It may be the last shopping week before Christmas, but (as happens most years) the Blu-ray release schedule has slowed down dramatically. This is a pretty light week in terms of volume. However, a few notable titles slip out in time for the holiday.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘The Magnificent Seven‘ – As far as remakes of classic movies go, Antoine Fuqua’s reworking of the famous Western (which was itself a remake of ‘Seven Samurai’) looked a lot less offensive than the recent ‘Ben-Hur’ debacle. In fact, the trailers seemed kind of fun. Reuniting with Fuqua for the umpteenth time, Denzel Washington leads an all-star cast including Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Peter Sarsgaard. Unfortunately, once it opened, reviews and word-of-mouth were lukewarm and the movie underperformed at the box office. Like most things Fuqua makes, the film was criticized for copying someone else’s established formula, dumbing it down for modern audiences, and heaping on lots of gruesome violence in an attempt to be edgy.
‘Sully‘ – Following up the success of ‘American Sniper’, 86-year-old Clint Eastwood continues his latest career resurgence with another true story bio-pic. Tom Hanks plays Chesley Sullenberger, the U.S. Airways pilot who was forced to ditch his passenger jet into the Hudson River with 155 people aboard. Despite deep skepticism about how Eastwood could possibly stretch a real event that lasted all of six minutes into a 96-minute feature film, the movie was well received by most critics and audiences, and became a pretty big box office hit. Eastwood shot almost the entire thing with the new IMAX digital cameras, and the Blu-ray has a Dolby Atmos soundtrack too, so it should make for some nice home theater eye and ear candy. (Just be aware that this is mostly a talky courtroom drama, not an action movie.)
‘Storks‘ – As if we didn’t have enough animated comedies about talking animals this year, here’s one that plays on the old childhood myth about storks delivering babies to parents. You might think that with an actual comedy filmmaker in charge (Nicholas Stoller, of ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and ‘Neighbors’) and a cast that includes Andy Samberg and both Key & Peele, perhaps this one might be better than average. Apparently not.
‘31‘ – Rob Zombie is back with another gross-out Rob Zombie horror flick starring his wife, Sheri Moon Zombie. The insanity this time centers around evil clowns and carneys. Anyone who voluntarily chooses to watch this should already know what to expect.
‘Oasis: Supersonic‘ – Do/did you like the band Oasis? The Gallagher brothers have a reputation for being a couple of assholes. Here’s a documentary that tries to spin that as a good thing.
‘Hitchcock/Truffaut‘ – In 1962, François Truffaut spent a week interviewing one of his idols, Alfred Hitchcock, for a book about his career. A new documentary interviews modern filmmakers including Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson and David Fincher about how both of those men and the book influenced them.
Also arriving in 4k this week are ‘Sully‘, ‘The Magnificent Seven‘ and ‘Storks‘.
Arrow Video has remastered the first three ‘Hellraiser‘ movies and bundled them, along with a bounty of new bonus features, into a limited edition collection called “The Scarlet Box.” The same set was released in the UK in 2015 and sold out quickly. However, most of the contents were later reissued in a slightly less elaborate package that can still be imported for less than half the price of this one. (Be advised that the UK copies are locked to Region B.)
I’m a big fan of Clive Barker’s original ‘Hellraiser’, but the second movie is nowhere near as good and the third is a total dog. (The less said about the later sequels, the better.) I’m inclined to wait for either a standalone copy of the first film, or at least a lower-priced repackage comparable to the one still available in the UK.
‘Sully’ looks like good rental material, and I’ll try to make a point of watching the ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ documentary if I run across it on Netflix some day.
Will you make any last-minute purchases before Christmas this year?