Among other things, this week’s new batch of Blu-rays brings us an aging action star struggling to maintain relevance in the current cinema market while a new talent claws her way up to the top for the first time.
‘Terminator: Genisys‘ – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post-political career comeback hasn’t exactly gone as well as he hoped. Even a return to his most famous role failed to restore his former star power. This latest iteration of the ‘Terminator’ franchise attempts to pull a ‘Back to the Future Part II’ and mess around with the continuities of the older entries. Word-of-mouth on the film was extremely mixed. Some viewers found it to be a clever reinvention of the series, while others thought it was a desperate retread of past highlights. Pretty much everyone agreed that the title is stupid. The movie was a box office dud in the United States, but did well enough internationally (specifically in China) that another sequel may still be in the cards. The Blu-ray comes in 2D or 3D options, both with Dolby Atmos surround sound.
‘Trainwreck‘ – Comedienne of the moment Amy Schumer makes the big leap to move stardom in a raunchy rom-com she penned herself. With Judd Apatow directing, the result is said to be a sometimes awkward fusion of Schumer’s raw, filthy sensibilities with Apatow’s safer inclinations that ultimately turns disappointingly conventional and formulaic. Like all Judd Apatow films, it’s also guaranteed to run at least half an hour too long. Even so, Schumer’s appeal won the day and the movie was a breakout hit over the summer.
‘Mr. Holmes‘ – Ian McKellan reunites with his ‘Gods and Monsters’ director Bill Condon for the tale of an elderly Sherlock Holmes battling dementia as he recounts the details of his final case. While McKellan seems ideally cast for this, the Holmes character and formula have been tremendously overplayed in recent years, and Condon’s career took a dramatic downturn ever since he hitched his wagon to the ‘Twilight’ franchise. Reviews were generally favorable but not particularly enthusiastic.
‘Self/less‘ – Rich prick Ben Kingsley is dying of cancer, so he pays big money to have his mind transplanted into Ryan Reynolds’ body. As you might imagine, Ryan Reynolds’ original personality isn’t too thrilled about that. After ‘Immortals’ and ‘Mirror Mirror’, this is the third dud in a row for Tarsem Singh, a director who once nearly fooled people into believing he was a visionary. From all accounts, everybody involved in the project phoned it in. Reynolds doesn’t bother trying to mimic Ben Kingley, and Singh doesn’t do much visually interesting.
‘Tangerine‘ – Following the adventures of a transgendered prostitute as she hunts for her cheating boyfriend through the seedier side of Los Angeles, this low-budget indie feature was famously shot entirely on an iPhone. Fortunately, the movie appears to have more going for it than just that gimmick. Star Kitana Kiki Rodriguez has been widely hailed for her breakthrough performance.
‘Pay the Ghost‘ – The award for dumbest title of the week (yes, even dumber than ‘Genisys’) goes to Nicolas Cage’s latest schlocky direct-to-video thriller. This one’s about a father searching for his son who was kidnapped on Halloween. I’m guessing a ghost somehow kidnapped the boy and demands a ransom? I imagine that much anguished screaming is involved.
Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?… After teasing it since the earliest days of the format, Sony has finally bothered to bring Michael Bay’s cop-buddy extravaganza ‘Bad Boys II‘ to Blu-ray. Unfortunately, the only way to get it is to buy a double-feature with the original ‘Bad Boys’, which was previously released on its own in 2010 and you probably already own if you’re a fan of this ridiculous franchise.
If you’re looking for a slightly more realistic cop drama, Troma’s ‘Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.‘ is hardly any more absurd than Michael Bay’s vision of law enforcement. Fewer low-angle dolly shots circling around the characters, though.
Hey, did you hear that there’s a new ‘Star Wars‘ movie coming to theaters soon? On the unlikely chance you don’t already own them, Fox is taking this opportunity to reissue all six of the earlier movies in shiny SteelBook cases. Don’t hold your breath for a restoration of the original theatrical cuts of oldest three movies. These are the same Blu-ray discs released previously, just in new packaging.
With a new James Bond movie currently in theaters, Kino has dredged up a couple of artifacts from the 1960s spy craze, in the form of the goofy Italian spoofs ‘Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine‘ and its sequel ‘Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs‘. Vincent Price stars in both. The sequel was directed by Mario Bava and is widely regarded as his worst film.
On a completely different tangent, Kino also offers the late French filmmaker Alain Resnais’ surreal 1965 time travel drama ‘Je t’aime je t’aime‘. The film is said to be a strong influence on Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’.
In the mood for a Clint Eastwood marathon? Earlier this year, Universal released a box set called the ‘Clint Eastwood 7-Movie Collection‘ that bundled some old Blu-rays with some new ones. The studio has now broken out the four titles previously exclusive to that box: ‘Coogan’s Bluff‘, ‘Play Misty for Me‘, ‘The Beguiled‘ and ‘The Eiger Sanction‘.
New limited editions from Twilight Time include Ang Lee’s Jane Austen adaptation ‘Sense and Sensibility‘, Woody Allen’s homage to German Expressionism ‘Shadows and Fog‘, the Burt Lancaster spy thriller ‘Scorpio‘, the Spencer Tracy Western ‘Broken Lance‘, and Ken Loach’s blue-collar musical ‘Fatherland‘.
Finally, the latest inductee into the Criterion Collection is Michael Haneke’s ‘Code Unknown‘. As with anything Haneke makes, this is surely an acquired taste.
The only major TV release this week is the first season of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ spinoff ‘Better Call Saul‘, which is available in both a standard box set or a fancier Collector’s Edition package.
As a completist for the franchise, I already purchased the UK SteelBook edition of ‘Terminator: Genisys’ and hope that I can get some enjoyment out of the movie. Beyond that, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ will go on my wish list, and I might consider ‘Je t’aime je t’aime’ pending a review of the disc quality.
Personally, I’d consider ‘Trainwreck’ and ‘Mr. Holmes’ wait-for-cable movies.
Does anything entice you this week?