The biggest Blu-ray and Ultra HD title this week is a movie about a very important historical figure from the late 1960s – but not the one we’re meant to celebrate with the holiday on Monday.
We still have Selma for that, at least.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
First Man – Director Damien Chazelle and his La La Land star Ryan Gosling reunite for a bio-pic about Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon. Based on the early acclaim and hype, this seemed like a surefire blockbuster and Oscar frontrunner. A lot of that buzz fizzled upon release, unfortunately, when the following reviews were more measured (if still largely positive) and the movie’s box office failed to hit the stratosphere. A really dumb conspiracy theory about the movie being anti-American (or not being ‘Murican enough) probably didn’t help matters. In any case, the film played with a variable aspect ratio in IMAX theaters. I assume that the Blu-ray and UHD will follow suit. (I find that annoying, personally, but some people seem to like the gimmick.)
The Hate U Give – Based on a bestseller loaded with the hot-button topics of racism and police abuse, the film adaptation stars Amandla Stenberg as a black teenager pushed toward social activism after witnessing white cops shooting her childhood friend. The majority of critics praised the film’s handling of potentially preachy subject matter and were especially enthusiastic about Stenberg’s performance. The movie didn’t quite break through with audiences as much as expected, however.
Johnny English Strikes Again – Rowan Atkinson returns for a third round of bumbling and pratfalls in the James Bond spoof that wasn’t particularly good the first two times.
Best F(r)iends – Oh, hi Mark! Greg Sestero, co-star of The Room and author of The Disaster Artist, gets to be the auteur this time, writing the script for a two-part epic starring himself and the singular Tommy Wiseau as a drifter and a mortician who team up for a low-level criminal enterprise. You probably don’t want more plot details than that before going in. You were either on-board after hearing about the… ahem, talent… involved, or this probably isn’t for you.
First Man rockets to Ultra HD from Universal, while Fox gives The Hate U Give some love on the format as well.
Universal upgrades both the first two How to Train Your Dragon movies to 4k in preparation for the upcoming third one. Best Buy will have SteelBooks for both, but not until February 3rd for some reason.
The latest IMAX nature documentary to hit UHD is called Oceans: Our Blue Planet.
The death of Twilight Time founder Nick Redman last week casts an unfortunate pall over the label’s latest slate of Blu-ray releases. Titles this week include Fritz Lang’s 1940 Western The Return of Frank James with Henry Fonda, John Huston’s 1953 comedic adventure Beat the Devil with Humphrey Bogart, Henry King’s 1955 romantic epic Untamed with Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward, and John Schleshinger’s 1979 WWII homefront drama Yanks with Richard Gere.
The 1983 Charles Bronson serial killer thriller 10 to Midnight was formerly a Twilight Time title, but its exclusivity period has expired and now Scream Factory takes over the rights to deliver a Collector’s Edition double-dip. Also making a second appearance thanks to Scream Factory is the 1986 Sylvester Stallone action flick Cobra.
The Steve Martin/Michael Caine con artist comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels charms its way into the Shout Select line with promises of a new video transfer and supplements.
Often mistaken as one of John Cassavetes’ own films due to its improvisational style (and Cassavetes starring in it with frequent collaborator Peter Falk), Elaine May’s 1976 crime drama (mostly drama, anyway) Mikey and Nicky joins the Criterion Collection. The film was the subject of a major legal dispute with Paramount and was nearly never released at all.
Criterion’s other title this week is the Cannes-winning 2007 Romanian abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, from director Christian Mungiu, whose Graduation and Beyond the Hills are already part of the Collection.
You may have to buy them separately on UHD, but the reissues of How to Train Your Dragon 1 & 2 get bundled up into a double-feature set on regular Blu-ray. After that, Universal stays on an animation kick with Aardman Animations’ hilarious 2000 stop-motion comedy Chicken Run and DreamWorks’ much less successful The Road to El Dorado from the same year.
The Warner Archive unearths The Giant Behemoth, a 1959 creature feature with stop-motion effects by the legendary Willis O’Brien.
Contrary to popular belief, Kevin Costner’s post-apocalyptic Mad Max knockoff Waterworld was not a box office bomb. It actually turned a profit by the end of its run. That said, it still may be one of the worst movies of the 1990s. Arrow Video hopes that it has enough fans to justify a newly remastered Limited Edition with multiple cuts of the film, a new documentary, postcards, a poster, and a book. Expect a less expensive Special Edition to follow later.
A genuine flop was the 1994 Macaulay Culkin comedy Getting Even with Dad, which marked a real low point in Ted Danson’s career. In the unlikely event that anyone has fond memories of renting it on VHS, MVD adds the movie to its Rewind Collection.
Aside from some anime that I must plead ignorance of, the only notable TV box set this week is the fourth season of Syfy’s Killjoys.
First Man is rental material for me, while Mikey and Nicky, Chicken Run, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels will go on my wish list for later.
Will any titles get you to spend some money this week?