by Aaron Peck
As we step into July, we realize that the year is half over, and that we've already seen a wide variety of Blu-ray releases hit store shelves in 2012. In an effort to point out the most worthy titles once again, we bring your our "The Best Blu-rays of 2012, So Far...…" series where we highlight the releases that are definitely worth your money and time.
As we reached the half-way point of 2012, we finally started to get a lot of movies that came out around the 2011 holidays. Coupled with a few movies that have seen theatrical and Blu-ray releases in the same year, we bring you a list of the best action movies released on the format so far.
Whenever Denzel Washington is running around killing bad guys I think that it deserves a mention in the best action releases of the year list. The biggest problem with 'Safe House' is its shaky-cam atheistic, which makes many of the action scenes appear unnecessarily messy. However, there are some good shootouts and chase scenes, even though the camera is bouncing up and down. Plus, Denzel is blowing people away. Still, the incessant shaky-cam bumps it all the way down to the last spot on the list.
I fought with putting 'Wrath of the Titans' in this spot simply because of its CG-fueled action scenes featuring some extremely eye-pleasing creatures, but I opted to go with a film that was a bit smarter and a little more fun to watch. 'Chronicle' may not be something you'd think of as an "action" movie per se, but it does have quite a bit in it. The way the action is constructed in 'Chronicle' is far smarter than it had any business of being. As a found-footage film I don't think we expected much in the way of good action sequences, but I for one was pleasantly surprised. The climactic battle at the end was a lot of fun to watch.
I never felt like the action scenes in the first movie made a whole lot of sense. Guy Ritchie's lightning-fast editing techniques made it hard to follow along with the action as a whole. Here action still happens at the same extremely fast pace, but it seems a little more coherent all the way around. Especially with Ritchie's penchant for slowing down the action as bullets wiz passed Holmes and Watson. There were a lot more action-oriented scenes this time around. Coupled with demo-quality audio and video, 'A Game of Shadows' is definitely one of the best action movie Blu-ray releases of the year.
Resident Blu-ray reviewer Steve Cohen had many great things to say about the anime title 'Redline' when it came to Blu-ray. When discussing the action contained in this high-octane anime he said, "The animation style is fluid and fast paced, with lots of action packed sequences that absolutely wow with visual delights." With nearly perfect scores in the audio and video department, anime fans and action fans both have something to celebrate with this balls-to-the-wall animated action thriller.
6. 'The Grey'
A few people poo-pooed 'The Grey' because it didn't have enough action in it. Not all action movies need to be packed to the brim. The key here is that the action scenes feel real and genuinely scary. They are effective, and the movie does a fantastic job ratcheting up the terror as the wolves close in on Liam Neeson and his group. Singing the praises of Neeson's performance, reviewer Michael S. Palmer said, "'The Grey' again proves why Liam Neeson is one of the best action stars we have today. His screen presence is weighty and grounded; this guy can do anything and make it seem real and logical." Again, it's Liam Neeson fighting wolves. How can this not be awesome?
5. 'Battle Royale: The Complete Collection'
With all the talk of 'The Hunger Games' this year, it was kind of easy to forget about the lesser known Japanese movie 'Battle Royale' where a group of school kids are sent to a 'Huger Games'-esque place where they must kill each other in order to be the last person standing. What was great about this release was that fans got both the theatrical and extended cuts of the movie, both of which received five-star ratings from reviewer Nate Boss. The collection wavered a little on video presentation, but other than that this collection provided a fantastic, action-filled movie full of as much gore as you can possibly imagine.
4. 'Lethal Weapon Collection'
It's the quintessential buddy-cop franchise and it finally found its way to Blu-ray in May. All four films were included. Sure the quality of the movies sort of went down as the franchise wore on, but the first two films are downright classics when it comes to talking about prototypical 80s action awesomeness, and part 4 has its moments.
Some would argue that 'Drive' really isn't an action movie. While it may have more of an art film feel to it, there are still some stark, vicious bouts of action in the movie that make it so much fun to watch. The key to the brief but brutal action scenes is the way the movie ratchets up the suspense before the violence. It may not be filled with explosions and wall-to-wall gun battles, but its subtle action scenes are just as effective as some of cinema's best shootouts.
2. 'Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol'
I really wish there was a way to recreate the feeling I had in IMAX when I first saw 'Ghost Protocol'. When that camera panned out over the ledge of the Burj Khalifa as Tom Cruise began to scale the outside windows I literally felt a bout of vertigo in the theater. At home, not so much. It's a good thing that the rest of the movie has such wonderfully staged action scenes. The action in the movie is never hampered by incessant shaky-cam or incomprehensible editing techniques. Even though I didn't have the sheer feeling of vertigo I experienced in the theater, there is still plenty of action and suspense in this movie to keep anyone interested and invested in the story.
Man I love this movie. I can't say enough good things about the absolute brutal action scenes. Go through and watch the special features and you'll see huge stars like Michael Fassbender actually taking punches and being kicked through glass windows. The action scenes in this movie are unrivaled by anything else that has come out this year (except 'The Raid'). 'Haywire' foregoes any sort of editing nonsense and goes straight for the jugular. It's almost hard to watch some of the scenes because it appears as if they're really beating the crap out of each other. The way that Steven Soderbergh films these action scenes is something to behold, it really is. These actors are actually taking a physical beating instead of faking it. I can't get enough of 'Haywire.'
Until 'The Raid' comes to Blu-ray, this list stands as some of the best action Blu-rays that have been released in 2012. You can't go wrong with any movies on this list, but the next half of 2012 looks just as (if not more) promising. So, while we're waiting on 'The Raid,' the 'Bond 50' box-set, and the release of 'Indiana Jones', these ten movies should curb your action appetite.
What have been some of your favorite action movie releases of 2012? Did we miss something that simply must be in people's collections? Let us know in the forum by clicking on the link below.