Looking for new Blu-rays to buy this week? You might find an interesting title or two. Let’s get avengin’!
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron‘ – It was perhaps inevitable that Marvel’s follow-up to ‘The Avengers’ would be a disappointment. Not a financial disappointment, mind you (the sequel still made a good $1.4 billion), but a letdown in terms of fan expectations. The studio did such a great job building up its Cinematic Universe in Phase One until the ultimate culmination where all its major superheroes finally came together. Having accomplished that, where do you go next? What can possibly top it? Not this, apparently. Marvel’s incessant meddling into the production probably didn’t help. Writer/director Joss Whedon walked away afterwards and will leave the next sequel in other hands. You’d think that a guy who made the studio a billion and a half dollars in his first attempt might deserve a little latitude in his second effort, but I guess that’s just not how the movie business works. Anyway, for as much as fans grumbled about the movie, I’m sure that the Blu-ray will still sell well and that the Hulkbuster sequence will be a popular home theater demo scene for some time. I’ve heard, however, that the Blu-ray’s soundtrack has been curiously throttled in the bass department.
‘Spy‘ – Despite its painfully generic title, the third collaboration between director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy is their most polished, well-structured (it actually has a structure, for one thing!) and funniest yet. Unlike either ‘Bridemaids’ or ‘The Heat’ (both of which I also enjoyed), this Bond movie spoof is more than just a bunch of ad-libbed riffing. It has a real plot that holds together – and it has lots of ad-libbed riffing. McCarthy gets to prove that she has way more range as an actress than other recent roles would suggest, and Jason Statham is truly hilarious in a supporting part. This bodes very well for Feig and McCarthy’s upcoming ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot.
‘Poltergeist‘ – The world probably didn’t need a ‘Poltergeist’ remake, and judging by its terrible box office performance, the world clearly didn’t want a ‘Poltergeist’ remake either. But if we’re going to have a ‘Poltergeist’ remake anyway, I can think of worse hands to put it in than Sam Raimi as producer and the guy who made the very fun ‘Monster House’ as director. Sadly, reviews and word-of-mouth were generally negative, but it’s difficult to tell how much of that was based strictly on comparisons to the original, versus judging this one on its own merits. I’ve heard some defenses as well. This seems like it would perhaps make good rental fodder.
‘Entourage‘ – Why does this exist? Nobody wanted this. HBO’s ‘Entourage’ series was great in its first two, maybe three seasons. But then it kept going for eight goddamn seasons and was so played-out that I couldn’t bother to watch the last one and never felt like I missed anything. The show said and did everything it needed to long before it dragged to a close. Yet now, four years later, creator Doug Ellin brought it back for a big-screen reunion that can’t possibly have anything to add. Even the R rating is neutered compared to some of the stuff the TV version got away with on premium cable.
‘Cop Car‘ – Kevin Bacon is a corrupt sheriff (well, I mean his character is) who terrorizes two juvenile delinquents that make the mistake of taking his police cruiser for a joy ride. The indie thriller was praised for its tightly-wound suspense and dark comedy.
‘The Duke of Burgundy‘ – The art house alternative to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, this surrealistic romance between two women in an S&M relationship was a hit on the film festival circuit and received mostly rave reviews from critics.
‘Aloft‘ – I can’t make heads or tails of the plot summary of this movie. From what I can tell, Jennifer Connelly (who’s currently 45-years-old) plays the mother of Cillian Murphy (who’s 39). After her other son dies, Connelly becomes a faith healer in the Arctic Circle and Murphy takes up falconry. Something like that, anyway. Is it any surprise that the film was lambasted for being a pretentious, incomprehensible mess?
‘The Connection‘ – Imagine if ‘The French Connection’ were made by and starred actual Frenchmen. That seems to be the pitch behind this crime thriller set in 1970s Marseille. Oscar winner Jean Dujardin, so charming in light comedy roles like ‘The Artist’ and ‘OSS 117’, tries his hand at much heavier material.
‘Unexpected‘ – Made while the actress was really pregnant, Cobie Smulders plays a high school teacher facing unplanned-for motherhood at the same time as one of her teenage students. Most reviews complimented the performances by Smulders and costar Gail Bean, but were less enthused by the dramedy itself. I imagine that this will be a staple in Redbox kiosks for a while.
Warner Bros. released the Oscar-nominated period piece ‘A Room with a View‘ back in 2008. The Criterion Collection tries to better that with a reissue that sports a fresh film scan and new supplements. The film is one of the few Merchant/Ivory productions I care for (‘The Remains of the Day’ being basically the only other).
Criterion’s other title this week is ‘The Honeymoon Killers‘, a 1969 crime drama based on the true story of the so-called “Lonely Hearts Killers” – a couple who conned and murdered wealthy widows. (If that description sounds familiar, I mentioned it last week in reference to the recent French film ‘Alleluia’ loosely based on the same story.)
If you missed out on Twilight Time’s limited edition of John Carpenter’s evil-car Stephen King adaptation ‘Christine‘ a few years ago, Sony has reclaimed the rights to the film and is re-releasing it under its own label. Those who refused to buy the expensive Twilight Time disc will no doubt feel vindicated for waiting.
Shout! Factory offers a 25th Anniversary Edition of director Jean-Jacques Annaud’s visually-arresting nature survival tale ‘The Bear‘. Parents expecting a DisneyNature-type venture to watch with the kiddos may have some explaining to do during the sequence in which the title creature munches on some funky mushrooms and has a vivid psychedelic trip. I’m pretty sure the movie also features animal sex.
In comparison to recent weeks, this one is surprisingly light on TV fare. The only notable box sets are the fourth season of NBC’s ‘Grimm‘ and the second half of the first season of Starz’s ‘Outlander‘.
I already received the UK SteelBook edition of ‘Age of Ultron’ about a week ago.
I thought ‘Spy’ was great and am down for adding that to my collection. Both the Criterion titles will also go on my wish list.
What will you put your money down on this week?