The biggest Blu-ray releases this week are a pair of sequels that nobody really asked for and probably weren’t needed. Isn’t that the case with most sequels, though?
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Sicario: Day of the Soldado – Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 drug war thriller Sicario was highly acclaimed and a sizable box office hit, but didn’t exactly seem like it was ever intended to be a franchise starter. Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan penned a follow-up anyway, though. Villeneuve was a little tied up playing in the Blade Runner sandbox, and Emily Blunt also passed on returning, so it falls to supporting stars Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro to pick up the reins, under the guidance of Italian TV director Stefano Sollima. The sequel looks to be more overtly an action movie and less character drama or political thriller. Reviews were mixed, with most critics calling it adequate but unexceptional. Some had very harsh things to say about its negative portrayal of Mexicans and its perceived xenophobic tendencies.
The First Purge – The third Purge movie, Election Year, was positioned as the end of a trilogy. Of course, Universal wasn’t about to let a cash cow like this go so easily. Hence we get a prequel telling the story of how the original Purge phenomenon started. Although our Deirdre loved it, most fans weren’t so impressed. Perhaps the upcoming TV series will satisfy them more?
Three Identical Strangers – The bizarre true story of identical triplets who were separated at birth and only learned of each other’s existences by chance at age 19 became a brief media phenomenon in the early 1980s. The brothers’ tale is recounted in a documentary that digs further to discover that their separation was actually done intentionally as part of a never-completed “Nature vs. Nurture” scientific study of dubious morality and ethics. The film has received near universal acclaim.
Leave No Trace – Ben Foster stars as a PTSD-afflicted Army vet who lives off-the-grid in the Oregon woods with a teenage daughter, until they’re both forced to re-enter society. The drama from Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik is one of the rare titles to hit a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences mostly liked it as well.
Blue Iguana – Americans Sam Rockwell and Ben Schwartz front a British crime movie that is honestly not terribly notable and seems destined to head directly for Redbox. I only mention it at all here because Deirdre asked for help with a headline for her theatrical review, and I’m still very pleased with the result.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado marches onto Ultra HD, along with The First Purge. The latter also prompted Universal to reissue the first three Purge movies in 4k SteelBooks.
Universal backtracks to fill in the first three Fast and Furious movies on UHD. If I’m not mistaken, this still leaves parts 4 and 5 missing from the format.
I’m not really sure how much benefit a simple comedy like Step Brothers will gain from 4k HDR, but Sony hopes that enough fans are willing to double-dip to find out.
Of the Criterion Collection’s three releases this week, only actor/director Cornel Wilde’s 1965 survival adventure tale The Naked Prey is new to Blu-ray. Both the Billy Wilder satire Ace in the Hole and the Jules Dassin heist caper Rififi are single-disc reissues that dump the redundant DVD copies from the cases.
Goldie Hawn won an Oscar for her first movie role in the romantic comedy Cactus Flower. With little fanfare, Mill Creek pairs that on a double-feature disc with another 1969 title of interest, the May/December romance Age of Consent, which was directed by Michael Powell (of Powell/Pressburger acclaim) and brought a young Helen Mirren to worldwide attention.
Scream Factory put out a Collector’s Edition of the 1995 horror anthology flick Tales from the Hood last year, but Universal decided to keep the rights to Tales from the Hood 2 for itself.
While I don’t typically call out music titles in this column, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1968 Rolling Stones documentary Sympathy for the Devil seems worth a mention.
Even though it would probably make sense to bundle them together, Kino offers up the famed TV movies The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler as separate releases. Starring Darren McGavin as a sardonic newspaper reporter who investigates supernatural phenomena, these two movies and the follow-up TV series were a huge influence on The X Files much later.
Finally, Mill Creek delivers Complete Series packages for both Community and Rescue Me.
Three Identical Strangers and Leave No Trace sound pretty compelling, but I’m sure they’ll both wind up on Netflix or similar options soon enough. The Naked Prey, The Night Stalker, and The Night Strangler will go on my wish list for later.
Does anything look good to you this week?
Where did you hear that Blunt passed on ‘Sicario 2’? Everywhere I read stated that it was Sheridan who wrote her character out because he felt there was no narrative reason for her to be there. The sequel had its problems, but trying to shoehorn her character back in there would’ve felt forced.
I like her as an actress, but I get the feeling audiences don’t really care about her. I think she’s another one of those actors who everybody knows does good consistently work, but for some reason never builds up big name value. Maybe ‘Mary Poppins Strikes Back’ will change that.
“Some had very harsh things to say about its negative portrayal of Mexicans and its perceived xenophobic tendencies.”
I urge these people to take a stroll through Juarez, Mexico.
I urge the international community to not judge Americans from the negative portrayal by the many meth-ridden communities throughout America. Or our homegrown oxycodone epidemic. While it would be factually accurate if the hundreds of thousands of oxy-addicted Americans are depicted in a negative way. If that’s how most American characters are portrayed in foreign films, that would produce anti-American tendencies.
But let’s not a take a stroll through self-reflection and critical thought.
No worries, I still hold America and its inhabitants in high regard. You gave us Spielberg, Zemeckis, Roth, Springsteen and many more wonderful individuals.
You should hold us in the highest regard. We’re #1. U! S! A! We’re #1. We like to judge others only by their worst parts, so it helps us believe, we’re #1.
Hey Julian, Roth??? You were listing directors, and then I was like, huh? You can’t mean Eli Roth, right? And then you listed Springsteen, a musician, so I was like what! David Lee Roth??? But you must mean novelist Philip Roth. But ICBW.
Yeah, Philip Roth. I was listing names from all cultural aspects. Directors, writers, musicians …
If you’re gonna compliment Americans, citing Spielberg & Springsteen makes sense. Citing a writer that less than 5% (it maybe closer to 1%) of Americans know… you hold us in too high a regard.
Oh, really? I thought he was one of the most famous of contemporary American writers. Grisham, then?
I will be picking up the TV-Movies The Night Strangler and The Night Stalker that launched Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
I’ll be renting or streaming the movies:
Sicario: Day of the Soldado;
and the obvious direct-to-video movies with that one or two name stars:
The 12th Man, Battle of the Bulge: Wunderland, Blue Iguana, Death Race: Beyond Anarchy, Leave No Trace, Maximum Impact, and S.M.A.R.T. Chase
Just The Spiral Staircase for me this week. Might pick up The Night Strangler and The Night Stalker in a future Kino website sale though.
Josh: “I only mention it at all here because Deirdre asked for help with a headline for her theatrical review, and I’m still very pleased with the result.”
I suppose the Criterion sale isn’t too far away and I’d definitely want a copy of The Naked Prey. I’m also wanting to pick up The Sicario sequel. It may not be quite as good as the first, but it is very solid. I own the other three Purge movies, so I’ll probably pick this one up at some point, perhaps Black Friday. I’m very curious about Tales From the Hood 2, but I’m not sure if I’ll blind buy it . I definitely want to check it out.
I’ve had The Purge trilogy on UHD for many months, so I think they’re only new to single releases Josh.
Might get Sicario 2 this week but it sounds like a mostly useless sequel, so I don’t know for sure. Just hard to pass on a Sony action UHD. They do amazing work. Naked Prey seems interesting but not sure I need to own it. Maybe in a Barnes & Noble sale.
Nice to have a relatively free week. Grabbed some old stuff on my wishlist like Arrow’s The Crazies and Criterion’s The 39 Steps.
The UHD Purge singles came out in June to tie in with The First Purge.
Sorry, I’ve edited the sentence to clarify that the new Purge discs are SteelBook reissues.
It’s been ages since I’ve seen the original Night Stalker, and I’ve never seen The Night Strangler. I might like to rent or borrow them soon.
The inclusion of Rodin caught my eye, mostly because in the next couple of weeks I plan to visit the two Rodin museums in and near Paris, both of which are major sites of his life and work. I’m generally not crazy about biopics, but the trailer looks interesting, and so I might give this one a shot. It would almost surely be after I get back home, though.
I discovered that Best Buy has several SteelBook titles this week that weren’t on our site’s release calendar: The Shining, Salem’s Lot, Stephen King’s It, and An American Werewolf in London. I’ve added them to the calendar, but it’s a little too late to add them to this poll.