This week’s got piles of new and classic releases to choose from, which is good news for film fans, and bad news for pocketbooks. One of the year’s most notorious flops is hitting DVD and Blu-ray a scant three months after its theatrical run, and there are some modestly good Clint Eastwood films as well. Check out the list.
- Act of Valor: This was a modestly successful film, but it’s the sort of stunt filmmaking that has no real interest for me. They used real Navy Seals in situations that would be similar to what they might encounter in real life. Obviously, it found an audience without me.
- Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season: One of the best shows on television, and one of the best seasons of that show, Breaking Bad needs to be watched in order. One of the best things about this season is how it doesn’t play by conventional rules, and much like The Wire it treats a season as a whole long arc. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are brilliant as meth-makers who are under the thumb of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), and pretty much everyone wants to kill the other at this point.
- John Carter: I reviewed this film for the site, and I wasn’t crazy about it – though I didn’t hate it – but I watched the Blu-ray recently and found a lot more to like about it. I think because I saw it 3-D and it was post-converted. Taylor Kitsch stars in his first of two bombs this year as the titular Carter, who goes to Mars and becomes a hero and warrior. It’s going for pulp fun, and it mostly gets there.
- Journey 2: The Mysterious Island: Why does adding The Rock to a sequel make everything better? It’s true, this film isn’t very good, but Dwayne Johnson does his best with the material and it’s not as bad as the first film. That’s not much of a recommendation, but it’s not much of a movie.
- Safe House: Denzel Washington is a great actor, and Ryan Reynolds needs a good role to prove that he’s got it, but this film is deadly dull. The best aspect of the film is that it was shot in South Africa, but even that looks generic in this thriller. It’s got star power, and a plot that’s older than Denzel.
- Blood Work / A Perfect World / U.S. Marshals: What a weird catalog dump from Warner Brothers. It’s fun to see Robert Downey Jr. in U.S. Marshals back when he was trying to reform his party-boy image, and he’s better than he should be in it. The other two are Clint Eastwood films, and the former is pretty boring, but A Perfect World is a fascinating film, and it was his first after Unforgiven, so it got beat up at the time, but it’s actually one of his better films.
- Cocktail / The Color of Money / Ransom: 15th Anniversary Edition: Disney has laid out plans to start releasing their best catalog titles, and though the supplements may be lacking, we do get Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money, which teamed Tom Cruise with Paul Newman, and it’s studio work, but fun for what it is. Ransom’s eh (Ron Howard directed), and Cocktail is one of those improbable hits that cemented Tom Cruise’s star status, but as a movie has a nothing narrative. It’s a period piece now.
- The Delta Force / Hoosiers: 25th Anniversary Edition / Missing in Action/ Missing in Action 2: The Beginning: Fox’s catalog titles include the Basketball classic Hoosiers, and a bunch of Chuck Norris films that are currently Wal-Mart exclusives. The Norris films are mostly bad, but nostalgia may give them a boost. Hoosiers is the one to grab.
- Erin Brockovich / Scent of a Woman / Sea of Love / Smokey and the Bandit / The Sting: Universal’s catalog titles include Oscar winners and a truck stop classic. Julia Roberts won her Oscar for Erin, while Al Pacino won his for Scent (Sea of Love was a big hit for an erotic thriller). Smokey is maximum silly entertainment, and The Sting is the best picture winner that features two charming lead performances from Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
- The Grapes of Wrath /Zorba the Greek: Fox’s catalog titles are classics, with the former one of John Ford’s best films, and the latter an Oscar winner of three minor wins. Lila Kedrova won a best supporting actress Oscar. Most people probably have no idea who she is. Such are the awards.
- Yellow Submarine: The animated Beatles film is a classic of its kind, though probably better as a head film than a kids movie. There’s great Beatles music in the midst of pop art animation, and a story that’s kind of nonsense. But the Blu-ray should be a spectacular presentation, so we’ll probably grab it.
What are you picking up this week on DVD or Blu-ray?