Wondering what the most exciting Blu-ray release of the week is? You don’t need to tie me up with a magic lasso of truth to find out. In fact, please don’t do that.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Wonder Woman‘ – The DC Comics Cinematic Universe finally has its first broadly-liked blockbuster hit. Remarkably, it comes from one of the company’s most difficult titles to adapt. The boys club in charge of Hollywood has long doubted whether audiences would pay to see a female-led superhero movie. On top of that, the Wonder Woman character is a mess of contradictory ideas. She’s an Amazonian princess descended from Greek gods, who wears red, white & blue star-spangled short-shorts, twirls a magical cowboy lasso, and flies an invisible jet. How do you make any of that work? Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot apparently cracked the formula. The movie was embraced by critics, was a big hit, and served as a much-needed feminist icon in our troubled times. You can now buy it on disc in a host of options, including 3D, 4k, and some retailer exclusives. Sadly, the Best Buy SteelBook is kind of ugly.
‘The Big Sick‘ – One of the year’s biggest indie breakout successes comes from comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon, telling the autobiographical story of the huge obstacles their early relationship faced when Emily was stricken with a serious illness soon after they started dating. Nanjiani plays himself in the movie, but Emily is played by Zoe Kazan. I imagine it must have been pretty awkward for the real woman to watch her husband re-enacting their love life with another woman pretending to be her. That’s the kind of thing you need therapy for.
‘The Little Hours‘ – This raunchy comedy loosely adapted from ‘The Decameron’ was a Sundance favorite earlier this year. Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci play naughty nuns at a medieval convent. Judging by the lack of a Blu-ray logo on the case, the high-def disc (which streets on Friday for some reason) appears to be a burned BD-R.
‘Certain Women‘ – The latest film from ‘Meek’s Cutoff’ director Kelly Reichardt stars Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart in a trio of separate but intersecting stories about life’s small indignities. Adored by critics, the movie has been inducted straight into the Criterion Collection for its home video debut.
‘The Bad Batch‘ – Ana Lily Amirpour follows up her breakthrough ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ with a bizarre and ambitious post-apocalyptic tale of a one-armed/one-legged girl (Suki Waterhouse) surviving a cannibal wasteland. Keanu Reeves, Jason Momoa and (oddly) Jim Carrey have roles. Reviews were mixed, but the movie has cult longevity written all over it.
‘The Hero‘ – Sam Elliott received strong notices for his turn as an aging Western movie star facing his mortality and trying to reconnect with an estranged daughter after a cancer diagnosis. Aside from his performance, however, the movie itself was otherwise largely met with a shrug.
‘Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars‘ – Casper Van Dien and Dina Meyer reunite to provide voices for a new animated sequel from the same team that made the rather poor ‘Starship Troopers: Invasion’. Meyer’s character was killed off in the original movie, so I’m at a loss to understand how she’s back now. Word-of-mouth on this is pretty bad.
‘Wonder Woman‘ won’t be bound by the restrictions of 1080p. The heroine smashes her way to 4k glory as well.
In addition to the animated ‘Traitor of Mars‘, Sony has also remastered the original live-action ‘Starship Troopers‘ in Ultra HD. Best Buy has a Pop Art SteelBook.
Fresh from its theatrical re-release is a UHD edition of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind‘, also available in SteelBook or gift set options.
Lionsgate serves up a double helping of sword-and-sandal schlock with the 2011 ‘Conan the Barbarian‘ remake and ‘The Legend of Hercules‘ (the one with Kellan Lutz, the lamer of the two incredibly lame Hercules movies released in 2014). Who would want these?
If you’re not equipped for 4k and don’t already have the prior Blu-ray release, ‘Close Encounters‘ also gets a 1080p reissue for its 40th anniversary.
Twilight Time offers up a trio of Westerns: Rock Hudson in ‘Gun Fury‘ (1953, restored in 3D), James Garner in ‘Hour of the Gun‘ (1967), and Burt Lancaster in ‘Lawman‘ (1971). Following that are limited editions of the scuba-diving adventure picture ‘Beneath the 12-Mile Reef‘ (1953) and the moody Woody Allen drama ‘September‘ (1987).
Flicker Alley discovers a new restoration of ‘The Lost World‘. The silent 1925 adaptation of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story features groundbreaking stop-motion animation from Willis O’Brien, who would later go on to create King Kong.
The Warner Archive spills some ‘Innocent Blood‘ with John Landis’ 1992 vampire comedy, and calls upon ‘The Illustrated Man‘ (1969) to draw a trio of classic Ray Bradbury sci-fi tales.
Kino finds ‘Love with the Proper Stranger‘ (1963) in the arms of Steve McQueen and Natalie Wood.
Shout! Factory heads back to the Jazz Age in search of ‘The Moderns‘ (1988) in Alan Rudolph’s period drama.
I bailed on the ‘Lethal Weapon‘ spinoff after the first episode, but apparently it was popular enough to run a whole season and has been renewed for a second.
‘Bates Motel‘ ended its run after five seasons, and offers up some big surprises even as the story converges with Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’. The last batch of episodes are available either as a fifth season box set or as part of a complete series collection.
Also hitting its fifth season is The CW’s ‘Arrow‘.
Fox is reissuing Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly‘ in new packaging for the show’s 15th anniversary, but I’m sure that the discs inside are the same ones available since 2008.
With a third season of ‘True Detective‘ now officially announced, HBO offers a bundle of the first two seasons.
This may sound petty, but I’d be inclined to buy ‘Wonder Woman’ if only the SteelBook had better artwork. As it is, I may settle for a rental until a better option presents itself in the future.
‘The Big Sick’, ‘The Little Hours’, ‘Certain Women’ and ‘The Bad Batch’ also look like good rental candidates.
The restoration of ‘The Lost World’ is pretty appealing. I might also put ‘Innocent Blood’ on a wish list for a future Warner Archive sale.
What grabs you this week?