That small Blu-ray drought we experienced the last couple of weeks ends in spectacular fashion with a surge of new disc releases, including the biggest movie of the year.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Avengers: Infinity War – Considering how many movies Marvel has cranked out for its Cinematic Universe project (we’re up to three a year at this point), I’m honestly kind of amazed that they continue to generate so much excitement from fans with no sign of tapering off. You’d think that by the third Avengers team-up, people might feel like they’ve already seen it all before. Nonetheless, Infinity War was a positively huge movie – featuring seemingly hundreds of characters, a 2.5-hour run time, and a plot that puts the fate of the entire universe in peril – and audiences ate it up to the tune of $2 billion at the box office. I’ll be very surprised if anything later this year can top it. Two weeks after its streaming debut, the film finally arrives on Blu-ray and Ultra HD, with a SteelBook at Best Buy and other exclusives at Target. As usual for Disney, if you want the 3D version, you’ll need to import from overseas.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties – Director John Cameron Mitchell hadn’t made a feature film since the 2010 tragic melodrama Rabbit Hole, which seemed like a considerable departure for him. For this first movie in eight years, Mitchell returns to some of the manic weirdness of his earlier Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus. Elle Fanning stars as a teenage alien who visit Earth, falls in love with a human boy, and gets mixed up in the British punk scene of the 1970s. Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole star Nicole Kidman also appears, and you would naturally assume she must play an alien – but no, she’s an old-school punk rocker. As I said, weird. Unfortunately, reviews were mixed and the movie made almost no money at all.
Shock and Awe – Rob Reiner continues his struggle for relevance with a political drama about a group of journalists investigating the true motives behind the Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. Woody Harrelson, James Marsden and Tommy Lee Jones star. As much as Reiner must have hoped this would be his All the President’s Men, the movie was panned by critics and wound up premiering on DirecTV where nobody would see it.
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami – The iconoclastic model, singer, actress, and former Bond Girl is profiled in a documentary directed by Sophie Fiennes (sister of Ralph and Joseph). I assume that one of them will explain what the title means.
In addition to the day-and-date release of Avengers: Infinity War, Disney is also upgrading its predecessors The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron to 4k HDR video. Regrettably, despite Dolby Atmos soundtracks, you should expect all three movies to have wimpy audio with little bass, as is the frustrating norm for Disney these days.
Magnolia has a lot of faith that the micro-budget sci-fi thriller Higher Power will hold up to scrutiny when watched at 4k resolution. The IMDb user reviews on this are downright toxic.
Need a quick Ryan Reynolds fix while waiting for next week’s release of Deadpool 2? Lionsgate serves up his 2002 college comedy Van Wilder in Ultra HD.
Criterion’s sole offering this week is the 1982 Mexi-Western drama The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, starring Edward James Olmos. (Director Robert M. Young’s Alambrista! also joined the Criterion Collection in 2012.)
The Warner Archive seems to be working through Vincente Minnelli’s filmography little by little. The latest to be dug up is his 1960 drama Home from the Hill with Robert Mitchum.
Arrow Video has a curious mix of titles this week. First is Terry Gilliam’s little-seen (and little-loved) child neglect nightmare Tideland from 2005. After that are the 1974 giallo thriller What Have They Done to Your Daughters? and the 1972 Herschell Gordon Lewis splatter-fest The Gore Gore Girls.
Scream Factory resurrects Return of the Living Dead Part II with a new Collector’s Edition. The label follows that with ugly Pop Art SteelBook reissues of Lifeforce, The Howling, and Army of Darkness.
Back in the 1980s, it seemed like every notable filmmaker was required to make at least one movie about the Vietnam War. Brian De Palma’s entry in the genre was the 1989 Casualties of War, starring Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn. Sony brings it to Blu-ray.
For a brief moment in the early 1990s, young director Matty Rich appeared poised to become the next Spike Lee. (Lee himself did not care for the comparison.) At just 19-years-old, Rich’s crime drama Straight Out of Brooklyn was hugely buzzed at the Sundance Film Festival and was embraced as one of the seminal ‘hood movies of the era. He followed that a few years later with the coming-of-age drama The Inkwell, which was mostly panned by critics and was viewed as a sophomore slump, but had a decent shelf life in TV syndication. After that, Rich mostly disappeared aside from a credit on a 2005 video game. The Inkwell resurfaces on Blu-ray thanks to Kino.
Rowan Atkinson brought his Mr. Bean character to cinema screens in 1997 with Bean: The Movie. In 2000, Eddie Murphy reprised his whole family of obnoxious characters in Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. Universal believes that both of these still somehow have audiences willing to buy them.
Following in the footsteps of Lionsgate’s Vestron Collector’s Series, Full Moon inducts the 1978 cheesefest Laserblast into its “Vintage VHS Collection” with oversized box packaging.
TV box sets this week include the first (and only) season of HBO’s frustratingly aimless Here and Now, the first two seasons of the IFC parody Documentary Now! (bundled together), the third and fourth seasons (separately) of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, the fifth season of The Blacklist, and the sixth season of Arrow.
I have the 3D SteelBook for Infinity War on preorder from the UK, but that won’t be released for a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m in the process of reviewing Tideland. I haven’t seen Casualties of War since VHS and would be interested to check it out again.
I’ll take it as a given that most of our readers will be on board for Infinity War. Which edition are you getting? Does anything else tempt you this week?