, but there's no doubt Blu-ray could benefit from this consumer excitement as well. Watch for 3D product to really start hitting stores shelves this summer.

Also, following up on our fourth wave of Akira Kurosawa film reviews from Friday, we've learned that Turner Classic Movies is going to be holding a tribute of their own to the late director. (You can read more here and watch TCM's video preview of the marathon here, or below.) Later this month, on the March 23rd (100th) anniversary of his birth, TCM will be running a 24-hour marathon of his films. The cable network will also be showing 26 of his 30 films throughout the month (each Tuesday, starting on 3/9), including such classics as Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress, Rashomon and Throne of Blood. Be sure to check your local listings for the complete schedule of films and air times. If you've never seen Kurosawa's work but have already been intrigued by what you've heard, there's certainly never been a better time to give his films a try! Trust us... you will NOT regret it.



And while we're on the subject of Kurosawa, there's a new book on the director due to hit store shelves next Tuesday from Rizzoli and author/film historian Peter Cowie: Akira Kurosawa: Master of Cinema. It promises to be, "The most lavishly produced and profusely illustrated volume on Akira Kurosawa ever published," featuring 304 pages and over 200 images, many never before seen in print. Should be fantastic - you can rest assured my copy is already on order with Amazon!

Finally this morning, what with Tron: Legacy coming to theatres in time for the holidays this year, it should have gone without saying that Disney would likely release the classic Tron on Blu-ray sooner rather than later. Well... they haven't actually announced the BD yet, but we've now confirmed that there's a brand new HD transfer of the film available. How so? Well, Bits reader Jacob R. e-mailed last night to say that he's discovered a surprise on HDNet's programming schedule for this week: Tron premieres in high-definition on the network this Wednesday night (9 PM Eastern, 6 PM Pacific)! Rev up your lightcycles, gamers. Flynn lives!

Back later with any breaking news. Stay tuned...

2/26/10

Well... another week comes to a close. This one sure was busy here. Sarah and I, as some of you may know, have several cats. And this week was annual vet visit week, which is why today's post is a little later than normal. Let me tell you, there's nothing easy about wrangling multiple cats to and from the vet! As I type this, I'm covered in cat hair. Goes with the territory.

Anyway, as expected here at The Bits today, we're pleased to present this week's installment of The Films of Akira Kurosawa on DVD. Today's reviews include Todd's thoughts on Red Beard (AK100 and Criterion editions), Dr. Jahnke's take on The Idiot (AK100 and Eclipse editions) and my own comments on Kurosawa's Dreams (available from Warner Bros.). As always, we hope you enjoy them!

There's not a lot in the way of release news to report this afternoon, other than this: Disney has set the romantic comedy When in Rome on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/18.

Here's something interesting, however... a look at the packaging for Universal's The A-Team: The Complete Series on DVD (due 6/8). Yes, that IS a replica of their GMC Vandura van...

Packaging for Universal's The A-Team: The Complete Series on DVD

Finally today, we have some very sad news to report. You may recall from our post late last week that actor Andrew Koenig had been reported missing in Vancouver, and his family (including Star Trek actor Walter Koenig) had launched a search to find him. Unfortunately, his body was found yesterday afternoon, and it's believed that he took his own life. Andrew had apparently been suffering from depression in recent weeks. I've met Walter on several occasions, and he's just a wonderful person. We can only join many, many others in wishing Walter and Andrew's family and friends solace, in what is obviously a terribly difficult time.

And that's all for now. Back on Monday with reviews and more. Stay tuned...

2/25/10

Okay, we're working on reviews today, so this afternoon's post is going to be pretty brief.

Here at the site today, our own Mark Altman has turned in a new installment of MOS DEF, featuring his quick reviews of a few recent Blu-ray releases. Do check it out.

And around the Net today, Dawn from the excellent Battlestar Cafe fan site has discovered that custom Battlestar Galactica: Complete Series packaging I created, and she asked permission to report all the insert/graphic files I used to put it together. I've been happy to do so, and you can find them on her site - both my original Word.doc files with the inserts and the cover image file, as well as the excellent booklet PDF version Bits reader Mark Schaffner created. What's more, I've added to my original doc files a new insert that includes the excellent new soundtrack CD (newly available from La-La Land Records) for Battlestar Galactica: The Plan/Razor featuring Bear McCreary's terrific score.

Now, as I said I'm off to work on new reviews, including this week's installment of The Films of Akira Kurosawa, which we'll have for you tomorrow. Speaking of Kurosawa, Bits reader Douglas K. has created a cool Kurosawa Fan Page on Facebook, for those of you who might be interested.

We also have additional reviews on the way, as well as a new column from Barrie (watch for that on Monday). Stay tuned!

2/24/10

Okay... first up today, we've got a couple more Blu-ray Disc reviews for you (with more to come tomorrow). Today's entries are my own take on Sony's 2012: Two Disc Special Edition, and Tim's thoughts on an older title, Warner's release of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Let me tell you, 2012... you may or may not like the film, but the Blu-ray is unexpectedly awesome. Just check out the review and you'll see why. Enjoy!

In release news today, Warner has set Horses: The Story of Equus for DVD release on 6/8 (an IMAX release) and Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 7 for 6/15 (for Adult Swim).

Oscilloscope Labs has announced that it's releasing Oren Moverman's Oscar-nominated film The Messenger on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/18. Both versions will include audio commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a documentary and more. You can read more here at Home Media.

And in other news, our friends over at Criterion have kicked off something you samurai fans might enjoy: They've begun launching the classic Zatoichi films on Hulu! (Read more here.) The first 6 films in the series are now available, including The Tale of Zatoichi, The Tale of Zatoichi Continues, New Tale of Zatoichi, The Fugitive, On the Road, and Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold. That's pretty cool indeed. We do, however, wish Criterion would re-issue the first two films on DVD with anamorphic transfers. (Just a suggestion!)

Watch for additional reviews tomorrow, so stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/23/10 - 5:30 PM PDT)

One more update for you today, as Universal has announced a few exciting new releases this afternoon.

First, fans of Stanley Kubrick will be pleased to hear that they've officially unveiled a Spartacus: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray, due in stores on 5/25. The BD-50 will offer DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio and a number of extras, including interviews with actors Peter Ustinov and Jean Simmons, behind-the-scenes footage and vintage newsreels, and galleries of production stills, concept art, costume designs, storyboard and the film's poster and print campaigns. Pretty cool. Now maybe Warner will consider releasing Kubrick's Lolita and Barry Lyndon on Blu-ray one of these days. Fingers crossed.

Also newly announced by Universal for DVD is The A-Team: The Complete Series - Limited Edition Box Set, due on 6/8. It appears to be a 25-disc set, and extras will at least include a pair of featurettes (The Great '80s TV Flashback and Rumors of Soldiers of Fortune) and a bonus episode of Knight Rider.

Universal has also set It's Complicated for DVD and Blu-ray release on 4/27 (SRP $29.98 and $36.98), including audio commentary with the filmmakers and a "making of" featurette.

In other release news, Shout! Factory has announced another new TV title coming to DVD that some of you might be interested in: Tales of the Gold Monkey: The Complete Series! Look for it as a 6-disc DVD box set on 6/8 (SRP $49.97), featuring all 22 episodes, the original double-length pilot, a new 36-minute documentary, audio commentaries, a photo gallery, a costume and artifacts gallery, a 24-page booklet and more.

Sony has set The Moment After 2 for release on DVD on 5/4.

And Paramount is re-releasing a number of its previous catalog Blu-ray titles in 2-packs starting on 5/18. Included will be Black Sheep/Tommy Boy, Coming to America/Trading Places, Defiance/Enemy at the Gates, Tropic Thunder/We Were Soliders and Four Brothers/The Warriors.

Also, in related news, Sony and The Weinstein Company have reached a deal that will see Sony distribute all Weinstein Company films on DVD and Blu-ray worldwide going forward. The first such title will be A Single Man, and future titles include Nine, The Road, Youth in Revolt, Halloween, Piranha 3D, Nowhere Boy, Hoodwinked 2 and Blue Valentine. You can read more here at Home Media.

Here's a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Universal's Spartacus, as well as Lionsgate's The Relic (4/6) and Fox's Elektra: Director's Cut (5/4)...

Spartacus (Blu-ray Disc)The Relic (Blu-ray Disc)Elektra: Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/23/10 - 12:01 AM PDT)

All right, first up today, Adam's turned in reviews of a pair of films on DVD from IFC, including The Escapist and Pontypool. You'll find those in his latest Bottom Shelf column. They both sound pretty interesting, so be sure to give 'em a look.

Also today here at the site, our own Russell Hammond has posted the weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork section, featuring all the latest DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a small portion of anything you order from the retailer after clicking to them through our links helps support our work here at the site and we really appreciate it.

Now then, after posting that Sound of Music Blu-ray trailer for you to check out yesterday, we managed to get our hands on an HD version of Warner's new Blu-ray release trailer for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (due 4/6). So here it is (be sure to select a high-resolution option for the best quality playback)...



In release news today, Shout! Factory and Marvel Animation have announced a partnership to bring The Super Hero Squad Show animated series to DVD later this year.

Speaking of Shout!, our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com are reporting that the company is taking over DVD distribution of Sony's Mad About You this summer, starting with the release of Season Four on 6/29. Good news indeed for fans. I wish Shout! could get the rights to release the rest of Baa Baa Black Sheep from Universal, which has only rolled out the first season on DVD here in the States.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set Wolverine and the X-Men: Revelation and Dirt: Season Two for DVD release on 5/4, followed by Gunfight at La Mesa on 5/18.

Speaking of Lionsgate, they haven't officially announced the title yet, but Amazon now has available for pre-order DVD and Blu-ray versions of Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, both listed as due from the studio on 4/27. We'll post official details as they come in. Thanks to Bits reader Craig C. for spotting them!

Sexy Intellectual and MVD Visual have announced the DVD release of Frank Zappa: The Freak Out List on 4/20.

Those of you who are fans of A&E's The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty will be pleased to know that the series is coming to DVD as a 2-disc set on 3/30 (SRP $24.95).

Sony has set The Karate Kid: Animated Series - Volumes 1 & 2 for DVD release on 5/4.

Paramount has set Flashpoint: The Second Season (for CBS) and Leverage: The Second Season for release on DVD on 5/25.

And here's more Blu-ray cover art for you to check out: Sony's An Education (due 3/30), Universal's Carlito's Way (5/18) and the final revised art for DreamWorks' Minority Report (4/20)...

An Education (Blu-ray Disc)Carlito's Way (Blu-ray Disc)Minority Report (Blu-ray Disc)

More reviews tomorrow. Stay tuned...

2/22/10

Morning, everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. We've got a couple interesting things for you this morning...

First, Jeff has turned in new reviews of 20th Century Fox's Amelia and Disney's Surrogates on Blu-ray Disc. Enjoy! (More new reviews are coming tomorrow, so be sure to check back for them.)

Also today, in updated release news, there's word that director James Cameron may have jumped the gun a bit when he said that the Blu-ray 3D version of Avatar will be released in November. Fox has now chimed in officially on the matter. Says a studio rep in an updated quote for the original Wall Street Journal article: "3-D is in the conceptual stage and Avatar will not be out on 3-D Blu-ray in November."

But if we're not getting Avatar 3D on Blu-ray from Fox this holiday season, what are we getting on the format? Well, how about the long-awaited Alien Anthology box set and The Sound of Music? A new Fox Home Entertainment promotional flyer included in the new Aliens vs. Predator videogame (now available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) says that the Alien Blu-ray set is due "Christmas 2010". As for The Sound of Music, we first posted official word from Fox on that title on Friday. But just for good measure, the studio has also released a new teaser trailer for its "Christmas" Blu-ray release of the film. You can view it below (be sure to select 480p to see it in higher resolution)...



Finally this morning, this is a completely unrelated bit of news, but a friend of the family asked us to post it: It seems that Andrew Koenig, who appeared on the show Growing Pains (and is the son of Star Trek actor Walter Koenig), has gone missing. He apparently suffers from depression, and was last heard from a couple weeks ago in Vancouver. Obviously, his family and friends are pretty worried, so if any of you live in the area and have any information that might help find him, please contact the local authorities. All the information you need to do so can be found on Walter's official website. I'm sure I speak for all readers of The Digital Bits when saying: We send our best wishes to the family for his safe return.

That's all for now. Stay tuned...

2/19/10

Morning, folks!

We're pleased today to present you with Week Three of our look at The Films of Akira Kurosawa (and Criterion's excellent AK100 box set), featuring more new reviews from Doogan, Adam and Barrie too! Todd's got an analysis of Stray Dog (AK100 and Criterion) and The Hidden Fortress (AK100 and Criterion) for you. Dr. Jahnke checks in with his thoughts on One Wonderful Sunday (AK100 and Eclipse) and Scandal (AK100 and Eclipse). And Barrie round things out this today with his thoughts on The Quiet Duel (available from BCI). So that makes 5 more of Kurosawa's films covered this week, in 9 different DVD editions. And there's 16 more films to come, so be sure to check back in next Friday for more.

And in release news today, Paramount has set Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 4/20 (just 3 weeks after his Lord of the Rings hits BD from Warner). Look for a DVD (SRP $19.99) and a 2-Disc Blu-ray Special Edition (SRP $29.99). Both will include the film, while the Blu-ray will add a 15-part production diary called Filming The Lovely Bones, hosted by Jackson and Philippa Boyens. Here's what the cover art looks like (along with BD cover art for Lionsgate's Flight of the Intruder, due 4/6)...

The Lovely Bones (DVD)The Lovely Bones: 2-Disc Special Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Flight of the Intruder (Blu-ray Disc)

There's one other VERY cool bit of release news today: 20th Century Fox has informed us that they're going to be releasing The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray later this year! No additional details are available at the moment, but we're told it's coming in time for the holidays. Good news for classic film and musical fans!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay tuned...

2/18/10

Big news this afternoon: According to a new interview director James Cameron's given with the Wall Street Journal, Fox will release the 2D DVD and Blu-ray version of Avatar on 4/22 (which - not by coincidence - just so happens to be Earth Day), and will release the "value added" DVD and Blu-ray 3D versions sometime in November. You can read more here.

In other release news, I'm not sure if we've mentioned this one yet, but Universal will bow It's Complicated on DVD and Blu-ray on 3/9 (SRP $29.98 and $36.98).

In other news, Lionsgate will release Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon on DVD on 4/13 (SRP $26.98).

Docurama has set The Yes Men Fix the World for DVD release on April Fool's Day (4/1) - no kidding. SRP is $26.95.

First Run has the films Crude: The Real Price of Oil and Bliss for DVD release on 2/23.

MPI has I Sell the Dead coming for DVD and Blu-ray release on 3/30 (SRP $19.98 and $29.98).

Sony has announced the comedy Transylmania for release on DVD only on 4/27 (SLP $24.96).

Infinity has announced that The Judy Garland Show: Volume Three will arrive on DVD on 3/23.

The Discovery Channel is releasing Storm Chasers: Let Chaos Ensue and TLC's Overhaulin' on DVD starting on 2/23, exclusively at DiscoveryStore.com and TLCStore.com (SRP $29.95). The former is the complete 2009 season, while the latter includes 10 "favorite" episodes of the series.

Finally, Anchor Bay is releasing Beyond Sherwood Forest on DVD on 2/23 (SRP $19.97).

We'll be back early tomorrow morning with this week's batch of Akira Kurosawa DVD reviews, so be sure to check back then!

Stay tuned...

2/17/10

Okay... so here's some interesting new announcements...

First of all, Warner Home Video is going to be making all four classic Batman films available as BD singles starting on 5/4 (SRP $24.98 each). This includes Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Content will be exactly identical to the BD discs in the Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray box set, with the exception that these will not include Digital Copy versions.

Warner has also announced a new Gone with the Wind: The Scarlett Edition Blu-ray set due on 4/13 (the same day as the new Gone with the Wind: Making of a Legend documentary arrives on DVD). This new Blu-ray is a 3-disc set (2 BD-50s & 1 DVD-18 - SRP $49.99) replicating exactly all the disc-based contents of the 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition box set, just without the oversized box, book and all the swag. This, in other words, is the discs-only edition that should have been available same day, and lots of people were upset was absent from the release.

Also newly announced by Warner for DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy Combo is IMAX: Under the Sea for release on 3/30 (SRP $28.98 and $35.99).

And on standard DVD, Warner has set Family Matters: The Complete First Season for release on 6/8, followed by Everwood: The Complete Third Season on 6/15.

Meanwhile, Universal has announced another catalog Blu-ray for release on 5/18: Carlito's Way.

Fox has also announced more catalog Blu-rays, including singles of the previously-unreleased Mel Brooks titles included in last year's Brooks BD box set. The list includes the Elektra: The Director's Cut on 5/4, followed by The Edge, Marked for Death, High Anxiety, History of the World, Part I and Robin Hood: Men in Tights all on 5/11.

Here's a look at some cover art... Warner's Gone with the Wind: Scarlet Edition and IMAX: Under the Sea, Kino's Battleship Potemkin (due 4/20), Lionsgate's Brothers (3/23) and Fox's The Edge and High Anxiety, all on Blu-ray...

Gone with the Wind: Scarlet Edition (Blu-ray Disc)IMAX: Under the Sea (Blu-ray Disc)Battleship Potemkin (Blu-ray Disc)

Brothers (Blu-ray Disc)The Edge (Blu-ray Disc)High Anxiety (Blu-ray Disc)

By the way, I wanted to update you all on the server slowdown over the last couple of weeks. Turns out it's not so much the server, but bandwidth! The Bits has actually been growing and gaining new readers in recent months, and the result is that we're using a little more bandwidth than before. So we're working with our hosting company to make the necessary adjustments. Things should be back to normal soon, so we appreciate your patience... AND your readership! Thanks guys.

Stay tuned...

2/16/10

Afternoon, folks!

First up today, Dr. Jahnke has posted a new installment of his Jahnke's Electric Theatre column featuring reviews of The Wolfman (now in theatres) and King of California (on DVD). Enjoy!

We're also introducing a new review team member here at The Bits! Tim Salmons checks in with his first pair of disc reviews today, including DreamWorks' Paranormal Activity and Warner's The Searchers. Welcome, Tim!

In release news today, Paramount has set Up in the Air for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 3/9 (SRP $19.99 and $29.99). Extras on the DVD will include audio commentary (by writer/director Jason Reitman, director of photography Eric Steelberg and first assistant director Jason Blumenfeld, the Shadowplay: Before the Story featurette, trailers and 5 deleted scenes with optional commentary. The Blu-ray will include all of that (in full HD) and add 8 additional deleted scenes, Sad Brad's Help Yourself music video, storyboards and a featurette called American Airlines Prank (all in HD).

Lionsgate has set Brothers for DVD and Blu-ray release on 3/16 (SRP $29.95 and $39.99). Extras will include a pair of featurettes plus a director's commentary.

Sony has announced a batch of classic war and western films due on DVD on 5/4 (some new some re-issue), including Anzio, The Beast, A Man Called Sledge, The Stranger Wore a Gun, Cowboy, Hellcats of the Navy, Alvaraz Kelly, Castle Keep, Cat Ballou: Special Edition, Geronimo: An American Legend, Hangman's Knot, King Rat, Mackenna's Gold, The Man from Laramie, Mountain Men, The Texican, The Villain, a colorized version of The War Lover, Ike: Countdown to D-Day and Bitter Victory.

Warner and the BBC have set Survivors: The Complete Original Series (1975-1977) for release on DVD on 4/27, along with Survivors: Complete Seasons One and Two. That will be followed by the BBC's 2009 production of Hamlet (starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart) on both DVD and Blu-ray on 5/4.

FUNimation has announced that it's releasing Dragon Ball Z Kai: Part One on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/18 (with the rest to follow later in the year). They've also acquired the release rights to Trigun and plan to debut it on DVD in the Fall.

Cinema Libre Studio will debut The Last Hurrah and Mommo on DVD on 2/23. Interestingly, The Last Hurrah was apparently filmed in one continuous shot.

A&E will release History Channel's The Real Wolfman, Christianity: The First 2,000 Years and Holy Grail in America on DVD on 3/16, followed by Steven Seagal: Lawman - The Complete Season One, The Nostradamaus Effect: The Complete Season One, Mysteryquest: The Complete Season One, Jessie James' Hidden Treasure and Clash of the Gods on DVD on 3/30. Clash of the Gods will also be released on Blu-ray the same day. I actually recently watched The Real Wolfman. It's pretty interesting if you're interested in that sort of thing. Although I think History Channel out to start calling itself the Fantasy and Speculation Channel. I'm just saying.

Infinity Entertainment has set Thunderheads and the Smithsonian Networks Kids Pack (includes Loose at the Zoo and Critter Quest!) for release on DVD on 3/23.

And we'll leave you this afternoon with a look at the official cover art for the DVD and Blu-ray versions of Up in the Air, as well as the DVD cover art for Shout! Factory's Gamera, The Giant Monster: Special Edition DVD (due 5/18). Now THERE'S a unique double-bill!

Up in the Air (Blu-ray Disc)Up in the AirGamera, The Giant Monster: Special Edition

Don't forget, we posted this week's Release Dates & Artwork update yesterday - lots of great new titles in there!

Stay tuned...

2/15/10

Afternoon, folks! Today is a bit of a slow news day, given the President's Day holiday here in the States. Some people are at work, and some aren't, so there's not a whole lot going on.

However, we do have a few announcements for you today...

First, Criterion has some GREAT new titles for release on DVD and Blu-ray, including Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout (Cat #10 - due 5/18 on DVD and Blu-ray), Marco Ferreri's Dillinger Is Dead (#506 - 5/16), Fritz Lang's M (#30 - due 5/11 on Blu-ray!), John Ford's western masterpiece Stagecoach (516 - due 5/25 on DVD and Blu-ray!), By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volume Two (#517 - due 5/25 on DVD) and By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two (#518 - due 5/25 on Blu-ray) and finally, Eclipse Series 21: Oshima's Outlaw Series (due 5/18 on DVD - includes Nagisa Oshima's Pleasures of the Flesh, Violence at Noon, Sing a Song of Sex, Japanese Summer: Double Suicide and Three Resurrected Drunkards). THAT is a great line-up! Can you imagine M and Stagecoach on Blu-ray? Awesome.

Also, Lionsgate has announced its April DVD and Blu-ray release slate, set to include Jade Warrior, Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami: Season One, The Relic (Blu-ray), Jade (Blu-ray) and Flight of the Intruder (Blu-ray) on 4/6, Tenderness, Three Kingdoms, Jim Henson's The Song of the Cloud Forest and Other Earth Stories and Jim Henson's Animal Show with Stink and Jake: Lions, Tigers & Bears on 4/13, Peacock, Neowolf, LeapFrog: Math Circus and LeapFrog: Word Caper on 4/20, and The Descent: Part 2 and Life Blood on 4/27.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Georgia O'Keeffe, The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume 8 and Transylmania for release on DVD on 4/27.

And Disney will release Marvel's Iron Man: The Complete Animated Series on DVD on 5/4.

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

Speaking of cover art, here's a look at a couple of those new Criterion titles... enjoy!

M (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)Stagecoach (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)Stagecoach (Criterion DVD)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/12/10 - NOON PST)

Okay... first things first: The restored Metropolis is supposed to be streaming LIVE at this link soon (and the very least, something is streaming live there and they appear to be talking about the film, so hopefully the film itself will stream soon). Be sure to check it out if you're interested! [Editor's Note: It IS live now, but it seems to be HD video of a public projection, so it's not really what you're expecting. But it IS the film, so you may still want to check it out.]

Also, DreamWorks and Paramount have just finally issued their official press release for the Saving Private Ryan: Sapphire Series Blu-ray Disc, due in stores on 5/4 (SRP $39.99). Extras on the 2-disc set will include An Introduction with director Steven Spielberg, 7 SD featurettes (Looking Into the Past, Miller and His Platoon, Boot Camp, Making Saving Private Ryan, Re-creating Omaha Beach, Music and Sound and Parting Thoughts), 2 longer documentaries (Into the Breach: Saving Private Ryan and Shooting War), and the film's theatrical and re-release trailers (both in full HD). Audio will be English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Here's what the cover art looks like...

Saving Private Ryan (Blu-ray Disc)K19: The Widowmaker (Blu-ray Disc)After Dark Horrorfest 4

As you can see, we've also posted the cover art for Paramount's K19: The Widowmaker (due 5/4) and Lionsgate's After Dark Horrorfest 4 DVD box set (3/23) on Blu-ray. Also, while we're at it, here's a look at Universal's new revised (and just issued) packaging for Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series on DVD and Blu-ray (the re-issued sets are due 4/6)...

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Disc)Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series (DVD)

In other news today, Lionsgate has announced the DVD only release of The Descent 2 and Neowolf on 3/31.

And Shout! Factory will release a Gamera, The Giant Monster - Special Edition DVD on 5/18 (SRP $19.93). The disc will feature an anamorphic widescreen presentation of the original Japanese version, along with a 12-page booklet (with an essay by director Noriaki Yuasa), a photo gallery, trailers and more.

And that's all she wrote for this week. Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/12/10 - 1 AM PST)

We're very pleased today, as expected, to offer you all this week's batch of our continuing reviews of The Films of Akira Kurosawa! In particular, the good Dr. Jahnke's taken a look at both versions of No Regrets for Our Youth (AK100 and Eclipse), I've given both versions of Drunken Angel a look (AK100 and the earlier Criterion disc), and Doogan's checked in with his take on Rashomon (AK100 and Criterion) and Ikiru (AK100 and Criterion). That's 4 films in 8 editions total - good ones all. Enjoy!

Speaking of Criterion, there's a bit of sad news to report this morning I'm afraid. The company just posted word on their Facebook page that a large number of films currently in their Collection are going out of print at the end of March, mostly StudioCanal titles. As Lionsgate will gain the U.S. release rights, it's unclear when they'll be available on disc again, though you can expect at least some of them to be re-released on DVD (and in some cases Blu-ray, like the recent Ran) eventually. The one bit of good news in all this, however, is that Criterion is offering these for $5 off (each) on their website until supplies run out. The specific titles are: Alphaville, Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy (Eclipse Series 6), Le corbeau, Coup de torchon, Diary of a Country Priest, The Fallen Idol, Forbidden Games (Criterion and Essential Art House editions), Gervaise (Essential Art House edition), Grand Illusion (SPINE #1!! - Criterion and Essential Art House editions), Le jour se lève (Essential Art House edition), Last Holiday (Essential Art House edition), Mayerling (Essential Art House edition), The Orphic Trilogy, Peeping Tom, Pierrot le fou (DVD and Blu-ray editions), Port of Shadows, Quai des Orfèvres, The Small Back Room, The Tales of Hoffmann (Criterion and Essential Art House editions), Trafic, Le trou, Variety Lights (Essential Art House edition) and The White Sheik. So if you're interested, get 'em fast while you still can.

Finally this morning, here's something that may put at least a small smile back on your face: The good folks at Pixar have just unveiled the latest trailer for Toy Story 3... and it looks like the film is going to be pretty damn funny if the preview is any indication. You can find that here - it's well worth a look.

Don't forget, the newly restored Metropolis debuts in Germany later today - we'll post any interesting details and relevant links when (and if) they become available online. In the meantime, Roger Ebert's latest blog post is a good place to start.

Stay tuned...


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