Blu-ray Highlights: Week of July 5th, 2015 – I Think I Got Something to Say to You

Everybody still got all your fingers this morning? I hope that our readers all observed proper fireworks safety when celebrating the Fourth of July over the weekend. With a new month underway, the volume of new Blu-ray releases picks up a tick. Are any actually worth buying? Let’s see what we can find.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (7/7/15)?

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New Releases

Maggie‘ – It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger versus zombies! Well, almost. Don’t go expecting a big action epic here. In a surprisingly low-key drama, the former Governator agonizes as he watches his daughter (Abigail Breslin) slowly turn into a zombie. By most accounts, Schwarzenegger actually delivers a really strong performance. However, the rest of the film around him is said to be disappointingly mediocre.

Slow West‘ – Directed by musician John Maclean of the Scottish indie rock group The Beta Band, this deliberately-paced, contemplative Western apparently lives up to its title. Hey, you can’t say the guy didn’t warn you. Michael Fassbender stars as an Irish outlaw who agrees to help a young immigrant (Kodi Smit-McPhee) search for his lost love across the American West. The film built some notable buzz on the festival circuit and sounds pretty promising.

Woman in Gold‘ – Ryan Reynolds plays a lawyer… OK, you’ve already lost me there. I kind of like Reynolds, but I don’t see him as a lawyer, certainly not in an allegedly serious drama. Anyway, he’s a lawyer retained by Holocaust survivor Helen Mirren to sue the Austrian government over the ownership of a painting that the Nazis stole from her family. Important history and life lessons get learned. Heart strings get pulled. Awards get pandered for.

Kill Me Three Times‘ – Simon Pegg as a hitman? That sounds funny, right? Yet the movie is labeled as an “action/thriller” and not as a comedy? Huh. Did this even get a threatrical release? Oh, it played in a grand total of 16 theaters and debuted on VOD at the same time. That’s probably not a good sign. Nor are the very low IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes scores (a ghastly 9% on the latter).

5 Flights Up‘ – Feel-good pablum about an elderly couple (Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton) who decide to sell their New York City apartment because they’re too feeble to walk up the stairs anymore. You think they’ll come to important realizations about their lives in the process? Somehow, I bet they will. More importantly, how much will your mother-in-law love this movie?

Merchants of Doubt‘ – The documentarian behind ‘Food, Inc.’ turns his lens toward the industry of bullshit “experts authorities” who rent themselves out as pundits to yell at each other about controversial topics (such as tobacco and climate change) on cable news. This film may be good, but I have a feeling that watching it will make me very upset.

Catalog Titles

Ernest Hemingway’s short story ‘The Killers‘, a hard-boiled mystery about contract killers, was adapted to film twice – first by Robert Siodmak in 1946 (starring Burt Lancaster) and later remade by Don Siegel in 1964 (starring Lee Marvin). The Criterion Collection bundles both versions into a double-feature so you can compare and contrast the very different ways each filmmaker handled the material.

After an inauspicious debut making theatrical sex comedies in the 1970s, director Martin Campbell spent most of the 1980s building a real name for himself in British television, most notably the acclaimed ‘Edge of Darkness’ miniseries. In 1988, he jumped back to features with the Kevin Bacon/Gary Oldman suspense thriller ‘Criminal Law‘. It was not well received. I haven’t seen the movie since VHS, but I recall it having a convoluted plot that didn’t hold up to scrutiny. Somehow, the movie’s failure didn’t stop Campbell from landing the gig of revitalizing the James Bond franchise with ‘GoldenEye’ a few years later.

Tarsem Singh’s trippy, sci-fi-tinged thriller ‘The Cell‘ has a pretty dopey plot as well (perhaps even more so), but dazzling visuals that should hopefully make nice eye candy in high definition. It stars Jennifer Lopez before she got too annoying, but nobody saw the movie for her.

Heath Ledger fans, be warned. Olive’s release of ‘Ned Kelly‘ is the 1970 version starring Mick Jagger, not Ledger’s 2003 remake. Both films tell the true story of a legendary Australian outlaw.

GUILTY PLEASURE ALERT! Scream Factory rocks ’em and socks ’em with the cheeseball ‘Robot Jox‘. Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe embarrass themselves with the idiotic cyber thriller ‘Virtuosity‘. Nicolas Cage (in his first truly blatant “I’ll do anything for a paycheck” role) plays Top Gun with Army helicopters in ‘Fire Birds‘.

Also, Sony is crapping the lame David Spade comedy ‘Joe Dirt‘ onto Blu-ray, but nobody needs that.

Television

Those of you who don’t subscribe to Netflix will be glad to finally catch up with the third season of ‘House of Cards‘.

Finally, PBS offers the first season of BBC’s ‘Poldark‘, based on a famous series of historical novels set during the American Revolutionary War. (The books had also previously been adapted to television in the 1970s.)

My $.02

My only sure-buy for the week is Criterion’s double feature of ‘The Killers’, though I think that ‘Slow West’ and ‘Maggie’ deserve rentals.

Is anything on your docket this week?

8 comments

  1. I’ll probably pick up Maggie and maybe Kill Me Three Times. I think Best Buy is exclusively selling The Town that Dreaded Sundown remake for 9.99 until September. It’s on Netflix and I thought it was pretty good for a modern slasher. The Cell might be cool for a bargain bin price, along with Virtuosity ( I am kind of embarrased to admit that). I can’t believe I’ve never seen Robot Jox, and I even remember when it was released theatrically. I will be looking into that as well. I’ve heard good things about Slow West and like the two leads so I’ll probably rent.

  2. C.C. 95

    Lots of guitly pleasures this week! Although Criminal Law is not a very good picture- Gary Oldman (as usual) nails it. You would never had known he was British!
    Virtuosity is pretty awful. What ever happened to Brett Leonard and his ‘Gate to the Mind’s Eye’-style Cyber-nonsense?!
    I have a very special place in my heart for Firebirds. Tommy Lee Jones is so great. His patter from this movie is classic, when he tells Cage he expects hime to be ” a First-class, all American hero, with his heart and brain wired together, cooking full-tilt boogie for freedom and justice!”
    Hoo-ra!!!

  3. Chris B

    I’m saving my cash this week for the big sale which (if I’m not mistaken) kicks off tommorow. I’m definitely going to rent Slow West though, looks pretty great and as a fan if the genre I’ll take what I can get. I rember watching Robot Jox when I was 8 years old and loving it, it’ll go on my wishlist. I have the DVD of Virtuosity and don’t feel the need to upgrade, it’s a pretty bad movie but still kind of fun.

  4. Lord Bowler

    I’m looking to get some classic movies this week.

    First, Robot Jox is an excellent Robot fighting movie and is still a great film that still stands up, mostly, today.

    Second, Virtuosity. A corny B-Movie that I really enjoyed.

    And, lastly Fire Birds, which is Top Gun for Attack Helicopters! It was a great 80s action movie!

  5. Very big week but is a very small week. What is must buy this week? We already picked up Monster High: Scaris to replace a foreign dvd from 2 years ago. At least the disc has English on it. Maggie is at the top of the list, got to get Ahold!
    Ok, so as usual, my obligatory wish list, which simply means it’s noted that it came out and if I see a deal on it or am overcome by a weak impulse: Slow West (forgot to vote,) Absolution, Alien Outpost, Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, The Cell, Elimination Game, Fire Birds, Joe Dirt, The Pact 2, One Week Friends, Virtuosity. Dvd this week-Yu Gi Oh GX Season #2

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