How’s life in the future treating you? This week, we finally hit the date that Mary McFly traveled to in ‘Back to the Future Part II’. I guess that makes us all time travelers, in a sense. I bet watching a Blu-ray would blow Marty’s mind. Feel like buying some?
‘Jurassic World‘ – While I’m sure that everyone involved expected the latest ‘Jurassic Park’ sequel/reboot to be a hit, I doubt that anyone really expected it to be this big of a hit. It’s the fourth movie in the franchise, and watching dinosaurs on the big screen is pretty much old hat at this point. Nonetheless, something about this one clicked with audiences, to the point of $1.6 billion, making it the third highest-grossing movie of all time (only behind a couple of little movies by James Cameron). Befitting the film’s success, the Blu-ray is available in a host of different versions, from 2D to 3D, collectible tins and an elaborate gift set.
‘Paper Towns‘ – The second movie to be based on a novel by author John Green wasn’t able to recapture the success of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. Are teens over him already, or is he still destined to be the YA crowd’s Nicholas Sparks? This time, the author tries to tweak the annoying “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” cliché with a touch of added depth and complexity, but (from most accounts) doesn’t quite transcend it.
‘Testament of Youth‘ – “It Girl” of the moment Alicia Vikander trades in the sci-fi futurism of ‘Ex Machina’ for period-piece formalism in a literary adaptation about a sweeping romance set against the backdrop of World War I. Reviews praised the star’s performance while being underwhelmed by the stodgy and bland production that contains it.
‘Z for Zachariah‘ – Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Margot Robbie may be the last three humans (none of whom are named Zachariah) alive on Earth after an apocalyptic event wipes out the rest of civilization. Naturally, if you put two men and an attractive woman in a room together, a love triangle’s going to erupt. Less a disaster flick than an intimate character drama, it’s the sort of thing that’s pretty difficult to promote in today’s film market, even with a trio of recognizable stars. The weird title probably didn’t help. Critics were generally kind to the movie, but its box office was negligible.
‘The Wolfpack‘ – A sensation on the film festival circuit, this documentary tells the story of seven young brothers who lived almost their entire lives sheltered in an apartment that their paranoid, controlling father hardly ever allowed them to leave. The boys’ only connection to the outside world was through watching movies, which they’d re-enact in homemade “sweded” versions recorded in their home. On the one hand, the story sounds fascinating. On the other hand, it also sounds almost too calculatedly quirky to be entirely true (though everyone involved insists it is). It’s almost as if these kids were born for no other reason than to eventually become the subjects of a documentary that would win an award at Sundance.
‘Atari: Game Over‘ – Most gamers (especially those who were children of the 1980s) have heard the legend of the notorious Atari 2600 ‘E.T.’ videogame, which was a huge flop that’s still widely regarded as one of the worst games ever produced. Its failure allegedly prompted Atari to dump a mountain of unsold cartridges in a New Mexico landfill, where they’ve sat ever since. Fascinated by the story, screenwriter Zak Penn (‘X2: X-Men United’) decided to make a documentary about it that would lead to the excavation of the site to find out what’s really buried there. Rad!
To celebrate the 30th anniversary milestone, Universal is reissuing the ‘Back to the Future‘ trilogy in a couple of different packages. Both contain the three movies with some brand new bonus features. The Complete Adventures box has fancier packaging and comes with a DVD copy of the short-lived animated spin-off. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Universal has bothered to remaster the video for any of the films. That will undoubtedly be a sore point for viewers who weren’t satisfied with the Blu-rays released in 2010. [Note that the new feature-length reunion documentary called ‘Back in Time‘ is sold separately.]
Not to be outdone (OK, maybe to be outdone), Sony is likewise reissuing the ‘Men in Black‘ trilogy, though without any great fanfare or new features. It’s just a bundle of the three movies. The third one doesn’t even have the 3D version.
In preparation for Halloween, Criterion gives the masterful Japanese ghost story ‘Kwaidan‘ a much-needed high-def upgrade.
More classic frights come from a label called The Film Detective, which offers Roger Corman’s darkly comical ‘A Bucket of Blood‘ and the Vincent Price chiller ‘The Bat‘.
Meanwhile, Scream Factory dishes up both ‘Tales from the Crypt‘ features, ‘Demon Knight’ and ‘Bordello of Blood’.
Notable TV collections this week include the first season of the British period gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders‘, the seventh season of Showtime’s ‘Nurse Jackie‘, the thirteenth season of Mike Judge’s ‘King of the Hill‘, and a reissue of the classic Western miniseries ‘Lonesome Dove‘.
Quite honestly, the ads for the AMC network’s eight-part ‘The Making of the Mob: New York‘ confused the hell out of me. I couldn’t tell if it was a dramatic miniseries, a documentary about real historical organized crime figures, or a behind-the-scenes special about famous gangster movies. I’m still not sure that I’m really inspired to watch it and find out. I assume from the title that the network hopes to make more of these for other cities, such as Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
I have no doubt that ‘Jurassic World’ will lead the voting in this week’s poll, but quite honestly I may wait for the movie to hit cable. I like the first ‘Jurassic Park’ as much as the next guy, but just don’t have much interest in this one. The trailers did nothing for me.
The only disc from this week’s list that I’m likely to buy is ‘Kwaidan’. However, ‘The Wolfpack’ and the Atari documentary both look like strong rental candidates.
If you want to convince me of why I should buy ‘Jurassic World’ or anything else I’ve dismissed, feel free to do so in the Comments.