Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment requests we note that it provided a free copy of Batman Ninja. The opinions I share are my own.
If you’re a fan of classic westerns, you’ll be happy to know that Season Thirteen of Gunsmoke is now out (spread across two DVD sets). The series follows the adventures of iconic Old West hero Marshal Matt Dillon (played by Emmy Award nominee James Arness) as he strives to keep order amidst gunfights, bank robberies, murders, and other outlaw-ish activities, along with the help of his endearing deputy Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis). Along for the ride are the alluring saloon mistress Miss Kitty (Emmy Award nominee Amanda Blake) and stalwart Doc Adams (Emmy Award winner Milburn Stone). Volumes One and Two of Gunsmoke: The Thirteenth Season feature all twenty-five episodes of the 1967-1968 season (presented in color). The only “bonus” features are original episodic trailers, which is a shame considering all they could have done with that; even though a lot of the cast and crew have gone to the big ranch in the sky, people like Burt Reynolds and Buck Taylor are still around (and I assume available to sit for a few hours to provide what would be very entertaining audio commentary). That aside, if you’re a fan and want to make sure to get Season Thirteen on the shelf, this is your chance to grab it. Both Volume One (fifteen episodes) and Volume Two (ten episodes) are currently available on Amazon for $22.96.
Next on the heroic docket we have Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe competing for who can give a more mournfully sexy stare into the distance during pauses between stabbing people and shouting battle cries in Braveheart and Gladiator. Both stories feature the title character as a reluctant hero thrown into an epic fight against the forces that took away his family and his single-minded determination to destroy them in return. Both also mix in beautiful and smart heroines, wonderfully choreographed battle scenes (which evidently had a really high blood budget), and costumes where each star somehow still manages to look ultra masculine while wearing a skirt. Obviously these films aren’t the same in every respect, but if you’re a fan of all the above (along with the fact that both earned five Academy Awards, including a Best Picture win for each), this is a good time to consider grabbing one or both for your library now that both are available in 4K Ultra HD. Each film is presented in a 4K / Blu-ray combo pack (Gladiator also includes both the theatrical and extended / unrated editions) and each set includes a host of extras (Gladiator boasts almost twice as many as Braveheart, but both are respectable lists and include audio commentary from Crowe and Gibson, respectively). It is important to note, however, that these appear to be the same extras included in the Sapphire Series Blu-ray releases of both titles from 2009, so be aware that if you already have one (or both) of those, this release is really just getting you the added bonus of getting to watch all the bloody gloriousnessness in 4K (which is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you have a large screen). Both titles are currently available on Amazon for $24.99– you can grab Gladiator here and Braveheart here.
Last we have Batman Ninja, a Japanese reimagining of the Dark Knight in a new anime film. The story opens in Gotham City, where Gorilla Grodd’s time-displacement machine sends Lord Joker and a host of other villains back in time to wreak havoc on medieval Japan. No longer able to depend on his trusty tech arsenal, Batman must use all his other skills and talents to the fullest if he hopes to stop Lord Joker and his comrades from re-writing history itself. Director Jumpei Mizusaki, writer Kazuki Nakashima, and character designer Takashi Okazaki brought the film to life in Japan, and it is now being released re-written and re-recorded for English-speaking audiences featuring Roger Craig Smith as Batman and Tony Hale as the Joker. The new release is available in DVD, Blu-ray / DVD Combo, and Steelbook Blu-ray sets, with the latter two including three featurettes (“East / West Batman”, “Batman: Made in Japan”, and “New York Comic Con Presents Batman Ninja“) which discuss the joys and challenges of introducing Batman into the anime medium and its surrounding culture. The original Japanese audio is also included as an extra treat. You can rent or buy Batman Ninja digitally on Amazon for $5.99 or $19.99 respectively, but if you’re looking to buy right now you can get any of the hard copy options for less than the digital price. On Amazon the DVD is currently available for $12.96, the Blu-ray/DVD Combo is $17.96, and the Steelbook Blu-ray is $19.96.