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?