Welcome to another installment of This Week on Blu-ray, where I tell you what the big releases are and whether they’re worth getting. This is a week definitely worth getting excited about. After all the garbage releases that included Free State of Jones and Now You See Me 2, we’ve got something to look forward to. Unfortunately, I have to inform you of the release of one of the worst films of the year, Warcraft. On Blu-Ray and 4K Ultra HD, Duncan Jones’ misfire lands with a standard release. Let’s just all happily forget that it exists and pray to the movie gods that his next film, Mute, is a return to form.
I’ve only got more bad news. Seth Gordon’s latest “comedy”, Central Intelligence is making its Blu-Ray and 4K debut. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, the joke should be fairly obvious if you’re aware of them in the slightest. It’s sad to know that Gordon started out so strong with his documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, and he just decided to follow-up bad comedy after bad comedy. It isn’t so much that promise was wasted, it’s that promise may never have existed.
We’ve also got the bizarrely well-received Jaume Collet-Serra film, The Shallows. Another release under Blu-Ray and 4K, you can see Blake Lively surf on a remote beach until she’s attacked by a horribly rendered CG shark. I’ll admit that it’s refreshing for a film to focus on one event and take its time, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that Lively is a really bad actress. You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to pretend you’re being attacked by a shark, Lively goes out there to prove us wrong. Have I mentioned how little I care for Collet-Serra?
Let’s move on to something surprisingly decent with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. I detail my thoughts in this review, but it’s a pretty crude and fun 90 minutes. Nothing I’ll remember years from now, but it was an entertaining diversion from the self-seriousness of the early summer movie season. It helps that Adam DeVine just knows how to make me laugh and his jokes aren’t always of the intelligent variety. But it works on a sheer immediate comedic level. Sometimes that’s all I ask.
After the disappointing Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn scared me and many others in thinking he may have just got lucky with Drive. It had been over 10 years since his acclaimed Pusher trilogy had been released. Did Refn have what it takes to still make a great movie? The answer to that question is Hell Yes! I’m slightly more positive than our review on The Neon Demon, but Refn pulled out all the stops for a film that takes the greatest parts of his latest era and smashes them all in an exaggerated look into the fashion industry. Not just one of the best films of the year, but one of the best looking films as well. Definitely worth the purchase.
Next up is John Landis’ 1981 horror/comedy classic, An American Werewolf in London. You may remember a few years back, Universal released a standard catalogue Blu-Ray for the film under the “Full Moon Edition” title. That edition wasn’t particularly well received in terms of picture quality, amongst other things. For the 35th anniversary, Universal decided to give the fans a new restoration (no word on whether it’s 2K or 4K) as well as an exclusive slipcover. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of this film – the tone tends to waver all over the place and never seems to find its narrative footing.
The beloved Shout Factory has given us two big releases. We’ll start with Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Collection! Part of their Shout Select label, this release is stacked with an entire disc dedicated to bonus features, a “Wyld Stallyns” guitar pick, random vinyl stickers, etc. I don’t think Excellent Adventure is a great film by any means, but Bogus Journey is absolutely fantastic. Anything that centers a 30 minute sequence around a reference to The Seventh Seal is alright by my book. As part of the Scream Factory line-up, Shout released the 1988 cult classic, Lady in White. Despite this film not being labelled a Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray, this film has 3 separate cuts on 2 Blu-Ray’s as well as some ported special features from previous releases. No matter how you feel that it might not look like love was put into it, from the look of things, I’d beg to differ.
I know that I said last week’s Criterion line-up was stellar, and I didn’t lie, but this line-up is right up there with it, if not better. These next two films have reportedly been rumored for the collection for over 20 years, all the way back to their Laserdisc days. Now we no longer have to wait for Valley of the Dolls and its sequel by name only, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The former is mostly known as the film that put Polanski’s wife and Manson victim, Sharon Tate onto the map, as well as being incredibly campy under the modern lens. Under a new 2K restoration, Valley gets the stunning Criterion treatment, getting some new interviews and video essays along with them. The latter of the two is a film that defies modern narrative convention for an intentionally campy and sex-ploitative vision. And it’s hard to turn down buying it when you see there’s a brand new John Waters interview about his appreciation for the film.
Despite having only seen 4 of his films, I feel comfortable saying that Krzysztof Kieślowski is one of my favorite filmmakers. Mostly known for his final three films, The Three Colors Trilogy, Kieślowski continues to impress arthouse audiences and film fans alike. At long last, Criterion and Janus Films give us the Dekalog. This box-set features all 10 films and extended versions of the 5th and 6th films with a brand new 4K transfer. Drawing inspiration from the Ten Commandments, these films look into the lives of the residents of a housing complex in late-Communist Poland. I’m rarely as excited for something as I am to see these for the very first time. That’s it for This Week on Blu-Ray. If there’s anything I missed or if I made you upset, as always, let us know in the comments. Until next time…