On a week when the biggest Blu-ray releases are a horror sequel, yet another Liam Neeson revenge thriller, and a handful of 4k upgrades for old movies, I feel like we’ve been through all this before. Mixed in with these might be some other titles of interest.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Happy Death Day 2U – Jessica Rothe broke free from her time loop at the end 2017’s Groundhog Day ripoff Happy Death Day, only to get stuck in another one for the cleverly titled sequel, which supposedly tries to expand the concept and spin it in weird new directions. I have some friends who insist that this is a great little movie and better than the first one, but the overall reaction was mixed and it only grossed about half as much at the box office. Deirdre didn’t think too much of it.
Cold Pursuit – Based on a Norwegian film called In Order of Disappearance and remade by the same director, Liam Neeson plays a snowplow driver hell bent on hunting down and killing every member of the drug gang that killed his son. To differentiate it from the 70 or so other revenge thrillers Neeson has made in recent years, the movie is more overtly a dark comedy that mixes laughs with its old man ass-kicking. Critics were amused, but the studio’s marketing left audiences cold and confused. Neeson shoving his foot in his mouth and making comments that were interpreted (rightly or wrongly) as racist during a promotional interview certainly didn’t help matters.
Fighting with My Family – Gangly comedian Stephen Merchant seems a pretty unlikely person to join the WWE. Nevertheless, he somehow found himself directing a comedy about a family of small-time pro wrestlers with big dreams of making their way to the glory of Wrestlemania. The marketing campaign leaned heavily on the presence of Dwayne Johnson playing himself as a mentor figure. Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden star, with other roles for Lena Headey, Nick Frost, and Vince Vaughn. Reviews were strong, unexpectedly so, but business was light.
Apollo 11 – Five decades after the fact, you’d think that every aspect of mankind’s first trip to the moon must have been examined in exhausting detail. To prove that wrong, along comes a new documentary presenting never-before-released footage, some of it shot in stunning 65mm, of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, and the many members of NASA Ground Control readying the mission. I’ve heard nothing but ecstatic praise for the film and regret that I didn’t get a chance to see it on an IMAX screen. It seems a missed opportunity that Universal isn’t offering a 4k edition.
Birds of Passage – Jason was a big fan of this Colombian crime epic about an indigenous family’s rise through the 1970s drug trafficking trade. A lot of other critics compared it favorably to the likes of The Godfather and The Sopranos.
Cold Pursuit is the only day-and-date title of the week to get a release on Ultra HD.
If you (meaning Universal) build it (a 4k edition of Field of Dreams), will they (fans of the movie) come out to buy it? Would putting it in a SteelBook help?
Piggybacking off promotion for the kaiju smackdown King of the Monsters due in theaters later this month, Sony upgrades Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla to 4k, and Universal does the same for Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong. Best Buy has SteelBooks for both.
Criterion must be in a playful mood this week. New to the collection are Michael Haneke’s home invasion thriller Funny Games (the 1997 German original) and David Mamet’s 1987 con artist caper House of Games.
Now set free from the Warner Archive are the 1975 Neil Simon comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue starring Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft, as well as a reissue of the 1954 version of A Star Is Born with Judy Garland.
[Update: It turns out that Warner Archive is also reissuing the 1976 A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand. Amazon is not carrying that disc for some reason. I’ve added it to our site’s Blu-ray release list.]
The Cohen Film Archive’s Buster Keaton Collection: Volume 1 promises new 4k restorations of the silent comedian’s masterworks The General and Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Universal has a 30th anniversary reissue of Field of Dreams on regular Blu-ray to coincide with the Ultra HD copy.
The artwork on the new SteelBook repackage of Pitch Black doesn’t look too great to me, but it’s still an improvement over the hideous comic book SteelBook from 2013. Something tells me that this movie will be a good candidate for a 4k upgrade sooner or later, though.
GKIDS puts Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke into an oddly-sized box for a Collector’s Edition reissue.
Reportedly, Irvin Kershner got tapped to direct The Empire Strikes Back after impressing George Lucas with a rough cut of the 1978 horror thriller Eyes of Laura Mars, starring Faye Dunaway and Tommy Lee Jones. Mill Creek has the Blu-ray rights.
Meanwhile, the Arrow Academy branch ticks another film noir classic off the checklist with The Big Clock, starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton.
The fourth and fifth seasons of the Starz network’s Power arrive simultaneously but separately, while Paramount bundles the first five seasons of South Park into a new box.
Apollo 11 and House of Games both look like must-haves to me. Because I’d never bought previous copies, A Star Is Born and the Buster Keaton Collection will also go on my wish list, as will The Big Clock.
What titles are you happy to see come to Blu-ray this week?