The beginning of December brings us a very crowded Blu-ray release slate as all the studios move to get as much content as possible in front of consumers during the holiday shopping season. A few titles stand out from the many repackages and reissues.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Despicable Me 3‘ – After his Minions went on to their own $1 billion spinoff success, Gru returns for another adventure with his lovable brood of kids and new wife. This time, he meets a twin brother he didn’t know he had and must contend with a new villain who’s obsessed with the 1980s. The trailers for this looked cute, in much the same way the previous entries did, but the critical reaction was very tepid. That didn’t stop parents from trekking their kids out to the theater, of course. Now the movie’s available on disc in a host of options, including a SteelBook, a UHD, or a three-movie collection with its predecessors. The studio initially announced a 3D edition, but the Amazon listing for that currently says “Unavailable” and I can’t find it anywhere else, so I have to assume it was canceled. 3D fans will probably need to import from overseas.
‘American Assassin‘ – Oscar nominee Michael Keaton goes slumming as the mentor figure in a B-grade spy thriller designed to promote ‘Maze Runner’ star Dylan O’Brien as a badass action hero. After looking at the terrible trailers, audiences weren’t having any of it.
‘Despicable Me 3‘ and ‘American Assassin‘ both get Ultra HD editions side-by-side with standard Blu-ray.
In preparation for the impending sequel, Sony upgrades the 1995 ‘Jumanji‘ to 4k. Lacking a tie-in, the studio does the same for the ‘Men in Black‘ trilogy. (Sadly, you need to buy all three together. There’s no standalone copy of just the first film.)
A couple months late to piggyback off promotion for ‘The Last Knight’, Paramount finally gets around to putting the first four ‘Transformers‘ movies on UHD.
Best Buy has a new SteelBook bundling both ‘John Wick‘ movies together in 4k.
The International Olympic Committee has partnered with the Criterion Collection to put out a massive 53-film box set called ‘100 Years of Olympic Films‘. Spanning 41 iterations of the Olympic Games, notable titles include Kon Ichikawa’s ‘Tokyo Olympiad’ and Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Olympia’, among many others. (Some have been remastered in 4k, but I suspect that many of those from the 1970s to the 1990s were probably shot on standard-definition video.) This is essentially the video equivalent of a coffee table book, and it would take a really hardcore Olympics fan to watch all 53 movies in succession, but the historical value of this seems very high. Considering the volume of content included, Amazon’s current $221 asking price doesn’t seem unreasonable if you’re an Olympics junkie.
In addition to the UHD, Sony offers a corresponding remastered Blu-ray of ‘Jumanji‘.
To go with the new sequel, Universal is reissuing the first two ‘Despicable Me‘ movies in SteelBooks. As mentioned above, you can also get all of them together in a 3-Movie Collection box set.
More SteelBooks (of the Pop Art variety, unfortunately) are on tap for Universal’s ‘Split‘, Sony’s ‘Fury‘, and the six-film ‘Resident Evil Collection‘.
Olive Films brings back Elaine May’s delightful ‘A New Leaf‘ and Max Ophuls’ classic melodrama ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman‘ as part of its premium Olive Signature line. Unfortunately, as shown by the crummy recent edition of ‘Operation Petticoat‘, the Olive Signature branding is not necessary a guarantee of good video quality. I’d wait to see some reviews of these before buying.
The Warner Archive digs up Rosalind Russell’s Oscar-nominated performance as the free-spirited ‘Auntie Mame‘.
Scream Factory gets ready for the Christmas season with a Collector’s Edition of the 1984 holiday slasher ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night‘.
The 1976 horror drama ‘The Witch Who Came from the Sea‘ washes ashore onto Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video.
Twenty-six years following its cancelation from the ABC network, David Lynch brought his legendary cult drama series ‘Twin Peaks‘ back for a third season on Showtime. Those of you who read my episode recaps know that I had very mixed feelings about the revival. Although it has moments of brilliance, it’s also painfully meandering and padded with pointless storylines that go nowhere. The season really needed to be honed down to about 1/3 as many episodes. As a ‘Peaks’ obsessive, I’m curious to see if it plays better on a second viewing.
Since 2008, Paramount has released season box sets for ‘South Park‘ in seemingly random order, sometimes with gaps of a few years between each. If I’m not mistaken, I believe this week’s release of the first five seasons brings the series up to date from Seasons 1-20 on Blu-ray. The 21st season is currently airing on Comedy Central now.
Even for as many problems as I had with it, I need to own and rewatch the new ‘Twin Peaks’.
I would normally be excited for ‘A New Leaf’ and ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman’ (both are great movies), but my recent experience with ‘Operation Petticoat’ has left me skeptical of the Olive Signature line. I’ll hold off on those until I hear something about their quality from a reputable source.
Does anything look good to you this week?