September may have started off slowly, but the month ramps up to speed in a big way this week with a huge batch of new Blu-rays, including one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.
‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘ – I didn’t care for the first ‘Captain America’. Frankly, I thought it was the weakest of Marvel’s “Phase 1” movies. However, the film’s biggest problem was that it was such a rote, by-the-numbers superhero origin story. With that out of the way, the sequel is free to try something new. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten out to the theater much at all this year, but I’ve heard lots of good things about this and look forward to catching up with it on Blu-ray. Collectors take note that Best Buy has a SteelBook edition.
‘Brick Mansions‘ – One of the final films the late Paul Walker completed before his untimely death was an American remake of the French parkour action hit ‘District B13‘. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be much of a high note to go out on. The movie looked terrible, and almost every single review confirmed as much. Walker was a likeable and charismatic guy, but he didn’t have much success outside the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise.
‘God’s Pocket‘ – Speaking of the recently departed, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a low-level Philadelphia mobster with a gambling problem who tries to scrape together enough cash to bury his murdered stepson in this drama directed by ‘Mad Men’ star John Slattery. Little seen outside the film festival circuit, most reviews called it a good actors’ showcase hampered by clichéd writing.
‘Willow Creek‘ – Bobcat Goldthwait branches out from dark comedy to make a found-footage horror movie about a couple attacked in the woods by Bigfoot. Weird.
‘Words and Pictures‘ – Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche are schoolteachers who compete against each other to prove whether literature or art is more important than the other. I can hardly think of any pitch for a movie that could possibly sound more pretentious and simplistic.
‘Borgman‘ – “Resistance is futile.” Oh, wait, not that kind of Borg-man. Never mind. This one is a Dutch thriller about a vagrant who disrupts the lives of an upper-class family. As far as I can tell, he has no cybernetic enhancements at all.
‘Korengal‘ – Sebastian Junger follows up his Oscar-nominated documentary ‘Restrepo’ with another ground-level look at the war in Afghanistan from the point-of-view of an American platoon.
‘Fed Up‘ – An activist documentary that explains why Americans have such an obesity problem. I’m sure that this is the feel-good hit of the year.
The suits at Paramount sure screwed the pooch with the original Blu-ray release(s) of ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ last year by splitting all the bonus features up among several different retailer exclusives. The studio tries to make up for that now with a reissue that finally gathers everything together into one package called ‘Star Trek: The Compendium‘. The catch: In order to get the new ‘Into Darkness’ discs, you also have to buy the previous ‘Star Trek’, which is straight-up identical to the Blu-ray released in 2009 that you probably already own. Also, no 3D for ‘Into Darkness’, because they had to find some way to get you to buy another reissue next year. But hey, if you already bought the previous Blu-rays for either movie, you can get a whopping $5 off this one. What a bargain!
It must be football season. Oliver Stone’s ‘Any Given Sunday‘ already received a pretty satisfactory Blu-ray release of the Director’s Cut back in 2009. The new 15th Anniversary Edition includes both the Director’s Cut and the original theatrical version with some new supplements, but was there really anyone clamoring for a double-dip of this title? It’s one of Stone’s lesser movies, was only a modest box office success in its day, and has largely been forgotten in the meantime.
Long before Stone broke out as an A-List filmmaker with ‘Platoon’, he started in the industry by directing schlocky low-budget horror flicks. Scorpion Releasing has dredged up his feature debut, ‘Seizure!‘, starring Jonathan Frid from ‘Dark Shadows’, Hervé Villechaize and cult queen Mary Woronov. The film was reportedly a difficult, chaotic shoot, and Stone has disowned it in the years since.
The parade of horror movies that started last week continues with the classic slashers ‘Prom Night‘ and ‘Graduation Day‘, Stan Winston’s gory creature feature ‘Pumpkinhead‘, and the ridiculously corny ‘Flowers in the Attic‘.
Sort of related to that theme is a reissue of Mel Brooks’ brilliant parody ‘Young Frankenstein‘. Details of how the 40th Anniversary Edition differs from the prior Blu-ray are still sketchy as I write this.
In the mood for even more funny business? Watch the great Zero Mostel chew some scenery in ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum‘. The Warner Archive revs up Blake Edwards’ 1965 all-star madcap adventure ‘The Great Race‘, while regular Warner Home Video resurrects ‘The Addams Family‘. (Where’s the sequel to that last one? It would have made a great candidate for a double-feature.)
Elsewhere, Kino is in a Blaxploitation kind of mood with high-def editions of ‘Across 110th Street‘ and ‘Cotton Comes to Harlem‘.
This is also a big week for TV product. Tying in with ‘Captain America’ is the first season of Marvel’s underwhelming ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘. Fresh off airing on broadcast (and playing briefly in theaters) is ‘Doctor Who: Deep Breath‘, the first episode featuring new star Peter Capaldi. (Undoubtedly, this will also be included in the eventual Season 8 box set.)
Also available are the third season of ‘Homeland‘, the fifth season of ‘The Vampire Diaries‘ and the ninth season of ‘Supernatural‘. But if you want a classic family-friendly show, Lionsgate continues its restoration of ‘Little House on the Prairie‘ with a third season collection.
I’m sure that ‘Captain America’ will be the top seller this week. I plan to find that Best Buy SteelBook. I’m also currently in the process of writing reviews for the ‘Star Trek Compendium’ and ‘Any Given Sunday’ (which I was only assigned because I reviewed the prior release, but wouldn’t be inclined to pick up otherwise). ‘The Great Race’ and ‘A Funny Thing Happened…’ are appealing, but can wait for a later day.
What are your picks for the week?