The massive deluge of Blu-rays this week brings us a mutant apocalypse, airborne sharks and a farting corpse, among other weirdness. October is off to a crazy start.
New Releases (Blu-ray)
‘X-Men: Apocalypse‘ – I used to be a big fan of the ‘X-Men’ franchise, but I lost interest a couple movies ago. I think a lot of the audience probably feels the same, even those who continue to go to the new entries out of a sense of obligation. Of the glut of superhero movies in theaters this summer, this one felt like an also-ran. Although not a flop, it significantly underperformed box office expectations. Most reviews and viewer word-of-mouth found the movie to be a disappointment. If you’re still interested anyway, it’s available now in 2D, 3D, a Best Buy exclusive SteelBook, or UHD.
‘Into the Forest‘ – Director Patricia Rozema (‘Mansfield Park’) delivers a much lower key apocalypse tale with Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood playing sisters who try to ride out a global power outage at their isolated home in the woods. Reviews were mixed-to-positive, mainly praising the performances over a storyline that loses its focus in the last half.
‘Swiss Army Man‘ – How’s this for the weirdest movie premise of the year? Daniel Radcliffe is a magical farting corpse who comes halfway back to life to help a shipwrecked Paul Dano survive on a deserted island. Yes, that’s actually the plot description of a movie that was financed, produced and distributed to theaters. According to some viewers and critics, it’s even a good one. Others found its self-conscious quirkiness too much to take.
‘The Purge: Election Year‘ – Despite being built off an implausible premise, the ‘Purge’ franchise continues to be extremely profitable and to expand in scope and ambition with each entry. This third one is the most overtly political in theme (hence the title) and reportedly feels like it’s designed as a stopping point to end a trilogy. I wouldn’t count on that to prevent the studio from cranking out more anyway, of course.
‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens‘ – The first ‘Sharknado’ is an enjoyably dumb guilty pleasure. I even had fun with the second one. That’s about as much ‘Sharknado’ as I need. I can’t believe we’re really up to four of these. The producers go for broke this time by moving the shark storm away from the coast and heading inland to Las Vegas. This seems like a perfectly logical progression for this franchise.
‘The Wailing‘ – In this theatrical review, Phil called this South Korean horror thriller, “an exorcism tale, a serial killer procedural, a quirky small town (or village) satire, a meditation on evil, a dissection of faith, a tragedy, and a comedy all at once.” That sounds pretty interesting to me.
‘X-Men: Apocalypse‘ debuts simultaneously on both regular Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray. As a tag-along, Fox has also up-rezzed ‘X-Men: First Class‘ to 4k. (‘Days of Future Past’, the franchise entry that falls between these two, was already released as a UHD launch title back in February.)
Warner Bros. digs into its catalog hoping to wring a few more dollars out of recent box office disappointments ‘Pacific Rim‘, ‘Jupiter Ascending‘ and ‘The Great Gatsby‘. Notably, all of these movies originally played theatrically in 3D (and both ‘Pacific Rim’ and ‘Gatsby’ are arguably best experienced that way), but unfortunately the UHD format doesn’t support 3D.
If you missed your chance to buy the Twilight Time limited edition of Brian De Palma’s sleazy erotic thriller ‘Body Double‘ before it sold out back in 2013, Sony has taken back the rights and reissued the movie under its own label. Be warned, however, that this title is part of Sony’s manufactured-on-demand service and will be burned onto a BD-R, not a normal pressed disc. As a result, the disc case is not allowed to display the official Blu-ray logo.
For a more traditional release, Sony also has a 80th Anniversary Edition Digibook of the Frank Capra classic ‘Mr. Deeds Goes to Town‘.
Remember all the hubbub that was raised when Warner Bros. announced an obscenely overpriced $800 box set collecting all of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ extended edition movies together? That’s still on tap (currently listed for an October 11th release), but it’s not the one available this week. The ‘Middle-Earth Theatrical Collection‘ has the theatrical versions of all six movies, stripped of all bonus features, for a much more reasonable price. Still, I can’t imagine who would want this. Any true fan already has all these movies and probably prefers the extended versions anyway.
More realistic is the ‘Prince Movie Collection‘, which bundles a new remaster of ‘Purple Rain’ with the new-to-Blu ‘Graffiti Bridge’ and ‘Under the Cherry Moon’ for around $20. All three are also available separately for about $10 a pop. Buying them that way isn’t as good a deal, but let’s be honest, nobody really wants to own ‘Graffiti Bridge’ or ‘Under the Cherry Moon’ anyway.
Universal is sending a very eclectic trio of titles to Best Buy exclusivity. First off is the 1953 3D B-movie ‘It Came from Outer Space‘. (1950s 3D was way more aggressive than modern 3D, and this is the latest painstaking restoration from the renowned 3-D Film Archive.) Following that are the goofy 1966 Don Knotts comedy ‘The Ghost and Mr. Chicken‘ and the 1999 coming-of-age drama ‘October Sky‘. These three movies have absolutely nothing in common with each other, beyond being priced at a bargain $10 each.
Arrow Video released the 1986 cult movie ‘Vamp‘, a sort-of combination ’80s sex comedy/horror thriller starring Grace Jones as a vampire stripper, on Blu-ray in Europe a couple years ago. The title now makes its way this side of the pond as well.
Finally, Criterion reissues Robert Altman’s ensemble masterpiece ‘Nashville‘ as a Blu-ray-only edition, dropping the DVD copy from the package.
TV shows available on Blu-ray this week include the first (only) season of ‘Constantine‘, the first season of ‘Preacher‘, the third (and final) season of ‘Penny Dreadful‘, Season 4 of ‘Banshee‘, the first half of ‘Vikings‘ Season 4, ‘American Horror Story: Hotel‘ (i.e. Season 5), the sixth season of ‘Venture Bros.‘, and a lower-priced reissue of ‘Dexter: The Complete Series‘ (eight seasons in all).
I think I’ll rent ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ and ‘Swiss Army Man’. Frank Capra’s ‘Mr. Deeds’ will go on my wish list for later, but I don’t need to buy it right away. For $10, however, the 3D ‘It Came from Outer Space’ is really appealing to me.
Will you start October by buying any Blu-rays?