Looking strictly at volume, we have another big week for new Blu-ray releases. Perhaps no single title is quite as compelling as what last week offered, but you might find an item or two of interest if you look.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Eddie the Eagle‘ – You’d hardly recognize him behind the dorky glasses and haircut, but that’s Taron Egerton from ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ playing 1988 Olympic underdog Eddie Edwards, a man who set national records in his chosen sport mostly by default. (Literally no one else from Great Britain had competed in Olympic ski jumping since 1929.) In a weird mash-up of genres, Hugh Jackman reprises his role from ‘Real Steel’ to play Eddie’s coach, a totally fictional character. In fact, the real Edwards claims that the film is “only 10 to 15%” accurate to his life. Nonetheless, despite that and despite seeming to play directly out of the inspirational sports bio-pic rulebook, the good-natured movie won over a lot of cynical critics with its goofy charm.
‘London Has Fallen‘ – Having trashed the White House in the blatant ‘Die Hard’ rip-off ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, Gerard Butler heads overseas to blow up half of England. Reviews were mostly scathing and the film’s box office was weak.
‘10 Cloverfield Lane‘ – It’s a sequel but it’s also not really a sequel. John Goodman claims that he and Mary Elizabeth Winstead signed on for a script called ‘The Cellar’ (later titled ‘Valencia’ during production) and had no idea it had anything to do with ‘Cloverfield’ until he saw the trailer. Producer J.J. Abrams says that “the DNA of this story” comes from the same place, whatever that means. Winstead plays a young woman who wakes up after a car crash to find herself locked in an underground bunker with Goodman, who insists that an apocalyptic event has occurred outside and she can’t leave. Is he telling the truth or is he just nuts? Far from the giant monster smash-fest of the original ‘Cloverfield’, this is more of a Hitchcockian psychological thriller. According to most critics, it’s also a pretty good one, with or without the misleading franchise branding.
‘45 Years‘ – It seems almost impossible that distinguished British actress Charlotte Rampling only scored her first Oscar nomination at age 70. Shouldn’t she have two or three of the statues on her mantle already? Rampling and Tom Courtenay play a couple whose otherwise happy marriage of more than four decades is shattered by the revelation of an event that happened before they met. Sterling performances highlight this drama from director Andrew Haigh (‘Weekend‘).
‘Hello, My Name Is Doris‘ – Unless I’m overlooking something, I don’t believe Sally Field has had a leading role in a movie since 1996’s ‘Eye for an Eye’. Her turn as Aunt May in the two ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ flicks and as the First Lady in ‘Lincoln’ gave her career enough of a boost that she’s back headlining a new comedy from actor/writer/occasional director Michael Showalter (‘Wet Hot American Summer’, ‘The Baxter’). The Doris of the title is a batty spinster who becomes obsessed with a much younger co-worker (Max Greenfield from ‘New Girl’). The consensus on this one seems to be that Field is delightful and the movie around her is a pleasant enough trifle.
‘The Young Messiah‘ – Anne Rice, author of the ‘Interview with the Vampire’ series, wrote about a book about Jesus’ pre-teen years. Now it’s a movie. I am utterly perplexed by the existence of either of these things. I once tried to read a Rice novel but the writing was so terrible I couldn’t get through the first chapter.
‘Get a Job‘ – Anna Kendrick, Alison Brie, Miles Teller, Bryan Cranston and Marcia Gay Harden all starred together in a comedy this year and yet I’d never even heard of it before writing this. Had you? Did this get a theatrical release? Apparently, it was shot in 2012 and shelved for four years. Its run time of 83 minutes suggests that the studio probably hacked it down from a much longer original length. I wouldn’t set my hopes too high for it.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray format gets one day-and-date title this week with ‘Eddie the Eagle‘, plus a couple of catalog titles with J.J. Abrams’ 2009 ‘Star Trek‘ and its disappointing sequel ‘Star Trek into Darkness‘.
The Criterion Collection’s latest inductees are the whimsical 1941 supernatural comedy ‘Here Comes Mr. Jordan‘ and Jean Renoir’s 1931 bitter love triangle drama ‘La chienne‘.
For his very first starring role, Al Pacino played a heroin junkie in 1971’s ‘The Panic in Needle Park‘. Other new limited editions from Twilight Time include: Gary Oldman as a crooked cop and Lena Olin as a crazy Russian assassin in Peter Medak’s whacked-out Neo-Noir ‘Romeo Is Bleeding‘; Richard Dreyfuss as a former silent movie director reduced to making pornos in ‘Inserts‘; Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in Hammer Films’ 1959 adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes story ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles‘; Julie Harris as a young tomboy in Fred Zinnemann’s coming-of-age tale ‘The Member of the Wedding‘; and a reissue of Norman Jewison’s dystopian sci-fi drama ‘Rollerball‘, starring James Caan as a rollerskating gladiator.
Universal is all about franchises this week. We start with individual editions of all three ‘Jaws‘ sequels. (‘Jaws 3’ is even properly in 3D.) Then we move to the complete ‘Airport‘ collection, which bundles the previously-released Blu-ray of the original disaster epic with its three (new-to-Blu) sequels. Finally are repackagings of all the ‘Bourne‘ movies (aside from the new one that hasn’t hit theaters yet, of course), both of Schwarzenegger’s ‘Conan the Barbarian‘ entries, and a double feature of the classic ‘The Blues Brothers‘ with its lamentable follow-up.
Scream Factory gets in on the franchise action as well with Collector’s Editions of both ‘Jeepers Creepers‘ flicks.
Over the course of just six episodes, this year’s so-called “Event Series” revival of ‘The X-Files‘ somehow managed to encompass both the best and the worst of the old show, with a little of everything in between as well. It was nice to see the characters back together, and I’d almost be inclined to buy this collection just to get the hilarious and brilliant third episode, but both the premiere and finale are both total dogs and the other three in between veer all over the place.
If you bought last year’s Collector’s Set for the original show, the box included an empty slot to insert the revival. If you held out, the new Complete Series box is basically the whole thing in one shot.
To go along with its UHD offerings, Paramount has also repackaged all three seasons of ‘Star Trek: The Original Series‘ into a new bundle.
One episode each was more than I needed to see of HBO’s unfunny comedy ‘Ballers‘ and Syfy’s dopey space drama ‘Dark Matter‘.
Also available is the second season of Starz’s ‘Power‘, a show which I know precisely nothing about.
I’m debating whether to buy the new ‘X-Files’ season. Its current asking price on Amazon is hard to pass up, even if I’d really only ever rewatch the one episode.
All of the week’s Criterion and Twilight Time titles will go on my wish list for a later date. I saw ‘Romeo Is Bleeding’ in the theater and don’t recall it being a great movie, but Lena Olin was a lot of fun in it.
’10 Cloverfield Lane’ and ’45 Years’ look to merit rentals.
What’s on your radar this week?