A couple of exceptions aside, this May wasn’t the most exciting month for Blu-ray releases. June attempts to make up for that right away with a huge slate of new discs that should have at least a few really good ones in there.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Zootopia‘ – Disney Animation continues its resurgence with another huge blockbuster hit that was also the studio’s best-reviewed title in years. (Yes, even more so than ‘Frozen’ or ‘Wreck-It Ralph’.) The tale of a world run by zoo animals grossed just shy of $1 billion worldwide and looks like a shoo-in for next year’s animation Oscar. Remarkably, Disney has even finally broken its “No 3D on Blu-ray” policy for this one. If you’re a collector and can hold out for another month or so, a SteelBook edition will be released in the UK at the end of July.
‘Hail, Caesar!‘ – For as much as the Coen brothers love making weird, idiosyncratic comedies loaded with in-jokes and meta references to classic movies from Old Hollywood, they should know by now that audiences don’t pay to see them. As soon as I saw the trailer for this star-studded mystery spoof, I knew it would flop. Critics were mostly supportive, but other viewers were left confounded and largely hated it. Of course, that’s pretty much the same reaction that ‘The Big Lebowski’ got back in the day. Will this prove to be a cult classic like that, or will it slip into obscurity like ‘The Hudsucker Proxy’? If I have to guess, probably the latter. (For the record, I love ‘The Hudsucker Proxy’.)
‘Anomalisa‘ – For his second directorial effort (following the underrated ‘Synecdoche, New York‘), Charlie Kaufman, the eccentric screenwriter behind ‘Being John Malkovich’ and ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, continues to defy expectations and push the bounds of cinema conventions. The film is a touching yet surreal love story between two broken people, depicted entirely in stop-motion animation. To be clear, despite the medium, this is not a children’s movie on any level. In fact, it even features a graphic sex scene. Greeted to rave reviews and an Oscar nomination, naturally the film didn’t make a dime at the box office. I expect it will have staying power as the right audiences discover it over time.
‘13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi‘ – Michael Bay gets political. This does not sound like a good idea. Nor does the improbable casting of John Krasinski from ‘The Office’ as a badass action hero. The prospect of Bay turning another real-life tragedy into rah-rah jingoistic claptrap (which he’d already done with ‘Pearl Harbor’, but at least had 60 years of distance from that one) fills me with dread. Apparently, a lot of people felt the same way, as the movie was a box office dud that literally only made 5% of the gross of his last ‘Transformers’ flick. If you’re a Bay fanatic, Best Buy has a SteelBook exclusive.
‘99 Homes‘ – I could have sworn this was released back in February. I guess it got delayed. You can read my summary in that post.
‘A War‘ – The Danish director of the acclaimed ‘A Hijacking‘ turns his attention to the conflict in Afghanistan and the toll that military service takes on other aspects of a man’s life. The picture was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar last year.
‘Every Thing Will Be Fine‘ – Apparently, the typo in the title is intentional for some reason. Although his recent documentary work still receives plenty of acclaim, Wim Wenders hasn’t made a fiction narrative feature of any significance in more than two decades. His latest underwhelming effort is a mopey drama in which James Franco accidentally hits a child with his car and feels very bad about it for two hours. Reviews and viewer word-of-mouth were both brutal.
‘Kill Your Friends‘ – Nicholas Hoult goes ‘American Psycho’ with a British accent as a successful yuppie music producer who’s also a vicious serial killer. So that it doesn’t look like too much of a rip-off, the film moves the setting up from the 1980s to the 1990s. Nobody was fooled.
‘Mr. Right‘ – Anna Kendrick’s new boyfriend (Sam Rockwell) turns out to be a hitman on the run from his former employers. Once she discovers this, she finds herself drawn into his crazy lifestyle. I enjoyed this action comedy when it was called ‘Grosse Point Blank’. I also enjoyed the bromance spin on it in ‘The Matador‘. I’m not sure that I need a third version, though I hear that Kendrick and Rockwell have good chemistry together.
‘The Other Side of the Door‘ – Sarah Wayne Callies from ‘The Walking Dead’ trades zombies for ghosts in a schlocky horror thriller about a mother desperate to bring her dead son back to her. At a certain point, there’s a door, and everybody tells her not to open it. Why do I suspect that she might not listen to them?
‘Touched with Fire‘ – It’s “The Fault in Our Brains”! Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby are mental patients who fall in love at the hospital and then get all angsty about it. You already lost interest as soon as I said “Katie Holmes” so I’m not going to bother writing any more about this.
Just released on Blu-ray five months ago, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi survival drama ‘The Martian‘ is already being reissued in a new Extended Edition. The theatrical cut was highly acclaimed, a box office hit, and nominated for a bunch of Oscars. What needed to be added to it?
The labeling of Lionsgate’s so-called “Triple Feature” of ‘Apocalypse Now‘ is highly misleading. No, nobody ever made any sequels to the movie. The Blu-ray actually contains the theatrical cut, the extended ‘Redux’ cut, and the ‘Hearts of Darkness’ documentary. In other words, it’s a straight-up repackaging of the Full Disclosure Edition from 2010.
Ever since Paramount released all of the ‘Star Trek’ original crew movies on Blu-ray in 2009, fans have clamored for the Director’s Edition versions of the first two films. We’re still going to have to wait a while for ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’, because the visual effects for its added scenes were only rendered in standard definition at the time of its DVD release. However, you can finally get the longer cut of ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan‘ now. Despite its labeling, I hesitate to call this a “Director’s Cut” when it was originally created to pad out the length of TV airings and the director has said that the theatrical version was his actual director’s cut. Nonetheless, the added footage is interesting and doesn’t harm the film any. If the absolutely hideous package art puts you off, a better-looking SteelBook copy will be released in the UK next month.
This week sees the biggest push for the Ultra HD Blu-ray format to date. Available titles include ‘The Martian – Extended Edition‘ (with Dolby Atmos this time), ‘Creed‘, ‘In the Heart of the Sea‘, ‘Independence Day‘, ‘Ghostbusters‘ (the 1984 original), ‘Ghostbusters II‘, that garbage ‘Point Break‘ remake, and the IMAX documentary ‘Journey to Space‘.
Saddle up, Pardner. Warner Brothers is in a John Wayne frame of mind. Between the main Warner label and the Warner Archive Collection, the studio offers the Westerns ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon‘ and ‘Chisum‘, the cop thriller ‘McQ‘, and the WWII drama ‘They Were Expendable‘ – all starring The Duke.
Criterion adds to its growing collection of Michelangelo Antonioni works with his 1955 drama ‘Le amiche‘.
Mill Creek gets its hands on the surreal Dr. Seuss musical ‘The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T‘.
FUNimation celebrates anime filmmaker Mamoru Hosoda by releasing his acclaimed features ‘The Boy and the Beast‘ and ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time‘. The latter comes in your choice of a standard edition or a more elaborate “Hosoda Collection” package.
HBO finally follows through with the SteelBook (plus Dolby Atmos) reissues of the third and fourth seasons of ‘Game of Thrones‘, as well as spinning up the first season of ‘Vinyl‘.
Paramount bundles all seven remastered seasons of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation‘ into a Complete Series box set.
In time to promote the new cable TV remake, Warner has restored the original 1977 landmark miniseries ‘Roots‘ in high definition.
Also available is the second season of Dan Harmon’s zany animated series ‘Rick and Morty‘.
I wish I had enough money to buy everything that interests me this week, but sadly that’s not the case.
I have next month’s UK SteelBook edition of ‘Zootopia’ on preorder right now. I definitely also need to get the Director’s Cut of ‘The Wrath of Khan’, but I’ll probably wait for the UK SteelBook of that as well.
I currently have the first two season SteelBooks for ‘Game of Thrones’ and need to complete that set.
I never got around to buying the previous edition of ‘The Martian’, so the extended cut will go on my wish list.
I’ll start with rentals on ‘Hail, Caesar!’ and ‘Anomalisa’.
Whew! That’s a lot! What’s on your list this week?