Avatar – To me, James Cameron’s Oscar-bypassed masterwork is just as impressive in 2D, well, at least in high definition, as it was in 3D in the theater. The computer effects hold up well, and without the 3D as a distraction the story and characters come into their own in the spotlight. The Blu-ray includes a DVD copy of the film, but disappointingly no digital copy. The bare-bones extras are a dead giveaway that a special edition is in store. If you don’t want to buy the movie twice, you may as well wait a year or so for a more complete package.

Armageddon Blu-ray –The 1998 cheeseball Michael Bay classic tells a star-studded tale of oil rig workers who blast off into space to destroy an asteroid destined to destroy the planet. Blu-ray is definitely the way to watch this effects-heavy flick – you certainly don’t revisit the movie for the performances or dialogue – but it’s a shame the disc has no extras other than trailers and an Aerosmith video. For those who are into nostalgia, Tombstone – a movie that everyone but me seems to remember fondly – is also out on a near bare-bones Blu-ray.


Minority Report Blu-ray – Pre flip-out Tom Cruise is strong in this 2002 sci-fi collaboration with Steven Spielberg, which was a stunning look into the future envisioned by Philip K. Dick, on whose writing the film is based. The stunning events glow even brighter in high definition. Cruise plays a man who believes he is falsely accused of committing a murder by crime-preventing authorities. The disc is crammed with every memorable extra from previous DVD releases, as well as a slew of new featurettes, including making-of docs and a look at the world premiere.

Transylmania – “From the creators of Dorm Daze and Dorm Daze 2” is about all you need to know about this vampire sex comedy. If you haven’t wasted any of your life watching either of those films, consider yourself lucky, and skip this one as well. It’s a laughless, unsexy mess about college students who travel for a semester abroad to a vampire-infested castle. There’s a robust set of extras, including commentary, deleted and extended scenes and a gag reel.


Crazy Heart Jeff Bridges warbles his way to a well-deserved best actress Oscar as a broken-down, alcoholic country crooner who finds one last shot at love with a single-mother journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who is doing a story on him. The Blu-ray includes a digital copy, as well as deleted scenes, alternate cuts of Bridges’ singing performances and commentary from the actors, including Bridges.

Phil Villarreal’s humorous money-saving book, Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, is available on Amazon.

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