One of the biggest movies of the year hits home video this week. It also happens to be one of the worst reviewed and most widely disliked. Will that stop it from racking up huge sales on Blu-ray and DVD? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ – Featuring DC Comics’ two most iconic and popular superheroes finally teaming up (or fighting each other, as the case may be) on the big screen, Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ follow-up should have been a world-beater. Perhaps a decade ago, when the project was teased as an in-joke in ‘I Am Legend’ and before the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off in earnest, it might have been. Unfortunately, the movie failed to break the magic $1 billion barrier at the box office, was soundly trounced by Marvel’s latest ‘Captain America’ sequel, and was considered a disappointment by the studio. Critical reviews and audience word-of-mouth were also pretty brutal. Nonetheless, an $868 million haul would be a staggering achievement for just about any other movie. Also, the much-criticized casting of Ben Affleck as Batman turned out to be the one thing about the movie that pretty much everyone actually liked about it.
The ‘BvS’ Blu-ray contains both the theatrical cut and a new extended cut that most people seem to agree is an improvement. Whether it’s enough of an improvement to make the haters turn around in their opinions remains to be seen. The movie’s also available in UHD, in 3D, or a host of retailer exclusive packages, including both a SteelBook (Best Buy) and a Digibook (Target).
‘O.J.: Made in America‘ – I’m still at a loss to understand why the world got big-time nostalgic to relive the O.J. Simpson murder trial this year. FX’s ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’ series was a ratings hit, and this 7 ½-hour documentary produced as part of ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ was one of the most acclaimed films of the year, TV or otherwise. The comprehensive look at the sports legend and alleged murderer goes beyond the sensationalism of the trial to examine his entire life story through the dual filters of race and celebrity.
‘Demolition‘ – Jake Gyllenhaal gets depressed after his wife dies and takes up a new hobby demolishing stuff. Smashing things to pieces is meant to be a metaphor for his life falling apart, or something. The mopey drama from director Jean-Marc Vallée was nowhere near as well received as his ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ or even ‘Wild’.
‘Miles Ahead‘ – Don Cheadle struggled for years to make his directorial debut with a bio-pic about jazz legend Miles Davis. Unfortunately, by the time it finally came out, the film was lost in the shuffle of a dozen other musician bio-pics released at the same time. Reviews were all over the place. Although most praised Cheadle’s performance and his attempt to break free from the restrictions of a traditional bio-pic formula, many were underwhelmed with the overall result.
‘Elvis & Nixon‘ – Michael Shannon is a fine character actor, but I have a hard time seeing him as Elvis, even the fat and drug-addled later-years Elvis. At first glance, Kevin Spacey as Nixon seems like inspired casting, but the more I think about it the less I like that either. The movie, about the unlikely real-life meeting between these two cultural icons, is a comedy, which I suppose means we can let issues of realism slide. But is there really enough story behind this event to justify a feature length film?
‘The Perfect Match‘ – BET host Terrence J and hip hop artist Cassie star in a rom-com about a pair of friends-with-benefits who want more from their no-strings-attached relationship. (Did you see the way I name-checked other famous rom-coms there? That’s all I got on this one.)
‘Outatime: Saving the DeLorean Time Machine‘ – ‘Back to the Future’ producer Bob Gale and some obsessed fans work to restore the iconic movie car. This documentary sounds like it’d be best suited as a bonus feature in an inevitable ‘BTTF’ reissue.
We get a whole lot of Zack Snyder in 4k this week. Note that the UHD release of ‘Batman v. Superman‘ contains only the extended cut in Ultra High-Def while the theatrical cut (and only the theatrical cut) is on a separate 1080p Blu-ray in the case. In addition to that, the director’s earlier ‘Man of Steel‘ and ‘Watchmen‘ also get upgraded to the 4k format.
Looking for some new Criterion titles to buy during the Barnes & Noble sale? This week, the Collection offers ‘A Touch of Zen‘, the 1971 wuxia epic that was highly influential on later genre entries including ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ and ‘House of Flying Daggers’.
On a completely different tangent, Criterion’s other titles this week belong to French master Alain Resnais. Coming from the director of ‘Hiroshima mon amour‘ and ‘Last Year at Marienbad‘, it’s safe to say that both ‘Muriel, or The Time of Return‘ and the Holocaust documentary ‘Night and Fog‘ are challenging yet rewarding works of cinema art.
The Warner Archive finally completes its Bogie and Bacall collection with Howard Hawks’ adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘To Have and Have Not‘.
Arrow Video puts up a defense for ‘Crimes of Passion‘, director Ken Russell’s campy 1984 erotic thriller starring Kathleen Turner as a fashion designer by day / hooker by night.
BRAAAAAAAAINS!!! I tend to doubt that zombies and werewolves would get along with each other if either was real, but Scream Factory serves them up together with 1985’s ‘The Return of the Living Dead‘ and 1996’s ‘Bad Moon‘.
Meanwhile, Shout! Factory lets loose Sylvester Stallone’s 1981 action flick ‘Nighthawks‘. [Looks like this one has been delayed until October, sorry.]
Mill Creek falls hard for schlockmeister William Castle by pairing up double features of his ‘Homicidal‘ with ‘Mr. Sardonicus‘, or ‘13 Ghosts‘ with ‘13 Frightened Girls!‘. The only of these I’ve personally seen is the ‘Psycho’ knockoff ‘Homicidal’ – the gimmick behind which is that the movie stops for a “Fright Break” time-out before the climax to give viewers time to steel themselves for the shocking twist ending to come. It’s not what you would classify as a “good” movie, but Castle never had any pretentions of making good movies, just fun ones.
The TV scene is pretty busy this week. Among the newly available box sets are the fourth season of ‘Orphan Black‘, the third season of ‘The 100‘, the first season of Syfy’s ‘The Magicians‘, and a first collection for the popular anime ‘Bleach‘. Also, Warner finishes off ‘Person of Interest‘ with a Complete Series box set or a standalone release for the final season.
I may wind up regretting it, but I plan to blind-buy ‘Batman v. Superman’, mostly because I’m a sucker for a good SteelBook and my completist tendencies sometimes overwhelm my better sense.
I feel a lot more confident about ‘To Have and Have Not’, ‘Night and Fog’, ‘A Touch of Zen’ and ‘The Return of the Living Dead’, all of which will go on my wish list.
Will you enjoy some Bat Soup this week, or will you spend your money elsewhere?