This week, a fairly small but also fairly solid slate of titles are hitting Blu-Ray/DVD. These movies have a decently wide range of demographics to appeal to as well, so while the quantity isn’t there, quality isn’t bad here. I wouldn’t quite say there’s something for everyone, but it’s close. In fact, the vast majority of the films are worth recommending, which made my choice for a top pick a bit more difficult than usual. After some thought last night, my PICK OF THE WEEK, which was between a documentary, a superhero flick, and a thriller, I opted to go with the oddest of the group. You’ll see which one I mean shortly, but first…it’s time to hit up the Vintage section of the column, so here we go!
In honor of this week’s release of The Big Short (which I’m quite fond of), I wanted to go ahead and cite a film that’s clearly going to be compared to this one. It’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which remains one of my favorite movies of 2013. From my rave review (found here) at the time: “I remember the very first time I saw the initial trailer for Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street. To be honest, I didn’t really care for it. It seemed like something perhaps even beneath the legend (entertaining as it might have been), but I was actually pretty curious to see how Leonardo DiCaprio embraced a potentially comedic role. The more I saw from the film though, the more I expected to like it but feel that it was minor Scorsese. Well, fast forward to this month when I actually saw the entire movie and…wow. Scorsese and DiCaprio have made something absolutely insane, and I mean that in the best way possible. This is a completely madcap movie that I actually feel is not only the funniest movie I’ve seen all year, it’s one of the very best in general. The Wolf of Wall Street is definitely headed towards a place among the very heights of my Top Ten list (somewhere in the top three), deservedly so. Scorsese hasn’t been this energized in years, DiCaprio gives what I consider to be his best performance to date playing Jordan Belfort, Jonah Hill is excellent as his sidekick, and Matthew McConaughey absolutely owns his short time on screen. Throw in an amazing script by Terence Winter (based on the memoirs of the real Belfort) along with the best female performance Scorsese has captured in a long time in Margo Robbie, and The Wolf of Wall Street is one of 2013’s best flicks, plain and simple.” I stand by that gushing, so consider that a very high recommendation for something to revisit…
The other titles I’m going to discuss here today aren’t quite in the same league to me as my top pick, but that’s nothing to be ashamed about. Behold:
Easily the most troubled of the Marvel movies to date in their Cinematic Universe, the final product was still pretty satisfying. In my review (found right here), I began by saying: “Now more than ever, I really wish that we could have seen what Edgar Wright had planned for Ant-Man. Throughout the version that is hitting screens, we see tons of hints at what his vision was for the diminutive superhero. Of course, even though Wright stepped away from directorial duties after disagreements with Marvel, Wright and Joe Cornish‘s screenplay is still partially being used by director Peyton Reed and company, resulting in a truly odd cinematic experience. I liked Ant-Man quite a bit, but the parts I enjoyed most of all are Wright’s. Paul Rudd‘s turn as a thief turned hero is effective, while Reed keeps things moving along, but the parts that are more generic Marvel Cinematic Universe don’t hold up as well as the quirkier bits. Obviously, an ant sized superhero and future Avenger is a silly premise to begin with, so this odd tone and set up actually fits, but despite the movie being better than you’d expect after all the pre shoot chaos, it does leave you wishing for the flick we never got. That’s a moot point, but it hovers over Ant-Man throughout. In the end though, this is a solid new addition to the MCU, setting up the beginnings of Phase Three.” Is it amazing? No. That being said, it’s pretty solid and well worth picking up.
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted & Extended Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $180,142,995 (and counting)
Major Awards: None yet, but a tech nomination or two isn’t out of the realm of possibility
It took a while for this one to come to Blu-Ray, but the Oscar nominated documentary is finally available to own. The doc follows a group of Egyptian revolutionaries on the ground as they fight to change their world, which is obviously Egypt. The Academy and a number of precursors were very fond of this one, which is sort of the granddaddy of Netflix releases. If you haven’t seen this one yet, give it a shot. You’ll likely be moved by what you see here.
Special Features: Deleted Scenes
Total Box Office: $124,244
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a simple little list (extra emphasis on little) of what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my recommendation. Behold:
This animated spinoff really had no appeal to me whatsoever, but I know that these characters are incredibly popular, so it’s clear that I hold a minority opinion here. I’m sure kids had a good time with it, which is the point, besides making money, but it still just didn’t attract my interest at all. If you feel differently, feel free to pick it up and enjoy…just know that I won’t be joining you for this one. My guess is we’ll be more or less saying the same thing in a few years when the next sequel arrives. This is another franchise now, you can basically bet the farm on that being true.
Box Office: $335,947,255 (and counting)
The Transporter Refueled
A fairly unnecessary sequel to a franchise that ran out of gas (no pun intended) a long time ago, it’s rather obvious to me that this only exists because the Fast and Furious franchise is hot right now. I didn’t bother seeing it, and apparently I didn’t miss much either. It was more or less ignored, at least in comparison to what the series used to be capable of.
Box Office: $16,029,670
CPO Sharkey: The Best of Season One
Family Guy: Season 13
Hannibal: The Complete Third Season
Under the Dome: Season 3
The Wild Thornberrys: The Complete Series
The X-Files: The Ultimate Collection
PICK OF THE WEEK
Perhaps I just enjoy Eli Roth more than the average critic, but I think he’s often given a raw deal. As I said (here) in my review: “If you think you know exactly what to expect with an Eli Roth film, I offer up Knock Knock as Exhibit A of evidence that he has some unexpected sides to his writing and directing. An exercise in restraint, this small scale thriller is as effective as Roth’s horror outings, but much more interested in tension and defying expectations. As mentioned previously when talking about the filmmaker, I think he’s very talented and gets a bit of a raw deal because of his subject matter, but this movie is a strong example of how he can make a classical thriller with callbacks to the films of yore. Plus, he gets to unleash Keanu Reeves in the sort of role we haven’t seen him play in some time. Knock Knock is certainly genre fare, but it’s well done and especially from Roth, is something new.” If you’re willing to give it a shot, I think you’ll enjoy this one. Side note, I interviewed Roth and his star Lorenza Izzo about this film, which is here for your reading pleasure.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $36,336 (and counting)
Major Award: None yet
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!