Time passes and all of last week’s notable releases step back to make room for a hot new batch of Blu-ray and Ultra HD discs. That’s just the circle of life in the home video world, folks.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
The Lion King – After the huge success of his Jungle Book remake, Jon Favreau seemed the obvious choice to helm the live-action-ish re-imagining of the biggest title in Disney’s animated catalog. With no human characters anywhere in sight, the movie is an exercise in often startlingly photo-realistic CGI. Critics wrestled with the question of whether such a thing was needed or desired, and most felt that the movie was a pointless cash grab. If so, it was very successful at that goal, collecting a $1.6 billion box office gross. I guess people still find those Elton John songs irresistible.
The Dead Center – Shane Carruth, the writer/director/star of Primer and Upstream Color, takes on a purely acting role in someone else’s movie, a supernatural thriller about a psych ward doctor attempting to treat a man who inexplicably came back from the dead and woke up in the hospital’s morgue. Buzz on the film is that it’s very creepy and atmospheric, if not entirely coherent.
The Lion King roars to life on Ultra HD with a SteelBook at Best Buy or a Target exclusive that comes with a gallery book.
The entire James Bond franchise has been available to stream in 4k (though not HDR) on iTunes for a while now. MGM brings the first wave of those titles to disc (presumably with HDR added) starting with 007: The Daniel Craig Collection. The box set contains Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre, but will obviously not include Craig’s upcoming fifth movie that’s still in production.
Sony preps for the imminent reboot by upgrading the 2000 Charlie’s Angels movie to 4k. Best Buy has a SteelBook.
The newest DC animated feature, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, arrives simultaneously on Blu-ray and UHD.
Criterion remembers When We Were Kings, the Oscar-winning 1996 documentary about Muhammad Ali’s legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman.
Sony apparently does not consider the 2003 sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle to be worthy of 4k like its predecessor, but the movie does land on regular Blu-ray this week.
Formerly a Twilight Time title, the Best Picture-winning 1966 historical drama A Man for All Seasons gets reissued as a manufactured-on-demand disc through the Sony Choice program.
Another famous period piece, the 1982 French drama The Return of Martin Guerre makes a debut on Blu-ray courtesy of the Cohen Film Collection.
Arrow Video follows up its earlier Limited Edition of Guillermo del Toro’s Gothic horror drama Crimson Peak with a stripped-down Special Edition copy that drops the hard-bound book and elaborate packaging.
Billy Bathgate, director Robert Benton’s bio-pic of Prohibition-era gangster Dutch Schultz starring Dustin Hoffman, was a notorious critical and box office dud in 1991. Kino hopes that viewers might be willing to give it another look, along with John Huston’s 1980 horror thriller Phobia and the 1977 vampire cheesefest Zoltan: Hound of Dracula (a.k.a. Dracula’s Dog).
One episode was all I needed of AMC’s vampire series NOS4A2, but the show was successful enough that the network has renewed it for a second season.
Described on the packaging as “The Complete First Season,” the Veronica Mars revival could also be considered the show’s fourth. The Warner Archive brings it to disc for fans who don’t subscribe to Hulu.
Also coming out of the Warner Archive is the famed 1973 TV movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.
Meanwhile, Kino has another scary TV movie with the 1996 Trilogy of Terror II, featuring the return of the evil Zuni fetish doll.
I’d be very inclined to buy the 007: Daniel Craig Collection, except that it seems foolish to do so knowing that the collection is already incomplete right from its release. Also, I’m a little skeptical of what an HDR makeover might do to Spectre, a film that was photographed in a deliberately low dynamic range style.
When We Were Kings is hugely entertaining and will go on my Criterion wish list. Because I don’t subscribe to Hulu, I also welcome the opportunity to catch up with Veronica Mars.
What titles do you feel the love for this week?