Judging by the number of new releases available, this is a pretty light week for Blu-ray. However, a couple of those titles are heavy hitters (perhaps one more so than the other).
‘Spectre‘ – It seems that we’re going to have to implement an “Odd-Numbered Movies Rule” for the Daniel Craig entries in the James Bond franchise. Audiences loved his first one, hated the second, loved the third, etc. Here we are with the fourth and… yeah, people felt let down by it. Returning director Sam Mendes should have known that he couldn’t top ‘Skyfall’, but he tried anyway. The result is a little bloated, is way too heavy on the franchise fan service, and struggles to tie all the Craig pictures together with a neat little bow. It also has the worst theme song of any movie, ever. Despite all that, I thought it was a decent middle-of-the-road Bond film, neither one of the best nor one of the worst. I’m sure it will play better on repeat viewings. If you’ve been collecting the series in metal case form, Best Buy has an exclusive SteelBook.
‘Crimson Peak‘ – Isn’t it time for Guillermo del Toro to go make another small art film in Spain or Mexico? His forays into big studio tentpole filmmaking have offered diminishing returns and he’s overdue for a palate cleanser. This Gothic haunted house horror picture was a box office dud last fall. Most reviews accused the director of getting lost in the elaborate sets and costumes and forgetting to put a compelling story behind them.
‘Grandma‘ – Lily Tomlin does the “bad mentor” thing as a drinkin’, smokin’, foul-mouthed granny who’s forced to reconnect with her estranged teenage granddaughter while the girl deals with an unplanned pregnancy. From director Paul Weitz (‘Mozart in the Jungle’), the movie is said to lean harder on the drama than comedy, but received a lot of very favorable notices from critics.
‘MI-5‘ – Wasn’t the fifth ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie already released on Blu-ray? Ohhh… this is ‘MI-5’, not ‘M:I-5’. I get it. It’s the feature film spin-off of the British television series also known as ‘Spooks’ in its native country. Kit Harrington from ‘Game of Thrones’ gets to play spy and root out evil government conspiracies and whatnot. Connections to the show appear to be tenuous, and fans were less than enthused.
‘99 Homes‘ – The less successful of last year’s two movies about the American housing bubble and financial crisis (the other being ‘The Big Short’), this one stars Michael Shannon as a sleazy real estate broker who takes advantage of people unable to pay their mortgages. Andrew Garfield is the broke construction worker who reluctantly takes a job under his wing. From there, cue a replay of the plot from ‘Wall Street’. Both of the leads were praised for their performances, but the film overall was criticized for being a little too preachy and simplistic.
‘Love the Coopers‘ – John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried and a bunch more recognizable actors cash paychecks in a sloppy ensemble holiday comedy that pretty much everyone agreed was one of the worst things ever and should never be seen by anybody.
Paramount gets a jump on promoting this summer’s new ‘Star Trek‘ feature by reissuing two box sets for the Original Crew and Next Generation movies under a 50th Anniversary Edition banner. (That’s the 50th anniversary for the franchise as a whole, not these specific movies.) As far as I can tell, these are straight-up reissues of the existing Blu-rays in new packaging. Don’t go hoping to find the DVD-exclusive Director’s Editions of ‘The Motion Picture’ or ‘The Wrath of Khan’ here, nor video remasters for any of the movies that desperately need them.
Criterion’s only offering for the week is a double feature of ‘The Emigrants‘ and ‘The New Land‘, a two-part period piece epic by Swedish director Jan Troell, whose ‘Everlasting Moments‘ is also in the Collection.
The dog mutilation scenes in the 1971 giallo thriller ‘Lizard in a Woman’s Skin‘ were so shocking at the time that director Lucio Fulci was actually prosecuted for animal cruelty. He might have gone to prison had special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi not demonstrated in court that all the gore was fake. Does that impression hold up to modern standards? Now you can judge for yourself with the clarity of high definition.
The only notable TV box set this week is the second season of HBO’s ‘The Leftovers‘. I gave up on this after a few episodes into the first season. Did it get better?
I’m a James Bond completist and have the ‘Spectre’ SteelBook on preorder. ‘Crimson Peak’ is a possible rental. I’m sure that ‘Grandma’ will be on Netflix soon enough.
Does anything entice you to get out to the store this week?