My Two Cents
Tuesday, 08 January 2019 14:22

Green Book, Overlord, Widows, From Russia with Love at 55, and a new sci-fi novel by Bits editor Bill Hunt

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All right, we’re back finally. We were sort of back last week, but a combination of server work and various houseguests kept me from really diving back into things here at The Bits, though Tim and the crew have been active in posting reviews. I’ve also been up to something very exciting over the last few months, which I’ll talk more about in a minute.

We have a trio of recent Blu-ray reviews for you to check out today, including Tim’s look at Cutting Class from Vinegar Syndrome, Dennis’ review of Not Without My Daughter from MVD, and David’s look at Topper Takes a Trip from VCI.

And I am about to embark on an in-depth review of Damien Chazelle’s recent Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, which was one of my favorite films of 2018. I’ve gotten my hands on the 4K Ultra HD from Universal and it’s tremendous. So watch for that review later today or first thing in the morning. [Read on here...]

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We also have a terrific new History, Legacy & Showmanship column today from our own Michael Coate, who looks back at the James Bond classic From Russia with Love in honor of the film’s recent 55th anniversary. He’s joined once again by film historians James Chapman, John Cork, and Bruce Scivally for another great roundtable discussion. So please check that out and enjoy!

Now then… CES 2019 is on in Las Vegas this week. I will not be going myself, but I will fill you in on the latest news. Several of the major manufacturers are introducing new 4K Ultra HD players and many are excited to push 8K flat panels at the show, though without 8K content to watch on them I’m not yet sure what the point is.

In terms of software announcements, we have a few things for you today…

Universal has set Peter Farrelly’s Green Book for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 3/5, with the Digital release expected on 2/19. The 4K and Blu-ray will include Dolby Atmos audio. Extras will include 3 featurettes (Virtuoso Performances, An Unforgettable Friendship, and Going Beyond the Green Book).

Meanwhile, Paramount has set Julius Avery’s Overlord for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K on 2/19, with the Digital release expected on 2/5. The 4K release will include Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. Extras will include the 6-part The Horrors of War documentary (includes Creation, Death Above, Death on the Ground, Death Below, Death No More, and Brothers in Arms).

Disney has set The Nutcracker and the Four Realms for release on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD, and Digital on 1/29. Audio will be available in English 7.1 DTS-HD MA. Extras will include 2 featurettes (On Pointe: A Conversation with Misty Copeland and Unwrapping The Nutcracker and the Four Realms), 5 deleted scenes, and 2 music videos.

And 20th Century Fox has set Widows for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 2/5. Audio on the Blu-ray versions will be Dolby Atmos, and you’ll get three featurettes plus an image gallery by way of extras.

On the catalog front, Lionsgate has set Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War (2005) for release on 4K Ultra HD on 3/19. All the Blu-ray extras will carry over and you’ll get Dolby Atmos audio and Dolby Vision HDR.

In terms of TV releases, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will bow House of Cards: The Final Season on Blu-ray and DVD on 3/5. There are no extras to speak of, which is probably not surprising given the controversy surrounding the departure of actor Kevin Spacey.

And on the catalog film front, Scream Factory has announced that they’re working on a Blu-ray release of the Hammer films classic The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)! Look for it on 4/9, with two different cuts of the film and more.

Only Those Who RiskNow then, I mentioned that I’ve been working on an exciting project recently, which is this… I’ve just completed my first science fiction novel. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since college and I’ve had the kernel of an idea for it burning a hole in my brain for nearly twenty years now. A couple years ago, I got serious about it and started working. And over the holiday break, I finally finished it. It’s called Only Those Who Risk, and you can think of it as The Martian meets Master and Commander, with a dash of Mission: Impossible. It’s 144K words, hard science fiction but written in a way that’s accessible to diehard fans of the genre and casual readers alike. It’s set about 100 years from now, once we’ve colonized the Moon and Mars. The story is about the crew of a spaceship whose job is to protect humanity as it spreads out into the solar system. But life is becoming difficult back on Earth, so when strange problems begin happening in space too, it becomes critical to find out what’s going on and why. I should add that the novel is also the first of a series. This is a big fictional universe I’ve conjured – much bigger than I ever imagined when I started this project.

The final impulse to write it came after a conversation I had with NASA shuttle astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Leland Melvin, and Mike Massimino (along with Waleed Abdalati, who was then NASA’s chief scientist) at JPL back in 2010. They were kind enough to share their spaceflight experiences with me, and it really made me want to capture that “you are there” feeling they’d given me. So I began researching and the story slowly solidified in my mind. When I say research, let me give you an example: My crew travels around the solar system in the novel and the planets are all in the correct positions for the dates and times in question. The spaceflight technology is correct, even when it’s speculative. But (like Andy Weir’s The Martian) this is a story about people, first and foremost. They’re trying to do the right thing and make a difference in difficult times.

I’ve just finished editing and proofing, word from my beta readers has been very encouraging, and I’m getting ready to start shopping the novel to literary agents (so if you are one and you’re looking for a new sci-fi property, drop me a line – you can also find me on social media at Twitter and Facebook). As to when you’ll be able to read it, the answer is sometime this year. My original plan was to self-publish on Amazon, but my beta readers (many of whom work in the film industry) have strongly encouraged me to try going the traditional publishing route first. It’s also been suggested to me that it would make a great TV series or film. So we shall see. But whatever happens, I’m really proud of it and I’m very excited to get it out into the world. And if I can make a little money as an author, I plan to use some of it to keep The Digital Bits going for as long as you guys will keep reading it. So there is a bit of method to the madness. It’s also just a lot of fun and very creatively fulfilling. I look forward to sharing it with you in the months to come and I’ll have more to say about it in the weeks ahead.

All right, that’s that. Watch for my review of First Man on 4K Ultra HD, which is on the way.

And stay tuned!

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)


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