This is a good week to be a fan of cult movies from the 1980s. It’s also a good week to be a fan of terrible animated movies based on videogames, but I assume that fewer of you will want to admit that.
‘The Angry Birds Movie‘ – We’ve really come to this? We’ve run out of superhero comics to adapt or old popular movies to remake, and all we’re left with that can be turned into new movies are “freemium” mobile games that people download to their phones when they need to kill time while waiting in line or riding the subway. The lack of anything resembling characters or a story didn’t stop Sony from spending $73 million to churn this out. Nor did the scathing reviews stop the movie from winning the box office its opening weekend and turning a tidy profit. As far as the home video releases go, what’s interesting here is that Sony has chosen to bundle the UHD version (which is 2D) with the 3D Blu-ray. If you want either of those, you’ll have to buy them together. There’s no separate 3D Blu-ray release.
‘Ratchet & Clank‘ – Apparently, the market could only sustain one animated feature based on a videogame this year. This attempt, based on an old PlayStation franchise that stopped being relevant quite a while ago, cost $20 million to make and topped out with an $8.5 million box office gross. Reviews were also damning (though bad reviews couldn’t stop ‘Angry Birds’). The trailer looks less like a movie than like all the cut-scenes from a game strung together in order.
‘Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made‘ – In the early 1980s, a group of enthusiastic kids tried to mount their own fan film remake of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. It took seven years, and the kids grew up on camera from scene-to-scene, but the project eventually became the stuff of legend. Now there’s a documentary celebrating it, in which the budding filmmakers (all now adults) reunite to shoot the one scene they never completed. This sounds like great fun.
‘Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words‘ – This biographical documentary about the legendary actress is going straight to the Criterion Collection, where it will no doubt make a good pairing with the ‘3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman‘ box set from a few years ago.
‘God’s Not Dead 2‘ – Huh. We really need two of these embarrassingly amateurish faith-based films to reassure us that God’s not dead? You’d think, being omnipotent and everything, He could find a better outlet to convey that message. At least this one upgrades the cast from Kevin Sorbo to Melissa Joan Hart. That’s got to be some sort of small improvement, doesn’t it?
Attention all Hong Kong Cavaliers. Shout! Factory finally brings the bizarro 1984 sci-fi extravaganza ‘The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension‘ to high-definition. Featuring Peter Weller as the world’s greatest physicist/neurosurgeon/test pilot/rock star while he saves the world from interdimensional aliens from Planet 10 (all of whom are named John), the film doesn’t quite work, but it’s jam-packed with fun ideas is so immensely weird on every level that it begs to be rewatched again and again.
In addition to that, Shout! also continues its love affair with John Carpenter by releasing his 1979 bio-pic TV movie ‘Elvis‘, starring Kurt Russell as the King of Rock ‘n Roll. This marked the first collaboration between Carpenter and Russell.
Meanwhile, the Scream Factory division scares up ‘Session 9‘, director Brad Anderson’s spooky horror thriller about a cleaning crew working at an abandoned mental hospital.
For more horror (though of the cheesier variety), Arrow heats up the 1983 ‘Microwave Massacre‘. Ding! You’re dead!
Olive Films celebrates the awesomeness that was ’80s action star Michael Dudikoff with Blu-ray editions of the first four ‘American Ninja‘ flicks. (Note that Dudikoff sat out Part 3 but returns in Part 4.) There was also a Dudikoff-less ‘American Ninja V’, but I guess Olive decided to ignore that one.
New limited editions from Twilight Time include a reissue of Sam Peckinpah’s gritty thriller ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia‘, the Peckinpah-scripted Western ‘The Glory Guys‘, the blackly comical Vincent Price horror film ‘Theatre of Blood‘, the 1970 Italian crime drama ‘La Mogli Piu’ Bella‘, director Paul Schrader’s harrowing ‘Hardcore‘, and a double feature of Frank Sinatra’s two ‘Tony Rome‘ detective pictures.
Now available from the Warner Archive, the 1971 Western survival drama ‘Man in the Wilderness‘ is based on the same true historical story as last year’s ‘The Revenant’. Star Richard Harris didn’t get an Oscar out of it, though. Perhaps he didn’t grunt enough?
Universal dumps a whole bunch of catalog titles on the market this week. Some of these were previously Best Buy exclusives now expanding to general retail, such as ‘The ‘Burbs‘, ‘The Dream Team‘, ‘The Great Outdoors‘ and ‘The Money Pit‘. As far as I’m aware, this is the first appearance on the format for ‘Beethoven‘ or ‘Patch Adams‘.
The week’s big TV box sets include the second season of ‘Gotham‘, the fifth season of ‘Once Upon a Time‘, the seventh season of ‘The Vampire Diaries‘, and the first half of the final season of ‘Hell on Wheels‘.
I have ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ on DVD and am eager to upgrade the movie to Blu-ray. I’ll add ‘Hardcore’, ‘Theatre of Blood’ and ‘Tony Rome’ to my Twilight Time wish list. The ‘Raiders!’ documentary sounds like a good rental, but I’m sure it will be on Netflix or Amazon Prime streaming soon enough.
Does this week look any better for you than the last few have?