Senior Theatrical Editor
New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for Aug 3, 2010
Weíre starting a new weekly feature here at MovieFreak and weíre calling it ďNew Bluís On the Block.Ē Yes, itís a New Kids reference, and no, Iím not going to apologize for it. The truth is I think itís a catchy title for this every Tuesday enterprise, and Iím almost (but not quite) sorry I wasnít the one who thought it up (that would be Dennis, our glorious webmaster and site owner who allows me to keep my job).
My guess is that most of you have already figured out what this feature is going to be about. Thatís right, itís going to be a listing of the weekís top releases on Blu-ray (and sometimes, if I feel like it, DVD). Weíll be giving you our insights into some of the titles, links to past theatrical reviews, filmmaker interviews and current full-length reviews on particularly noteworthy titles. The whole thing is going to be really nothing more than a friendly vehicle to let you know whatís out and, even better, whatís worth watching (and potentially picking up for a purchase, convienent Amazon links provided).
I picked this week to start things off because, as release Tuesdays go, this one is a dozy. Not only do we have one of the yearís most talked about (and slightly controversial) superhero epics, weíve also got one of my personal picks as one of 2010ís absolute best as well as a title that arguably should have won last yearís Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Not only that, there are bushel of catalog titles making their first appearance on Blu-ray all of which are worth getting excited about, many of which weíll be posting much more in-depth reviews for within the week. Without further ado, letís get started hanging tough with the New Bluís On the Block!
Kick-Ass (Save and Buy from Amazon)
I admit upfront that I had significant problems with Matthew Vaughnís adaptation of Mark Millar and John S. Romita, Jr.ís comic book series Kick-Ass the first time I saw it, most of them revolving around the character of Hit Girl (read my theatrical review here). Admittedly wonderfully portrayed by youngster ChloŽ Grace Moretz, I just had trouble getting past the level of violence she was gleefully, almost sadistically, taking part in. Sure Vaughnís film is expertly made, and I just loved Nicolas Cageís irreverent take on vigilante superhero Big Daddy, but I just couldnít get past the unease I felt in regards to this irrepressible 12-year-old child, my enjoyment severely muted because of it.
On the flipside of things, the movie holds up remarkable well on repeat viewings, so much so a lot of my initial reservations kind of started to evaporate. The film, while only doing okay at the box office bringing in just over $48-million domestically on a reported $30-million budget, itself managed to find a clearly devoted fan base, its cult prospects particularly strong if you were to ask me.
As for the Blu-ray itself, this thing comes loaded and is packed with special features including two hi-def exclusive extras, the ďAss-Kicking BonusView ModeĒ that runs synchronous with the feature film incorporating video and audio commentary, behind-the-scenes clips and illustrative graphics with Matthew Vaughn, plus cast and crew providing an all-access perspective, and a documentary, A New Kind of Superhero: The Making of Kick-Ass.
Mitchell's Kick-Ass Blu-ray review is now live, and you can also read my Interview with Mark Millar, comic creator and the film's executive producer.
The Ghost Writer (Save and Buy from Amazon)
If I was put on the spot, right now Iíd list Roman Polanskiís crackerjack thriller The Ghost Writer at number four on my list of 2010ís top motion pictures. Back when I first wrote bout the film in February (read my theatrical review here) I said it was an ďbona fide masterpiece from a master of the medium,Ē finishing up my thought by admitting that if it did end up being the reclusive and controversial filmmakerís last feature (he was at that time under house arrest awaiting extradition back to the United States) then it was such a monumental achievement I couldnít think of a greater high to go out on.
Sadly, I did not receive this disc for review. What I can tell you is that it is a Blu-ray/standard DVD flipper disc (which I tend to hate) and comes with only three special features, an interview with Polanski, an interview with author Robert Harris and a featurette focusing on the filmís cast. Being one of 2010ís best, The Ghost Writer is definitely worthy of a rental, but until I get a chance to see the disc for myself I canít really say whether or not fans should be picking it up as a purchase.
A Prophet (Save and Buy from Amazon)
A strong case can be made that Jacques Audiardís A Prophet should have picked up the Oscar for Best Foreign Film over Argentinaís The Secret in Their Eyes. This is a strong, masterfully made motion picture that I loved when I saw it earlier this year (read my theatrical review here), and while I did have a couple of reservations they were so incredibly minor looking at the film again recently Iím almost ashamed I even brought them up.
Sony Pictures Classicsí Blu-ray release of A Prophet is extraordinary. The picture and sound quality are both superb and I canít tell you how happy I am to have this excellent disc in my own personal library. While the special features arenít extensive, what it here is wonderful (especially the audio commentary with Audiard, actor Tahar Rahim and co-writer Thomas Bidegain). In short, buy this Blu-ray immediately. Itís that good. You can get my complete thoughts of this release in my A Prophet Blu-ray review.
The Breakfast Club (Save and Buy from Amazon)
John Hughesí seminal 1985 classic makes its long awaited Blu-ray debut, making the film the second of the filmmakerís directorial efforts (Ferris Buellerís Day Off being the first) to hit the format. Thanks to Universal PR, I give you my The Breakfast Club Blu-ray review.
The Road to Perdition (Save and Buy from Amazon)
Paramount releases Sam Mendesí Road to Perdition to Blu-ray and early reports on this release's quality are quite positive. Sadly, we at MovieFreak didnít receive a review copy so I canít tell you one way or the other if these accounts should be trusted. What I can say is that this 2002 box office hit features one of Tom Hanksí best performances as well as some spellbinding supporting work from Jude Law, Daniel Craig and the always amazing Paul Newman. The disc comes with a brand new introduction from director Mendes (who also supplies an audio commentary), as well as a collection of featurettes and deleted scenes most of which are in high definition. For fans, this is certainly a disc worth taking the time to consider picking up.
James and the Giant Peach (Save and Buy from Amazon)
Personally, I find director Henry Selick and producer Tim Burtonís adaptation of Roald Dahlís timeless James and the Giant Peach to be an even greater masterwork than the pairís previous collaboration The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is superlative family entertainment that I could watch again and again and never grow tired of, and if a you doesnít have this particular title in your collection than here is their chance to make sure that gets remedied. Read my full review of this Blu-ray here.
Bull Durham/Escape from New York/Fargo/Kalifornia (Save and Buy from Amazon)
Fox dives into MGMís catalog and releases three hot titles, Bull Durham, Escape from New York and Kalifornia all making their way to the format for the very first time. Of the trio the ones Iím most excited to get a look at are John Carpenterís seminal 1981 cult classic and the simply awesome Kevin Costner/Susan Sarandon baseball flick. They're both two of my favorite films of all-time, and I'm dying to see for myself what high definition has in store for the both of them. Reviews for all three titles have been posted. Read my thoughts on the Bull Durham Blu-ray review and Escape From New York Blu-ray review, and also have a look at Mitchell's Kalifornia Blu-ray review.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Save and Buy from Amazon)
Somehow Diary of a Wimpy Kid managed almost $64-million at the domestic box office. A sequel is already in the works and is scheduled to hit theatres in March of next year. Personally, I couldnít stand this picture, so here is my Diary of a Wimpy Kid Blu-ray review where you will find out why.
Humanoids from the Deep and Piranha (Save and Buy from Amazon)
Two titles from the Roger Corman factory, Joe Danteís cult classic Piranha the one deserving of the most attention (and not just because thereís a 3D remake coming out later this month). Written by the great John Sayles and featuring an eclectic cast including Bradford Dillman and the great Kevin McCarthy, this tongue-in-cheek rip-off/homage to Steven Spielbergís Jaws is an malevolent hoot. Seriously, Iím thinking of picking up this Blu-ray almost on principle, B-movie lovers sure to find tons to enjoy. Besides, according to DVD Beaver the film has never looked better or offered up more intriguing and enjoyable special features, that recommendation good enough for me to put my order through Amazon right now.
Heroes Ė Season Four (Save and Buy from Amazon)
I stopped watching this series about halfway through the first season. It just didnít do anything for me. That said, the show did develop a devoted following, and as poor as the third season was supposed to be this fourth and final one was supposed to be a distinct improvement. Other than that there really isnít anymore for me to say.
After.Life (Save and Buy from Amazon)
Another one of Anchor Bayís barely released horror titles, this one featuring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci and Justin Long. The trailer is suitably creepy and Iím admittedly intrigued. Find out more in my After.Life Blu-ray review.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES