Not content to own just about every major blockbuster franchise, Disney makes a big play to drain every last penny out of our wallets by re-releasing seemingly half of its animation catalog onto Blu-ray and 4k Ultra HD this week. Can one lone super-assassin battle for attention in the midst of all that?
New Releases (Blu-ray)
Aladdin – The failure of Dumbo earlier this year couldn’t derail the Disney remake train. Will Smith dons blue makeup to take over from the late Robin Williams as the Aladdin genie. Of all the filmmakers still alive and working today, somehow Guy Ritchie was selected to helm the fantasy musical romance. On the plus side (and in a notable improvement over the original film), most of the non-genie cast this time are of more appropriate ethnicity. Despite weak reviews and trailers that frankly looked ghastly, the movie pulled in huge money, over $1 billion, once again validating Disney’s plan to regurgitate every old movie in its library.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum – The Keanu Reevesaissance continues as the star returns for a third round of ass-kicking in a franchise that has grown in success with each entry. Word of mouth is that this one is another satisfying expansion of the story’s weird mythology. Also, Halle Berry pops in with a couple of vicious attack dogs.
The Dead Don’t Die – In what seemed like a can’t-lose proposition for fans of deadpan comedy, indie auteur Jim Jarmusch assembled a stellar cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Rosie Perez, and more for a spoof of the zombie genre. Sadly, its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival was met with negative buzz and the film underwhelmed when it hit wider release. The consensus seems to be that it’s a very minor work and only sporadically funny.
Disney rolls out the 4k carpet for both the 2019 live-action Aladdin and the 1992 animated original. Both have SteelBooks at Best Buy, while Target exclusives come with mini art books.
Coinciding with that, Disney gives 4k upgrades to eight Pixar titles: Brave, Cars, Cars 2, Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, and Ratatouille. Best Buy has new SteelBooks for all of them.
Lionsgate debuts John Wick: Chapter 3 with a few exclusives of its own. Note that the Best Buy UHD SteelBook has different art than the Target Blu-ray SteelBook. The copy at Walmart comes with a collectible coin.
Meanwhile, Lionsgate busts Sylvester Stallone’s 1989 prison thriller Lock Up out of captivity, along with Ethan Hawke’s 2009 vampire flick Daybreakers.
Universal takes a gamble that fans will drop some cash on Ultra HD editions of Martin Scorcese’s 1995 Casino or a triple feature of Edgar Wright’s so-called Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy (i.e. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End).
I’m not sure whether Universal’s reissue of the Jurassic World: 5-Movie Collection comes packaged in a box or a keepcase with a slipcover (probably the latter), but either way it looks to have more sensible artwork than last year’s hideous SteelBook.
In addition to its 4k version, Disney is reissuing the 1992 Aladdin as a Signature Collection Blu-ray.
All of those Pixar titles mentioned above will also get reissued on standard Blu-ray, alongside The Incredibles, Monsters Inc., Monsters University, The Princess and the Frog, Up, Tangled, WALL-E, Wreck-It Ralph, and a triple feature of Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause trilogy. I expect that most of these will head to 4k eventually, at least those that haven’t already.
The Criterion Collection sets its sights on The Cloud-Capped Star, a 1960 musical melodrama from India.
It may only be September, but Warner Bros. is already prepping for the holiday season with Special Edition reissues of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas. (Note that both were released on Ultra HD in 2017.)
The 1973 romantic comedy A Touch of Class was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and won a Best Actress trophy for star Glenda Jackson. That film makes its way out of the Warner Archive along with reissues of Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder and the musical Kiss Me Kate (both still in 3D).
Singer Björk made her acting debut in the Icelandic medieval drama The Juniper Tree, now offered for rediscovery by Arbelos Films.
The TNT network’s adaptation of Caleb Carr’s period murder mystery The Alienist was advertised as a ten-episode limited event series, but a follow-up is in the works that the network is for some reason plugging as a “sequel” rather than a new season. Whatever the case, I didn’t find much of interest in the show when I watched the premiere episode, though my post at the time drew some truly bizarre comments from a racist troll with a wackadoodle conspiracy theory about the series. (I had to delete most of those comments, sorry. Take my word for it that they were pretty loony.)
Warner Bros. doles out the fourteenth season of the CW network’s Supernatural (a show that, as I recall, was originally only planned for five).
Finally, a complete package of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Jetsons comes to Blu-ray courtesy of the Warner Archive.
This week has a lot to take in. I’m fully on board with the John Wick franchise and am excited for Chapter 3. I still have some interest in The Dead Don’t Die despite its poor buzz. I might rent that, or catch it on cable or streaming someday.
I currently own Scorsese’s Casino on HD DVD. I suppose the Ultra HD gives me a good excuse to upgrade. I also feel like I ought to upgrade the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy, even though I’m happy enough with the Blu-ray editions of all three movies.
I’m still waiting for a solo 4k edition of the first Jurassic Park. I have no desire to own any of the sequels.
What titles will you make a wish for this week?