Some weeks, searching for an interesting new Blu-ray to watch feels like a treasure hunt expedition. Is there any gold in this week’s assortment of discs, or just a bunch of dogs? Let’s take a look.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Rings‘ – From the title, I gather that this is supposed to do for ‘The Ring’ what ‘Aliens’ did for ‘Alien’, right? The second sequel to the American remake of the J-Horror classic attempts to bring the cursed videotape concept into the digital age, because who even still has a VCR anymore? The terrible reviews and terrible audience reaction suggest that it failed. Even with a modest $25 million budget, the movie underperformed at the domestic box office. It did well enough overseas to turn a profit, unfortunately, which means that we’ll probably get more of these in the future.
‘Gold‘ – Matthew McConaughey puts on a hideous bald cap to play a sleazy American prospector who claims to strike gold in an Indonesian mine and parlays that to huge success on Wall Street, only for the whole enterprise to come crashing down in spectacular fashion when his deception is uncovered. Loosely based on the Canadian Bre-X mining scandal, the drama from ‘Syriana’ director Stephen Gaghan was met with mixed reviews, most praising McConaughey’s performance but not much else about the film.
‘A Dog’s Purpose‘ – Back in 1985, Swedish director Lasse Hallström made a charming coming-of-age drama called ‘My Life as a Dog’, which wasn’t really about a dog even though it had one in it. Years later, he made ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’, which more blatantly pandered to canine lovers’ sympathies. Now he’s apparently become the go-to guy for dog movies. Sadly, what was intended to be a feel-good schmaltz-fest about a dog (tweely voiced by Josh Gad) that lives and dies and gets reincarnated a bunch of times faced a huge backlash after a video supposedly showing animal cruelty on the set went viral. The American Humane Association later concluded that the video was falsely edited and no actual abuse occurred. None of this, nor scathing reviews, affected the film’s box office much. It made a bunch of money regardless. Because puppies are cute. Awwww, wook at the fuzzy wuzzy adowable pupppppppies!!
‘The Salesman‘ – When Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (‘A Separation’) was prohibited from attending the Academy Awards due to our government’s short-lived but wildly controversial Muslim ban, that pretty much sealed the deal that his movie would win the Best Foreign Language Film prize. The drama, about a couple acting in a production of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ when the wife is assaulted, was praised for its excellent performances and the director’s restraint in dealing with subject matter that could have devolved into a simple revenge thriller.
‘I Am Not Your Negro‘ – Samuel L. Jackson reads extensively from famed author James Baldwin’s unfinished final novel in a documentary that not only profiles the writer, but places his life and career into the context of American race relations. The film was widely acclaimed and nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.
‘The Comedian‘ – Robert De Niro once played ‘The King of Comedy’ for Martin Scorsese. Unfortunately, this is not a sequel and director Taylor Hackford is no Scorsese. De Niro stars as an aging insult comic in the “cranky codger discovers his heart and finds love late in life” rom-com. The movie looked boring as hell, was panned by most critics, and flopped at the box office.
‘The Age of Shadows‘ – Korean director Kim Jee-woon (‘A Tale of Two Sisters’, ‘I Saw the Devil’) tries his hand at a historical epic about the Japanese occupation of Korea in the late 1920s. Phil was a big fan of the results.
‘The Red Turtle‘ – Produced by Japan’s Studio Ghibli but with a Dutch director at the helm, the dialogue-free animated adventure about a man stranded on a deserted island is said to be a remarkable visual treat and was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
‘The Resurrection of Gavin Stone‘ – If Brett Dalton from ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ wants to break out as a movie star, he’ll need to do better than a faith-based comedy about a washed-up former child actor who pretends to be Christian in order to land the role of Jesus in a local church production. The movie flopped pretty badly even among the faithful. Then again, maybe Dalton can’t do better than this.
None of the week’s new day-and-date releases make their way to 4k. However, Lionsgate upgrades a trio of catalog titles with James Mangold’s Western remake ‘3:10 to Yuma‘ and the first two ‘Expendables‘ flicks.
Even decades after disco died, ‘Saturday Night Fever‘ keeps on stayin’ alive with a new 40th Anniversary Edition from Paramount.
John Frankenheimer followed his classic ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ with another political thriller, ‘Seven Days in May‘. The film depicts a military coup to overthrow the President of the United States. I imagine that will play differently for a lot of people today than it did during its release in 1964.
Universal pulls a couple more random catalog titles out of the vault this week with the Richard Pryor comedy ‘Brewster’s Millions‘ and Robert Wise’s disaster epic ‘The Hindenburg‘.
Sony adds the Val Kilmer comedy ‘Real Genius‘ to its line of Manufactured on Demand BD-Rs.
Sadly, Mill Creek’s Blu-ray edition of the 1983 sci-fi cheesefest ‘Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone‘ makes no mention of including the original 3D version, which is basically the only thing it’s famous for. What’s the point of even watching something like this without the 3D?
For more cheesy sci-fi, Jamie Lee Curtis fights an alien on a tugboat in 1999’s ‘Virus‘, now available through Scream Factory.
The third season of ‘The Last Ship‘ was neither terrible nor great, but left me questioning whether I’ll bother to tune into the upcoming fourth season. The show pretty much played out its premise in the first two years.
I’d be curious to see ‘The Red Turtle’, ‘The Age of Shadows’, ‘I Am Not Your Negro’, or ‘Seven Days in May’, but none screams out at me as needing an immediate purchase. What about you?