I don’t believe that this is as good as the Blu-ray release schedule gets. In fact, it’s a pretty dull week on the whole. More exciting things will come eventually. However, a few titles of note are still worth taking a look at today.
Did you like Guy Ritchie’s take on ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ with Robert Downey, Jr. a couple years ago? The sequel ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows‘ is basically more of the same. If you liked the first film (and honestly, I thought it was reasonably entertaining), you’ll probably find this one worth at least a rent. The plotting this time is a little needlessly convoluted and the first half is kind of dull, but it has a pretty fantastic action sequence in the second half. Jared Harris from ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Fringe’ makes a great Moriarty, and the movie has the inspired casting of Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s eccentric brother Mycroft. On the other hand, if you’re one of those who felt that Ritchie’s updating of this classic literary character into an action hero was stupid and awful (which a lot of people did, frankly), you probably won’t find this one any improvement.
Did you like the 2007 comic book adaptation of ‘Ghost Rider‘ with Nicolas Cage? Of course not. Nobody did. It sucked. Yet someone at the studio still thought it worth investing in a sequel that no one was clamoring for. Thus we have ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance‘, which was promoted almost solely on the basis of bringing on board the ‘Crank‘ directorial team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor to spice things up. By most accounts, the directors’ hands were tied and they failed at their mission. The movie is now available on Blu-ray in both 2D and post-converted 3D options.
Tyler Perry steps out of drag for a change and tries to present himself as a romantic leading man in the writer/director/producer/star’s latest film, ‘Good Deeds‘. Perry’s character is named Wesley Deeds… and he’s a good guy. Do you get it? (It’s awfully subtle, but I think you’ll figure it out.) Perry’s movies are essentially critic-proof. He has an audience, and that audience already knows whether they want to see his movies or not. Beyond that, I have nothing to add.
After all these years, Greg Kinnear is still out there trying to be a leading man. Good for him, I guess. I have no problem with the actor. I like him in supporting roles, but he has yet to convince anyone that he can headline a movie. His latest indie drama (as they mostly tend to be) is the con-man thriller ‘Thin Ice‘ (formerly known as ‘The Convincer’), which has been described as a poor man’s ‘Fargo’. Rental, maybe?
Back in the ’90s, Polish director Agnieszka Holland made a stir on the international film scene with the compelling historical drama ‘Europa Europa’, which was about a Jewish boy in Nazi Germany who tried to conceal his identity by joining the Hitler Youth. Holland later came to Hollywood and made a visually-striking adaptation of ‘The Secret Garden’. Since then, she’s mostly been toiling away on television. (She’s recently done episodes of ‘Treme’ and ‘The Killing’.) Last year, the director returned to the WWII milieu with ‘In Darkness‘, about Jewish refugees who had to hide in the sewers of Nazi-occupied Poland. The film was well-received on the festival circuit and even earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year.
Jack Nicholson scored his third Oscar for James L. Brooks’ 1997 drama ‘As Good as It Gets‘. Nicholson is often accused of only being able to play his public persona on screen, but I think this was a really strong performance that legitimately deserved the award. The film is owned by Sony, but has been licensed out to indie distributor Twilight Time for a 3,000-copy limited edition Blu-ray. Given that this is a pretty famous movie, this move has stirred some controversy among fans (who don’t want to pay Twilight Time’s higher prices) and has many worried about the future of catalog titles on the format.
Twilight Time also has the 1957 John Steinbeck adaptation ‘The Wayward Bus‘, starring Joan Collins and Jayne Mansfield, on tap this week.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate gives us a classic of a different sort with the Bill Murray summer camp comedy ‘Meatballs‘.
The Criterion Collection has a very busy week with titles ranging from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Gold Rush‘ to Hal Ashby’s unconventional romance ‘Harold and Maude‘ to Danny Boyle’s dark comedy directorial debut ‘Shallow Grave‘. All of these are worth a purchase.
Back in the early seasons, I was a big fan of ‘Entourage‘, especially during its hilarious ‘Aquaman’ arc during Seasons 2 and 3. Over time, however, the show started treading water and fell into a malaise of mediocrity. By the eighth and final season, I couldn’t bring myself to care anymore and stopped recording the HBO broadcasts. I doubt that I’ll bother to catch up with it on Blu-ray, but fans who stuck it out to the end may want to complete the collection.
Also from HBO is the financial crisis telefilm ‘Too Big to Fail‘, which features a huge cast including James Woods, William Hurt and Paul Giamatti. Although pretty acclaimed (it was nominated for a bunch of Emmys and Golden Globes), I generally find that I don’t care for HBO’s TV movies as much as I like the network’s regular series. I skipped this on broadcast and don’t have a compelling desire to buy the Blu-ray.
Vote in our poll above and tell us in the Comments about which titles interest you this week.