I could make a “big things in small packages” joke to start off the week. (In fact, I suppose I just did.) The latest batch of new Blu-ray releases brings us a couple of the smallest big movies of the year.
‘Ant-Man‘ – After all the production troubles involving the last-minute firing of original director Edgar Wright, and all the skepticism from fans about this particularly obscure superhero, new director Peyton Reed persevered and delivered one of Marvel’s most fun and inventive movies yet. It’s not a perfect film (the studio-mandated inclusion of scenes and characters tying this adventure to the rest of the MCU feels awkward and clumsy), but it’s much better than many people expected. Although not an ‘Avengers’ size blockbuster, the movie was a pretty solid hit. The Blu-ray comes in 2D and 3D options. (The 3D is very creatively used.) Best Buy also has an exclusive SteelBook edition that will probably be woefully understocked in stores, as per the retailer’s usual incompetence.
A copy of ‘Ant Man’ is also included in the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Two Collection‘ box set, which bundles it with ‘Iron Man 3’, ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, plus some exclusive bonus features.
‘Minions‘ – The diminutive sidekicks from the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise get their own dedicated movie. A little of these guys goes a long way, and the prospect of sitting through 90 solid minutes of them sounds like a tough watch to me. The kids in the target audience clearly disagreed, as the movie did more than a billion dollars in business. This one’s also available in 2D and 3D, and both copies come with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
‘The Transporter Refueled‘ – Jason Statham is the only reason that any of the movies in the dim-witted ‘Transporter’ franchise are watchable at all. Who would want a reboot without him? Nobody would, hence the reason that the movie flopped.
‘Knock Knock‘ – For his second dud of 2015, Eli Roth puts Keanu Reeves into the middle of an erotic thriller that was widely derided as not just the director’s worst film (which is saying something), but one of the worst films of the year, period. How does this guy have fans?
Twilight Time delivers its first animated title with the 2013 Japanese feature film adaptation of the classic anime ‘Harlock: Space Pirate‘. Other new Twilight Time limited editions include a reissue of Ray Harryhausen’s ‘Mysterious Island‘, the George Orwell adaptation ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four‘, the Frank Sinatra crime thriller ‘The Detective‘, Sinatra’s war drama ‘Kings Go Forth‘, and the family wildlife adventure film ‘Born Free‘. (In a manner of speaking, ‘The Detective’ is sort of a prequel to ‘Die Hard’. Really, look it up.)
The Criterion Collection’s latest inductees are the 1928 Harold Lloyd silent comedy ‘Speedy‘ and the bizarre 2013 Japanese fantasy film ‘Jellyfish Eyes‘.
Easily portable in Sony’s swell Digibook package, in fact you can take Frank Capra’s classic screwball comedy ‘You Can’t Take It With You‘ wherever you want.
If you look at the alleged children’s film ‘The Garbage Pail Kids Movie‘ and find yourself wondering how such an abomination could have ever gotten made, remember that everyone in Hollywood did a lot of drugs in the 1980s. Seriously, a lot of drugs. Shout! Factory has decided to terrorize children everywhere by digging this strange artifact of the era out of the cinematic trash heap.
Having released the clever 1986 thriller ‘F/X‘ on Blu-ray earlier this year, Kino follows through with its lesser 1991 sequel ‘F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion‘.
In the midst of the many Dracula movies he made for Hammer Films, Christopher Lee also played a mustachioed version of the character for Spanish cult director Jess Franco in the 1970 ‘Count Dracula‘. Mustache aside, at the time it was considered one of the most faithful adaptations of Bram Stoker’s original novel.
Often described as a Japanese equivalent of the ‘Godfather’ saga, all five films in Kinji Fukasaku’s yakuza crime drama franchise ‘Battles Without Honor and Humanity‘ have been collected into a limited edition box set by Arrow Video.
The truth is out there, and now you can watch it in high definition. In anticipation of next year’s revival, Fox has remastered the entire run of ‘The X-Files‘. Considering that the show ran for nine seasons and that all of them had to be reconstructed from the original film elements (a la the work done to ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’), that was quite an undertaking. The results are available in either a massive, shelf-hogging Complete Series box set or broken out by individual seasons.
Also available this week are the final seasons respectively of the excellent ‘Hannibal‘ and the idiotic ‘Under the Dome‘. I recapped both of these shows while they were on the air. You can refresh your memories about them here and here.
Finally, Ken Burns’ landmark documentary ‘The Civil War‘ was just released on Blu-ray in October of this year, but reportedly suffered from severely washed-out black levels in the video transfer. PBS has corrected that problem and reissued the set. I should hope that some sort of exchange program will be available for viewers who purchased the original copy.
I’m going to try my best to get a copy of Best Buy’s ‘Ant-Man’ SteelBook. I failed to pre-order it online when it was available, so I’m hoping that stores will get an adequate supply. [Update: The SteelBook is available on the Best Buy web site again – for the moment, anyway.]
Beyond that, other titles that interest me include ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. Because I can’t ever foresee myself rewatching the last three terrible seasons of ‘The X-Files’, I haven’t decided yet whether to buy the first six individually or just wait a couple years for the complete collection to be reissued in a smaller form factor and lower price point.
What about you? Will you pick anything up this week?