This week’s new Blu-ray slate brings us one of the greatest TV shows of all time, an extended cut of a movie that was already too long, and some 3D movies that the studios aren’t bothering to release in 3D (at least, not in the United States). Those, plus a bunch of ugly SteelBooks. Let’s dive in!
‘Hercules‘ – In the second 3D Hercules movie of the year (after ‘The Legend of Hercules’), Dwayne Johnson steps into the title role. As little interest as I may have had in any Hercules movie to start with, putting Brett Ratner in the director’s chair ensures that I’ll never see this one. For what it’s worth, Paramount is offering a 3D option, which puts that studio well ahead of Disney or Lionsgate (see next entries). On the other hand, the Blu-ray was announced to also have a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, but early reviews indicate that the disc actually only has DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. I’m sure it’s plenty loud anyway.
‘Maleficent‘ – Angelina Jolie plays dress-up as the famous ‘Sleeping Beauty’ villain, here depicted as a misunderstood heroine we’re supposed to sympathize with. The movie received mixed reviews but did good business at the box office, which ensures that more efforts along similar lines will follow. I can’t wait for the live action redemption of Cruella de Vil, retconned as a friendly animal rights activist. ‘Maleficent’ played theatrically in 3D, but Disney has abandoned Blu-ray 3D in the American market. If you’re a 3D fan, look toward importing the movie from overseas.
‘Planes: Fire & Rescue‘ – For the toddler set with low standards comes a sequel to the barely-tolerable ‘Cars’ spin-off that’s reportedly even worse than the first one. Once again, no 3D in America. You can get it in that format from France, if you must. I hear that a 3D copy may also turn up in Mexico, but I don’t have a source for that and have never ordered Blu-rays from Mexico before.
‘Step Up All In‘ – They’re still making these things? After its dismal box office performance, the latest dance extravaganza in the ‘Step Up’ franchise may be the last. Taking a cue from Disney, Lionsgate has decided to forego 3D on Blu-ray for this movie, but Universal has the distribution rights in the UK, where the film is awkwardly titled ‘Step Up 5: All In 3D‘. Or, depending on how you read the poster layout, perhaps it’s ‘Step Up All In 5 3D’. Either way, bad title. Really bad title, guys.
‘A Most Wanted Man‘ – In one of his final roles, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as a depressed and paranoid German spy struggling for both personal and professional redemption. The film is adapted from a novel by John Le Carré, whose slow and methodical plotting will reward some viewers and frustrate others.
‘The One I Love‘ – TV stars Mark Duplass (‘The League’) and Elisabeth Moss (‘Mad Men’) play a stagnating couple who hope to rekindle their relationship with a weekend getaway at a cabin guesthouse, only to discover themselves already waiting for them there when they arrive. Yes, I realize how weird that sentence reads. So follows the movie, a bizarre existential relationship drama/fantasy/horror mash-up.
‘Land Ho!‘ – Two elderly men take a road trip through Iceland and bicker a lot. That’s the plot. It may not sound like much, but I hear that the comedy is actually quite delightful.
Hobbitses, Hobbitses, Hobbitses…
‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Extended Edition‘ – This should be no surprise for fans. Peter Jackson has never shot a scrap of footage that he didn’t want to use eventually. I hear that the second ‘Lord of the Rings’ prequel is an improvement over the first one (it would kind of have to be), but this franchise does less for me the more installments that Jackson cranks out. In addition to the various editions listed above, Target has an exclusive SteelBook (2D only).
Speaking of SteelBooks, Universal is reissuing a number of old titles in metal cases with pop art designs. I can’t decide whether I like a few of them or think they’re all hideous.
William Peter Blatty is of course best known for writing the horror classic ‘The Exorcist’, but he started his career in comedy and has a fondness for material that veers all over the map tonally. His directorial debut ‘The Ninth Configuration‘ is a comedic thriller set in an insane asylum for military veterans. The movie was a box office flop in 1980, but became a famous cult item. It should make a nice pairing with the recent Blu-ray release of Blatty’s ‘The Exorcist III’, which similarly swings wildly from drama to comedy to existential philosophizing to nail-biting suspense.
Available from the Warner Archive is ‘Pete Kelley’s Blues‘, a crime drama about a jazz musician who gets tied up with mobsters. The film stars and was directed by ‘Dragnet’ star Jack Webb.
So, has everyone come to terms with that ending to ‘The Sopranos‘ yet? HBO previous issued the show’s first and last seasons on Blu-ray, but neglected to provide any of the others in between. Now the whole series can be purchased in one big box set, which probably really annoys those who are still holding onto the discs from Seasons 1 and 6.
Wasn’t the third (and final) season of Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Newsroom‘ supposed to air this summer? Looks like it got pushed back to November 9th, so if you want to catch up on Season 2, you better get on that quickly. Personally, I felt that the second season was an improvement over the mess that was the first, but I know that our recapper Shannon feels the opposite.
From across the pond come a collection of all the Matt Smith seasons of ‘Doctor Who‘ and a gift set of Seasons 1-3 of ‘Sherlock‘.
I’m very curious to see ‘A Most Wanted Man’ and ‘The One I Love’, but will probably reserve both for rentals. I’d like to order ‘The Ninth Configuration’, but I’m wary of discs from distributor Hen’s Tooth, which doesn’t have a great track record for quality.
Does anything strike your fancy this week?