In what is proving to be a very expensive July, this week’s selection of new Blu-rays and Ultra HD discs have to compete not just with each other, but against all the other bargains being unleashed as part of Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Shazam! – The DCEU continues its rebound with a decidedly lighthearted adventure based on one of DC’s goofiest comic book properties. The premise is basically Superman meets Big as a young kid gets magically transformed into an adult superhero (Zachari Levi wearing a hilarious muscle costume) and uses his newfound powers to get revenge on bullies and become a viral video star, until learning that great power brings great responsibility, yadda yadda. The trailers looked like a lot of fun, critics were supportive, and the movie did enough business to justify sequels. Warner Bros. brings it to disc in HD, 4k, and even 3D options.
Fast Color – In a much smaller scale superhero story, Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in an indie drama about a woman in a drought-stricken near future America who goes on the run after her telekinetic abilities are discovered. Deirdre was a fan.
Ash Is Purest White – Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke (A Touch of Sin, Mountains May Depart) views the transformation of modern China through the eyes of a gangster’s girlfriend who’s sent to prison for 17 years and emerges into a world she doesn’t recognize. The film was a festival hit and highly acclaimed, but also came under scrutiny for the last-minute removal of scenes featuring scandalized Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing, presumably under orders from the Chinese government.
Teen Spirit – Actor Max Minghella (son of the late Anthony Minghella) makes his own directorial debut with a music drama about a shy teen (Elle Fanning) who enters a singing competition in the hopes of finding an escape from her dead-end town. Reviews were mixed, praising the performance and style of the film but finding the star-is-born story pretty predictable.
Thunder Road – Writer/director/star Jim Cummings expands his 2016 short film into a feature about a troubled police officer suffering a nervous breakdown after his mother’s death. The opening scene (which is essentially the original short) is said to be a masterpiece of cringe comedy. Deirdre liked the rest of it too.
Shazam! bursts onto Ultra HD with a SteelBook option at Best Buy.
Also debuting day-and-date with regular Blu-ray is a faith-based inspirational drama called Breakthrough, starring Chrissy Metz from This Is Us.
Sony upgrades Duncan Jones’ sci-fi gem Moon to 4k, while Paramount finally issues a comparable UHD edition of the Star Trek Trilogy: The Kelvin Timeline bundle that hit Blu-ray a month ago.
French playwright and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol’s 1938 comedic drama The Baker’s Wife joins his Marseilles Trilogy in the Criterion Collection.
Also new to Criterion is Alan Pakula’s 1971 mystery thriller Klute, which won Jane Fonda her first Oscar.
Twilight Time has a small slate of just three titles this month. Gary Cooper stars in the 1958 romantic drama 10 North Frederick while Gregory Peck headlines both the 1964 post-war drama Behold a Pale Horse and the 1969 spy thriller The Chairman.
The Warner Archive dances back to 1933 for the musical Footlight Parade, featuring James Cagney and Joan Blondelle, with set-pieces by Busby Berkeley.
Kino says Hello Again to the 1987 Shelley Long comedy of that title, and speaks up for Lawrence Kasdan’s overlooked Mumford from 1999.
While rumors abound that Quentin Tarantino may retire from filmmaking soon, Universal revists his Inglourious Basterds with a 10th Anniversary limited edition gift set.
Warner Bros. offers a first season box set of Titans for superhero fans who don’t subscribe to the DC Universe streaming service.
In order to remaster 1998’s acclaimed Space Race miniseries From the Earth to the Moon to high-definition, HBO had to not just rescan the film footage, but create new visual effects for all the CGI originally rendered in standard-def.
Shout! Factory explores both seasons of Gerry Anderson’s 1975-1977 sci-fi series Space: 1999. A limited edition with a snow globe is available if you order from the label’s web site.
Shazam! looks like a fun rental. Meanwhile, Klute and From the Earth to the Moon will go on my wish list. However, I don’t think I’ll be purchasing anything from this list right away.
What are your priorities for the week?