In this week’s new Blu-ray releases, 1950s greasers fight for your dollar against a bevy of undead challengers, including zombies, vampires, a Frankensteinian cyborg and even a resurrected holy man. Oh, and let’s throw in some cannibals too for good measure. If we could get all of these into one movie, imagine what a spectacle that would be!
‘RoboCop‘ – In the unending train of remakes that nobody asked for, the newly revamped, PG-13 ‘RoboCop’ was either the worst piece of crap ever or surprisingly tolerable, depending on whom you asked. Most everyone agreed that it’s unnecessary. After the box office failure of both this and the 2012 ‘Total Recall’, the take-away lesson for Hollywood is to stop messing with Paul Verhoeven classics.
‘Son of God‘ – As I understand it, this is just an edited-down version of last year’s ‘The Bible‘ miniseries reduced to feature length in order to bilk the faithful into paying movie theater prices for something they’d already watched for free on television. The ploy apparently worked, and the condensed version pulled in some decent coin, all of which will be used to line the pockets of Capitalist fat-cat Mark Burnett. Jesus would be so proud. As you may recall, this is the painstakingly historically accurate adaptation of the text, which features a white Jesus, ninjas, and a Satan who looks exactly like President Obama.
‘Lone Survivor‘ – As the producer of quality TV shows like ‘Friday Night Lights’, Peter Berg has had a pretty interesting career. As a feature film director, on the other hand, he’s churned out a lot of garbage like ‘Hancock’ and ‘Battleship’. With this true-story military adventure tale, Berg made a bid for Oscar glory, only to get ignored by the Academy. While some critics praised the film’s grittiness, others labeled it jingoistic claptrap.
Although MGM previously released Sergio Leone’s ‘Man with No Name Trilogy‘ on Blu-ray, the discs suffered some quality issues, especially the notoriously poor video transfer for ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. With the new reissue, the studio attempts to rectify that with a new 4k remaster of that particular film. However, be aware that ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’ have not been remastered and are the same transfers used before. Fortunately, those two were nowhere near as bad as ‘The Ugly’ and are at least watchable. I wish MGM had made the extra effort to provide the original, tighter and more focused theatrical cut of the last film rather than the bloated extended version, but I’ll take an upgrade however I can get one. I hope it doesn’t take long for the three movies to be broken out to separate releases so that I don’t have to rebuy the other two.
Speaking of movies no longer available in their original versions, Francis Ford Coppola re-edited his 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s ‘The Outsiders‘ in 2005 to create a longer alternate cut called ‘The Complete Novel’, purportedly to make the film more faithful to the book. Unlike his revision of ‘Apocalypse Now’, the original theatrical cut has since been suppressed. That’s a shame, as I’d prefer to see both. In any case, the movie featured a bevy of young talent just on the cusp of stardom, including Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane and more.
I have long been a defender of Oliver Stone’s misunderstood historical epic ‘Alexander‘. It’s a flawed film, but a fascinating one. Even I have to admit, however, that Stone’s attempts to fix the movie with a “Director’s Cut” followed by a (not-so-final) “Final Cut” only served to compound its problems and actually make it worse. Given great latitude by Warner Bros., Stone gives it one more shot with a so-called “Ultimate Cut.” Is this really his final word on the subject? I have no idea, but I’ll be among the few willing to give him the benefit of the doubt one more time.
In addition to that, Warner is also taking it on faith that there are still enough Jerry Lewis fans in the world to justify an oversized Ultimate Collector’s Edition box set of his goofy comedy… I hesitate to use the word “classic,” but fans might… ‘The Nutty Professor‘. Lewis has always been one of those comedians who you either “get” or you don’t, and sadly I just really don’t. At all.
In a similar but more modern vein is Ben Stiller’s parody of the inanities of the modeling world, ‘Zoolander‘. As I recall, the comedy gave me one truly hearty laugh with the surreally hilarious “Gasoline Fight” sequence. The rest of it, though… Eh, there are already so many genuinely stupid movies in the world that I don’t see the point of trying so hard to pretend to be stupid.
The recent death of director Antonia Bird may have prompted Scream Factory to license her cult cannibal thriller ‘Ravenous‘ from Fox. Unfortunately, early word is that the master Fox provided is dreadful and looks like a standard-def upconvert. It seems doubtful that a movie with this limited a following will receive a better reissue in the future, but stranger things have happened.
In preparation for the impending final season, HBO offers the sixth season of ‘True Blood‘. I still like the show and will see it through to the end, but it lost its luster a while back and I can’t bring myself to collect past seasons.
Also on the TV docket are the third season of ‘Falling Skies‘, plus reissues of ‘Breaking Bad‘ (complete series) and ‘The Walking Dead‘ (Seasons 1-3) in more compact packaging.
Due to my own personal lack of interest, I neglected to highlight some other marginal titles like ‘The Birdcage’, ‘The Break-Up’ or ‘You, Me and Dupree’. I suppose even those have their fans.
What grabs your attention this week?