This week, everybody’s buzzing about the story of a demented clown who ruins countless lives and poses a terrifying threat to the world. But this is probably not the right place to discuss the ‘Fire and Fury‘ book, so let’s look at some new Blu-rays instead.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘It‘ – Stephen King had a rollercoaster of a year with movie adaptations of his novels. ‘The Dark Tower’ flopped pretty badly, but the second screen version (following a well-remembered 1990 TV miniseries) of his evil clown opus was one of the biggest box office hits of the year. The film did this despite coming from a virtually unknown director and having no major stars of note. What it had instead was a creepy-as-hell trailer and lots of good word-of-mouth from viewers. The movie only covers the first half of the book (the good half). This will probably be a problem when Part 2 comes around, because the screenwriters will need to drastically rework King’s lame ending or be laughed off the screen (which is what happened to the second half of the old TV version). In the meantime, you can get ‘It’ Part 1 on Blu-ray and 4k, with SteelBooks for both available at Best Buy, or a Target exclusive with some postcards and different packaging. Be warned, however, that these are all only the theatrical cut. A Director’s Cut double-dip is rumored to be planned for later this year.
‘Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House‘ – Despite being based on real history, the story of an honorable FBI agent who was instrumental in toppling a corrupt U.S. President feels a little like pandering wish fulfillment when released today. Liam Neeson plays the man better known as the informant “Deep Throat.” In his review, Phil says that parts of the movie work pretty well as a political thriller but that the rest is much less effective as a soapy bio-pic.
‘The Foreigner‘ – The trailers would have you believe that 63-year-old Jackie Chan returns to full ass-kicking form in a new action thriller from the director of ‘Casino Royale’, but every review I’ve read claims that the action content in the movie is actually minimal. Even though playing dark and serious roles is far from his forte, Chan stars as a grieving father whose daughter gets blown up in a terrorist bombing. He places the blame for this on an Irish politician with ties to the IRA (Pierce Brosnan) and decides to take revenge. The trailers looked pretty bad and reviews confirmed as much.
‘Marshall‘ – After scoring a lot of acclaim for his performances as Jackie Robinson and James Brown, actor Chadwick Boseman goes for a bio-pic trifecta by playing a young Thurgood Marshall (the lawyer destined to be the first black Supreme Court Justice) during an early career-defining case. The movie comes from Reginald Hudlin, director of such hard-hitting and socially conscious fare as ‘House Party’ and ‘The Ladies Man’, which may explain the mixed reviews.
‘My Little Pony: The Movie‘ – Somehow, we live in a world where there have been two animated theatrical features called ‘My Little Pony: The Movie’. The first was a box office bomb in 1986. The new one (which is not a remake) comes riding the popularity of the ‘Friendship Is Magic’ and ‘Equestria Girls’ TV revivals, but didn’t do much better. Fans and bronies don’t seem to have cared much for it.
‘November Criminals‘ – Ansel Elgort had a breakout year in 2017 with ‘Baby Driver’, which prompted Sony to finally dump this 2015 acquisition onto VOD and a limited theatrical release. Nobody took much notice. Elgort and Chloë Moretz play teenagers who attempt to investigate their friend’s murder when the cops prove useless. Sacha Gervasi (of the widely-disparaged 2012 ‘Hitchcock’ bio-pic) directs.
‘Friend Request‘ – Alycia Debnam-Carey from ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ stars as a shallow college student who gets haunted through social media by the ghost of a dead classmate. Can she break the curse before she loses all of her Facebook friends? Why the hell would anyone care? Director Simon Verhoeven is of no relation to Paul Verhoeven, so don’t go hoping for some family talent to rub off.
In addition to ‘It‘, the only other movie to get an Ultra HD release this week is Julie Taymor’s inane 2007 jukebox musical ‘Across the Universe‘. This is the one that literalizes all the lyrics to Beatles songs, with characters named Jude (hey!) and Lucy (look, she’s in the sky with diamonds!) and scenes set in strawberry fields and so forth. Groan.
According to the man who currently holds his job, Abraham Lincoln “succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man that did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time.” Hopefully, the Criterion Collection can shed more light on this with John Ford’s 1939 ‘Young Mr. Lincoln‘.
Before losing the licensing rights, Twilight Time recently deeply discounted its 2014 Blu-ray editions of the classics ‘Inherit the Wind‘ and ‘Judgment at Nuremberg‘. I hope you took that opportunity to buy them, because the rights have now passed to Kino, which is selling essentially the same discs for a higher asking price.
I have some interest in watching ‘It’, but that’s a rental title for me. I’ll probably put ‘Young Mr. Lincoln’ on my wish list. Otherwise (or penny-wise, as the case may be), I’m saving my money this week. How about you?