Are any of the new Blu-rays being released this week actually worth their asking price? Let’s run the numbers and see if we can figure it out.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘The Accountant‘ – With an eye on his buddy Matt Damon’s highly profitable ‘Jason Bourne’ franchise, Ben Affleck stars in a new action thriller in which he plays a math savant criminal accountant who’s also a stone-cold super-assassin. Despite having a lame title and looking dumb as hell, the movie somehow made money this fall – but probably not enough to merit that ‘Accountant Supremacy’ follow-up that Affleck expected to sign up for.
‘Deepwater Horizon‘ – The first of Peter Berg’s two 2016 attempts to exploit real-life tragedies by turning them into ‘splosion and shaky-cam-heavy Hollywood action fiestas stars Mark Wahlberg as a blue collar palooka who single-handedly saves the entire crew of his drilling rig during the BP oil spill disaster of 2010. Fun fact: Berg’s quest for verisimilitude was so strict that he actually pumped another 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico to make sure it looked right on camera.
‘The Birth of a Nation‘ – It was supposed to be the movie of the year. Writer/director/star Nate Parker uses the title (but nothing else) of the famously problematic (i.e. racist) D.W. Griffith silent epic as a springboard for his telling of the Nat Turner slave revolt of 1831. The movie was a huge sensation at Sundance, where it was picked up by Fox Searchlight in a record-breaking $17.5 million deal. Unfortunately, its later theatrical roll-out and Oscar campaign were soured by scandal when the details of Parker’s 1999 rape trial were brought back to the spotlight, and Parker’s attempts to downplay that story went disastrously wrong. The film further suffered a critical backlash when, outside the festival hoopla, later reviews were much less enthusiastic about its artistic merits or very loose historical authenticity. In all, it grossed just $15.9 million at the box office and plans for an Oscar push were abandoned.
‘Kevin Hart: What Now?‘ – What’s next for the diminutive comedian? I expect that, in between buddy action comedies, he’ll continue to crank out HBO stand-up comedy specials that somehow get released theatrically. These things have worked pretty well for him so far.
‘The People vs. Fritz Bauer‘ – The winner of the top German Film Awards (the German equivalent of the Oscars) for 2016 is a biographical drama about the prosecutor who brought notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann to justice. Phil thought the movie was decent, but was disappointed at some obvious fictionalization for the sake of drama.
‘Max Steel‘ – Figuring that those ‘Transformers’ movies have been pretty successful for Hasbro, rival toy company Mattel tried to kickstart a YA franchise based on its toy line about a teenage superhero. This did not go well. After sitting on a studio shelf for two years, the movie was dumped into theaters to withering reviews and negligible box office grosses.
This week’s new 4k offerings are ‘The Accountant‘, ‘Deepwater Horizon‘ and ‘The Birth of a Nation‘.
Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell trade rapid-fire barbs in Howard Hawks’ exquisite screwball comedy ‘His Girl Friday‘, which joins the Criterion Collection this week.
In case you didn’t already buy it the last two times it came out, Criterion also has another re-release of Francois Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows‘. It’s the same Blu-ray first released in 2008, which was later reissued in 2014 with a DVD in the package. Now we’re back to the original single-disc configuration.
The Warner Archive recovers ‘Battleground‘, William Wellman’s Oscar-nominated WWII drama from 1949.
In horror news, Image bundles the documentaries ‘Crystal Lake Memories‘ and ‘Never Sleep Again‘ (about the ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchises respectively) into a double-feature reissue. With a combined running time of nearly 11 hours, this should give fans of the two series a lot to dig through.
Scream Factory resurrects Arthur Penn’s 1987 thriller ‘Dead of Winter‘, starring Mary Steenburgen as a struggling actress whose invitation to a screen test audition turns out to be far too good to be true.
In a bid to promote the upcoming sequel that nobody asked for, Sony bestows the dim-witted Vin Diesel action vehicle ‘xXx‘ with a 15th Anniversary Edition.
Meanwhile, Sony also adds the Adam Sandler drama ‘Spanglish‘ and the animated French farce ‘The Triplets of Belleville‘ to its MOD Sony Choice line.
Having recently put the classic 1980s TV series ‘Miami Vice’ on Blu-ray, Mill Creek went down a Michael Mann rabbit hole and discovered ‘Band of the Hand‘, a ridiculous cheesefest movie that Mann produced but Paul Michael “Starsky” Glaser directed, about a group of teenage delinquents recruited for a “Suicide Squad Junior” government crime-fighting team. The movie is a painful, hilarious artifact of the ’80s.
The week’s television offerings include the fifth season of the “Is that really still on?” ‘Homeland‘ and the disappointingly sloppy second season of ‘Mr. Robot‘.
The only must-own title of the week is ‘His Girl Friday’, though I’d also be curious to check out ‘Battleground’ and ‘Dead of Winter’.
I still have an HD DVD copy of ‘The Triplets of Belleville’ that I think will suffice me.
If you’ve done the calculus on this week’s Blu-rays, what result do you come to?