A pair of crime comedies, one brand new and one a classic, overshadow the rest of this week’s Blu-ray release list while a sequel no one wanted, some art films, and a whole bunch of TV box sets also vie for your attention.
‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War‘ – Technically, the Snow White-less prequel/sequel to ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ is the biggest release of the week. Universal is issuing it on both Blu-ray and UHD, and Best Buy has SteelBook exclusives (same artwork) for each. I’m not sure that the original film was really beloved enough to justify a sequel, much less one that jettisons the title heroine and tries to build a blockbuster action franchise around the secondary lead. Critics and audiences certainly didn’t think so. The movie received savage reviews and was a disastrous flop. It has lots of flashy visuals and CGI, though, if that appeals to you.
‘The Nice Guys‘ – Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling headline the new film from writer/director Shane Black (‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, ‘Iron Man 3’), a comedic detective thriller set in 1970s Los Angeles. I thought the trailer looked great, which leaves me a little puzzled as to why the movie was such a box office dud. I guess it just wasn’t the sort of thing people wanted to see in the middle of summer, wedged in between all the alien invasions and superheroes and CG cartoons. I expect it will do better on video, where people will be a little more open to it.
‘How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town‘ – You got me with the title. And it stars the adorable Jewel Staite from ‘Firefly’? I like the sound of this so far. Too bad most reviews for the Canadian sex comedy were mixed to negative.
‘Maggie’s Plan‘ – Sadly, I’m pretty sure that Maggie isn’t planning an orgy, in a small town or otherwise. Greta Gerwig has starred in a real Woody Allen movie (the forgettable ‘To Rome with Love’) and plenty of Woody Allen knockoffs for the likes of Whit Stillman and her current boyfriend Noah Baumbach. Here she does it for writer/director Rebecca Miller (‘Personal Velocity’). If you’re into that sort of thing, this one is said to be reasonably adequate at it.
‘Wiener-Dog‘ – Hey, it’s Greta Gerwig again. This time she pops up in Todd Solondz’s very loose follow-up to ‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’, playing the grown-up version of iconic nerd girl Dawn Wiener. Despite the title perhaps implying otherwise, hers is just one storyline in an ensemble dark comedy that follows a dachshund (now do you get it?) as it changes hands among a series of owners. After ‘Dollhouse’ and his masterpiece ‘Happiness’, Solondz has struggled to stay relevant, even on the fringes of the art film scene. Even though it made basically no money at all (few of his movies ever have), most critics regarded this as a small comeback.
‘The Man Who Knew Infinity‘ – Following two ‘Exotic Marigold Hotel’ movies, Dev Patel presses on with another piece of middlebrow feel-good claptrap. Baiting for Oscar, he stars in the true story bio-pic about a poor Indian kid with no formal education who, through incredible persistence, his own amazing genius, and the help of a friendly white mentor (Jeremy Irons), overcame racism and became the most famous mathematician in the world. (No, you have no reason to have ever heard of him. The difference between the world’s most famous mathematician and the least famous is that the least famous guy knows who the other one is.)
‘Ratchet & Clank‘ – I talked about this last week. Apparently, we had the release date wrong.
In addition to the Ultra High-Def edition of ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War‘, Universal also upgrades its predecessor, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman‘, to the 4k format.
Stuck as an HD DVD exclusive for far too long, Shout! Factory finally brings Martin Brest’s hilarious bounty hunter & crook buddy comedy ‘Midnight Run‘ to Blu-ray. Underappreciated in its day, the film grew to become a beloved classic over time. The Collector’s Edition is said to feature a new video transfer, which can only be an improvement over the problematic HD DVD.
Scream Factory finishes off the Norman Bates franchise with the made-for-TV prequel ‘Psycho IV: The Beginning‘. This was Anthony Perkins’ last appearance in his iconic role.
Groovy, baby! Kino gets totally mod with the campy 1966 British spy spoof ‘Modesty Blaise‘.
The latest titles from the Criterion Collection are Tony Richardson’s 1961 “kitchen sink” drama ‘A Taste of Honey‘ and the 1964 allegorical Japanese art film ‘Woman in the Dunes‘.
This is a big week for TV. Debuting with their first seasons are ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead‘, ‘Legends of Tomorrow‘, ‘Lucifer‘ and ‘Narcos‘. Meanwhile, ‘The Strain‘ returns for a second season and ‘The Walking Dead‘ for its divisive sixth.
BBC plays catch-up with the second season of the modern ‘Doctor Who‘ (the first with David Tennant). [This has been postponed, sorry.]
Finally, Lionsgate offers the recent miniseries remake of ‘Roots‘, which does not appear to be anywhere near the classic that the original was.
I really hope that the ‘Midnight Run’ Blu-ray is an improvement over the old HD DVD, because I’m eager to upgrade. Meanwhile, ‘The Nice Guys’ and ‘Wiener-Dog’ might be rentals for me.
What has your eye this week?