Hey folks, Harry here – this isn’t an extensive amount of new releases that made the cut with me this week, but that’s fine, next week is really making up for it. However, what is here, with a couple of exceptions, are some pretty outstanding releases. As usual all the pics and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more about a release or if you like, you can purchase it, which helps sponsor the best efforts of this column. A very exciting update should be going live later this week on my PicksAndPeeks.com Now on to the list!
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
WRECK-IT RALPH Blu-Ray 3D
Ok – before you watch WRECK-IT RALPH… put the Blu-Ray 3D in – and then go to the extras and watch PAPERMAN, the recent Academy Award Winning Best Animated Short in it’s 3D presentation. It is Exquisite on here. THEN – by all means, watch WRECK-IT RALPH, the best of the CG Disney Animated efforts. What I love – is despite all the famous Arcade classics running around, it really is Ralph, Felix, Vanellope, Calhoun and King Candy that carry the movie and take it from a cute convention of established brands, and instead – gave way to a beautifully constructed story about a bad guy trying to find a different way. But really, the film is about how you shouldn’t become your job. To define yourself through the relationships we make in life. Good old live a happy life programming, but done with so much heart and damn, I’d say soul – that I find my love for this film growing constantly. In particular, the characters of Felix and Calhoun strengthen upon multiple viewings. AND – there’s so much fun to be had with spying all the cameos. If you need help with that, there’s a special with Chris Hardwick that I highly recommend. The 3D effect is especially awesome once you enter the Sugar Rush world. Just don’t be surprised if you end up wanting donuts and ice cream while watching!
SCHINDLER’S LIST Blu Ray
I love SCHINDLER’S LIST. I’m not Jewish and I can’t really imagine what watching this film with that connection would mean, but I think the greatness about the film is that it asks you, if something horrible like this were to happen in your world, what would you do? I love the story of Oskar Schindler because he didn’t intend to be a good man, he wanted to grotesquely exploit the situation… until he personally witnessed the gravity of that situation. Imagine in your life if suddenly a racial or religious or type of person was being eradicated. This was the second half of an amazing one two punch year for Spielberg. Opening with Jurassic Park and closing with Schindler’s List, it is one of the most amazing commercial and artistic victories ever accomplished by any filmmaker ever. The blu ray is exquisite. The transfer is frankly better than in theaters. Remember sitting in the theater and seeing the film stock color shift whenever a color element was added? Now it is perfect. No film stock shift. Perfect. The tension and power of this film has not diminished in the least. In fact, the recent revelation about the number of Ghettos and Camps the Nazis ran during WWII has just become astonishingly frightening. It is absolutely paramount to recognize and continue to share these stories. We as a society must never allow these things to occur again. As for the extras, we’re not getting everything we’d like. As usual, no Spielberg commentary. The extras are less about the film – and more about the history. VOICES FROM THE LIST is a nearly 80 minute collection of Holocaust survivors stories as hosted by Spielberg. This is an amazing piece. Then there’s a 5 minute feature on how making SCHINDLER’S LIST led Spielberg to creating the USC SHOAH FOUNDATION and what that is. Then there’s a short bit on IWitness and how folks can make use of that. I am surprised that we didn’t get an even more robust release than this, but I do applaud what we get. The jewel of the release is the film itself, which as I said – has seriously never before looked so stunning. That film stock shift always bugged me, so happy to see it resolved.
RED DAWN Remake Blu Ray
Just a terrible movie, ill conceived at every level. Milius’ original accurately played on the very real fear that every kid growing up in a Cold War time could understand. Now, because the film’s ridiculous changes, I know it will simply go down as a pretty rotten movie for the rest of time, but it does have fun performances by some of the cast. I like Chris Hemsworth quite a bit, and he is definitely more prepared for the situation as being military from the start, but that is kind of why the film doesn’t work. The original was about ordinary kids doing extraordinary things. You give them actual military training and it makes the missions more audacious and less relatable. When a remake is trying to pump everything up, and that’s all it is trying to do, it results in a film like this. RED DAWN should have been left alone.
THE INTOUCHABLES Blu Ray
THE INTOUCHABLES made only $10 million dollars in the United States, and yet it made $426.5 million dollars Internationally. Upon watching the movie, I discovered why. I feel more and more like movies that are truly heart-warming, that Hollywood and the marketing gurus of our day, they haven’t a clue how to sell empathy, and yet, this movie found an amazing audience connection around the world. The story is about a Quadriplegic man and a caregiver that teaches him how to live again – and in turn, he transforms his caregiver’s life and vision for his life. The film is exhilarating and thrilling. Those two faces, you’re going to love them. So amazing. Truly fantastic film. Give it a shot.
WESTWORLD Blu Ray
Written and Directed by Michael Crichton in 1973 - I can still imagine it being a reality. Yul Brynner’s gunman in WESTWORLD was my all-time robotic fear, until Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated me. Watch Josh Brolin’s Dad, James Brolin go toe to toe with the scariest gunman ever. Richard Benjamin is really great in this too. The notion of Themelands with robotic perfect human characters that you could kill or fuck… This was the first iteration of Crichton’s Themepark obsession. His cautionary tale about man made thrills gone wrong, have actually just given us a thirst to make them real. I still want a JURASSIC PARK and I think you can work out the controls better than Hammond did. The Blu ray looks great – and if you’re curious about FUTUREWORLD, the sequel, I’ve already got it and it’s great too. It comes out at the end of the month!
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET COLLECTION Blu Ray
You get the original 7 Robert Englund Krueger flicks. The classic original that is flat out scary. Love Johnny Depp in it. Then there’s FREDDY’S REVENGE – which I’ve seen the least of the group, but in many ways this is the most disturbing of the run. Next we get DREAM WARRIORS, which is my personal favorite. I love it so much because it added so much to the mythology, the notion that you could power up in your dreams, fight as teams. It was really making Freddy more of a multiplayer and less of a one on one stalker. That begins a 3 film Dream arc that I love. THE DREAM MASTER is all kinds of fun and the shit that goes down in THE DREAM CHILD is crazy. Then there’s THE FINAL NIGHTMARE which blows. Then we have NEW NIGHTMARE which decided to have Freddy haunting the actors and Wes Craven himself. This was leading us in the direction of SCREAM, but as a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET fan, I kind of loved the meta going on here. If you’re a FREDDY VS. JASON fan, it isn’t on here, you’ll have to pick it up separately. Now – this release has been available through a Best Buy exclusive for a bit now, this is just the release for everywhere else. I’m really quite happy with this set and love that it fits all in a single case. Got through the first five in this set. Lots of good extras, but basically what was on the DVD set. For me, just getting to see all that latex and goo at 1080p… that’s what this set is all about, and it delivers. Love these movies!
Barry Levinson directed this absolutely terrifying film about something being terribly wrong with the water. The rating on AMAZON is pretty low, but that’s because there are a whole lot of pussies that can’t handle this really disturbing horror film. It is in the realm of the found footage film, but the effects work is amazing. If you can fool yourself into believing this – it could be phobia inducing. There’s just a realistic vibe to the cataclysmic ecological disaster being found in the footage shown to us. Levinson did a great job with this one. If you commit to the film, it will literally get under your skin.
ULTRAMARINES: WARHAMMER Blu Ray
In a lot of ways, this reminded me of the recent Galactica release, in terms of the story. The animation is essentially game graphics quality. You’re not going to get a lot of nuance of performance here, but I sort of dug the story of these Ultramarines – and could imagine a very cool movie being made. It takes the ZULU or ALAMO like device or a smaller group sent to battle overwhelming odds and well… how it turns out is the fun of it. I like some of the battle stuff. This could be done better and hopefully it will.
INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN Blu Ray
I like Luke Goss, but I’m not a fan of this very deliberately paced bore. Goss is completely alone in this snooze fest and when I say that, I mean it. I don’t think he got support from the writing or direction. I really didn’t care for this one.
COLLEGE: Ultimate Edition Blu Ray
Buster Keaton goes to college and his physical comedy work is ungodly impressive. You’ll see him try, hilariously, to do pretty much everything you can imagine in college. I love his stint at baseball personally. Kino has done a fantastic job with Keaton. I find it amazing how many of his films I have on Blu – with still more to come! Disc has excellent extras, including what is believed to be the very last filmed performance. Well, I love Keaton, how about you? Warning though, there is a blackface sequence. But it is one where he is trying to get a job and they’re only hiring “colored waiters” – Of course he doesn’t succeed and barely escapes with his life for his attempt. I love the way it played out. And to really understand proper track and field forms, you must watch Keaton!
THE GREAT SPY CHASE Blu Ray
Folks that attended the Butt-Numb-A-Thon where I played LE MAGNIFIQUE, realize this is another French spy comedy. Now in this one, you have an evil arms pedeler who leaves his property, which includes secret patents on weapons that would put any nation on top… in her hands. And of course the spies get sent to seduce. And it is AWESOME! Great film. But then I knew that when I saw Georges Lautner’s director credit. His THE PROFESSIONAL with Jean Paul Belmondo is really terrific too! A welcome addition to the collection.
That’s all for this weak, next Week we’ll be looking at LIFE OF PI 3D Blu, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS 3D Blu, WILLOW Blu, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT Blu, MULAN Blu, HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME Blu, HITCHCOCK Blu, CIRQUE DU SOLEIL WORLDS AWAY 3D BLU, THE BLOB Criterion Blu, BEN-HUR/10 COMMANDMENTS Blu, BROTHER BEAR Blu, TRISTANA Blu, MINISTRY OF FEAR Criterion Blu, CASABLANCA/AFRICAN QUEEN Blu, BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN Blu, ZULU DAWN Blu, SAVAGE WATER / DEATH BY INVITATION, FAIRY IN A CAGE Blu, GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2, THE TAINT and more!