When you shop for Blu-rays this week, what are the odds you’ll go rogue and not buy ‘Star Wars’? Pretty low, eh? Believe it or not, some other stuff is available too.
Not much, though. Most studios were wise enough to move the hell out of the way of the blockbuster behemoth.
‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘ – The first of the ‘Star Wars’ spinoff movies that take place outside the main Episodes stars Felicity Jones as the leader of a squad of rebels tasked with stealing the Death Star plans that will kick off the events of ‘A New Hope’. Despite some widely-publicized production troubles and reshoots that suggested Disney had lost confidence in director Gareth Edwards, the movie was mostly embraced by both fans and critics, and went on to be the second highest-grossing ‘Star Wars’ film, lagging behind only ‘The Force Awakens’. This bodes well for Disney’s future plans to bombard theaters with new ‘Star Wars’ movies every year from now until the end of time. As is common for a box office hit of this magnitude, the Blu-ray comes in your choice of several retailer exclusives. If you want to watch it in 3D, you should look at either the Target 5-disc set or the Best Buy SteelBook. If you want to watch it in Ultra HD or with Atmos sound, you’re SOL. Disney still doesn’t support those on home video.
‘Paterson‘ – If gargantuan space epics aren’t your thing, Jim Jarmusch offers some counterprogramming with a micro-scale drama about a hipster bus driver who writes poetry. Yeah, that description sounds kind of insufferable, but the movie is supposedly pretty good. Jarmusch has been doing this sort of thing for a long time and has carved out a niche. In between his own ‘Star Wars’ work, Adam Driver stars, and it only occurs to me now that having a guy named Driver play a bus driver is perhaps a little on-the-nose.
‘Office Christmas Party‘ – From the directors of middling comedies such as ‘Blades of Glory’ and ‘The Switch’ comes another middling comedy, this time with a holiday theme. The big ensemble cast includes a number of funny people, including Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Aniston, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn and Rob Corrdry – all apparently wasting their talents.
‘Three‘ – The latest project from prolific Hong Kong action maestro Johnnie To finds a gangster, a cop and a surgeon stuck together in the middle of a stand-off at a hospital. Phil called this a minor effort from To, but praised the movie’s “astounding and downright insane climax.”
The week’s assortment of catalog titles is pretty slim. The best movie of the bunch is probably Frank Capra’s 1936 classic ‘Mr. Deeds Goes to Town‘, which was released in a Digibook last year and now gets repackaged in a standard keepcase.
Mill Creek gets stuck in the year 1988 with River Phoenix and Sidney Poitier in the spy thriller ‘Little Nikita‘, followed by Tom Hanks and Sally Field in the standup comic dramedy ‘Punchline‘. The latter puts Hanks and Field in a romantic relationship. Six years later, Fields would play Hanks’ mother in ‘Forrest Gump’. How’s that for a twisted Oedipal Complex?
I’d never heard of the 1973 ‘Invasion of the Bee Girls‘ before, but check out the IMDb plot description: “A powerful cosmic force is turning Earth women into queen bees who kill men by wearing them out sexually.” That sounds like bonkers fun. The Blu-ray is from Scream Factory.
Visual Entertainment Group, the label that insistently keeps trying to convince people that ‘Nash Bridges’ is worth buying on Blu-ray, moves on to another forgettable TV relic with ‘Diagnosis Murder‘. Yeah, this is the one where elderly Dick Van Dyke played a doctor who for some reason investigated murders. The show ran for eight years, all of which are compiled in one box set.
I’m not much into anime anymore, but I recall being fond of the sci-fi comedy ‘Martian Successor Nadesico‘ when I caught it on DVD. The show is a spoof of big anime space epics like ‘Super Dimension Fortress Macross’, featuring a cast of nerdy misfits, some of whom are actually anime fans. The Blu-ray contains all 26 TV episodes, the ‘Prince of Darkness’ movie, and even the ‘Gekiganger 3’ show-within-the-show.
I have the ‘Rogue One’ SteelBook on preorder. I also wouldn’t mind upgrading ‘Martian Successor Nadesico’ to high-def. Because pretty much anything by Johnnie To is worth watching, I’ll try to give ‘Three’ a look at some point. ‘Paterson’ might be a rental for me.
It’s fair to assume that ‘Rogue One’ will lead our poll this week. Does anything else in addition to that interest you?