Blu-ray/DVD Picks of the Week: August 31, 2010

Well here we are once again. I haven’t done a Blu-ray/DVD Picks of the Week column in so long, that it just felt right that I return with a new one right now.

Over the course of being away from this concept I’ve actually bought a PS3, leading to a whole new addition: Blu-rays. So expect more Blu coverage from now on, in addition to your standard DVD. Let’s kick things off.

The Evil Dead [Blu-ray]

The biggest release this week is the debut of The Evil Dead on Blu-ray. The classic 1980’s horror film finally hits high definition and if the early reviews on DVDTalk and Blu-ray.com mean anything, then Anchor Bay has struck gold with their improved transfer of the Sam Raimi classic that helped make Bruce Campbell the cult icon he is today. This umpteenth edition of The Evil Dead on a home media format brings fans both the 1.33:1 fullframe original aspect ratio as well as the 1.85:1 widescreen “enhanced” aspect ratio on the same Blu-ray disc, giving fans the option to decide which they prefer. The presentation is loaded with extras, but only one of them is new to this version, and that is the commentary on disc one featuring Raimi, Campbell and producer Robert Tapert. The second disc features a collection of formerly seen extras, which make for a nice overall package. This has the makings of a must own Blu-ray and I’m sure glad I have this one preordered.

Harry Brown [Blu-ray][DVD]

Also hitting shelves this week is Harry Brown, a British film that many in short will compare to the popular action film Taken, in the way that the film stars an older actor taking extremely badass revenge on his foes. But Harry Brown does so with much more compassion and does so much more quietly than Pierre Morel’s adrenaline-fueled action film starring Liam Neeson (not to take anything away from Morel’s very nice film). The film is also likened to Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, but of course the film’s plot strays closer to Death Wish than anything else. Harry Brown stars the amazing and talented Michael Caine in a role that shouldn’t be soon forgotten. It isn’t the perfect film, but it’s certainly worth putting on your radar.

Red Riding Trilogy [Blu-ray][DVD]

Here we get a trilogy of British films that originally appeared as three feature-length television episodes on Britain’s Channel 4. The trilogy, which is an adaptation of David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet, has been getting rave reviews and has been called worthy of its split theatrical release. I have the set on preorder and am itching to finally receive it. Wikipedia describes the books and eventual film adaptation as: “Set against a backdrop of serial murders, including the Yorkshire Ripper case, they deal with multi-layered corruption and feature several recurring characters across the four books. Though real crimes are featured the scripts are fictionalised and dramatised versions of events rather than contemporary factual accounts.”

Bad Lieutenant [Best Buy Exclusive Blu-ray]

Before Werner Herzog made the similar Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans starring Nicolas Cage (a film Herzog claims wasn’t related to the film being mentioned here), Abel Ferrera gave Harvey Keitel one of a few roles that would turn his career around in the early 1990’s. Keitel’s portrayal of a bent and crooked police detective was so stunning, so depraved and so maniacal that it’s easily one of the most standout performances of its kind. Cage could only come close to matching Keitel’s crazy by adding a dash of silly in the “remake.” This Blu-ray is currently only going to be available at Best Buy until October, when it and other Lions Gate titles like French horror film High Tension become available from all retailers. They are currently on sale and range in price from $7.99 to $9.99.

Also available this week: Sons of Anarchy: Season Two, Marmaduke, The Vampire Diaries: The Complete First Season, FlashForward: The Complete Series, Legends of the Canyon: Classic Artists, Why Did I Get Married Too?, 9th Company, Jane’s Addiction: Live Voodoo, NCIS: Los Angeles – The First Season [Blu-ray], Girls on the Road, Uppercut Man and Brainjacked.

What to stay away from: Take your pick from one of the terrible films or television series I listed just above this. Maybe Marmaduke. Actually, yes, Marmaduke. And I’m not even going to dignify it with an italic title.

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