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While the story may have some elements that are a bit derivative of other films, I really enjoyed Oblivion. I liked director Joseph Kosinski’s first film Tron Legacy and I think he’s made another solid sci-fi actioneer here. The visuals are beautiful and the music from M83 fits the movie really well. Tom Cruise does a great job here as he usually does and the supporting cast are all good as well. The Blu-ray features a very informative audio commentary with Kosinski and Cruise, a great 5-part “making of” documentary, some deleted scenes and an isolated M83 score track. There are a few exclusive versions to be aware of for Oblivion‘s home video release. Walmart has the movie in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy MetalPak and Target has the movie in collectible 3D packaging with a 12-page concept illustration booklet. With it’s stunning high-def and audio presentation, along with its solid bonus features, Oblivion sits amongst the best of Blu-ray releases so far this year and comes highly recommended.
Shout! Factory brings Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing to Blu-ray for the first time and the results are quite good. Craven’s budget for Swamp Thing kept being cut back and back, preventing him from making the movie he set out to make. Despite this, he was able to still put together a fun film that fans have latched onto over the years. Even though it does show signs of its low budget, the movie looks better than it ever has on home video here in high-definition. The Blu-ray (which is packaged as a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack) contains some good special features that include some great interviews with Adrienne Barbeau, Reggie Batts and Len Wein, creator of Swamp Thing. The disc also features two audio commentaries, one with Wes Craven and the other with makeup effects artist William Munn.
Mud is a coming-of-age drama centered around two fourteen-year-old boys who encounter a mysterious fugitive hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Intrigued by this man, they enter into a pact to help him evade capture and reconnect with the love of his life. Though it is hard for the boys to discern truth from fiction when it comes to Mud, it isn’t long until their small Arkansas town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of hunters in tow. Matthew McConaughey has been on a streak of some fantastic performances lately and I’m sure Mud continues that streak. I haven’t had the chance to see the film yet but it looks really good and the word of mouth surrounding it says that director Jeff Nichols knocked it out the park with this movie. The Blu-ray features an audio commentary and four featurettes about the writing/directing of Mud, the film’s characters and the production of the movie.
This “Eli Roth presents” flick follows a group of travelers in Chile that find themselves in an underground nightclub when a massive earthquake hits. They soon find out that the aftermath of the quake is when the real nightmare begins. This survival horror and disaster movie mash-up from director Nicolás López apparently models Aftershock after Roth’s Hostel in order to tell his unsettling tale. As long as López doesn’t simply ape Hostel, I think the movie can survive on its own as long as he keeps up the intensity of all the human-created chaos and gives the movie its own flair. I’ll be checking out this one soon.
The Place Beyond the Pines
Motorcycle stuntman Luke gives up his job in order to provide for his newborn son and the boy’s mother. Elsewhere, Avery, an ambitious rookie cop, struggles to make his way in a corrupt police department. Their two worlds collide when Luke takes part in a string of bank robberies, the consequences of which echoes into the next generation. From Derek Cianfrance, the acclaimed director of Blue Valentine, this emotional epic is engrossing and is full of great performances from Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and Bradley Cooper. The movie feels a little long, probably due to its structure, but it’s absolutely worth sitting through.
Lucas is about a kid, who is small for his age, that is more interested in symphonies and science fairs than sports and falls in love with a cheerleader, who has eyes for the star jock, and vies for her attention. This 80s teen comedy features a youthful cast of Corey Haim, Charlie Sheen, Kerri Green and Winona Ryder. I’ve always had some nostalgia surrounding this movie even though I don’t remember much about it, having not seen it in over twenty years. Maybe my nostalgia for this movie comes from the fact that, even though I was younger than Lucas in the movie, I identified with him to an extent. I was and always will be a geek, and much like other nerd types, we all know what it is like to be the underdog. I’m kind of excited to revisit this movie and see if it holds up at all. Either way, it’s an 80s movie where a boy pines over Kerri Green, who was a bit of a movie crush for me growing up since I watched The Goonies a lot, so I think it should be a fun watch.
To The Wonder
I missed Terrence Malick’s latest at the theater and actually didn’t hear much buzz surrounding it. I’m not sure if that is reflective of the movie’s quality or that I just was out of the loop surrounding this particular movie. Malick is a divisive filmmaker, often making movies that are more visual poetry and less accessible to general movie going audiences. I remember people walking out of The Tree of Life when I saw it in the theater. I’m not a die-hard Malick fan but I like him and find him to be a pretty interesting director, enough so that I would want to see the work he commits to film and I’m excited to see Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko starring in this one.
West of Memphis
This Peter Jackson produced documentary from director Amy Berg tells the untold story behind an extraordinary and desperate fight to bring the truth behind a police investigation that put three teenagers in prison for 18 years with one fighting for his life on death row for crimes they did not commit. I tried to see this movie twice in theaters and didn’t end up seeing it for various reasons. Now that it is on Blu-ray, I don’t think I’ll be facing any unexpected obstacles and will finally get to sit down and watch it. The Blu-ray features some lengthy special features, including an audio commentary with Berg, Damien Echols and producer Lorri Davis, as well as nearly 90 minutes of deleted scenes. It also features a Toronto Film Festival Red Carpet Q&A and Press Conference and a few additional stories from Damien Echols past called Damien’s Past (Re-Creations).
Syd March is an employee at a clinic that sells injections of live viruses harvested from sick celebrities to obsessed fans. Syd also supplies illegal samples of these viruses to piracy groups, smuggling them from the clinic in his own body. When he becomes infected with the disease that kills super sensation Hannah Geist, Syd becomes a target for collectors and rabid fans. He must unravel the mystery surrounding her death before he suffers the same fate. I haven’t seen this yet but it sounds like some twisted fun. I’m also intrigued by Antiviral since this is the first film from Brandon Cronenberg, son of legendary David Cronenberg. I’ll be dropping this in my Netflix queue promptly.
A Boy and his Dog
This Collector’s Edition Blu-ray + DVD combo pack release from Shout! Factory of A Boy and his Dog (alternately titled Apocalypse 2024) is one of the titles released this week that I had never heard of before, but the more I read about it, the more intrigued I am by the movie. I mean, look at that tagline for the movie on the front cover, “an R rated, rather kinky tale of survival.” That’s an interesting tagline to follow the title of “A Boy and his Dog.” While I don’t think there is any weird sexuality in it, I did get a chuckle out of what the title and tagline unintentionally implies. The synopsis of the movie is as follows, “World War IV has ravaged Earth, and its survivors must battle for food, shelter and companionship in a post-atomic wasteland. This classic sci-fi tale follows the exploits of a young man, Vic (Don Johnson), and his telepathic dog, Blood, as they struggle through the barren wilderness. In the midst of their meager existence, foraging for scraps of food and battling ruthless gangs, Vic and Blood encounter a young woman who lures them into a surreal city deep beneath the earth’s surface.” The Blu-ray features a newly restored high-definition transfer, a conversation with Harlan Ellison (the author of the book upon which the movie is based) and a commentary with director LQ Jones, Arthur Morrill and Charles Champlin. The Blu-ray also features reversible cover art where you can choose to display either title by which the film has been known as.
More titles released today:
by Ben McBride
Follow Ben on Twitter @monsterpopcorn