Among the huge assortment of new Blu-rays available this week (many of them simple reissues or bundles) can be found a sci-fi epic with a serious identity crisis, a raunchy Western spoof, and lots of sharks in tornadoes. Let’s dig in and see what we find.
‘Edge of Tomorrow‘ – Originally greenlit as ‘All You Need Is Kill’, changed for a brief time to ‘We Mortals Are’, released to theaters this summer as ‘Edge of Tomorrow’, and now appearing on Blu-ray with cover art that implies yet another new title of ‘Live Die Repeat’, Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi action flick is perhaps one of the most confusing movie releases ever. Combined with a marketing campaign that failed to adequately explain the concept (it’s basically ‘Groundhog Day’ with aliens and robot armor and explosions), the film underperformed at the box office despite very positive reviews and word of mouth. It will likely do better on home video. The Blu-ray is available in 2D or post-converted 3D versions, plus a SteelBook option for collectors.
‘A Million Ways to Die in the West‘ – It looks like the blockbuster success of ‘Ted’ may have been a fluke. Seth MacFarlane’s second live-action directorial effort was a dud this summer. I blame a lot of the failure on MacFarlane casting himself as the lead rather than a legitimate actor. Although I don’t have a problem with his voiceover work, whenever MacFarlane appears on camera, he looks way out of place in whatever he’s doing and pulls me completely out of the moment. We’re supposed to believe that Charlize Theron would be his love interest? Come on… The trailers for this comedy had a couple of decent laughs, but nothing that made me want to rush out to the theater. This’ll be on HBO soon enough. I can wait for that.
‘Million Dollar Arm‘ – Lots of “millions” this week, for some reason. Jon Hamm plays a baseball scout with unconventional ideas who goes to India to recruit cricket players to try out for the MLB in the latest feel-good, inspirational sports drama that may also be just a little bit racist in its embrace of cultural stereotypes for cheap fish-out-of-water hijinks. Allegedly based on a true story.
‘Sharknado 2: The Second One‘ – Having watched the original Syfy broadcast, I can say with confidence that ‘Sharknado 2’ is every bit as good as the first ‘Sharknado’. Read that however you’d like. A suggestion for the producers: Please set ‘Sharknado 3’ somewhere completely land-locked. I’d love to see the justification for a sharknado hitting Denver.
‘Obvious Child‘ – Comedienne Jenny Slate (currently on FX’s ‘Married’) plays a twenty-something stand-up comic dealing with an unplanned pregnancy in this comedy-drama that was very well received by critics and festival audiences.
‘Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon‘ – Mike Myers tries his hand at directing a documentary about the rollicking life and times of the powerful entertainment manager that everyone in Hollywood knows but no one outside the Hollywood community has ever heard of. This seems like the very definition of “inside baseball.”
Was the recent gospel musical ‘Black Nativity‘ even a hit? The movie was released on Blu-ray back in April, and is already getting an Extended Musical Edition. I guess somebody liked it.
In other musical news, Fox has finally broken out a few of its classics from the Amazon-exclusive ‘Rodgers and Hammerstein Collection’ box set. The restoration for ‘Oklahoma!‘ is said to be truly glorious, while ‘The King and I‘ has a very controversial video transfer. Also available is a reissue of ‘South Pacific’ not listed above because it’s identical to the Blu-ray released in 2009. As far as I can tell, we’re still waiting for individual copies of ‘State Fair’ and ‘Carousel’.
Fans of the first two movies who refused to buy the ‘Alien Anthology’ box set because they just can’t stand the last two will be glad to see the new 35th Anniversary Edition of Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien‘ and a corresponding reissue of James Cameron’s ‘Aliens‘. They’re the same discs from the box set, just repackaged separately along with some new art cards and similar bric-a-brac.
The 2006 Blu-ray release of Ridley Scott’s historical epic ‘Kingdom of Heaven‘ contained only the Director’s Cut and failed to carry over any of the copious supplements found on DVD. The new Ultimate Edition rectifies that by combining all the bonus features with three different versions of the movie. Although the movie’s original theatrical cut was a disastrous mess, the Director’s Cut is a quantum leap improvement that elevates an outright bad movie to “pretty decent.” The Roadshow Version is the same as the Director’s Cut but adds an Overture and Intermission. Unfortunately, no amount of extending or re-editing the movie can fix the fact that it still stars a woefully miscast Orlando Bloom.
Presumably as a promotional tie-in for the upcoming video release of ‘Maleficent’, Disney pulls ‘Sleeping Beauty‘ out of the vault for a Diamond Edition that’s more-or-less the same disc released before, but with a small selection of new extras.
The first Blu-ray edition of the children’s fantasy classic ‘The NeverEnding Story‘ was pretty disappointing. Warner tries again with a 30th Anniversary Edition that claims to be remastered. A separate release of the movie’s first craptastic sequel is also available, as if anyone would ever buy that one on its own.
Unless I’m missing something, the 10th Anniversary Edition of ‘Sideways‘ appears to be a straight-up repackaging of the existing Blu-ray from 2009.
Other Catalog Titles
In case you haven’t gotten enough musicals yet, Bing Crosby pines for a white Christmas in ‘Holiday Inn‘. Be warned that the edited version of this you may be familiar with from television broadcasts omits a blackface musical number that’s quite offensive by modern sensibilities. You might need to brace yourself for that before watching the original version.
Michael Moore may have eventually overreached his grasp and worn out his welcome as his media persona overshadowed his message, but his first activist documentary ‘Roger & Me‘ is still his best and remains a really powerful piece of work.
If you enjoyed revisiting his “Man with No Name Trilogy” in the recent Blu-ray box set, MGM offers another Sergio Leone Western this week with ‘Duck, You Sucker!‘ (a.k.a. ‘A Fistful of Dynamite’).
Kino digs up some retro adventure with Jules Dassin’s caper comedy ‘Topkapi‘ and Ken Russell’s bonkers spy thriller ‘Billion Dollar Brain‘.
In addition to all of the above, this week’s TV slate is also jam-packed with a wide assortment of options to keep you occupied.
If you want something scary, try the third season of ‘American Horror Story‘, the second season of ‘Bates Motel‘ or the first season of Eli Roth’s Netflix series ‘Hemlock Grove‘. Fox’s ‘The Following‘ somehow also got a second season, though I can’t imagine why.
If animation’s your thing, we have the fourth season of ‘Adventure Time‘ or the first season of Dan Harmon’s ‘Rick and Morty‘.
For trashy historical adventure, the second season of ‘Vikings‘ may fit the bill. Tenuously connected to that in theme is Syfy’s goofy ‘The Almighty Johnsons‘ (really a New Zealand show about Norse gods reincarnated in the modern day).
Lionsgate has the miniseries bio-pic ‘Houdini‘, starring Adrien Brody as the legendary magician.
Finally… sigh… ‘Duck Dynasty‘ has been on TV for six seasons now. Is anyone really buying this on video to own forever?
This week has so much to choose from. I definitely need to check out ‘Edge of Tomorrow’, while wish list titles include ‘Topkapi’ and ‘Duck, You Sucker!’. I still have ‘Roger & Me’ on DVD and don’t know how much it would benefit from high definition.
Have I missed something that you’re excited about this week? Tell us in the Comments.