Virtually every iconic movie from the 1980s get released on Blu-ray and Ultra HD this week, all conveniently condensed into a single 140-minute package and given a glossy CGI sheen. Also available for good measure: one of the cheesiest superhero movies ever made.
Ready Player One – Ernie Cline’s bestselling listicle of favorite ’80s pop culture references gets turned into a $175 million CGI spectacle by no less than Steven Spielberg, who wrangled the usage rights to seemingly hundreds of famous movies, video games, and other characters and images. Reportedly, he also made a number of changes to the storyline that some viewers found a big improvement but left other fans of the book incensed. (Cline himself was allegedly co-writer of the script, with actual professional screenwriter Zak Penn.) Whether any of this makes for a good movie was a matter of some debate earlier this year. I couldn’t get past the opening chapters of the book, and the film’s trailers turned me off as soon as it became clear that most of the story gets taken over by silly-looking mo-cap characters. Still, a number of people claim it’s fun. Disc options include a Best Buy SteelBook, 3D, or UHD.
Happy End – Provocateur Michael Haneke delivers a dysfunctional family drama that may or may not be a quasi-sequel to his Oscar-winning misery-fest Amour. (Apparently, it’s unclear.) The movie supposedly slants more toward dark comedy and is said to play like a greatest-hits compilation of Haneke’s themes and preoccupations. For all that, reviews were largely mixed.
The Warner Archive unleashes the 1984 Supergirl movie starring Helen Slater as the Girl of Steel. Superman completists and fans of the current Supergirl TV series (in which Slater has an occasional recurring role) may be curious, but be warned, even compared to the last couple of Christopher Reeve Superman sequels, the spinoff is really quite bad.
On the other end of the cinematic spectrum, the Criterion Collection investigates A Matter of Life and Death with the Archers (co-directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger). The 1946 supernatural drama starring David Niven is often called one of the greatest British films ever made.
Arrow Video rediscovers The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, director Vincent Ward’s 1988 cult film about a group of 14th Century villagers who dig a tunnel to escape the Black Plague and somehow wind up coming out into the modern world 600 years later.
Scream Factory offers John Carpenter fans the Blu-ray debut of his 1992 Memoirs of an Invisible Man or a Collector’s Edition reissue of the 1994 In the Mouth of Madness.
The latest additions to Lionsgate’s Vestron Collector’s Series delve into H.P. Lovecraft territory with director Stuart Gordon’s 2001 adaptation of the short story Dagon and Brian Yuzna’s 2003 Beyond Re-Animator (which is of course a sequel to Gordon’s 1985 Re-Animator).
The most notable television release this week is a complete series collection of the animated Gravity Falls.
I suppose I’m curious enough to rent Ready Player One, though my expectations for it are pretty low.
I’ve long meant to check out The Navigator but somehow never got around to it. Both that and A Matter of Life and Death will go on my wish list.
Are you ready to buy anything this week?