clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
The box for Criterion’s release of Dazed and Confused. Photo: Criterion

Filed under:

February’s best Blu-ray and 4K UHD releases for the modern media doomsday prepper

What’s new on Blu-ray and 4K UHD this month

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Now is the perfect time to start or grow your Blu-ray collection. With HBO Max reminding the world that TV shows and movies can be removed from streaming services at a moment’s notice, we’ve begun to invest a bit more of our own entertainment budgets into good ol’-fashioned discs. Preservation isn’t the only benefit — the image and sound are better, and most discs still include special features unavailable on streaming services, like behind-the-scenes documentaries and commentaries.

To help you find your next favorite disc, we start each month with a list of our most anticipated releases. We haven’t had the opportunity to try these discs just yet, but if you want the formal thumbs up, no worries — in the coming months we will begin our rolling list of the best Blu-rays and 4K UHD discs of the year. But each of these releases has potential and comes from a label we’ve enjoyed in the past.

This month, we’ve got space horror, a stoner classic, and debatably the greatest art-house trilogy — enjoyable even if you’ve never visited an art house.

Our most anticipated disc of February 2023

Sidekicks (4K UHD + Blu-ray) — now available

Vinegar Syndrome has become one of the most reliable labels for horror, action, and exploitation cinema. It appears to have leveraged that cachet over the past couple of years to make special editions for studio films that have been forgotten or underappreciated. Last fall, it released a killer edition of Road House, replete with a 4K HDR presentation and a surprising number of new interviews with talent from both behind and in front of the camera.

That same sub-label, Vinegar Syndrome Ultra, returns with a release of Sidekicks. A bullied teenager daydreams of being Chuck Norris’ sidekick in various ’90s action flick scenarios. To bring that joy to his life, he does the most period-appropriate thing possible: learns karate and enters a tournament that will settle the score with the local school baddies. Like the Road House release, Vinegar Syndrome’s spin on Sidekicks includes a 4K disc with HDR and hours of interviews with cast and crew, plus a new commentary track from director Aaron Norris, Chuck Norris’ brother.

The big Blu-ray and 4K releases for February 2023

Sam Neill as Dr. William G. ‘Billy’ Weir, mutilated and driven mad aboard the Event Horizon. Image: Paramount Pictures

Event Horizon (4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital Code) — now available

Paul W.S. Anderson doesn’t get enough credit. The director has dedicated the majority of his career to video game adaptations, from 1995’s Mortal Kombat to 2020’s Monster Hunter — with an entire Resident Evil series in between. Anderson prioritized pulpy fun over the prestige that would become de rigueur, peaking just this month with HBO’s The Last of Us. And yet, with so much Serious Entertainment, I’ve come to appreciate Anderson’s enthusiastic approach to filmmaking. If you only watch one of his films, make it [the unforgettable/terrifying/some other descriptive word that gets across the WTF nature of this movie] Event Horizon, starring immensely talented Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill, both of whom love a good opportunity to chew scenery.

The story is a mishmash of genre delights: sci-fi, body horror, and Lovecraftian nightmares. The new release includes a 4K disc, a Blu-ray disc, and a digital code, and supports Dolby Vision and HDR10.

A giant promotion poster shows Juliette Binoche in Red. Image: Criterion

Three Colors (4K UHD, Blu-ray) — Feb. 7

As Criterion begins to ramp up its library of 4K discs, one of its best box sets gets the UHD treatment. Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors sounds like peak intimidating foreign cinema — a French/Polish trilogy, each entry named after the colors of the nation’s flag — but these films are nothing like the American cliche of the Parisian drama. Blue, White, and Red are approachable and intimate dramas starring international talent like Juliette Binoche and Julie Delpy. The three films land in different spots on the comedy-to-drama spectrum, but all tie together in a loose but affecting way that would inspire Hollywood filmmakers of the early 2000s obsessed with cosmic kismet.

The set includes all three films in 4K UHD with Dolby Vision HDR, along with a Blu-ray full of special features. Ever wanted a lesson in cinema from one of the greatest directors of all time? The set has three! Plus, you get the usual Criterion treats, like a collection of short films, mini documentaries, and essays from established film critics.

Young Sammy (Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord) gapes in wonder at the movies, sitting between his father Burt (Paul Dano) and mother Mitzi (Michelle Williams), who share a knowing smile over his head in The Fabelmans Image: Universal Pictures

The Fabelmans (4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD) — Feb. 14

First, the bad news: Steven Spielberg made his best film in decades and practically nobody saw it. Outrage! Hysteria!

Now the good news: The Fabelmans might be Spielberg’s most home-theater-friendly film. An intimate autobiographical spin on his own complicated family, along with his discovery of filmmaking, the drama should feel comfortable in the coziness of your living room.

The box includes a 4K disc with HDR, a Blu-ray disc, and a digital code.

Matthew McConaughey talks to a bunch of high schoolers in Dazed and Confused. Image: Criterion

Dazed and Confused (4K UHD, Blu-ray) — Feb. 21

Our other anticipated Criterion release this month is the UHD upgrade for Richard Linklater’s teen classic, Dazed and Confused. Finally, you can see Matthew McConaughey say “All right, all right, all right” in the highest possible fidelity. After spending six years in Austin, this has become an annual movie for me. But you don’t have to be familiar with Top Notch and moonlight towers to connect with teens finding their own fun in an otherwise boring town.

The set includes a 4K disc with Dolby Vision HDR and a standard Blu-ray disc.

Kirsten and Alex walking together after a punk rendition of Hamlet in Station Eleven. Both are wearing costumes made from salvaged materials. Photo: Ian Watson/HBO Max

Station Eleven (4K UHD, Blu-ray) — Feb. 21

The Last of Us will likely be remembered as HBO Max’s breakout postapocalypse TV series, but that’s no reason to skip Station Eleven, its life-affirming counterpoint. Based on the novel by Emily St. John Mandel, the limited series opens with an unsettlingly familiar pandemic, then tracks the lives of a band of traveling Shakespeare performers fighting for survival (and purpose) in a nearly empty world. Director Hiro Murai (Atlanta, some of the best music videos of the decade) produces some of the coolest visuals you’ll see on film or TV, but the darkness — literally, this show is heavy on shadows and night sequences — didn’t benefit from crummy streaming. A 4K disc is the perfect way to revisit, or finally watch, one of our recent favorite series.

Leatherface chasing after a truck while wielding a chainsaw. Image: Criterion Collection

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (4K UHD + Blu-ray) — Feb. 28

Tobe Hooper broke into the film industry with 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, unquestionably his best film and one of the best horror movies full stop. Like so many great horror flicks, it does what is says on the tin. It’s in Texas. There’s a chainsaw massacre. Simple and terrifying. Hooper’s films would become exponentially silly and madcap, peaking 12 years later with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which filters the original premise through the lens of Looney Tunes. I love it, but to call its blend of comedy and violence an acquired taste would be an understatement.

This new release includes a 4K disc containing a whopping four commentaries along with a supplementary Blu-ray disc stuffed with extras including a feature-length documentary on the film’s legacy.

kubo stands in a red kimono and with his shamisan on his back Image: Focus Features

Kubo and the Two Strings (4K UHD + Blu-ray) — Feb. 28

Laika, the last semi-prolific creator of English-language stop-motion films, has kicked off 2023 by bringing its back catalog to the 4K Blu-ray format. If Kubo is anything like last month’s release of ParaNorman, then it will make the most of the added resolution and HDR.

The release includes a 4K disc and a Blu-ray disc. The package includes a variety of special features, but the most fascinating to us will be the feature-length storyboards. Stop-motion animation requires a tremendous amount of prep, nearly animating the film on paper before moving to real-world models.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon