August may draw to a close with relatively few new Blu-rays on the docket, but – in contrast to the rest of the month – this final week at least leaves us with one pretty big hit movie that should stir some interest among disc buyers.
‘The Jungle Book‘ – Disney’s continued push to remake all of its old animated movies in live-action form doesn’t always pay off, but the successes seem to justify the whole endeavor. The latest ‘Jungle Book’ is actually Disney’s second live-action version, following a Stephen Sommers dud in the mid-1990s. The new one had better results. The film was one of the biggest box office hits of the year, and represents a return to blockbuster form for director Jon Favreau. It also received a lot of favorable attention from critics. Unfortunately, if you’d like to watch it in Ultra High-Def 4k or in Dolby Atmos, you’re out of luck. Disney still refuses to support those on home video. If you want to watch it in 3D, you’ll have to import a copy from overseas.
‘Me Before You‘ – Emilia’s Clarke’s attempt to parlay her ‘Game of Thrones’ fame into action movie stardom with ‘Terminator Genisys’ didn’t exactly work out. Now she shifts gears and tries a weepy romance melodrama instead. The Mother of Dragons plays a small town girl who takes a job caring for a paraplegic man and, of course, winds up falling in love with him. Because that’s what happens in movies like this. Adapted from a popular romance novel somehow not written by Nicholas Sparks, the movie turned a solid profit this summer and will probably play very well in cable syndication soon enough.
‘The Phenom‘ – Despite solid reviews and a couple of bankable names like Ethan Hawke and Paul Giamatti in the cast, this baseball drama about a rookie MLB pitcher who gets bounced down to the Minors is effectively living out its own plot by being redirected quickly to video after a very brief limited theatrical run. Although critics generally liked it, other viewers complained about its lack of baseball action.
The Criterion Collection devotes both of its titles this week to Orson Welles. The legendary filmmaker is said to have considered his Shakespeare adaptation ‘Chimes at Midnight‘ (which mashes up the texts of several plays to build a narrative centered around Shakespeare’s recurring character of Sir John Falstaff) to be his finest work. Due to complicated legal disputes over its ownership, the film has long been unavailable on home video in North America. Those issues have apparently finally been sorted out, and Criterion’s Blu-ray is sourced from a brand new restoration effort. This should be a major event for cinephiles.
Criterion’s second release is ‘The Immortal Story‘, Welles’ final completed fictional feature. Throughout most of his career, Welles suffered numerous financial setbacks and struggled to find financing for his projects. Many he started were abandoned unfinished. Although completed, this one runs barely an hour long.
Meanwhile, Image dusts off Alan Parker’s blue collar musical ‘The Commitments‘, a movie whose soundtrack album significantly outsold its own box office grosses, but is nonetheless remembered fondly.
Straight from TV come the second season of ‘Star Wars: Rebels‘, the fourth season of ‘Arrow‘, the sixth season of ‘Shameless‘, and the miniseries adaptation of John Le Carré’s espionage thriller ‘The Night Manager‘.
‘Chimes at Midnight’ is my only must-buy disc this week, though I’ll likely rent ‘The Jungle Book’ at some point.
Do you see anything worth parting with some money over?