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Press play: Her, Pompeii, and more hot Blu-ray releases from May 2014

It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the Blu-ray movies that get released each week. Life is crazy, and there’s little time to keep up with release dates, let alone wade through the muck to find the gems you actually want to watch. And unless you’re an avid movie review reader, you might not know which titles are worth buying, and which you should probably just rent. That’s why we’re here. In our new Blu-ray release segment, we’ll keep you up to date on all the best upcoming releases we think you should know about, as well as giving you a rundown of the plotlines and pertinent tech specs.


her blu rayHer

Rated: R
Release date: May 13, pre-order now
Price: $25

What happens when a man falls in love with his computer? When it’s voiced by Scarlett Johannson, apparently a romance for the ages is born. This unique and poignant offering from writer/director Spike Jones touches on common themes and subjects that are just beginning to take hold in our everyday lives, as the line between human and machine continues to blur. Cast in soft, golden cinematography, Her offers a strange escape into the near future that questions the current state of human connection, where it’s headed, and what it really means to love. Read our review of Her here.

Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: TBA


Rollerball 1975 Limited Edition to 3000 blu rayRollerball
(1975 Limited Edition to 3,000)

Rated: R
Release date: May 13, pre-order unavailable

In the far-off dystopian future of 2018, war, crime, sickness, and personal freedom have all been eradicated, replaced by corporate overlords and the ultimate game: Rollerball. While the story definitely isn’t for everyone – think roller derby meets Gladiator, with James Caan playing Russell Crowe – scores of adorers have been patiently awaiting a Blu-Ray release of this cult-classic, only to find it limited to 3,000 copies, which likely means a hefty price. Still, if you want to see James Caan speak very quietly, and kick some futuristic ass in HD, this is the disc for you. Yes, there was a 2002 remake, and no, we won’t speak of it.

Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (original)
Audio: TBA

Orange is the New Black season 1Orange is the New Black

Rated: TV-MA
Release date: May 13, pre-order now
Price: $28.50

Based on the true story detailing the perils of an affluent young blond forced to make up for her past mistakes behind bars, this brilliant dramedy helped solidify Netflix as a real player in the game of original content. Sure, subscribers to the service can watch the show any time they want online, but with the powers-that-be still fighting over the infrastructure of streaming video, you never know when you’ll get true 1080p HD. If you’re hooked on the series, and demand sparkling resolution, you’ll likely want to bring this one home.

Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 (original)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


Pompeii 3D blu rayPompeii 3D

Rated: PG-13
Release date: May 20, pre-order now
Price: $30

OK, we’re not gonna’ lie, this flick is campy, predictable, and the only dimension comes from the special effects. Still, if you’re looking for some sexy actors paired with 3D fire and brimstone, this title will get you your fix. Spoiler alert: the volcano erupts. 

Specs:
Codec: TBA
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (original)
Audio: TBA

Billy Joel A Matter of Trust The Bridge to RussiaBilly Joel: A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia

Release date: May 20, pre-order now
Price: $23

Before Gorbi gave up the ghost and the wall came down, Billy Joel brought his show through the Iron Curtain, rocking out deep in the heart of Russia. Apart from showing Russians something they’d never seen before – a modern day rock show – the tour offered some much needed ambassadorship, helping to cool things down at the height of the Cold War. This release is an HD snapshot of a watershed moment in history, both for pop music, and foreign relations with our Communist foes. And apart from all that, the sound quality alone could make this disc a must have item for Billy Joel fans.

Specs:
Codec: TBA
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 (original)
Audio: TBA

The Universe The Complete Season 7 Ancient Mysteries SolvedThe Universe: The Complete Season 7: Ancient Mysteries Solved

Release date: May 27th, pre-order now
Price: $17

Did aliens build Stonehenge? Not bloody likely, but the real history of how the ancients used a universal method of measurement across different continents might be just as interesting. Using CGI and expert testimony, this History Channel series digs into the bones of some of man’s most incredible structures and mysterious feats, shedding light on our past in a way that won’t put you to sleep. If you’re a history buff, or just a couch bound virtual time traveler, this series should be on your list.

Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 (original)
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

In case you missed it…

These titles have already been released, but if you missed them last month, you’ll want to get on them now.

The Hobbit The Desolation of SmaugThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Rated: PG-13
Release date: April 8
Price: $23, 3D, $30

Sure, the latest release from the braintrust of Peter Jackson and Co. takes a hard turn away from the original Hobbit storyline, but that doesn’t stop it from bringing to bear some of the most gorgeous cinematography, special effects, and HD audio you can get your hands on. Moments like the first encounter with Smaug, or the virtual first-person carnival ride through the rushing water of the barrel scene are enough to warrant bringing the disc home for sheer eye candy alone.

Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)


Wild at Heart Limited Edition to 3000Wild at Heart
(Limited Edition to 3,000)

Rated: R
Release date: April 8
Price: $50 – ie, find it on ebay – unfortunately, the limited copies were largely snatched up, making this disc a pricey venture at this point

While critics are mixed, David Lynch fans rejoiced when MGM finally put out an American release of this cult tale of violence and lust, transferred in the original aspect. The film follows the strange adventures of two white trash lovers on a trip through the seedy South, with Nicolas Cage solidifying his weirdness in a role as a near-psychotic Elvis fanatic, while Laura Dern tried to keep up. So far, word on the street is that this version has similar issues to the 2012 UK release, including random specks and poor consistency with black levels. As for sound, the film finally gets the full 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio treatment.

Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (34.99 Mbps)
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (original)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Fargo Remastered Edition Blu ray 2014Fargo (Remastered)

Rated: R
Release date: April 1
Price: $13.40

If you’re a Coen brothers fan (which you absolutely should be) there’s a good chance you already own a DVD, or even Blu-ray copy of this factually-based tale of murder and greed in the frosty wastelands of North Dakota. However, while there was essentially nothing wrong with the first release of the classic on Blu-ray, by most accounts the latest version takes care of any failings the original transfer had, including touching up some aliasing, and softening up the color temperature. The latest copy also adds a more artistic embroidered cover, if you’re into that sort of thing. This disc may not be a must-have if you already own the film in some other form, but if not, now’s a good time to grab it.

Specs:
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (30.91 Mbps)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (original)
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)