All right, I promised my thoughts on The Mandalorian on Disney+. I have to say, I like it. It’s nice to watch a slice of Star Wars that doesn’t involve Jedi, Sith, and Skywalkers for a change. It’s a little in the mold of Rogue One, though that was more closely tied to the Saga films. But Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have crafted a half-hour series that feels like a slice of lived-in classic Star Wars, and is taking its time developing its story. The texture is right, the supporting cast is terrific (thus far including Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, and Nick Nolte), and I love the Bill Conti-infused score by Ludwig Göransson.

Pedro Pascal is good in the lead role, but to be fair we haven’t seen him outside the Mandalorian armor yet, nor have we learned very much about the character. But each episode seems to peel back the onion a little more, and again I like the fact that the show is taking its time. I would have thought that 30-40 minute episodes would seem too short, but I find I’m satisfied after each one. And reports from friends and Lucasfilm insiders who have seen more suggest that the show gets better with every new installment (there will be 8 in all in this first season). What I can tell you is that I’m certainly enjoying it. The show also looks great in 4K with HDR, and sounds great too in Dolby Atmos. [Read on here...]

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All right, first things first today: Criterion has just announced its February 2020 slate of Blu-ray and DVD titles.

Look for it to include Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (Spine #1014 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 2/11, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Teorema (Spine #1013 – Blu-ray and DVD) and an updating of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Antoni Gaudí (Spine #425 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 2/18, and Jeannie Livingston’s Paris is Burning (Spine #1018 – Blu-ray and DVD) and Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman (Blu-ray and DVD) on 2/25. That last set includes Journey to the Beginning of Time (Spine #1015), Invention for Destruction (Spine #1016), and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (Spine #1017). You can read more here at the Criterion website.

Those are all fine titles, but Roma is particularly appreciated given that it was a Netflix release last year and hasn’t been available on physical media yet.

Also today, our own Michael Coate has a new History, Legacy & Showmanship column here at The Bits—first posted yesterday afternoon—in which he looks back at James Cameron’s The Abyss with historian Matthew Kapell in honor of the film’s 30th anniversary. It’s a great piece, so do give it a look. And who knows? Maybe it will remind the director that he’s got a new 4K HDR grade of the film to approve so we can all watch it on Blu-ray and UHD sooner rather than later. [Read on here...]

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We’ve got another new disc review for you to enjoy today...

I’m just posted my thoughts on HBO’s Deadwood: The Movie, written by David Milch and directed by Daniel Minahan. If you’re a fan of the original Deadwood TV series (reviewed here on Blu-ray), you should really appreciate what a fine piece of work it is (and what a miracle it is that it finally happened).

I should note here though that HBO has informed us they’re no longer sending out review product for most of their physical media releases (they’re deciding it on a title by title basis, essentially the same thing). That is a sorry state of affairs for a network of HBO’s pedigree. In any case, it means that we had to purchase our own copy of this title for the review, something will certainly not be doing often in the future. Sadly, we can only see this as yet another sign that physical media is waning.

In any case, we do thankfully have some good physical media news for you today... [Read on here...]

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We’ve got a quick update for you today, to report that Criterion has just announced their January 2020 Blu-ray and DVD titles.

They include: George Cukor’s Holiday (Spine #1009 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 1/7, Sidney Lumet’s The Fugitive Kind (Spine #515 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 1/14, Jean-Luc Godard’s Le petit soldat (Spine #1010 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 1/21, and Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe (Spine #1111 – Blu-ray and DVD) and Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother (Spine #1012 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 1/28.

We’ve updated our Criterion Spines Project page here at The Bits to include them, and you can read more about each title on the Criterion website. You can also see the cover artwork below. [Read on here...]

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All right, we have a quick post for you this morning with breaking release news...

First, Disney has just officially announced not only the Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD, and Digital release of Guy Ritchie’s live-action Aladdin, but also the Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, and Digital release of the original 1992 animated Aladdin as a new Walt Disney Signature Collection release, both on 9/10. Note that the Digital releases are due on 8/17. Let’s break it down...

Aladdin (2019) will include Dolby Atmos audio and the following extras: Aladdin’s Video Journal: A Fantastic New Point of View, Guy Ritchie: A Cinematic Genie, A Friend Like Genie, the Desert Moon deleted song, 6 deleted scenes (Falling Petals Into OJ, Jafar’s Magic Orrery, Anders’ Gift, Wrong Wishes, Silly Old Fool, and Post Yam Jam Debrief), bloopers, and 3 music videos (Speechless, A Whole New World, and Un Mundo Ideal).

Aladdin (1992) will include Dolby Atmos audio, most of the classic extras (from the previous Blu-ray release) and the following new extras: Sing Along with the Movie, Aladdin on Aladdin, Let’s Not Be Too Hasty: The Voices of Aladdin, and Alternate Endings. [Read on here...]

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We’ve got some quick but interesting release news for you today, but first...

Our own Michael Coate has posted his History, Legacy and Showmanship retrospective on the James Bond film Licence to Kill, in honor of its recent 30th anniversary. The piece includes a roundtable discussion with film historians Thomas A. Christie, John Cork, and Andrew McNess. Enjoy!

Now, let’s get right to that news...

It appears that Criterion is about to announce their long-awaited Godzilla: The Showa Era Blu-ray box set, based on a leaked listing that appeared on Target.com (see link here). SRP for the set is expected to be $149.99. The Showa Era (1954-1975) would include essentially the first 15 films in the series, including Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again, King Kong vs. Godzilla, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of Astro-Monster, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Son of Godzilla, Destroy All Monsters, All Monsters Attack, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, and Terror of Mechagodzilla. This could be Spine #1000, but we’ll have to wait and see when Criterion makes their official announcement. [Read on here...]

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Today is a day many of us in the cinephile community have been eagerly awaiting: Criterion has finally launched their streaming replacement for FilmStruck, better known as The Criterion Channel.

It officially launched this morning with apps on AppleTV, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS and Android. You can also view it via web browser.

The good news is, the launch seems to have gone nearly flawlessly. I checked for the Roku download shortly after midnight. Finding it not yet available, I figured it was more likely to launch early AM on the East Coast, where Criterion’s offices are located. So I went to bed and checked again when I woke up here in California. [Read on here...]

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Attention all readers of The Digital Bits. This is just a quick announcement to remind you all that The Criterion Channel officially launches in the U.S. and Canada on Monday (4/8).

That means you only have ONE WEEK left to become a Charter Subscriber of the service. Benefits include an extended 30-day free trial (starting April 8), reduced fees for the life of your subscription (for as long as you maintain it), and more.

Specifically, charter subscribers (who sign up before 4/8) will pay just $9.99 for a monthly plan or $89.99 for a yearly plan, following the trial period. After 4/8, the prices will rise to $10.99 for monthly or $99.99 for yearly.

Content includes the complete Janus Films library, plus curated and original content, with special features to supplement it.

You can watch on your desktop right now, and the official app is expected to go live for download on Monday for Apple TV 4 and newer, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, and Android devices. [Read on here...]

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We’ve got a quick Friday post for you guys today...

First up, we have a new review for you. Tim has checked out Arrow Video’s Blood Hunger: The Films of José Larraz – Limited Edition Blu-ray box set. It includes Whirlpool (1970), Vampyres (1974), and The Coming of Sin (1978). Enjoy!

We’re going to be back on Monday with more reviews, as well as a new History, Legacy & Showmanship column from our own Michael Coate, celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Wachowski’s The Matrix. So be sure to check back for that.

By the way, we’ve updated our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits to reflect the fact that Ridley Scott’s Alien: 40th Anniversary Edition is FINALLY available for pre-order on Amazon.com (and–holy shit–for just $15!). [Read on here...]

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All right, we’ve got more reviews for you to enjoy today, including...

My take on James Wan’s Aquaman in 4K Ultra HD from Warner.

Dennis’ review of Dan Bush’s The Vault on Blu-ray from FilmRise.

And Chase’s look at Robert Zemeckis’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand on Blu-ray from Criterion.

More reviews are in the works for tomorrow and Friday, so be sure to check back for them.

Meanwhile, we have some new title news and announcements to report today as well...

We’ve now confirmed the 4/23 release of Captain America: Civil War and Captain America: The Winter Soldier on 4K Ultra HD from Disney. [Read on here...]

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