New Blu-rays this week bring us some classic samurai action, foul-mouthed grocery foods, a blind superhero, and an elderly Elvis battling a mummy. One of these has got to speak to you, right?
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Sausage Party‘ – Seth Rogen and his crew bring their filthy R-rated shtick to animated form with a raunchy parody of family-friendly kiddie cartoons. The trailer for this was hilarious, though it looked perhaps like a one-joke kind of movie. Nevertheless, it got strong reviews and made a nice chunk of change at the box office. (Reports that the animation studio underpaid its employees and treated them like garbage are disappointing, but it’s unclear whether Rogen himself was aware of it.) Target has an exclusive SteelBook for the Blu-ray. A 4k UHD version is also available.
‘Morris from America‘ – A 13-year-old American boy who dreams of becoming a rapper experiences culture shock when his father (Craig Robinson) moves them to Germany for a job. In many ways a standard issue Sundance crowd-pleaser, the coming-of-age tale was largely praised for its performances and heart, even if it was criticized for following familiar beats.
‘Indignation‘ – Ang Lee’s frequent screenwriting and producing collaborator James Schamus makes his directing debut with a period piece about a young man struggling at a Christian college in the 1950s. Along with Ewan McGregor’s ‘American Pastoral’, this is the second Philip Roth adaptation of the year. It was generally better received than that one, though our Phil wasn’t quite alone in loathing it.
‘Phantom Boy‘ – The French animators behind the Oscar-nominated ‘A Cat in Paris‘ deliver a weird genre mash-up about a hospitalized young boy whose spirit can leave his body and fly around the city, an ability that he uses to help an injured police detective break up a crime ring. The film is part supernatural fantasy, part film noir, and entirely whimsical in a way that’s distinctively French. This might prove a refreshing change of pace if you’re getting tired of the usual DreamWorks and Pixar animated offerings, but don’t care for the crass humor of the aforementioned ‘Sausage Party’.
Sony throws its ‘Sausage Party‘ in 4k, as the only day-and-date Ultra HD release this week. However, Lionsgate also upgrades all four ‘Hunger Games‘ movies to the new format in an attempt to squeeze a few extra bucks out of the recently-concluded franchise.
The famed ‘Lone Wolf and Cub‘ samurai series, which comprises six films made between 1972 and 1974, was previously released on Blu-ray by AnimEigo back in 2012. Criterion justifies its reissue by promising new restorations of all six movies plus improved subtitle translations and new bonus features. The Criterion set also includes ‘Shogun Assassin’, the English-dubbed 1980 re-edit of the first two movies. When this collection was first announced back in August, Amazon erroneously listed it with a price of just $39.99 (60% off the $99.99 MSRP). The listing was quickly adjusted, but my pre-order has remained in place at the original price and I’m hopeful that Amazon will honor it. If you weren’t so fortunate (or if that doesn’t pan out after all), the Barnes & Noble 50% Off Criterion sale is active through the end of the month, so it’s still possible to get a pretty good deal on this.
Decades after having faked their deaths, Elvis (Bruce Campbell) and JFK (Ossie Davis) wind up at the same nursing home, where they must work together to fight off an evil Egyptian mummy dressed like a cowboy from stealing the other elderly patients’ souls. That is genuinely the premise of ‘Bubba Ho-Tep‘, a bizarre and hilarious horror comedy from ‘Phantasm’ director Don Coscarelli. Scream Factory finally brings this cult gem to Blu-ray
Warner Bros. is reissuing the three ‘Rush Hour‘ movies into a “Trilogy” bundle packaged with an ugly Pop Art cover. Is this really something anyone needs to own? I feel like this is a trick to con fans of the first two movies into buying the third one that nobody likes.
Meanwhile, the Warner Archive unearths the 1977 film adaptation of Neil Simon’s ‘The Goodbye Girl‘, featuring an Oscar-winning performance from Richard Dreyfuss.
Sony takes Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver‘ for one more spin around the block with a 40th Anniversary Edition. Be aware that this title is also rumored for a possible Ultra HD Blu-ray release in 2017.
In case you didn’t get enough of a horror fix at Halloween, Arrow Video offers up the 1984 college sorority slasher ‘The Initiation‘, starring future ‘Melrose Place’ babe Daphne Zuniga.
Marvel’s ‘Daredevil‘ series has already run two full seasons on Netflix, but Disney is just now getting around to issuing the first on Blu-ray. Other TV product this week includes the first season of Showtime’s ‘Billions‘, the first season of AMC’s awful ‘Into the Badlands‘ (is that really coming back for a second?), the third season of Starz’s ‘Black Sails‘, and the belated eleventh season of the British sci-fi parody ‘Red Dwarf ‘.
I expect ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ to arrive from Amazon shortly. Even at the discount price, that’s enough money for me to spend this week. However, I’m also looking forward to picking up ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ when I get a chance.
What do you have your sights on?