New Blu-rays this week close one franchise and reopen another. More importantly, a cult rock-and-roll musical finally gets its proper due.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter‘ – I’m a sucker for the ‘Resident Evil’ movies. I know they’re dumb, but I always have fun with them. Franchise mastermind Paul W.S. Anderson and his wife, star Milla Jovovich, are back for a sixth and allegedly final bout of zombie-killing mayhem. I didn’t get to see this in theaters, but it seems that even longtime fans were disappointed with the conclusion. I still plan to buy it on disc anyway. To that end, Sony offers it on Blu-ray or Ultra HD, but if you want it in 3D (and the last couple of these movies had great 3D), you’ll have to import from overseas. Also disappointing is that only the UHD gets Dolby Atmos audio, even though there’s no technical reason it couldn’t be included on Blu-ray too.
‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage‘ – Riding high from the ongoing success of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise, Vin Diesel reprises a much less iconic role as the extreme sports fanatic/secret agent that he briefly played 15 years ago in ‘xXx’. Diesel sat out the first sequel, much to the annoyance of the producers, who rudely murdered his character off-screen in a humiliating fashion. Luckily, even death can’t keep a guy this extreeeeeme down, and he’s back for more goofy stunts and James-Bond-on-‘roids spy hijinks. American audiences had basically no interest in seeing this character again, but the movie did well enough internationally that Xander Cage may yet return again. (Am I the only one who finds the lack of a “The” in the title hilarious? It sounds like it was translated from English to Chinese and back again… which, in fact, is probably exactly what happened.) With this entry, franchise rights for ‘xXx’ have shifted from Sony to Paramount. The new studio is making a 3D edition available domestically (see correction at the bottom of the poll), and all the Blu-rays have Atmos.
‘The Space Between Us‘ – The title is a pun, get it? ‘Cuz it’s about emotional distance and also about outer space. So clever, huh? In the YA sci-fi romance, a boy born to astronaut colonists on Mars (Asa Butterfield) falls in love with an Earth girl (Britt Robertson) over Skype and flies billions of miles to be with her, only to learn that his poor Martian body isn’t equipped for our Earth conditions. Fortunately, he has enough time to go on a road trip with her to see the world before his heart explodes or something. The premise is ludicrous on multiple levels, and I have no idea how Gary Oldman got roped into playing a NASA scientist exposition machine. The movie made a tiny pittance at the box office, but its modest $30 million budget means that it didn’t crash and burn quite as spectacularly as director Peter Chelsom’s other notorious flop, 2001’s ‘Town & Country’. Few movies have.
Sony and Paramount give us ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter‘ and ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage‘ in 4k. Best Buy carries exclusive SteelBook copies of both.
Prepping us for the impending Tom Cruise reboot, Universal offers a so-called Ultimate Trilogy of Brendan Fraser’s three movies in ‘The Mummy‘ cycle.
BBC has a double-feature of the IMAX nature documentaries ‘Wild Africa‘ and ‘Tiny Giants‘, though Amazon doesn’t appear to sell it directly for some reason (probably a result of the retailer’s ongoing dispute with BBC parent company Warner Bros.). You may have better luck ordering it from Best Buy, Target, or other stores.
After the huge success of ’48 Hrs.’, macho action movie director Walter Hill made the perplexing decision that his next project would be a rock musical inspired by 1950s Westerns and B-movies with a cast of (at the time) mostly unknown young actors including Diane Lane and Willem Dafoe. His hyper-stylized ‘Streets of Fire‘ was a box office bomb in 1984, but went on to find a cult audience on video. Unfortunately, Universal never thought much of the movie. The studio last released it on the short-lived HD DVD format and never bothered to port it to Blu-ray. Shout! Factory has now come to the rescue by licensing the title and giving it a lovely new remaster that finally does right by its gorgeous photography. Fans of the film should scoop this right up.
Also remastered by Shout! Factory are the Bruce Lee kung-fu classics ‘Game of Death‘ (the one with the famous yellow jumpsuit) and ‘Return of the Dragon‘.
Meanwhile, the Scream Factory label unleashes the 1971 killer-rat horror picture ‘Willard‘ and its sequel ‘Ben‘. A young singer by the name of Michael Jackson did the theme song for the latter (which is, sadly, just about the only thing notable about the movie).
“I’m crazy for you / Touch me once and you’ll know it’s true…” Madonna did the theme song for (and made her first acting appearance in) the 1988 Matthew Modine high school wrestling drama ‘Vision Quest‘. The Warner Archive digs this one up.
On a classier note, Criterion adds more Yasujirô Ozu to its Blu-ray lineup with the Japanese master’s ‘Good Morning‘. The 1959 film is about a pair of young boys who stage a “silence strike” to pressure their parents into buying a television.
In addition to putting the three Brendan Fraser movies on UHD, Universal also has a Complete Legacy Collection box set of the classic Boris Karloff version of ‘The Mummy‘ and its five Karloff-less follow-ups (one of which is ‘Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy’). For good measure (though no particular tie-in with a new Tom Cruise movie), the studio has done the same with six classic ‘Dracula‘ films.
The latest limited editions from Twilight Time include the 1953 Robert Ryan B-movie thriller ‘Inferno‘ (restored in 3D), the 1965 yakuza drama ‘Brutal Tales of Chivalry‘, the 1973 Charles Bronson revenge thriller ‘The Stone Killer‘, the 1978 Vietnam War drama ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain‘ (with Nick Nolte and Tuesday Weld), the 1991 coming-of-age story ‘The Man in the Moon‘ (featuring the acting debut of a 15-year-old Reese Witherspoon), and the 1992 romantic caper ‘Year of the Comet‘ (scripted by William Goldman).
I have ‘Streets of Fire’ in hand for review and am very impressed with the disc. I’ve pre-ordered the ‘Resident Evil’ SteelBook for completist purposes and may even consider importing the 3D copy as well. (I’m sure I’ll regret that, but I know it will gnaw at me if I don’t get it.) ‘Good Morning’ will go on my wish list for a future Criterion sale.
What’s on your plate this week?
I remember seeing parts of “Streets of Fire” on A&E back in the early 1990’s when I was a kid and I THINK I liked it. If the movie is available at a decent price here in Canada I may pick it up in the next few months, as it’d probably be pretty fun to revisit.
There’s a guy in my movie FB group that’s OBSESSED wirh Yasujiro Ozu and is always singing his praises. I’ve watched a few of his films lately and can appreciate them but am not sure I’ve developed a taste for them yet. I would like to see Good Morning though as I have yet to see a single Ozu in color. I may pick it up in July.
It will be a while before they go on sale, but I’ll eventually grab “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Year of the Comet”. “Brutal Tales of Chivalry” looks interesting as well, if it ever hits the 14.95 bracket over at Screen Archives I’ll bite
I’m interested in Streets of Fire but never seen it, I’m remember the trailers for the movie and love the song. There should be a 3d release for xXx which is the only reason I’d get this. It is a Paramount title and I believe there are retailer exclusives. I’m worried Best Buy won’t have it. I’m picking up the two Bruce Lee movies as well. The Mummy and Dracula Legacy collections are also on my list. Next time I order from Twilight Time, I intend on getting Inferno along with The Mad Magician. The Payback time triple feature has Blind Fury and Silent Rage (one of my favorite Chuck Norris). Does anyone know if the Resident Evil 3d import is region free? If so, I’ll definitely get it.
Sony Blu-rays are usually region-free.
I had pre-ordered ‘Streets of Fire’. I love that movie and am looking forward to watching it with some mates who have never seen it before.
‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ will get a rent from me. I missed it in cinemas.
‘The Stone Killer’ will go on my wish list for next time I place an order with Twilight Time.
I’ve never seen Streets of Fire. I’ll have to rent it. I was a big fan of Michael Pare back in late 80s and 90s. Seen him in a few things recently, small roles usually.
I’ll be picking up the Revenge Pack mostly for Blind Fury (Rutger Hauer), and Chuck Norris. I’ve never seen the third one in this set.
I’ll also be picking up the DC Animated film ‘Wonder Woman: Commemorative Edition’. I already own the initial release of this movie on Blu-Ray.
I’ll wait on Resident Evil and get a complete set or a second trilogy because I have the first trilogy already on Blu-Ray.
Correct me if I’m wrong Josh, but isn’t Unforgiven coming out on UHD this week? I preordered it from Amazon last week and it still has it listed for tomorrow.
The Resident Evil films tend to be hit and miss with me so I’ll rent it first. Otherwise, not much else interests me this week.
I somehow missed Unforgiven. I’ve just added it to the bottom of the poll. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
Correction: You don’t need to import, in order to buy XXX: TRoXC, in 3D. It is, and always has been available, domestically. You can order it from Amazon, right now. The 3D option should be added to the poll.
OK, I’ve fixed that too. Thanks.
What I was trying to tell you earlier was that xXx : Return of Xander Cage was being distributed by Paramount and not Sony. I believe Paramount, as of now, doesn’t just save the Atmos tracks for uhd only.
All right, that explains it. Let me do some more clean-up.
The first two xXx movies were Sony, which is why we confused the studio information for this one.
All the xXx stuff should be fixed now. Anything else I need to clean up?
In your intro, you still mention ‘Sony closes out a long-running franchise while trying to restart another that has mostly lain dormant’, but apparently (color me confused as well, for I didn’t know) it’s Paramount that is trying to restart xXx.
Indeed, another error I missed. Correction made, thanks.
‘Streets of Fire’. I have never seen it, but I have the sealed LaserDisc. I’m fairly sure I will be a big fan of the music, because Jim Steinman was involved and he’s my favorite lyricist. I may need to import the Blu-ray, now that I have a Region A-player from NYC.
It turns out that the Resident Evil SteelBook at Best Buy is not the movie’s poster art currently shown in the product listing on the web site, but some ugly Pop Art garbage. I’ve canceled my order and put one in for the UK SteelBook, which looks a lot better (assuming that artwork doesn’t change as well).
I just Redboxed this latest Resident Evil and I’m infuriated with the shaky cam quick cuts. Literally every single set piece is cut this way. WHY??!! This could’ve of been somewhat enjoyable, but I found it excruciatingly annoying. I was hoping there was an exaggeration in this matter from the reviews, but it’s actually much worse. I FUCKING HATE SHAKY CAM!!! Easily the worse movie gimmick ever invented.
Amazon had an incorrect release date for the Unforgiven UHD. It’s actually being released next week.