The day before the fourth of July appears to be catalog day as far as Blu-ray as concerned, the only notable 2012 releases a pair of independent sleepers not a lot of people (sadly) took note of when they were in theatres and available for viewing OnDemand. Other than that, not a ton to talk about, even though a lot of it is worthy of a look (if not, at least in some instances, an outright purchase).
Born on the Fourth of July
Oliver Stoneís Academy Award-winning motion picturing chronicling Vietnam veteran Ron Kovicís incredible life story finally makes itís Blu-ray debut as part of Universalís 100th anniversary, and itís not like the date the studio chose to drop this one into the marketplace is much of a surprise. Uneven, not entirely successful, the movie is nonetheless a total powerhouse featuring one of star Tom Cruiseís best and most unflinching performances. Highly recommended and with a price on Amazon right now too good to be true, as a review copy didnít present itself Iím buying this disc sight unseen.
A review copy of this sorta classic only just arrived, so I havenít had the chance to give it a look as of yet. Released as part of Paramountís 100th anniversary, this legendarily bizarre science fiction opus is one of those Ďsee to be believedí titles that, while not quite living up to either the hype or its cult pedigree, is still beyond unusual. The biggest mystery? How this movie, with so much sexual innuendo, the majority of it beyond blatant, managed a PG rating even in 1968 at the time of its original theatrical release.
Home on the Range
Treasure Planet Ė 10th Anniversary Edition
Iíve always liked Home on the Range (take a look at my Theatrical Review), the movie silly and funny in all the ways that matter. Sure itís slight, not even close to top of the line hand-drawn animated Disney, but the jokes are solid, the story works and the vocal performances, mainly from Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench and Jennifer Tilly, are top-notch. Kids are sure to eat it up, and any parent willing to put their reservations to the wayside and enjoy the movie for what it is will more than likely have a great time as well. For more, check out my Blu-ray Review.
Treasure Planet, getting a 10th anniversary edition from Disney, isnít quite as inspiring or as enjoyable. An interstellar adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Treasure Island, the movie has high aspirations but sadly finds itself unable to achieve them. The animation is stunning, and the film is hardly a disaster, but overall itís a little too bland and, sadly, boring to every achieve anything close to greatness, making the finished product nothing more than a visually pretty disappointment.
God Bless America
From my May theatrical review (read it here): ď[Writer/director Bobcat] Goldthwait gleefully pushes buttons lesser filmmakers wouldnít dare to design let alone bring to fruition. What heís saying holds resonance, and why the taste on display isnít exactly kosher if oneís in the right frame of mind itís still pretty darn easy to swallow. God Bless America comes out guns blazing, and even if all the targets donít get a direct hit the majority still strike right up next to the bullís eye.Ē For more, check out my recently posted Blu-ray Review.
The Hunter (2011)
Willem Dafoe is outstanding in this tiny independent chronicling a manís search for the supposedly extinct Tasmanian Tiger while the movie itself is visually stunning if dramatically a tiny bit inert. The first half is outstanding, itís just as the story progresses that things begin to fall apart a little, leading to a denouement that, while somewhat effective, doesnít quite emotionally wash thanks to its clichť familiarity. All the same, Dafoe rules in this film, reminding us all heís easily one of the most continually underrated and intrinsically fascinating actors working today. For him alone, the movie is worthy of a rental; because of him, it might actually be worth more than that.
The Horse Whisperer
Under the Tuscan Sun
Four more wildly disparate catalog titles from Disney as their 2012 live-action Blu-ray onslaught continues. The most intriguing of the bunch is arguably Robert Redfordís overlong and not always focused The Horse Whisperer, mainly because, for whatever its faults, the movie is a visually poetic stunner with an ability to hypnotize second to none making it almost perfect for high-definition. As for the rest, Step Up is a guilty pleasure Iíll probably end up adding to my collection at some point (just donít tell anyone), Under the Tuscan Sun is a diverting if slight drama featuring a standout performance from Diane Lane (check out my original 2003 Theatrical Review) and Phenomenon is a relatively decent drama with John Travolta as a simple-minded nobody who goes all Flowers for Algernon under highly mysterious circumstances. Like I said, itís a mixed lot, but each of them worthy of checking out even if none is even close to perfect.
George Gently Ė Series 4
Midsomer Murders Ė Set 20
Two popular British series get Blu-ray releases from the folks at Acorn Media. Personally, my favorite remains George Gently, while Midsomer Murders is a series for whatever reason Iíve never been able to get into in any way that particularly matters. Both look great in hi-def, however, Acorn doing a bang-up job if a I do say so myself.
OTHER NOTABLE BLU-RAY RELEASES
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∑ The Entity
∑ Mac & Devin Go to High School
∑ Wind Blast
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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The Casserole Club
In a 1960s suburb, a group of housewives decides to form a recipe club and hold regular dinners with their husbands to see who can make the best casserole. But friendly competition soon turns to boozy flirtation and more than recipes end of getting swapped at their parties. What begins as rowdy fun ultimately lays bare the damaged lives and despair that could ultimately tear apart this seemingly close-knit group of friends. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
A 15-year-old art prodigy abandoned by his drug addicted mother finds refuge in the picturesque art village of Carmel-by-the-sea, California. While trying to survive on his own, he is introduced to the high dollar underground world of art forgery. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Some Guy Who Kills People
At first glance, Ken Boyd may seem like an average comic enthusiast, living with his mother and working to make ends meet as an underpaid, underappreciated ice cream parlor attendant. But Ken has a dirty little secret: he fantasizes about killing people. After being released from a stay in the loony bin, for severe mental trauma suffered when he was beaten and tortured by a gang of high school thugs, Ken's repressed anger suddenly reaches a boiling point. With gleeful enthusiasm Ken hunts down his tormentors, one by one, and exacts his bloody revenge. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
∑ The Raid: Redemption (Aug 14, 2012)
∑ House, M.D.: Season Eight (Aug. 21, 2012)
∑ Halloween 4: Return of Michael Myers (Aug 28, 2012)
∑ Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers (Aug 28, 2012)
∑ Homeland: The Complete First Season (Aug 28, 2012)
∑ Mad Monster Party (Sept 4, 2012)
∑ Safe (Sept 4, 2012)
∑ Masters of the Universe (Oct 2, 2012)
∑ Dead Ringer (Oct 9, 2012)
∑ Ice Station Zebra (Oct 9, 2012)
∑ Little Shop of Horrors (Oct. 9, 2012)
∑ Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (Oct. 9, 2012)
∑ Friends - The Complete Series (Nov 13, 2012)
∑ Finding Nemo (Dec 4, 2012)