January this year crawls to a close with only a smattering of new Blu-ray releases, none of them too exciting (in my book). The most notable is also the most ironically titled movie of last year.
‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back‘ – The first ‘Jack Reacher’ wasn’t exactly one of Tom Cruise’s biggest hits, but it was generally well regarded and did pretty well on video and TV. Attached to the character and convinced that he could grow it into a successful franchise, the star recruited his ‘Last Samurai’ director Edward Zwick to crank out a sequel. From most accounts, Cruise shouldn’t have gone back to this property. The follow-up was met with terrible reviews and faltered at the box office. Nonetheless, Paramount brings it to video with a big push, including both Blu-ray and UHD editions. Best Buy carries exclusive SteelBook versions of each.
‘Masterminds‘ – As if Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones didn’t have a disappointing enough year with the ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot, the three of them also appeared in an even bigger flop in 2016. Featuring a large ensemble also including Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis and Owen Wilson, the latest weirdo comedy from ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ director Jared Hess is loosely based on the true story of a bunch of morons who robbed an armored car. The movie was shelved for over a year due to the bankruptcy of its studio, Relativity Media. By the time it was released, nobody cared, and it cratered at the box office. The picture hit our reviewer Phil’s funny bone pretty hard, but (like most of Hess’ output) seems to be an acquired taste.
‘Queen of Katwe‘ – The latest in Disney’s never-ending string of sentimental feel-good movies vaguely based on true stories is about a poor Ugandan girl who becomes an unexpected chess master. Disney’s triumph-over-adversity formula for these things is pretty rigid, but director Mira Nair (‘Monsoon Wedding’) is said to make this one work better than most.
‘Boo! A Madea Halloween‘ – No, I don’t understand how Tyler Perry is still making ‘Madea’ movies. All I can say is that they’re not made for me and neither Perry nor his actual intended audience cares whether I understand them. This ninth entry (fifteenth if you count the recorded plays) even topped the box office the week of its debut, and was a rebound after the disappointment of ‘A Madea Christmas’.
Disney pulls it classic ‘Pinocchio‘ out of the vault for a reissue as part of the Signature Collection line. Also making return appearances are ‘Lilo & Stitch‘, ‘The Fox and the Hound‘ (both paired with their DTV sequels) and ‘Bolt‘.
Excavated from the Warner Archive this week is the 1960 Dean Martin/Judy Holliday musical ‘Bells Are Ringing ‘.
They’re heeeeeeeeere… agaaaaaaaaain. In an ongoing effort to rehabilitate the reputations of undervalued horror sequels, Scream Factory gives ‘Poltergeist II: The Other Side‘ and ‘Poltergiest III‘ the Collector’s Edition treatment.
For its Vestron Collector’s Series, Lionsgate digs up one of the weirdest horror movies ever made with Ken Russell’s 1988 ‘The Lair of the White Worm‘. Amada Donohoe from ‘L.A. Law’ stars as a snake-worshipping vampire whore demon who runs around topless impaling nuns with a strap-on spike dildo. At some point, Jesus (yes, the Jesus) is strangled on the cross by a giant snake with a penis face. No, I am not making this up. I can’t say that the movie is good, at all. However, it’s very campy and schlocky, and showcases Russell (a provocateur who loved to push people’s buttons) at some of his most demented and unhinged.
Lionsgate’s other Vestron title this week is Bob Balaban’s 1989 dark comedy horror flick ‘Parents‘, in which a young boy discovers that his picture-perfect 1950s suburban parents (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt) are cannibals.
HBO delivers the second season of Dwayne Johnson’s laugh-free “comedy” ‘Ballers‘, while also following through with a SteelBook reissue of ‘Game of Thrones‘ Season 5.
Meanwhile, PBS has the first season of the British period piece ‘Victoria‘.
I will happily sit this week out. The only titles of any interest to me (that I don’t already own prior copies of) are the two Vestron flicks, neither of which I feel a desperate need to own.
How about you?