Prepare to get wet. In this very busy week for new Blu-ray releases, Pixar returns to the ocean to hunt for past glory. Meanwhile, the infamous Capt. Ahab may finally catch that whale he’s been after. Also available: jungle animals and spaceships in 3D, evil twins, time travelers, rock legends and more.
‘Finding Dory‘ – After the failure of his live-action ‘John Carter’, director Andrew Stanton returned to the safety of Pixar and churned out a much-belated sequel to his biggest success, 2003’s ‘Finding Nemo’. While it’s true that Pixar’s increasing reliance on sequels and franchises is a disappointment for the studio that once prided itself on originality, most viewers and critics agreed that this one was, if not quite an equal to the original, at least a worthy follow-up. Unsurprisingly, it also made a ton of money at the box office this summer. In fact, it only trails ‘Toy Story 3’ as Pixar’s biggest hit. (Looking only at domestic totals, it actually leads the pack.) The movie’s available on Blu-ray in either 2D or 3D. Target has a SteelBook edition (2D only). If you got a preorder in before it sold out, the UK SteelBook from Zavvi has 3D and is essentially the same case, minus any text in the artwork. That one will be released at the end of the month.
‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years‘ – Ron Howard’s latest ‘Da Vinci Code’ sequel may have been a total bust this year, but his rock-doc about the early days of Beatlemania did pretty well in limited release and scored some decent reviews. The movie has been available for streaming on Hulu for the past month, but if you don’t subscribe to that (or are a dedicated Beatle fan and need a permanent hard copy), the Blu-ray comes out this Friday.
Perhaps the most interesting title in Twilight Time’s latest wave is John Huston’s 1956 adaptation of ‘Moby Dick‘, starring Gregory Peck as the obsessed sea captain. The movie’s Technicolor photography is famously difficult to capture on home video, but I believe I’ve read that MGM (the rights holder that licensed it out) put some work into doing it right on Blu-ray.
Twilight Time’s other new limited editions include: Robin Williams as a as a Russian defector trying to adapt to a new life in New York in ‘Moscow on the Hudson‘ (1984); Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld as murderous lovers on the run in ‘Pretty Poison‘ (1968); Susan Hayward as a woman on Death Row in Robert Wise’s true-crime drama ‘I Want to Live!‘ (1958); Tony Curtis as the notorious serial killer known as ‘The Boston Strangler‘ (1968); and Shelly Winters as a psychotically overprotective momma in the Italian giallo thriller ‘Gran Bollito‘ (1977).
After releasing their initial Blu-rays only in 2D earlier this year, Disney finally follows through with 3D Collector’s Edition double-dips for both ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ and ‘The Jungle Book‘. Interestingly, I’ve heard a lot of praise for the ‘Force Awakens’ 3D disc even though the theatrical 3D release was widely criticized for not making much use of the extra dimension.
The Criterion Collection last worked with Paul Thomas Anderson on a Laserdisc release of ‘Boogie Nights’ back in 1998. They finally collaborate again to bring his very underrated ‘Punch-Drunk Love‘ to Blu-ray. This is one of the few instances where Adam Sandler has made a serious effort to act, and actually proved to be pretty good at it. The movie is smartly tailored to exploit his usual comedic persona as a guy prone to serious rage issues. Unfortunately, when it didn’t make any money, Sandler retreated back to the goofy comedy and has only rarely attempted drama since.
Criterion’s other major release this week is the 1990 fantasy film ‘Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams‘, one of the final works from that legendary artist. And just in case you didn’t buy it either of the previous two times it was released, Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless‘ gets another reissue. (It’s the same Blu-ray as before, just without a DVD in the package.)
Back in the Laserdisc days, Criterion had the rights to David Cronenberg’s ‘Dead Ringers‘, but the new Blu-ray comes from Scream Factory. The very creepy drama stars Jeremy Irons in a dual performance as identical twins who share a little too much. Although not explicitly horror, it’s very unnerving and is one of Cronenberg’s best films.
Meanwhile, Shout! Factory gives us Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovich in the 1985 television adaptation of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman‘, scripted by the playwright himself.
Warner reissues ‘Citizen Kane‘ for its 75th Anniversary, but don’t expect anything new if you already own it on Blu-ray. If that’s not enough of a masterpiece for you, the ‘Space Jam‘ 20th Anniversary SteelBook will surely be the slam dunk you’re looking for.
Newly extracted from the Warner Archive is ‘Time After Time‘, Nicholas Meyers’ ingenious mash-up of H.G. Wells, time travel, and Jack the Ripper.
Among the titles Olive Films has licensed this week, a few that caught my eye are the Powell & Pressburger WWII adventure thriller ‘One of Our Aircraft Is Missing‘, the 1995 period drama ‘Carrington‘ (which stars Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce and marked the directing debut of ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ screenwriter Christopher Hampton), and Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 ensemble comedy ‘Coffee and Cigarettes‘. As part of the standard Olive line, expect those to be sourced from dated video masters.
Movies fortunate enough to land in the Olive Signature collection should receive more care and attention. This week’s new inductees are Orson Welles’ 1948 adaption of ‘Macbeth‘ and the 1971 Western revenge thriller ‘Hannie Caulder‘.
Kino’s very expensive 14-disc ‘Buster Keaton Collection‘ bundles together 12 features and a collection of the silent comedy legend’s short films. More reasonably priced is the 2014 indie comedy ‘Fort Tilden‘, of which I’ve heard good things.
Looking for some straight-up horror? Arrow Video unearths ‘C.H.U.D.‘, the schlocktastic tale of Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.
CBS Films may not want to spend the money to restore ‘Deep Space Nine’ or ‘Voyager’ to Blu-ray standards, but the studio offers Trekkies some small salve for that wound with the complete 1.5 season run of the 1973 ‘Star Trek: The Animated Series‘. As cheap and limited as the animation may be, the episodes are very nicely cleaned up. Fans of The Original Series should enjoy this.
Other new TV box sets include ‘Better Call Saul‘ Season 2, ‘Doctor Who‘ Season 3, ‘Game of Thrones‘ Season 6, ‘Red vs. Blue‘ Season 14, and the complete series of HBO’s ‘Looking‘.
Also, that ‘Nash Bridges‘ complete series box set I mentioned a few weeks ago got pushed back to this week. At least, Amazon currently claims that it will be released this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s delayed again.
I’m currently working on review for ‘Star Trek: The Animated Series’. I also have the UK SteelBook edition of ‘Finding Dory’ on preorder.
Sadly, there’s simply no way I can afford all the other discs I covet this week. Among my most wanted are ‘Dead Ringers’, ‘Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams’ and ‘Punch-Drunk Love’. I’m torn on whether I really want to double dip on ‘The Force Awakens’ to get it in 3D.
A few others that will go on my wish list include ‘Moby Dick’, ‘Time After Time’ and ‘Macbeth’.
Is this as crazy a week for you as it is for me?