‘Frankenweenie,’ ‘Taken 2’ and ‘Archer: Season 3’ Hit HD
The first few weeks of the year are always a little rough for Blu-ray collectors. While niche distributors like Criterion consistently issue appealing catalogue titles, new releases worth buying are few and far between, thanks in no small part to the window between films’ theatrical run and arrival on home video. (Most of the movies that turn up on Blu came out in September, a notorious dumping ground for studio dregs.)
But that’s precisely the raison d’etre for Buzz on Blu: to parse through the good, the bad and the ugly home video releases and see which ones are worth checking out, and why.
Archer: Season 3 (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler and the title character’s team of quick-witted colleagues come together again for another season of spy-themed hilarity.
Picture Perfect? The show’s terrific animation looks amazing on Blu-ray, where the colors continue to pop and the clarity is impeccable. The original broadcast was great, and this maintains that quality perfectly.
What Else Is There? A couple of fun segments, including one where Food Network star Alton Brown hands Archer his ass, expands the show’s global and pop-cultural approach to the spy game.
How Badly Do I Want It? Just as funny as its predecessors, Archer Season 3 is a hilarious collection of episodes, beautifully assembled in a set that provides satisfying extras.
Dredd 3D (Lionsgate)
The One-Liner: Pete Travis’ franchise reboot was unfortunately a non-starter for the series, but it deserves to live on via Blu-ray thanks to a violent, well-told and well-executed adventure.
Picture Perfect? In 3D this film is absolutely unmatchable for clarity and vividness, perfectly capturing the saturated imagery of Travis’ inventive visual style.
What Else Is There? The Blu-ray features not only the 2D version as well, but a collection of making-of featurettes, the most important and interesting of which is probably the one whch explains why you should probably watch it in 3.
How Badly Do I Want It? It was certainly a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it movie in theaters, but it’s actually a really fun, engaging little adventure that deserves to be seen, especially via this superlative presentation.
The One-Liner: Tim Burton’s latest tale of an oddball who struggles to fit into his square community gains the added, uh, oddness of being stop-motion and in black and white.
Picture Perfect? Although there are a few little hiccups added here and there for the purposes of giving it a vintage vibe, the movie looks fantastic, perfectly capturing the spatial depth and the dimensionality of the stop-motion characters within their world.
What Else Is There? In addition to a bonus short film featuring Frankenwee—we mean, Sparky, there are some in-depth featurettes which explore the creation of the film and Burton’s process of bring it back to life after serving as one of his first creative endeavors at Disney.
How Badly Do I Want It? For our money, no Burton animated adventure will ever outdo A Nightmare Before Christmas, but it’s a largely effective little yarn featuring some very good production design and general execution.
Hannah & Her Sisters / Sleeper (Fox Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: Two of Woody Allen’s best come to Blu-ray, giving fans an opportunity to see the filmmaker’s straightforward visual style come to life in high definition.
Picture Perfect? As suggested above, these aren’t films that demand a whole lot of image detail, but the transfers are solid and effective, sprucing up the picture quality at least enough to make them an improvement over their standard-edition predecessors.
What Else Is There? Not much, but Allen has seldom offered anything of note on even his most successful films, so it’s no surprise.
How Badly Do I Want It? Sleeper is one of the great comedies of the 1970s and Hannah & Her Sisters one of his best in the ‘80s, so they’re definitely worth checking out, but it’s up to your Allen fandom to decide whether to simply rent or buy them.
Taken 2 (Fox Home Entertainment)
The One-Liner: Liam Neeson’s “certain set of skills” are required yet again in this sequel to his unexpectedly successful 2010 thriller.
Picture Perfect? Fox does a great job of preserving the film’s stylish look, which basically means it has all of the gritty detail that you thrilled at in theaters.
What Else Is There? The disc comes with two cuts of the movie – the theatrical version and an unrated edition – so that’s probably most important, but there are several featurettes showing audiences how they might be able to pick up at least a few of Neeson’s character’s skills.
How Badly Do I Want It? We suppose there are people out there who love these movies enough to own and watch them over and over, but at best this seems like a solid rentals, since the presentation is good and the extras add enough to make it a worthwhile use of your time.
The One-Liner: Woody Allen’s latest turns up for the first time on home video, offering understated but effective charms from a filmmaker who’s made so many great movies he can really just coast at this point.
Picture Perfect? SPHE’s transfer does a great job of ensuring that the film’s Italian locations look great on the small screen.
What Else Is There? “Con Amore: A Passion For Rome” featurette explores the making of the movie, but don’t expect any great insights from Allen himself.
How Badly Do I Want It? Like his older films, ownership comes down to how much you really love the Woodman, but this film is definitely a lesser one in his really funny films, so many rent it before you make a blind buy.
Which of these titles tops your priority list to purchase? Let us know in the comments below — and let us know if there are specific titles you would like for us to cover!