This is the kind of week where lots of old stuff comes back around again. Appearing on Blu-ray are the big screen reboots of a kiddie superhero series and a corny cop show, plus the TV revival for a pair of brothers who keep breaking out of prison again and again. Also, some nihilistic junkies from the ’90s have inexplicably survived into middle age. Imagine the crossover possibilities among all these things.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Power Rangers‘ – I’d already graduated from high school by the time the Mighty Morphin’ phenomenon swept the kids’ TV landscape. As such, I have no nostalgia for the spandex-clad teen superheroes who battle monsters while riding around in dinosaur robots. The whole thing seems pretty goofy and kind of embarrassing to me, but I suppose no more so than the ‘G.I. Joe’ or ‘Transformers’ from my youth, both of which have made successful movies. Saban Entertainment and Lionsgate poured $100 million into the ‘Power Rangers’ feature film update, hoping to launch a new blockbuster franchise. 18-to-34-year-old fans indeed showed up for a better-than-expected opening weekend, but the movie crashed in subsequent weeks, failing to break even on the budget. The Blu-ray is available in a SteelBook at Target.
‘T2 Trainspotting‘ – Danny Boyle returns to his early international breakout success with a long-delayed sequel that has one of the worst movie titles of the year. I don’t really understand the point of making this picture now. I find it impossible to believe that any of the characters from the original film would have survived their self-destructive habits for another 20 years, much less that all of them would. Further, looking at the trailer, I’m dumbfounded at why anyone would want to turn ‘Trainspotting’ into a mid-life crisis comedy in which a bunch of 45-year-old men behave like assholes. Boyle is a smart guy and he probably made sure these questions were accounted for in the script, but finding out how holds virtually no interest for me. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of the original ‘Trainspotting’ to begin with, so feel free to disregard my skepticism.
‘CHIPS‘ – Writer/director/star Dax Shepard claims that he just wanted to make a movie about motorcycles, because he likes motorcycles, but he couldn’t get a studio to finance that unless he attached it to a marketable property with some name-brand recognition. Apparently, the best he could find (or afford) was the mostly-forgotten 1970s cop show ‘CHiPs’. With a title now fully capitalized so it would look less stupid on movie posters, Shepard tried to give the series the ’21 Jump Street’ treatment of turning it into an R-rated parody spoof action comedy. No one was buying. The movie tanked at the box office. The critics forced to endure it complained that Shepard is nowhere near as talented as the team that made the ‘Jump Street’ movies.
‘The Belko Experiment‘ – In addition to writing and directing the mega-budget ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ sequel this year, James Gunn also penned the screenplay (or, more accurately, dusted off an old screenplay) for a darkly comic horror thriller about an evil corporation that locks its employees into an office building and forces them to engage in a deadly ‘Battle Royale’ survival-of-the-fittest competition just to see what would happen. The concept harkens back to Gunn’s horror comedy ‘Slither’ and the work he used to do for Troma back in the day. Director Greg McLean (‘Wolf Creek’) took the reins, because Gunn was a little busy. Reviews were mixed, but the film did reasonably well at the box office for a low-budget production with almost no advertising.
‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe‘ – Another indie horror flick to generate some positive buzz was the English-language debut for ‘TrollHunter’ director André Øvredal. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play father-and-son coroners who discover very weird and unsettling things while performing the title examination.
All the shiny colors and laser blasts and so forth ought to look splendid when watching ‘Power Rangers‘ in High Dynamic Range 4k.
‘T2 Trainspotting‘ seems less likely to benefit much from the UHD treatment, but maybe I should give Danny Boyle more credit.
MGM released Sam Peckinpah’s famously brutal 1971 home invasion thriller ‘Straw Dogs‘ on Blu-ray back in 2011. The Criterion Collection hopes to improve on that disc with a feature-packed reissue.
Criterion follows that up with a restoration of the silent 1927 Jack the Ripper tale ‘The Lodger‘, which was only the third theatrical feature directed by a budding young talent named Alfred Hitchcock.
The late River Phoenix received an Oscar nomination for his role in Sidney Lumet’s 1988 drama ‘Running on Empty‘, which makes its way to Blu-ray via the Warner Archive.
Fans of Blake Edwards’ ‘Pink Panther‘ franchise have a bounty of riches this week. Shout! Factory’s ‘Pink Panther Film Collection’ box set contains all six features starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling French detective (including ‘Trail of the Pink Panther’, which was cobbled together after the star’s death and is comprised of deleted scenes from the earlier movies). Kino then rounds out the series with the 1968 ‘Inspector Clouseau’ (in which Alan Arkin briefly took over the role without Edwards directing), 1983’s misbegotten ‘Curse of the Pink Panther’ (with equally short-lived new star Ted Wass), and 1993’s ‘Son of the Pink Panther’ (a failed reboot with Roberto Benigni playing Clouseau’s illegitimate progeny).
Having just worked with Walter Hill on the Blu-ray for ‘Streets of Fire‘, Shout! Factory gives his 1992 action thriller ‘Trespass‘ a Collector’s Edition next. The movie was hardly one of the director’s better efforts or a classic for the ages, but hopefully the bonus features will go into some detail about how it was delayed and retooled at the last minute due to the Rodney King riots in L.A. that year.
More titles from Kino include John Boorman’s WWII survival drama ‘Hell in the Pacific‘ and the notoriously campy 1980 disco sci-fi musical ‘The Apple‘.
Fox’s ‘Prison Break‘ revival this year didn’t do nearly as well as last year’s return of ‘The X-Files’, perhaps due to the fact that the original show only ever had one good season, followed by three more that were pretty terrible. I don’t think many viewers were excited for the return of the Scofield brothers. If you happen to be one of the true believer fans, the so-called “Event Series” season is available either on its own or packaged with a complete collection of the entire old show.
Mill Creek pushes some nostalgia buttons with a box set containing all six seasons of James Garner’s classic detective series ‘The Rockford Files‘.
Visual Entertainment Group breaks out the second season of ‘The Untouchables‘ and the third season of ‘Diagnosis Murder‘ to standalone releases, following earlier complete series box sets for both.
I have no immediate must-buys this week, but ‘Straw Dogs’ and ‘The Lodger’ will go on my wish list for a future Criterion sale. My wife and father-in-law are both big fans of the Peter Sellers ‘Pink Panther’ movies, and if I’m ever feeling generous, I might buy the collection for their benefit someday, but not right away.
If I happen to run across ‘T2 Trainspotting’ on cable at some point, I may sit for it, but I doubt I’ll pay money to do so.
Is there anything you’ll Go! Go! out to buy this week?