Man of Steel will be released in the U.S. on Blu-ray in 11 days. And Superman being one of those entertainment properties having gazillions of around the world wanting their hero presented in something special, this Blu-ray is being offered in several different, unique editions. And for your educational pleasure, I thought I'd whip out a quick blog listing those editions for you.
There's seven in total. - UPDATED 11/3/13: Eight! Added a cool exclusive edition from Australia that I found after my original posting.
Plus one from a land across the moat.
Standard Combo Pack
3D Combo Pack
Limited Edition 3D Combo Pack Gift Set
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Amazon
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Walmart
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: Target
RETAILER EXCLUSIVE: WBShop.com
REGION EXCLUSIVE: Germany
And finally here's one that's available in Germany. It includes Region B discs so if you decide you want this one, you'll need to own a region-free Blu-ray Disc player to play the movie (unless you plan to use the discs as coasters).
REGION EXCLUSIVE: Australia
Added November 3, 2013.
Just found this this morning, available exclusively in the Australian market.
Australia Blu-ray Discs are also traditional Region B discs (US is Region A).
A Bonus Feature
Hope you enjoyed the recap. Do you know which one you're going to get? Or will you just stream it on Netflix?
Speaking of Netflix, I'm not a Netflix subscriber so I'm not sure if they also provide the bonus material with movies. But this new short is included when you pick up a copy of Man of Steel. Enjoy and thanks for reading!
Back in 2007, Warner Bros. Animation started released direct-to-home video animated movies featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other heroes published by DC Comics. Most of the films, which each run some 70-odd minutes long, were adaptations of popular graphic novels like The Dark Knight Returns and All-Star Superman. But there are a few, like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight, that were original scripts rooted in comic book lore.
"New Frontier" figurine
As a life-long DC guy, I’ve enjoyed watching every single one as they are released. Best Buy started including an exclusive toy figurine beginning with the second title Justice League: The New Frontier. As a toy guy and as someone who also loved the original graphic novel, it was easy to decide to pick it up. Since then, Best Buy has gone and offered an exclusive toy figurine for all but one title (Batman: Gotham Knight). So guess who was a sucker getting every single one?
This past weekend, a friend mentioned watching one of them. It was one of the ones released midway in the series. Being as old as I’m getting, I couldn’t remember if I enjoyed it or not.
I watched it again and realized it wasn't one of my favorites.
So, for my own benefit that I can have something to refer to to remind myself which films I enjoyed the most and also to introduce you kind readers to these films, below is a list of the DC Universe Animated Movies currently available to buy or rent and my ratings of each. And as it so happens this may be a good time to explore these. The next title, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, is due out in two weeks. It’s based on a story published in the summer of 2011 that directly leads into that fall’s reboot of DC Comics’ entire line of comic books. Marketed as “The New 52”, every DC Comics title was reset to issue number 1 when a new timeline resulted from the conclusion of the Flashpoint story, making Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and all the rest exist in a present day time frame when the public had only been aware of these superheroes for five years. The idea was that this rebooting of origins, simplifying of 70-odd years of back stories and even fashion makeovers of heroes’ uniforms could make it easier and more appealing for brand new readers to jump into comic books, especially given the current Hollywood environment of heavily promoted and popular summer blockbuster movies based on comic book properties.
Before Flashpoint, movies previously produced have mainly been from a selection of popular graphic novels written in the past thirty years. Given the nature of Flashpoint’s role in DC’s publishing work, it wouldn't be surprising at all if the film adaptation served a similar purpose, rebooting the film series to feature stories based on the world of The New 52, perhaps focusing on lesser-known heroes. UPDATE: Confirmed just this morning that, at least initially, it's the former. See more details at the end of my blog.
So maybe this is an opportune moment to chat about these existing films. If you haven’t seen any, I recommend you consider giving my favorite five of the lot a try. They’re shown with comments in CAPS. And they’re really, really good!
Film 1 - Superman: Doomsday (2007) – Good.
Film 2 - Justice League: The New Frontier (2008) – Great!
Film 3 - Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) – Okay. Released the same time The Dark Knight debuted in theatres, a collection of six original short stories presented in various anime-style animation.
Film 4 – Wonder Woman (2009) – Great! An origin story not based on a specific graphic novel.
Film 5 – Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) – Fun! An origin story not based on a specific graphic novel.
Film 6 – Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009) – Okay.
Film 7 – Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) – Loved it!
Film 8 – Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) – TOP FIVE
Film 9 – Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010) – Okay.
Film 10 – All-Star Superman (2011) – Great adaptation!
Film 11 – Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011) Good. Another collection of short stories featuring selected members of the Green Lantern Corps, released at the time of Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern film.
Film 12 – Batman: Year One (2011) – TOP FIVE!
Film 13 – Justice League: Doom (2012) – TOP FIVE!
Film 14 – Superman vs. The Elite (2012) – Not my fave.
Film 15 – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part One (2012) – AMAZE-BALLS!!
Film 16 – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part Two (2013) – GREAT!
Film 17 – Superman: Unbound (2013) – Okay. More interesting to watch immediately after Apocalyse since this takes place after that story.
And this just in...
As I was putting the finishing touches on this blog, Newsarama posted a tweet from Warner Bros. today confirming that the next DCU Animated movie will indeed take place in DC's New 52 universe. Justice League: War will adapt one of the first New 52 stories, Justice League: Origin, collecting the first six issues of the N52 title and describing how these seven heroes first met and how the Justice League ultimately came to be.
On the one hand, it's about time! N52 debuted almost two years ago, so it makes perfect sense to finally have the heroes' comic book looks and back stories finally align with this popular animated film series. On the other hand, I hated this story! It was mainly the personalities carved out by writer Geoff Johns that disappointed me, and how conflicts between them just felt more contrived for conflict's sake. I was also reading the solo books for The Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman and Superman as this story was unfolding, and because of the different writers across the books, I also became distracted when many of the heroes' personalities weren't consistent from the solo book to the Justice League book.
So it wasn't a great read for me. But what can I do? I guess just continue to hope that Best Buy goes on including figurines with each new N52 movie so my collection continues to grow. Because as I said, I'm a DC guy. I'm still gonna watch these movies!
Here's the trailer for the new movie, which goes on sale in exactly two weeks.
It's been known since last October that an "Ultimate" collection of The Dark Knight Trilogy of films would debut in a brand new Blu-ray collection this coming fall. But what would it include? Yesterday, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment issued a press release to spell it out, and you can read in full over at SuperHeroHype.com. I'll be breaking down the parts of it that are most important to me here in this blog.
As a life-long Batman fan and a big fan of Christopher Nolan and David Goyer's most fanboy-fulfilling depiction of the comic book origins of The Batman ever put on film, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing what Warner Bros. would cook up for an Ultimate Collector's Edition set for these films. After reading through the press release, I'm surprised to find I'm not all that excited about what's inside.
"And why do we fall...?"
There are two basic criticisms I have against this set. One has to do with the new content, the other with the set as a whole.
Regarding the content, I am one of those guys that love going through bonus features. Getting excited learning the minutia of how movies are made started for me when I was a kid reading books about the making of the original Star Trek series and devouring magazines I'd find like Starlog, Famous Monsters and Cinefex which featured articles and photos about such things and satiated my need to know "How did they do that?" way back in those newsprint-and-ink dark ages before the Internet.
In this UCE comes one new Blu-ray Disc carrying the exclusive bonus material.
NEW Special Features:
The Nolan and Donner conversation sounds interesting, but I'm curious to find out what the running time of that conversation is. I hope it's around an hour. The Fire Rises features doesn't sound very appealing to me. Maybe it's just the way it's written, because I certainly am not impressed to hear so many talking heads talk about a film they weren't involved in the making of!
As for the IMAX Sequences, that just points out the fact that the original The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray Disc apparently (I haven't watched my copy of it yet) shows those scenes reduced in widescreen format to match the rest of the film rather than leaving them in their original, taller IMAX format as was done for The Dark Knight Blu-ray Disc release and was awesome to watch!
So to re-buy or "double-dip", as we Blu-ray and DVD collectors say when we choose to buy a movie again and again just to own the newer release, on this trilogy for the one bonus disk isn't quite as enticing as I'd hoped.
"The Tumbler? Oh, you wouldn't be interested in that."
But of course, there's more inside the UCE. Ignoring the five discs of the original trilogy set which I already own (for gratis! See photo above), also included are some exclusive swag.
Exclusive NEW Memorabilia:
Now I love stuff. Anyone who's ever been to my place can clearly see I love stuff. Cool stuff, like starships and animated wall art and action figures. So getting a box with more stuff included with my Blu-rays is a pretty easy sell to a guy like me. But alas, I already have UCE sets of other movies amongst my stuff, and that just means I'm gonna end up comparing what's inside The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE to these ones I own, ones that Warner Bros. themselves put out. And it's pretty clear to me that Warner Bros. didn't go all out like they have done with these other sets.
Below are publicity shots of five UCE sets that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment have previously released. I own them all. Click each one to blow them up and see what all's included with each one besides the Blu-ray Discs.
Previous Warner Bros. Home Entertainment UCE Sets
By my eyes, in every case shown, everything included, whether book or watch or replica vehicle or replica totem or facsimile document, were unique and exclusive to the set.
Not exactly so with The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE as they're including three Hot Wheels replicas of vehicles from the films. Three previously available Hot Wheels toys. This picture here on the left? That's my Tumbler and Bat-Pod that I already own sitting next to my Dark Knight Blu-ray and CD collection, the same ones that are included in the set. And that again makes me less excited to double-dip on getting the exact same toys I already have (altho' I guess I could just give the extras away to a deserving kid).
"Bats frighten me. It's time my enemies shared my dread."
If the UCE had to include a replica, I'd've chosen one of those ninja star-like Batarangs from the movies. The symbol was a prevalent image in every one of the Dark Knight movie posters, and it's also plastered big and bold here on the face of the UCE box. So that makes it seem obvious that that should be what's inside, at least to me. Of course, it might've also been re-purposing an existing, previously available Batarang like any of the ones on the left below from DC Direct or the one on the right from The Noble Collection. Or maybe they did consider it and thought the pointy ends were a safety hazard to stay away from.
Another suggestion I'd offer also comes from another pre-existing Dark Knight toy. MATTEL produced an exclusive action figure set to sell at last year's Comic-Con. As you can see in the video below, the packaging inside riffs on the room in the movie with the piano in Wayne Manor that hides the elevator used to descent to the Batcave. There's a hidden button behind the photo of the piano. Press the keyboard area and a sound chip plays audio of the three-note trigger heard in Batman Begins. Then, when you open the inner door, it reveals his Batsuit inside the Batcave which gets lit up while bats are heard flying and chirping throughout. I own one and IT IS COOL! And I think it would've been kinda neat to have that three-note trigger be heard as one lifted the lid to this The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE set box.
If they chose not to include any figural replicas, they could've still carried on with the Batarang motif by including some inexpensive overlay like vellum or acetate sheet with the Batarang symbol across it as a light cover over the rest of the contents inside the box. The Blade Runner Briefcase set has such an inner cover that you first see when you open the case and then have to lift up in order to access the goodies underneath it. Or include an inner cover with a diecut hole in the shape of the Batarang. Or better yet, maybe that book that holds the discs could've been shaped like a folded Batarang, so you get to open it up and form a larger, fully-shaped Dark Knight symbol.
"Didn't you get the memo?"
And as cheap as these things go, I enjoyed see all the printed facsimiles of call sheets, movie programs, letters, telegrams, production drawings or press releases that were included in the previous UCEs. While some were more interesting than others, these inexpensive paper props helped to put you in the context of the times and events happening when the films were made. By comparison, The Dark Knight Trilogy UCE gets five Mondo art cards and a book on top of the Hot Wheels toys. It's just my preference, but I think there might've been something else from the production of the films provided here that could've been more appealing to me than art cards, like production schedules or audition sides or marked up shooting script pages or pieces of the Batman cape. That last notion is a novelty that trading card companies have embraced often, embedding a small swatch of material used to make the actual costumes and uniforms into a trading card. Something like that's a little more interesting and uniquely "ultimate" to me than oversized postcards I'll never use or frame.
So will I get this or not? That's the $99.99 suggested retail price question, Batfans. Amazon will likely offer it for $69.99 right off the bat (pun intended). And then come Black Friday and the holidays, the price will get some further nursing to get fans to add it to their Christmas shopping lists. Right now though, I don't have a hell of a lot of enthusiasm to buy it for myself. And that makes me kinda sad.
But that doesn't mean I wouldn't want to get it as a Christmas present!
According to court testimony, the character "Superman" made his first appearance in comic books on April 18, 1938. It happened to be in the first issue of a title called Action Comics, a new anthology book containing several short stories about action heroes with Superman featured on the cover and in the opening story.
Also debuting in that issue were the characters of "Clark Kent", Superman's alter ego, and "Lois Lane", both reporters working for a big-city newspaper called the Daily Star. The Daily Planet, editor-in-chief Perry White, photographer Jimmy Olson, arch villain Lex Luthor, even the name of the planet "Krypton" would not appear until later, added to the Superman mythos as his popularly grew, expanding into his own featured title Superman a year later and then beyond the printed page into other entertainment media: the Fleisher Brothers' animated shorts, a radio series, the Kirk Alyn movie serials and the George Reeves television series.
So, today officially marks Superman and Lois Lane's 75th birthdays.
Happy Birthday, you two!
Perhaps not coincidentally, this week also marked the debut of the third and final official trailer of Superman's latest appearance on the big screen. This new trailer for "Man of Steel" runs three minutes long and features several new scenes including the debut of cinema's newest take on the world of Krypton and the major villain of the film, General Zod as played by Michael Shannon.
And like the trailers before it, it continues to reveal a more grounded, intimate tone to Superman's character. While we certainly get the point that there will be lots of action in the film, we find that the the man who would become Superman has been growing up as a man who fears what mankind will think of him, a boy who is told he isn't even from this planet and at first doesn't realize how he fits in to this world.
All he wants is to be his father's son.
As a result of that scene revealed in the new trailer, featuring Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, much discussion among comic book geeks around the Internet this week has been about the film's screenwriter David Goyer (Blade, the Dark Knight trilogy) and a scene from a comic book story first published in 2009. Superman: Secret Origin was written by Geoff Johns, a superstar writer who's success crafting stories with heart and action for characters such as Green Lantern, Flash and Superman among others has garnered him a huge fan following, and drawn by Gary Frank, whose model for illustrating Superman in this story was obviously inspired by an actor who inspired generations not only for his portrayal of the hero fighting for truth, justice and the American Way but for his courage in his personal life.
The next year, the six issues of Superman: Secret Origin were collected and released as a trade paperback, and Goyer wrote the foreward for it. What fans of the new movie trailer are keying in on are these words from that foreward.
There is a heart breaking moment halfway through the first chapter in which young Clark is told the truth about his heritage. He races out into the night, sobbing, stumbling through the cornfields. Eventually, his foster father, Jonathan, finds him.
He goes on to say:
As I write this, I am midway through my first draft of a new Superman screenplay. It’s a task that has stymied many talented fimmakers in the years since Donner’s film. And for all I know, it will end up stymying me as well.
And the following pages from the first issue of Secret Origin are also being circulated with acknowledgments to Goyer's quote.
I love sharing this because it's given me an ideal opportunity to share with folks who may not read them or who even regard comic books with little significance of the quality, artistry and heart that this medium, occasionally loftily referred to as "sequential art", is capable of.
I think it's awesome and among the reasons why I continue to read comic books enthusiastically every week that new issues come out. It's not everyone's cup of joe, but it is mine.
And, just like he successfully did writing the screenplays for the Dark Knight trilogy, it looks like with "Man of Steel", which opens June 16, Goyer found inspiration from some of the best comic books out there to read.
Thanks for the feedback and the "likes" for those of you who enjoyed last week's first installment of my articles about Blu-rays. I really enjoyed putting it together, and there'll be lots more entries like that that I think you're find helpful and interesting.
This week I didn't find any new retailer exclusives to point out. But there are a couple titles debuting on Blu-ray this coming Tuesday October 16 that some of my friends might like to know about., in particular those who are of the Disney persuasion and those who are classic Looney Tunes enthusiasts.
The Disney Blu-ray release is Pete's Dragon. I've yet to see this, and I can already hear my friends yelling at me as they read this that I "...must watch it NOW!" It's a combo pack meaning it includes both a Blu-ray Disc and a DVD, the idea being that for those who haven't yet added a Blu-ray player to their homes can conveniently begin building their Blu-ray Disc library in advance of ultimately getting one yet still watch the DVD on their current equipment.
This also brings up an interesting fact about certain combo pack titles. Sometimes, studios will release it in both the shorter Blu-ray-sized packaging and the taller DVD-sized packaging. That's the case Disney chose here with Pete's Dragon, releasing it DVD-size format as well. This lets those same folks just entering the world of Blu-ray but who really, really want to have their DVD cases on the shelf be all the same height have their wish!
The new Looney Tunes release is the second three-disc collection of Warner Bros.' classic cartoon shorts (It has the red box cover design shown above). Volume One (with silver and blue package design) was released last November in two editions, a standard three-disc set (center image above) and a "Limited and Numbered Edition" in a box containing bonus swag goodies (beauty shot above right).
Beyond that, I wondered what other Blu news I could talk about today. Then an idea finally came to me last week as I was reading through discussion threads at Blu-ray.com's forum boards. Someone had posted information about a recent Blu-ray release that influenced my decision to buy it, even tho' I'd already known about the release months ago and decided to pass on it. The new info, especially in the way it was shared, made me second-guess my original decision. It was also then that I realized that that experience would be a great chance to show you a tool that Blu-ray enthusiasts use today, something I'm sure many of you didn't know about. It involves making videos and posting them on YouTube.
Unboxing videos are made by online news sites and Blu-ray enthusiasts all over the world. What they do is shoot video while opening a fresh, new Blu-ray Disc release that they've just received. Sometimes goofy, always geeky, and often done by amateurs aspiring to make a reputation for themselves among niche YT viewers, they're meant to not only share the enthusiasm they have for their latest and greatest addition but also provide some insight to fellow fans about new and distinctive releases who might be wondering how a particular title is packaged or what exactly is included inside. The video below is a brief (which is rare that it's so brief!) example of a typical unboxing.
Pretty basic, but because this was a non-standard type of packaging, fairly informative too. If you were on the fence about what you were getting when you looked at the non-standard, bulky, oversized Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-ray set, and the beauty shot of it shown at left didn't really answer all your questions about it, this video becomes very helpful.
Now, what about a different type of Blu-ray release. Say, one of those big huge box sets, like the ones Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has done for Gone with the Wind or 20th Century Fox for The Sound of Music? You can find beauty shots of their contents also, but like in above video wouldn't it be more helpful if someone opened it up for you to show you how it looks inside and see them holding all of the swag items in their hands? That post I mentioned earlier featured an unboxing video of a box set and after watching it, I immediately became more enamored of it.
And what was that set? It was Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Collection. But not the standard release that can be purchased anywhere. It was an exclusive box set, a retailer exclusive actually, available only from Amazon UK.
That's the Amazon on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the United Kingdom, in an entirely different continent. An international retailer exclusive!
The ABCs of Blu
Now here's something about buying Blu-rays and DVDs from another country. They don't automatically play in PS3s and other Blu-ray players made for the good ol' U S of A. The international home video industry follows region coding standards, a practice started years ago with DVDs and continued with the introduction of Blu-ray Discs. It has to do partly with licensing rights. Rights for different regions of the world may not necessarily be owned by the same distributor. And to keep folks honest, video players around the world are manufactured differently enough to allow Blu-rays and DVDs for one region to play only in players built for, say, Region A but not for players built for Region B or Region C. In fact, for Blu-ray Discs, there are only three region codes and they are Regions A, B, and C. For you regular international travelers, it's just like you having to buy a completely new thingamabob because the plug for your original thingamabob that you can use here in the US won't work in those European electrical outlets. They simply don't play nice with each other at all.
So, back to the Indiana Jones set and Amazon UK. I could buy the standard collection here in the US and have no doubt whatsoever that I can play the discs and watch them just fine. But theirs is a limited edition version with really cool swag included, not available from any other retailer except Amazon UK. Here is that unboxing video I watched. And it's pretty tempting to own...if only I knew it would play in my PS3.
Cool, huh? Especially that diary!
To the left is the beauty shot I found earlier this year of the set. I knew about the set's existence early enough. But my inclination at that time to not get it was swayed not just by the possible region code conflict, but also from someone's comment on the forum boards that for the extra money, we're just getting a lot of extra paper. Made sense. And that helped convince me at the time to keep my money in my credit card.
Then, last week I watched the above video and I was screwed.
Or maybe not! Perhaps it being released in the UK, it might strictly be a Region B disc, and not play on US's Region A players, ending further buying consideration permanently. I did some checking, and at first Blu-ray.com's listing for it identified it as "Region B (untested for A,C)". "Untested" refers to the fact that there are some Blu-ray titles that are manufactured to play in all regions; they're Region Free. So now, there was a possibility that the version from the UK might play in my PS3.
Now there are Blu-ray players that actually play BDs from all regions. They play Region A discs, Region B and Region C. My PS3 is not one of them. But there was bound to be someone on Blu-ray.com's forum boards who not only has an all regions Blu-ray player but would go ahead and test it for the rest of us wanting to know and share their results. (One of the reasons why I love visiting the forum boards!) In fact, I added a post myself to ask someone to do that. I went to sleep, and the next morning, I saw the following posted by "srinivas1015" as a direct reply to mine.
I just tested my UK set. It's Region Free. I set my PowerDVD software to region A and it played the disc perfectly. I also tested it in my Region C Playstation 3 and there was no problem.
Great googly moogly! I went to Amazon UK's listing for it and coincidentally their info was updated now stating it as ""Region Free" there too.
I did some quick exchange rate conversions online and to make matter worse - or I guess, better - it turned out that even with international shipping, the Amazon UK set was about the same price as buying the US version here - usually priced around $79.99 - with sales tax added.
So the fact is I'm eighty bucks poorer now. The set is already on its way via DHL and due to arrive to me before the end of the month. But I guess for all the digging around I did related to this holy grail-like quest to find my answers about a famous archeologist's records, I tell myself it was meant to be. But along the way, I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to unboxing videos and region codes. And if you feel like exploring on your own, there are many more unboxing videos to be found on YouTube.
As a postscript, I end this article with the only other Amazon UK exclusive collector's set in my collection. I bought it when it was released in 2010. That time, it was the metal OUTATIME license plate that I couldn't live without. And was I glad it was Region Free too!
Until next time...
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!