Believe it or not, more than one new Blu-ray will hit store shelves this week, though you’d certainly be hard-pressed to tell that by looking at the release calendar. As the biggest movie of 2015 (currently the third biggest movie of all time) lands on home video, very little else will dare to compete against it.
‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ – Show of hands, did anyone not go see this in the theater? Just me? That’s right, I skipped it. Even the (mostly) ecstatic word-of-mouth couldn’t crack through my hardened shell of cynicism and just plain not-giving-a-damn about ‘Star Wars’ anymore. Supposedly it’s pretty good. I’ll find out shortly when I catch up with it on Blu-ray. As befitting such a huge box office hit, the studio has decided to pimp the movie out to a host of retailer exclusives – some that just have unique packaging and others that contain exclusive video supplements. None of them include 3D, Dolby Atmos, or the annoying alternating aspect ratio gimmick from IMAX theaters – all features which may or may not appear on a double-dip (or triple-dip, or quadruple-dip, etc.) down the line.
‘Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie‘ – Even as a moderate ‘Ghost in the Shell’ fan, I find the current state of the franchise terribly confusing. If I have this right, it goes something like this: First came the original manga by Masamune Shirow, which was adapted into a pair of feature films by Mamoru Oshii. Then, a TV reboot called ‘Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex’ used a similar animation style and many of the same voice actors as the Oshii films, but officially existed in a separate narrative continuity. ‘Stand Alone Complex’ spawned a second season called ‘2nd Gig’ and a TV movie called ‘Solid State Society’. With me so far? From 2013 to 2015, a second TV reboot (this one a prequel) called ‘Ghost in the Shell: Arise’ spanned five hour-long mini-movies, and featured a new animation style and a new voice cast. Now, after all that, we have ‘The New Movie’, a feature film sequel to ‘Arise’ that follows up on the plot of the fifth mini-movie. ‘The New Movie’ is being released on Blu-ray in North America now, even though only the first two of the ‘Arise’ mini-movies are currently available on home video here yet – meaning that most American fans will probably have no idea what’s going on in this one. Got all that? Yeesh! I think I’m glad I stopped watching after ‘Solid State Society’.
‘Mojave‘ – Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac star in a thriller written and directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (‘The Departed’). In reviewing the theatrical release, Phil described the movie as “a pretentious concoction of half-baked ideas from a filmmaker who should know better.” Ouch.
‘#Horror‘ – A cheapie fright flick in which a group of overprivileged ‘tween girls are stalked by someone they’d cyberbullied online. #straighttothebargainbin
Arrow Video is in a giallo kind of mood this week. The label has three (really four) Italian horror thrillers on tap: Lucio Fulci’s 1981 ‘The Black Cat‘, Sergio Martino’s bizarrely-titled 1972 ‘Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key‘, and a two-fer by Luciano Ercoli called ‘Death Walks Twice‘ (a double feature of 1971’s ‘Death Walks on High Heels’ and 1972’s ‘Death Walks at Midnight’).
Beyond that, the only other catalog title that jumps out at me is ‘Prefontaine‘, the bio-pic about Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine that was the first non-documentary film from director Steve James (‘Hoop Dreams’). I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard the movie is pretty good.
If you’re looking for a space drama that’s a little more science fiction and a little less fantasy than ‘Star Wars’, the Syfy network’s excellent ‘The Expanse‘ was one of the best new TV series of 2015.
Also available are the third season of Cinemax’s ‘Banshee‘ and the complete ninth season of ‘Doctor Who‘ (which was previously divided between two smaller box sets).
I have no doubt at all which title will lead the voting in this week’s poll. Perhaps a better question is how many of our readers are not planning to buy ‘Star Wars’ this week.
I have the ‘Force Awakens’ SteelBook on preorder at Best Buy and will try to watch that as soon as I can. Nothing else calls out to me. (As much as I like ‘The Expanse’, I’ve cut way back on collecting box sets of TV shows I already watched on broadcast.)
Will you pick up anything other than ‘Star Wars’?