Christmas is fast approaching and the home video studios have one last chance to tempt you. Will any of this week’s new Blu-rays go on your wish list for Santa?
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Dunkirk‘ – At the moment, the odds of Christopher Nolan finally landing an Oscar seem pretty strong. His WWII epic was a big box office hit and one of the best reviewed movies of the year. If not Best Picture, the technical achievement stands a very good chance of scoring a Best Director trophy. To that end, Nolan shot the movie in a mix of 65mm and IMAX film, which means that all the Blu-ray and Ultra HD editions are stuck with that alternating aspect ratio gimmick he loves so much. Also, the audio is plain 5.1 because the director has an irrational hatred of Atmos. Best Buy carries a SteelBook, but only for the 1080p disc.
‘The Lego Ninjago Movie‘ – The animated Lego franchise suffered its first box office disappointment this year. The Ninjago toys are pretty popular with kids, but apparently their parents wanted nothing to do with a movie. Reviews were also rather weak for this installment. Nevertheless, Warner Bros. is making another big push for it on video, with Blu-ray, 3D and UHD editions all available. (As with ‘Dunkirk’, Best Buy’s SteelBook is 1080p only.) I’m sure all this franchise needs to bounce back is a ‘Lego Batman’ sequel and all will be right with the Lego world again.
‘mother!‘ – From the exclamation point and lack of capitalization in the title, it should be obvious that Darren Aronofsky is in uber-pretentious mode once again. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in a movie that was painted as a weird and surreal home invasion thriller in the trailers but is reportedly actually an elaborate allegory for something else entirely. Critical reaction was heavily divided, with some calling it brilliant and others trash. Audiences almost unanimously sided with the latter. The movie was one of the biggest box office failures of the year and viewer word-of-mouth was toxic.
‘Victoria & Abdul‘ – Didn’t Judi Dench claim she was retiring from acting a few years ago due to failing eyesight? She hasn’t seemed to slow down much in the meantime. Here, she reunites with director Stephen Frears (‘Philomena’) for a feel-good period piece about Queen Victoria’s unexpected friendship with an Indian commoner. I really enjoyed a line Phil dropped into his theatrical review calling this an “expansion of the Mrs. Brown cinematic universe.” Frears is usually a reliably solid filmmaker, but Phil didn’t care for much about this one.
‘Stronger‘ – Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing who’s forced to rebuild his life after losing his ability to walk. True story or no, the movie appears to hit every beat of the “triumph over adversity” playbook, though Gyllenhaal’s performance is said to be… well, strong. David Gordon Green, whose career vacillates wildly from respectable indie fare to inane stoner comedies, directed.
‘Leatherface‘ – As if anyone wanted such a thing, the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ franchise gets another prequel reboot. Lionsgate had so little faith in the movie that the studio shelved it for a couple years before dumping it on DirecTV and On-Demand (with very limited theatrical screenings). The biggest name in the cast is Stephen Dorff, which should tell you a lot about what to expect.
In addition to ‘Dunkirk‘, the majority of Christopher Nolan’s filmography also makes its away to Ultra HD this week. Warner’s ‘Christopher Nolan Collection‘ bundles ‘Dunkirk’ with ‘Batman Begins‘, ‘The Dark Knight‘, ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘, ‘Inception‘, ‘Interstellar‘ (on loan from Paramount) and ‘The Prestige‘ (from Disney). All of these were also announced for standalone releases (plus a trilogy set for the Batman flicks), though Amazon and other retailers pulled their listings for ‘The Prestige’, so I’m not sure about the status of that one outside the box set.
The Batman movies are supposedly sourced from new 4k transfers. With luck, there’s a chance that the Edge Enhancement problems that plague ‘The Dark Knight’ on Blu-ray could finally be resolved. (Fingers crossed on that.) As mentioned earlier, however, Nolan actively hates immersive audio, so none of the soundtracks have been remastered.
Also available in 4k are ‘mother!‘ and ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie‘.
The latest limited editions from Twilight Time include Otto Preminger’s 1947 period piece melodrama ‘Forever Amber‘, the 1962 British drama ‘The L-Shaped Room‘, the 1970 adaptation of ‘Wuthering Heights‘ with Timothy Dalton, Arthur Hiller’s 1971 film version of the Paddy Chayefsky dark comedy ‘The Hospital‘, and Woody Allen’s 1990 fantasy drama ‘Alice‘.
Synapse Films offers a new 4k restoration of Dario Argento’s famed giallo ‘Suspiria‘ in a limited edition SteelBook. Preorders are already shut down through Synapse’s own site, but at the time of this writing Amazon still has copies left at an absurd $89.95 price point. I am confident that the same disc will eventually be sold in a standard keepcase for a lot less money if you’re patient.
Severin’s ‘The Amicus Collection‘ bundles the 1970s British horror shockers ‘Asylum’, ‘And Now the Screaming Starts’, and ‘The Beast Must Die’. Although the first two are also available separately, ‘Beast’ is exclusive to the box set.
Having just released the first five seasons of ‘South Park‘ on Blu-ray a couple weeks ago, Paramount follows that up with Seasons 6-11 now.
Despite its acclaim, I’m honestly not terribly excited to watch ‘Dunkirk’. I’ve been burned by Christopher Nolan one time too many. Nonetheless, I will get to it eventually.
I also have some interest in ‘The Hospital’. Beyond that, I’m happy to save my money this week for other holiday shopping.
Which of these discs would you like to see in your stocking next Monday?