What do you get when you multiply 3840 x 2160, divide by 4, and then add 42? You get some of this week’s notable Blu-ray releases.
Not that I have anything against Brian Helgeland (whose batting average as both a screenwriter and director has hovered somewhere around .260), but it just feels wrong to me to let a white guy make the Jackie Robinson bio-pic ‘42‘. No, I’m not saying that you need to hire Spike Lee to direct every movie about black historical figures, but surely there must be some other talented black director in Hollywood who might be suited to the project? In any case, most reviews claim that ’42′ is a pretty standard, formulaic bio-pic, livened up by a standout performance from Harrison Ford (actually giving a damn for the first time in a long while) as Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey.
Word-of-mouth from horror fans was pretty mixed about this year’s ‘Evil Dead‘ remake. Some absolutely loved the movie’s attempt to rework the property as straight horror, stripping out most of the campy comedy that the original series is famous for. Others found it a dull, rote schlock-fest. I don’t have any strong attachment to the franchise one way or the other, but I find it encouraging that the filmmakers at least attempted to respect the material and do something interesting with it, rather than just churn out another cynical cash-in. That counts for something, right?
Are audiences finally tiring of over-the-hill action stars desperately trying to stay relevant in the modern era? Both Schwarzenegger’s ‘The Last Stand’ and Sylvester Stallone’s ‘Bullet to the Head‘ were major flops this year. The most interesting thing about the latter is that Stallone also dragged Walter Hill (’48 Hrs.’, ‘Red Heat’) out of semi-retirement to direct it for him, not that it helped any. Oh, and ‘Fairly Legal’ hottie Sarah Shahi reportedly has a gratuitous topless scene in it. Lest we worry too much for Stallone or Schwarzenegger, the stars have another shot at redemption with their team-up movie ‘Escape Plan’ later this year, and I’m sure another dopey ‘Expendables’ sequel is in development.
This week, Sony delivers another wave of its “Mastered in 4k” line of Blu-rays. As I explained back in May, these discs are not really 4k resolution. They are more accurately described as “Superbit” Blu-rays, still encoded at standard 1080p resolution (and playable in any Blu-ray player on any HDTV) but stripped of bonus features and authored with high bit rates. This batch brings us the 1998 ‘Godzilla‘, ‘Men in Black‘, ‘Moneyball‘, ‘Pineapple Express‘ and ‘Spider-Man 2‘. Aside from ‘Moneyball’ (which I still haven’t seen, but that doesn’t strike me as a movie overly-dependant on the quality of its visuals), nothing here interests me in the slightest. Your mileage may vary.
From smaller distributors, the Criterion Collection brings us Peter Brooks’ famous 1963 adaptation of ‘Lord of the Flies‘, Kino unleashes Mario Bava’s ‘Black Sabbath‘, and Shout! Factory gets animated with Ralph Bakshi’s ‘Heavy Traffic‘.
If TV box sets are your thing, you’ll have a lot of viewing ahead of you with the first season of the sci-fi mystery ‘Orphan Black‘, Season 2 of the Western ‘Hell on Wheels‘, and the first two seasons of the cult animated hit ‘Regular Show‘.
‘Lord of the Flies’ goes on my wish list. I may rent ’42′ or ‘Evil Dead’ (or, hell, perhaps even ‘Bullet to the Head’), though I don’t expect to buy them. What grabs your attention this week?