With Halloween approaching, this is a good time for the home video studios to release a lot of horror movies on Blu-ray. Sadly, it’s also time to dump more of this summer’s box office flops.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘Independence Day: Resurgence‘ – For acronym’s sake, I’ve long felt that the ‘ID4’ sequel should be called ‘Independence Day: It’s Our Turn!’, and feature a plot in which humanity flies to the aliens’ homeworld to blow up their monuments. Sadly, Roland Emmerich instead decided to just do a straight-up replay of the first movie, minus Will Smith or any sense of fun. Audiences had little interest in this. Twenty years later, the belated sequel grossed less than half as much at the box office as the original did. That’s a big problem considering that it cost more than twice as much to make. On disc, you can get it in 2D, 3D, in a SteelBook, or on 4k Ultra HD.
‘Alice Through the Looking Glass‘ – Tim Burton’s 2010 “reimagining” of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was one of those inexplicable mega-hits that grossed over a billion dollars even though nobody seemed to like it all that much. It hit at just the right moment, when Johnny Depp’s popularity was at its peak and when audiences were still jazzed for 3D after ‘Avatar’. Burton did not return for the sequel, and neither did many viewers. Disney has declined to release the 3D version in North America (at least for now), but you can get it overseas if you really want it.
‘Café Society‘ – Early buzz on Woody Allen’s latest suggested that it was one of those return-to-form projects he makes every three to four movies now. Later buzz was much less kind to it, though our reviewer David liked it quite a bit.
‘Our Kind of Traitor‘ – Sporting a pretty douchey haircut, Ewan McGregor plays a poetry professor who gets drawn into an international spy plot while on vacation abroad. Based on a John le Carré novel, the film was met with polite notices from critics but not much business. It was largely overshadowed by the TV adaptation of le Carré’s ‘The Night Manager’ that aired a couple months earlier.
The only day-and-date title to get an Ultra HD release is ‘Independence Day: Resurgence‘. However, Sony has upgraded Ang Lee’s ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘ to 4k in two new editions, either a standard UHD or a Supreme Cinema Series digibook that’s exclusive to Amazon.
That Supreme Cinema version of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘ also makes its way to regular Blu-ray. While you won’t get true 4k resolution (though it comes from a 4k master), the disc will have a brand new Dolby Atmos soundtrack. With some luck, Sony may also use this as an opportunity to restore the film’s proper English subtitles. (The prior Blu-ray had a very dumbed-down translation that was significantly inferior to the subtitles on the theatrical release or the Superbit DVD.) I’m not holding my breath for that, but it sure would be nice.
The Criterion Collection released Robert Altman’s ensemble masterwork ‘Short Cuts‘ on both Laserdisc and DVD, but it’s taken a while to get the movie on Blu-ray. In my opinion, this was Altman’s last truly great film. I’ve waited very patiently for it.
Criterion’s other big title this week is Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale ‘Pan’s Labyrinth‘. Although the movie has been available on Blu-ray for quite a long time (and can still be purchased for peanuts right now), that disc had a notoriously problematic video transfer. I expect the Criterion remaster to rectify that. Criterion offers the film either alone or as part of a ‘Trilogia de Guillermo del Toro‘ box set bundled with copies of the previously-released ‘Cronos’ and ‘The Devil’s Backbone’.
Universal brings some classic comedy to high definition with ‘The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection‘, which includes ‘The Cocoanuts’, ‘Animal Crackers’, ‘Monkey Business’, ‘Horse Feathers’ and ‘Duck Soup’.
It’s the time of year to binge on horror movies. Among those available this week, Scream Factory reissues the original ‘Child’s Play‘ in Collector’s Edition and Deluxe Limited Edition packages, Arrow resurrects ‘Bride of Re-Animator‘, the Warner Archive digs up Abel Ferrara’s 1993 remake of ‘Body Snatchers‘, and Lionsgate adds a double feature of ‘Waxwork‘ plus its sequel to the Vestron Collector’s Series label.
If you still like to buy TV shows on disc, your options this week are the fourth season of ‘Bates Motel‘, a complete collection of ‘Downton Abbey‘, and HBO’s so-called “limited series” (though it’s entirely possible that it may get a second season) ‘The Night Of‘.
My priorities are ‘Short Cuts’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, which I hope to pick up at the Barnes & Noble Criterion sale next month. I’m also eager to hear ‘Crouching Tiger’ in Atmos and hope that disc is a worthy upgrade from the older Blu-ray.
What are your thoughts this week?