January Blu-ray Releases
January 7, 2016
It’s time once again for my monthly report on what can be found on video retailers shelves and online sites. As usual, we’ll start things with a few disc reviews of things released during the last month, followed by a quick peek at titles coming later during the month of January.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015) (***) (Paramount) The fifth installment of the Mission Impossible series, MI: Rogue Nation, proves to be a worthy follow up to the critically lauded fourth installment. The film is brimming with stunts and action set pieces that will satisfy any and all action film fans. Ironically, it’s a better film than the latest James Bond flick, Spectre, and that’s something I didn’t expect.
Minions (2015) (**) (Universal) The animated spinoff from the Despicable Me series of films, Minions, is fine fare for the kids but there’s not much to behold for those above the age of seven. It’s well animated but lazily plotted. Still, less discriminating fans will likely warm to its charms. Available in both standard Blu-ray and 3-D.
War Room (2015) (** ½) (Sony) The latest faith based film from director Alex Kendrick knows its intended audience and serves them well. The plot revolves around an elderly woman’s attempts to save a couple’s troubled marriage through a commitment to faith and prayer. Extras include deleted scenes
Knock Knock (2015) (***) (Lions Gate) Horror director Eli Roth’s latest horror opus is actually one of his better efforts. Keanu Reeves stars as a happily married man who, against his better judgment, lets a couple of stranded teenage girls in his home who then wreak havoc on the poor man’s life. Reeves’ performance, surprisingly, is a career best.
Downhill Racer (1969) (***) Criterion has done a splendid job restoring the film that helped to make Robert Redford a star. Michael Ritchie directs the tale of a wildly driven skier who wants nothing but to win. Gene Hackman offers excellent support as Redford’s tough coach. Extras include interviews with Redford and the late director, Michael Ritchie.
You Can’t Take it With You (1938) (*** ½) Director Frank Capra’s comedic tale of a wealthy heir (James Stewart) who falls for the most stable member of a clan of free spirits (Jean Arthur) won an Oscar for best picture at the 1939 Oscar ceremonies. It still holds up well, thanks to its stunning 4K restoration courtesy of Sony Pictures.
Nasty Baby (2015) (Sony) (***) Kristen Wiig stars in this unconventional tale of a trio of friends who desperately want a baby and are simultaneously dealing with a sociopathic neighbor. The twist ending makes this one worthwhile.
Twilight Time is the company whose titles are limited to 3000 units each. Their December slate includes the following films and can be found at www.twilighttimemovies.com or www.screenarchives.com:
1984 (1984) (*** ½) The most recent version of George Orwell’s celebrated novel benefits from stylish direction by Michael Radford and great cinematography by Roger Deakins. The Blu-ray transfer looks great and features an isolated music score as a bonus.
Kings Go Forth (1958)/The Detective (1968) (*** both films) Two of Frank Sinatra’s better efforts as an actor are being released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his birth. Kings Go Forth is a classic love triangle featuring Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood and set in WW II France while The Detective features Sinatra doing his cop routine in the midst of a homicide case. Isolated music tracks are featured on both discs.
Born Free (1966) (*** ½) The beautiful tale of Elsa the lion, adapted from Joy Adamson’s book of the same name features a beautiful new transfer and isolated music score as a bonus. Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna star.
Mysterious Island (1961) (***) Special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen’s creature creations are the whole show in this adaptation of Jules Verne’s sequel to his novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Bernard Herrman’s outstanding score is featured on an isolated track as a bonus.
Coming in January: Hawaii, The American Friend, The Walk, Sicario, Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension, The Happy Ending, The Last Detail, Bound For Glory, Bitter Rice, The Complete Lady Snowblood, Inside Llewyn Davis (Criterion), The Martian, Hotel Transylvania 2, Green Inferno, Sinister 2, Everest, From the Terrace, Goosebumps and Chi-Raq.
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