Have you been itching to collect another huge blockbuster on Blu-ray or Ultra HD? This week brings not just the biggest movie of the year, but officially the biggest movie of all time. Will that do?
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Avengers: Endgame – It took a decade for another film to finally dethrone Avatar as the highest grossing motion picture of all time. Naturally, Marvel had to be the studio to do it. The fourth and allegedly final entry in the Avengers cycle (at least with the original roster of heroes) wraps up the cliffhanger and remaining plot threads from Infinity War. Even with a three-hour running time, fans largely found it a satisfying climax for Phase Three of the MCU and 21 previous movies of build-up. Blu-ray and Ultra HD editions can be easily found at your retailer of choice, but for 3D you’ll have to order overseas and wait until September 2nd.
Shadow – Zhang Yimou recovers from the debacle of his flop fantasy epic The Great Wall with a return to the artier style of his wuxia dramas Hero and House of Flying Daggers. This one is mostly in black-and-white with selective splashes of color. Critics ate it up to great acclaim, though our own Jason was underwhelmed and I’ve heard some other grumbling about the film being too slow-moving with only limited action.
All Is True – Kenneth Branagh has played so many Shakespearean characters on stage and screen over the years, he inevitable had to play the Bard himself. Judi Dench and Ian McKellen also feature in the bio-pic about the playwright’s waning days. Branagh directed as well, because he certainly wasn’t going to let anybody else take the credit. The film played in a few festivals and limited release, with mixed-to-positive reviews.
Avengers: Endgame charges onto Ultra HD with a SteelBook at Best Buy and a Target exclusive that comes with a little book. Coinciding with that, Marvel also upgrades all three of the Iron Man and the first two Thor movies to 4k. (Thor: Ragnarok already got a UHD release.) Best Buy has new SteelBooks for all of them priced at a wallet-busting $34.99 each.
Also at Best Buy is a new SteelBook design for the 2018 Halloween reboot-quel.
Despite its lack of color in the photography, I expect Zhang Yimou’s Shadow to be visually arresting enough to benefit from the UHD format.
The Criterion Collection explores The Inland Sea, a 1991 travel documentary about the people and culture on the interior islands of Japan.
Tom Cruise made his screen debut in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 teen romance drama Endless Love, also starring Brooke Shields. The Lionel Richie theme song was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy, while almost everything else about the film was raked over the coals. Shout! Factory tries to set aside the movie’s poor reputation by adding it to the Shout Select line.
Tangentially related to Tom Cruise, Lionsgate has a Blu-ray edition of Open Your Eyes (a.k.a. Abre los Ojos), the 1997 Spanish thriller that was the basis for Cruise’s remake Vanilla Sky. Alejandro Amenábar (The Others) directed the original. Penélope Cruz starred in both versions.
The Warner Archive exhumes Fritz Lang’s 1955 CinemaScope swashbuckler Moonfleet (which, despite the title, is not a sci-fi picture) and the 1950 John Ford Western Wagon Master.
Marlon Brando starred in the 1963 political thriller The Ugly American, now under license by Mill Creek.
Flicker Alley presents a 4k restoration of the 1928 French silent epic L’argent.
Kino offers a pair of very early Alfred Hitchcock thrillers with 1929’s Blackmail (the director’s first sound feature) and 1930’s Murder!. From just a few years later is French filmmaker Marcel Carné’s 1938 crime drama Port of Shadows.
Kino then jumps forward several decades (and down considerably in esteem) for the 1993 flop sequel Another Stakeout.
Universal finds some more comedy duds from the ’90s with George Lucas’ screwball farce Radioland Murders, the misguided attempt to resurrect Leave It to Beaver, and the disappointing A Fish Called Wanda follow-up Fierce Creatures. However, the 2002 Blaxploitation spoof Undercover Brother was more successful for the studio.
On the drama side of things, Keith Gordon’s supernaturally-tinged romance Waking the Dead (2000) with Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly received mixed reviews and failed to find an audience.
In 1981, a young talent by the name of James Cameron served as production designer on the Roger Corman sci-fi cheesefest Galaxy of Terror. Many of his sets were reused in the following year’s Forbidden World. Both movies look like good, schlocky fun. In addition to SteelBook packaging, the Scream Factory reissues feature new 4k scans.
After that, Scream Factory gives the Collector’s Edition treatment to the 1982 exploitation flick Vice Squad.
Mill Creek adds to its VHS Retro Look line with the 1975 trucker drama White Line Fever starring Jan-Michael Vincent, the 1985 psycho thriller The New Kids with James Spader and Lori Loughlin, the 1987 Steve Martin rom-com Roxanne, and the 1989 legal thriller True Believer with James Woods and Robert Downey, Jr.
Also available but not listed in the above poll is a significant wave of price-down reissues for numerous DreamWorks Animation titles. They’re all the same discs released previously, even with the same case art, but now reduced in price.
Making their way from broadcast to disc are the third season of Riverdale, the sixth season of The Blacklist, and Starz’s historical miniseries The Spanish Princess.
This could be a very expensive week for Marvel collectors, especially those who feel compelled to upgrade all the old movies to the latest and greatest format. I have Avengers: Endgame on preorder even though I’m still well behind on the franchise. The only of the older movies I’ll rebuy is the first Thor, and only because I missed previous opportunities to get that in a SteelBook.
Shadow looks like a good rental candidate. Fritz Lang directing an old CinemaScope adventure flick sounds like fun, so I’ll also put Moonfleet on my wish list.
I recall liking Abre los Ojos well enough when I watched it on DVD, but not enough to add it to my permanent collection.
What titles will you end up buying this week?