The theme of this week’s Blu-ray release slate is second chances. One studio takes a major comic book franchise down the reboot route, while another offers a long-awaited do-over for an important catalog title that it notoriously messed up the first time.
Why would Sony reboot ‘Spider-Man’ so soon after the Sam Raimi trilogy? The cynical answer is that the studio needed to crank out a new movie this year in order to retain licensing rights for the franchise. With a new star, a new director and the promise of web-slinging scenes in eye-popping 3D, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ was met with mixed reaction from fans this summer. Some thought that it was better than expected, while others found it an unnecessary retread. Did we really need to hear Peter Parker’s origin story again? Personally, I never much cared for the character in the first place, and decided to skip this one in theaters. I’m mildly interested to check out the Blu-ray for the 3D aspect, but probably not enough for a purchase. The disc will street on Friday.
Also available in 3D is ‘Arthur Christmas‘, last year’s CG-animated holiday film from Aardman Animations. The movie’s bland title probably killed its box office prospects, but most reviews called it a charming fun time.
Wouldn’t ‘Your Sister’s Sister‘ also be your sister too? I hope that question is answered in this indie dramedy starring Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass (about the thirtieth indie flick that Duplass has appeared in over the past year). This one comes from Lynn Shelton, who’d previously directed Duplass in ‘Humpday’. Word-of-mouth from the film festival circuit was encouraging.
Over the last decade, Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles has had a difficult time living up to the promise of his back-to-back successes ‘City of God’ and ‘The Constant Gardener’. His sci-fi tinged parable ‘Blindness’ was a big flop, and his new romantic thriller ‘360‘ (a very loose update of Arthur Schnitzler’s play ‘La Ronde’, which has been adapted to film about a hundred times previously) received mostly scathing reviews.
Did you realize that Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson and Josh Duhamel made a movie called ‘Fire with Fire‘ this year? Me neither. The fact that this one’s going direct to video despite some marketable stars is probably not a good sign.
Back in 2008, Fox released the Oscar-winning bio-pic ‘Patton‘ to Blu-ray with a controversial transfer that needlessly cranked up the Digital Noise Reduction and gave most of the images a disturbing plastic texture. Film fans were left aghast. It took four years, but the studio has finally decided to rectify that problem with a much-needed remastered edition.
Meanwhile, Warner gives the famed musical ‘Guys and Dolls‘ the Digibook treatment, Paramount offers up Billy Wilder’s legendary noir masterpiece ‘Sunset Boulevard‘, and Criterion brings Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon‘ to high definition.
Other Catalog Titles
If ‘Arthur Christmas’ doesn’t do it for you, other holiday-themed treats this week include ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol‘ and ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles‘.
Available in Europe for a couple years already, John Carpenter’s cult sci-fi flick ‘They Live‘ finally hits Blu-ray in the United States. Now you can relive that legendary fist-fight between “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Keith David in all its high-def glory. I bet Meg Foster’s eyes are even more piercing in 1080p.
Documentary fans may take an interest in ‘Objectified‘, the middle entry in Gary Hustwit’s docu-trilogy. (It falls between ‘Helvetica’ and ‘Urbanized’.)
Hey, remember when Wesley Snipes starred in actual feature films that went to theaters? Fox reminds us of those good times with Ron Shelton’s comedy ‘White Men Can’t Jump‘.
For reasons unknown, someone at Warner Bros. has decided that now would be a good time to dump Brian De Palma’s notorious bomb ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities‘ on Blu-ray. I’ll be amazed if it sells five copies. Also from Warner is ‘The Client‘, the less atrociously awful (though still plenty mediocre) of Joel Schumacher’s two John Grisham adaptations.
Speaking of crap, Disney pukes out the horrid Bette Midler chick-flick ‘Beaches‘. The mere thought of this has caused my testicles to shrivel up and recede into my body.
TV & Web
I used to enjoy ‘Entourage‘, especially during the ‘Aquaman’ story arc in Seasons 2 and 3. Unfortunately, the show dragged on too long. By the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of its characters anymore. I never bothered to finish watching the final season. While I doubt that I’ll catch up now, HBO has compiled a Complete Series box set for Blu-ray. What I find interesting about this is that it must mean that the first couple of seasons (that were only ever broadcast in standard definition) have been remastered to HD.
I have no idea what ‘Call the Midwife‘ is, but BBC has a box set of its first season.
Finally, an outfit called New Group has ported a couple compilations of the ‘Halo’ parody web series ‘Red vs. Blue‘ to Blu-ray.
I’m very eager to see the results of the ‘Patton’ remaster, and am also excited for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and ‘Rashomon’. Which discs strike your fancy this week?