Rocketman

Blu-ray Highlights: Week of August 25th, 2019 – She’s Got Electric Boots, a Mohair Suit…

This week brings a truly monstrous assortment of new Blu-ray and Ultra HD discs. From tiny dancers to giant lizards, and even an all-puppet musical sex comedy if that’s what you’re into, there should be a little something for just about anybody in here.

Be honest, I had you at the puppet sex musical, didn’t I?

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (8/27/19)?

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New Releases (Blu-ray)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – Responding to complaints that Gareth Edward’s 2014 Godzilla reboot didn’t have enough Godzilla in it, new director Michael Dougherty reportedly amps up the giant monster mayhem, pitting the Big G against many of his classic foes. Reaction to this seems to be directly the inverse of the last movie. Those who liked Edwards’s approach didn’t care for this one and vice versa. All told, reviews were weak and the movie significantly underperformed at the box office, which puts the fate of Warner Bros.’ MonsterVerse franchise into some jeopardy. (Godzilla vs. Kong was already in production and will be released next year anyway.) As for King of the Monsters, Blu-ray and Ultra HD editions are available, and Warner is one of the few major studios still actively supporting 3D.

Rocketman – Dexter Fletcher, the uncredited co-director who salvaged last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody from the wreckage Bryan Singer had left of it, takes full control of another musical bio-pic set in the 1970s. Fletcher’s Eddie the Eagle star Taron Egerton dons the feathers and sunglasses and other crazy outfits to play Elton John at his flamboyant peak. Although the reviews for this one were much stronger than the messy Rhapsody (Egerton actually doing his own singing probably helped), it wasn’t quite as much of a blockbuster hit and probably won’t score as many Oscar nominations next year. Nevertheless, it did well enough to be successful and will likely have a strong shelf life on video.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 – The cute but forgettable 2016 animated hit gets a sequel that ditches problematic star Louis C.K. and replaces him with Patton Oswalt as lead dog Max. Harrison Ford also joins the voice cast in a supporting role. Despite these changes, this seems to be a case of diminishing returns. Critics shrugged it off and the movie did less than half as much business as its predecessor, not that any of that will matter to your kids.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco – One of the breakout titles from this year’s Sundance Film Festival is a semi-autobiographical indie drama about a man (star Jimmie Fails playing a version of himself) attempting to maintain and restore a house that his grandfather built despite not actually owning it or living there. Moreover, it’s the story of the city itself, and how its change over time has affected the people living in it. The film won a couple of awards at Sundance and critics mostly adored it.

The Banana Splits Movie – Now this is just bizarre. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was apparently a real kids’ TV series from Hanna-Barbera and producers Sid and Marty Kroft that ran for a couple seasons from 1968 to 1970. Five decades later, the property has been revived as an R-rated horror parody about a bloody axe-murder spree on the set of the original show. That premise sounds kind of amazing, but reaction to its premiere at Comic-Con was mixed. The movie is a direct-to-video release now and will air on the Syfy network in September.

UHD

We have a full slate of Ultra HD discs this week, starting with day-and-date titles Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Rocketman, and The Secret Life of Pets 2 – all of which have SteelBook editions at Best Buy.

A couple of classics are also getting upgraded with 4k: Rob Reiner’s terrific Stand by Me and Francis Coppola’s war masterpiece Apocalypse Now. Both have HDR video and remixed Dolby Atmos sound. Additionally, Apocalypse Now is a new, so-called Final Cut of the film that attempts to strike a balance between the original theatrical release and the much longer Redux cut. The 6-disc set will include all three versions of the movie in 4k.

Catalog Titles

The Criterion Collection travels to Japan for Yasujirô Ozu’s 1952 The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice, to Iran for Abbas Kiarostami’s The Koker Trilogy (1987-1994), and to Sweden for a single-disc reissue of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s 1997 Insomnia.

The Warner Archive rolls out another classic from the 1930s with William Wyler’s Jezebel, which won star Bette Davis a second Oscar.

The regular Warner label, meanwhile, drops a wave of new SteelBook repackagings for Beetlejuice, The Goonies, The Exorcist, the original Friday the 13th, and Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye and Salem’s Lot.

Kino offers the Kirk Douglas 1955 Western Man without a Star, directed by King Vidor.

Sony relitigates The People vs. Larry Flynt with a reissue of the bio-pic about the notorious Hustler founder.

Hen’s Tooth Video resurrects the campy 1974 sex spoof Flesh Gordon. (Temper your expectations; the movie is only rated R.)

Harder in its sleaze is Abel Ferrara’s 1976 feature directing debut (under the pseudonym “Jimmy Boy L”), the X-rated and charmingly-titled 9 Lives of a Wet Pussy, starring his then-girlfriend. Ferrara reportedly had to step in front of the camera himself for a sex scene when his male actor couldn’t perform to standard. Vinegar Syndrome has seen fit to restore that one from the 35mm camera negative.

Also newly restored by Vinegar Syndrome are the classic “Rowdy” Roddy Piper post-apocalyptic extravaganza Hell Comes to Frogtown, the 1984 German cult film Decoder, and the aforementioned puppet sex musical Let My Puppets Come (from Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano).

For all that, perhaps the most perverse choice of movie to release on Blu-ray this week is the final feature from British director Derek Jarman – 1993’s Blue (not to be confused with Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Blue from the same year). The film literally only consists of a static blue frame while a montage of various sounds and narrations play over it. The BFI felt this worth remastering in 2k as part of a Derek Jarman box set released in the UK earlier this year. Zeitgeist Films has licensed two of the titles from that box: Blue and 1990’s The Garden.

Television

Those dastardly lizard people from outer space are back! Creator Kenneth Johnson’s legendary 1983 TV miniseries V finally hits Blu-ray courtesy of the Warner Archive. Although there’s no word yet about its lesser sequel V: The Final Battle or the one-season spinoff series, one can hope that those will follow if sales of this are strong enough.

Also available are the third season of Into the Badlands and the fifth season of The Flash.

My $.02

I’m very excited about both V: The Original Miniseries and the Apocalypse Now UHD.

Hell Comes to Frogtown is a great guilty pleasure, but I’m not sure I need to buy it right now. Jezebel would be a more respectable entry for my wish list, and despite my snarky comments, I actually am interested in exploring Derek Jarman’s work.

I’ll watch Rocketman if I come across it on HBO or Netflix someday.

Don’t go breaking my heart. Tell me you want something this week.

13 comments

  1. Csm101

    I have the 3D version of Godzilla: King if the Monsters reserved at Best Buy for pick up. I’m strongly considering the steelbook uhd. Although I already own the region B Arrow version for Hell Comes to Frogtown, I should have this new VS version arriving today. I’m sure it’ll look significantly better. I’m interested in Rocketman but I bet my brother will buy it and and I can snag up his digital copy since he never uses them. I’ve also ordered V but I’m kind of bummed that it doesn’t come in it’s 4:3 aspect ratio. I have the 3d version of the Secret Life of Pets sequel ordered from U.K. I can wait a little longer to see it. I definitely want to pick up Apocalypse Now and Stand By Me on uhd as well.

  2. Bolo

    I haven’t seen “the final cut” of ‘Apocalypse Now’ yet, but I suspect it may end up being my preferred cut. I like most of the stuff added into the “redux” cut, but hate that second scene with the bunnies. Whenever I watch the film, I let that scene play out while I take a loo break and get another beer. Apparently it is cut from the final cut and that makes me happy.

    I’m not big on the part where Willard steals Kilgore’s surfboard and apparently that’s left in, but I can live with that still being in there.

    • Chris b

      The bunnies are hot though at least. That compound scene feels like its from a different movie. I’m indifferent to the surfboard scene as well.

    • I don’t know what to think about the final cut really. The newspaper had an article about it. It sort of sounds like the director caved to public pressure and made another cut of the movie. What was wrong with the original version way back when? At least the package gives us a choice.

  3. Chris B

    I pre-ordered both Apocalypse Now and Stand By Me in 4k. Excited to watch brand new restorations of two of my favorite films. The previous AN blu was pretty decent but the old SBM disc was pretty poor quality.

  4. Chris B

    Also Josh, with regards to your write-up I can confirm all 3 cuts of Apocalypse Now are presented in 4k. It’s a 6-disc set in total.

  5. Lord Bowler

    I’ll pick up Hell Comes to Frogtown. I have this on DVD with the Audio Commentary and the movie is laughably bad movie, but Piper is great in it and the commentary is hilarious about the process to get this movie made in Hollywood! The commentary makes the movie worth it and this new Blu-Ray has that commentary and more bonus features of Piper’s first film role.
    Audio commentary with cinematographer/director Donald G. Jackson and writer/producer Randall Frakes
    “Mean and Green” – a video interview with Randall Frakes
    “Grappling with Green Gargantuans” – a video interview with lead actor “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
    “Amphibian Armageddon” – a video interview with actor Brian Frank
    “Creature Feature Creator” – a video interview with f/x artist Steve Wang

    The other movie I’ll be picking up is V: The Original Miniseries. I loved this miniseries when it first aired and again on DVD. I’ve heard the interviews about the care they’ve taken in remastering this along with all of the extras. Looking forward to seeing this in High Definition.

    I may also pick up Godzilla: King of the Monsters. I missed this in theaters.

  6. Wax Mask was delayed to 9/24.

    I have Apocalypse Now on order, although it won’t be here until late next week. Day of the Outlaw is well worth picking up.

    I’ll grab the latest season of The Flash when it’s down to $12.99 around the holidays. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (4K), Rocketman (4K), The Secret Life of Pets 2 (4K), Hell Comes to Frogtown, and The Leech Woman will probably be in my collection eventually, even if it’s a few months off.

  7. EM

    V interests me. I mean, I love the original miniseries and have it on D‐V‐D (remember the ads promoting the weekly series in which Jane Badler parodied NBCʼs “you can NBC there—be there” refrain by saying, “V there”?), but Iʼm skeptical of the worth of the Blu‐ray. I can easily believe some or even much of the two‐parter upgrades great, but I expect a lot of the effects will suffer in high def—many are already distractingly fake‐looking in SD (guinea pig, anyone?).

  8. First and foremost, Warner Bros. can eat a dick. The 4K SteelBook of Godzilla has a huge disclaimer on the back that says the digital copy does NOT redeem in 4K and is quite annoying. I might not stream my movies but still having the option as a standby is pretty convenient. LionsGate was the last hold out and now pretty much every 4K disc they sell now comes with a code that also redeems in 4K. I want the Godzilla movie, and I like both covers, despite the standard cover being primarily teal and orange, but when I also like the SteelBook, I want the SteelBook. But paying $5 more for something and getting a reduced digital code, that pisses me off. So anyway, here’s my interests for the week, not sure what to get this week, based on what I want most. Maybe they’re ALL wish list items.
    Apocalypse Now 4K (ugly RED cover,) Godzilla 4K, Secret Life of Pets 2 4K, Banana Splits, Hell Comes to Frogtown, Megabeast Investigator, Sorcerer Hunters, V – Mini Series.

  9. Clark

    A lot of bloggers are saying that “Godzilla II: King of the Monsters” didn’t do great at the box office because of competition from “Avengers: Endgame” and “Aladdin”, as if Disney was to blame for everything! The real cause of Godzilla’s failure is the movie itself: dumb plot, dark scenes, disposable characters… it’s just a mess! Sometimes, it felt like a “Transformers” movie, and this is not a compliment. Nobody really asked for a sequel – or for a MonsterVerse to be honest.

    As for “Rocketman”, it is a good movie, but it is very similar to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. You know the drill: hit songs, drugs, failed romances, and an uplifting final act with some text explaining how the protagonist got over all his problems. So very unoriginal!

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