Already feeling the loss of Game of Thrones and need a little more fiery dragon action in your life? DreamWorks has you covered on Blu-ray and UHD this week, albeit with a kids’ cartoon. On the upside, this version probably has less mass murder to depress you.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – After two previous movies and no less than eight seasons of the spinoff cartoon that goes by various titles (Riders of Berk/Defenders of Berk/Race to the Edge) but features most of the original cast a close approximation of the animation style, is there really more story to tell in the HTTYD universe? The producers think so, and bring us one more feature film to make a trilogy out of them. Most reviews and fan response were strong, but our Deirdre feels that the franchise has petered out. Target and Walmart have exclusive gift sets with a kids’ dragon wing costume or a pair of Funko Pop! keychains, respectively. Best Buy carries a 4k SteelBook. For 3D, you need to look overseas.
Isn’t It Romantic – In a spoof of the genre’s tropes, Rebel Wilson plays a woman who gets conked on the head and wakes up to find herself stuck inside an exaggerated parody of a rom-com, beset with romantic attentions from all sides. (Between this and I Feel Pretty, isn’t it a little weird how rom-coms lately play traumatic head injuries for laughs?) Word-of-mouth was mixed and the film faltered at the box office, but Deirdre actually kind-of liked this one. It’ll probably play better on cable and streaming than it did in theaters.
The Upside – An American remake of French hit The Intouchables (which had already been remade in both India and Argentina), Kevin Hart stars as a paroled convict who becomes the caregiver and eventually best friend for a crotchety paraplegic billionaire (Bryan Cranston). Critics scoffed at the abundance of clichés and inspirational feel-good nonsense, but audiences were more forgiving and made a solid success out of it.
The Image Book – At 87-years-old, French iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard was bestowed a specially created award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival for his latest rambling, experimental visual montage essay. A lot of people expect that it will prove to be his last film (which would largely account for the award). As much as anyone could figure out, this one is about the ways cinema is somehow responsible for enabling all the political turmoil in the Middle East. Or not. Honestly, finding a coherent plot summary is next to impossible. Amusingly, Godard has allegedly stated that his intention is for viewers to watch it on a small TV screen sitting a long distance away, which makes it an unlikely candidate for a Blu-ray release. I’d be very surprised if Godard even knew what a Blu-ray was.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World soars onto Ultra HD from DreamWorks.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate cranks Jason Statham’s gonzo action flick Crank up to 4k resolution.
While her arty sci-fi film High Life scores a little attention in festivals and limited release, Criterion lets Claire Denis’ Let the Sunshine In into its collection. In the 2017 dramedy, Juliette Binoche stars as a divorced French artist cycling through relationships in the search for a real romantic connection.
Twilight Time brings us two Westerns (1959’s Warlock with Henry Fonda and 1968’s Bandolero! with James Stewart), a WWII thriller (1965’s Morituri with Marlon Brando), and a music drama from the same creative team as To Kill a Mockingbird (1965’s Baby the Rain Must Fall with Steve McQueen).
The Cohen Film Archive receives a visit from the Merchant-Ivory team’s 1984 adaptation of Henry James’ The Bostonians.
Can ya dig it? The 1970s Blaxploitation sequels Shaft’s Big Score and Shaft in Africa head to Blu-ray through the Warner Archive. Right on!
There’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on over at Shout! Factory, which reissues the cheeseball 1974 disaster epic Earthquake as part of its Shout Select line.
From cheese to sleaze, Shout!’s Scream Factory branch offers up the 1982 erotic thriller The Seduction, starring Morgan Fairchild.
Today’s political landscape seems like a good time to revisit Oliver Stone’s 1995 bio-pic Nixon. Kino’s Special Edition includes both the original three-and-a-quarter-hour theatrical cut and the later Director’s Cut that added another 20 minutes, whereas the prior Blu-ray release from Disney only had the longer version. I’m not sure how much of an upgrade that is when the old disc is still available on Amazon for less than $10, but this one also throws in a new audio commentary by a film historian to sweeten the deal.
Also from Kino is the Blu-ray debut of Roman Polanski’s blackly comic 1992 romantic thriller Bitter Moon, starring Hugh Grant, Peter Coyote, and Kristin Scott Thomas, with a score by Vangelis.
Arrow Video rolls out a standalone edition of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1968 biker exploitation flick She-Devils on Wheels, formerly only available in a compendium box set.
I enjoyed the previous How to Train Your Dragon movies and will catch the new one at some point, but I’m not a big enough fan that I need it right away. My kids will be fine waiting for Netflix.
The original Blu-ray release of Nixon will suffice for me.
I saw Bitter Moon in the theater, but honestly can’t recall much about it, not even whether I liked it or not. That’s probably not a great sign, but I’d be open to revisiting it.
Do you see any hidden gems among the clutter this week?