In contrast to last week, which didn’t have a single new Ultra HD disc to offer, this is a very big week for 4k upgrades of beloved movie franchises. Once again, however, catalog titles are far more interesting than the day-and-date releases.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
A Madea Family Funeral – So long as his fans keep paying to see them, Tyler Perry will once again put on the drag costume to make yet another Madea movie. I may have lost count somewhere, but I think this is something like the 57th one. As with all the others, anyone who sits down to watch it should already know what to expect.
Gloria Bell – In a remake of a 2013 Chilean movie just called Gloria (with the same director at the helm), Julianne Moore stars as a middle-aged divorcee who rediscovers her joie de vivre by going clubbing. In what was clearly intended (unsuccessfully) as another Oscar bid, Moore is said to deliver an excellent performance, but that plot description really strains the limits of my possible interest.
Knife+Heart – Vanessa Paradis plays a porn producer at the center of a murder mystery in a French thriller that heavily apes (or “homages”) Brian De Palma movies from the 1970s, which were in turn already homages to Hitchcock and Italian giallo. Jason haaaaaaaaaaaaated this when he saw it at Cannes last year. Other critics were more favorable on it.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – Back in 2002, the excellent documentary Lost in La Mancha detailed Terry Gilliam’s disaster-plagued attempt to shoot a new fantasy epic then starring Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort. The production eventually collapsed and the whole movie was scrapped. Sixteen years later, Gilliam finally tried again and completed the damn thing with Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce in the leads. This should be a major event, especially for the director’s fans. Unfortunately, it arrived with little fanfare and hardly anyone noticed. Reviews were tepid, many calling it an over-long and incoherent mess.
Get ready to Batdance! Warner Bros. has remastered all four of the Tim Burton (yay!) and Joel Schumacher (ugh!) Batman films from 1989 to 1997 into 4k HDR. Strangely, a box set bundling them together is not expected until September. I think most fans will probably appreciate the opportunity to buy the Burton movies separately right off the bat. Our reviewer E. was very impressed with the clarity and definition of the first two discs, but the screencap images in his reviews look tealified to hell and back (the shot of Michael Keaton in front of the Bat-signal in Returns is downright sickening) and he confirmed to me that they are accurate to what the video looks like.
More bat-tertainment comes in the form of the Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated movie (also now available on regular Blu-ray).
Not to be outdone, Disney has upgraded the first three Toy Story movies to Ultra HD in preparation for the upcoming new sequel. Best Buy has separate SteelBooks for all three.
If you didn’t already buy them last year, either individually, as a box set, or as a trio of SteelBooks, Best Buy has repackaged The Matrix Trilogy into a new SteelBook holding all three movies. Unfortunately, it’s just as ugly as the last batch.
The only UHD release this week that’s not part of a blockbuster franchise is Barry Levinson’s 1984 baseball classic The Natural, starring Robert Redford.
Criterion’s A Film Trilogy by Ingmar Bergman box set contains Through a Glass Darkly (1961), Winter Light (1963), and The Silence (also 1963).
Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born gets born again with a so-called Special Encore Edition that adds 12 minutes of extended footage.
Flicker Alley presents restorations of two silent classics from 1928 by director Paul Leni: The Man Who Laughs and The Last Warning. The former is famous as a prominent influence on the creation of Batman villain The Joker.
New from Arrow Video are a remastered Special Edition of Robert Wise’s 1971 viral plague thriller The Andromeda Strain and the schlocky 1988 cannibal horror flick Trapped Alive.
The few Joel Schumacher fans out there not sated by his two Bat-flicks may also appreciate Kino’s release of the director’s 2003 journalism bio-pic Veronica Guerin with Cate Blanchett.
Shout! Factory breaks out a standalone edition of the 1995 Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie, previously released as part of a box set with three seasons of the TV series on DVD.
Mill Creek dives deep into the 1990s this week. First, the label expands its VHS Retro Look collection with the Jean-Claude Van Damme action-fest Double Team and the comedies Opportunity Knocks, Jury Duty, and Excess Baggage – starring Dana Carvey, Pauly Shore, and Alicia Silverstone, respectively.
Next, Mill Creek has a host of ’90s double features. Notable titles buried among them are the Damon Wayons comedy Mo’ Money (paired with Jon Lovitz’s High School High), the Julia Roberts family dramedy Stepmom (with Michelle Pfeiffer’s The Deep End of the Ocean), and writer/director David Keopp’s apocalyptic thriller The Trigger Effect. The latter, at least, deserves a little better than to be foisted onto disc with a forgotten David Caruso vehicle called Body Count.
Universal gets in on some ’90s action as well with the Winona Ryder drama How to Make an American Quilt and the Tom Selleck rom-com Mr. Baseball.
Most of Universal’s efforts this week, however, are aimed at family films from the early 2000s. The best of them are Aardman Animations’ Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Flushed Away, though I’m sure that Shark Tale, Over the Hedge, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas probably also have some fans.
A couple of streaming series make their way to physical disc, with the first seasons of Amazon’s Jack Ryan and Netflix’s Lost in Space.
Also available is the seventh season of Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros.
Amazon claims that the fifth season of The Flash is scheduled for release this week, but that seems kind of sudden considering that the season barely ended on broadcast a couple weeks ago and I don’t see the Blu-ray listed at any other retailers. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is an error. [Update: Other retailers are now saying August 27th. This must be an Amazon mistake.]
I would be more interested in the first two Batman UHDs if not for the teal issue, which is hugely disappointing to me.
I’m fine with the three Toy Story movies on Blu-ray and don’t feel a burning need for an upgrade.
I’m curious about The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, but the negative word-of-mouth may convince me to wait until it turns up on Netflix or Prime Video.
I recently introduced my kids to the Wallace & Gromit series with success, so The Curse of the Were-Rabbit seems like a no-brainer.
I’d also like to upgrade The Andromeda Strain to a better edition, but I can wait for a price drop on that.
What wonderful toys have your attention this week?