This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Argo, Game of Thrones, Undefeated ...
This week: All of Affleck's sins are forgiven after Argo. Also: Last year's Oscar-winning Best Documentary, the return of Battlestar Galactica, and the explosive second season of Game of Thrones.
► Ben Affleck’s Oscar snub is even more sickening when you realize just how many great movies ARGO is in one: A fascinating historical drama, an incredibly tense thriller (especially those last 20 minutes) and a sly send-up of Hollywood. Affleck has steadily improved as a director, but he joins the modern A list with this, the best movie of 2012 in my book. If it somehow wins Best Picture this weekend - without Affleck being nominated for Best Director – it may go down as the most baffling Oscar screw job in history. Anyway, this Blu-ray offers a feast of cool bonus stuff if you’re fascinated by the Iran hostage crisis, including footage and interviews with the real-life people involved in the CIA operation to get six escapees out of the country by posing as a sci-fi film crew. Affleck, you are so forgiven for ‘Gigli.’
► Gotta be honest, Season 2 of GAME OF THRONES was feeling a bit sluggish. Then that wily dwarf introduced us to Wildfire and everything changed. The explosive green potion provided the money shot in ‘Blackwater,’ the second-to-last episode of the season and easily the most riveting hour of TV in 2012. It was the episode the entire series had been leading to – the Battle of Blackwater – and essentially changed the course of every surviving character. This is also the season things take a turn towards the supernatural, with vengeful smoke ghosts and (another immortal scene) frozen zombies on horseback. Certainly not the thrill-a-minute Season 1 was, but that was too much to ask. Still, Peter Dinklage as Tyrion is even better this year, and oh, do I ever geek out every time those little dragons appear. Also, Ned Starks’ head makes a killer cameo. Hurry back, you deviant freaks.
► Daniel Lindsay’s documentary UNDEFEATED may as well be called ‘Friday Night Lights Part Deux,’ because it stirs the same emotions that dearly departed show did. It’s the story of inner-city youths and the volunteer coach who reverse the fortunes of a hapless Memphis high school football team. This won the Oscar for Best Documentary last year, and it’s only coming out on Blu-ray/DVD now?
► Humor me for a sec and go check out Keira Knightley’s IMDB page. Notice anything? It’s like she told her agent “If this story doesn’t take place at least 100 years ago, I’m not interested.” ANNA KARENINA is her latest period piece, yet another adaptation (the seventh, by my rough count) of Tolstey’s book about a married aristocrat and her affair with a cavalry officer in Imperial Russia. This one looks gorgeous (Oscar nominations for cinematography and costume design), but it’s tough finding new nuggets in the story at this point.
► The Battlestar Galactica prequel BLOOD & CHROME was developed as a new SyFy series, but somewhere along the line – probably when budgets were discussed – it was turned into a digital series. On the bright side … it’s new Battlestar Galactica! Set during the first Cylon war, it follows a young Will Adama (Luke Pasqualino) during his fighter pilot days, clashing with his co-pilot (Ben Cotton) as they’re assigned a mission near Cylon territory.
► Weirdness abounds in SMALL APARTMENTS, which stars ‘Little Britain’s Matt Lukas as a tenant who mistakenly kills his landlord. With the corpse on his kitchen floor, he’s visited by assorted whack jobs, including a stripper (Juno Temple), an artist (James Caan) and a stoner (Johnny Knoxville). But the highlight is Billy Crystal as an investigator, reminding us how great he can be when his material isn’t approved by Geritol.
► Come for the Stone Cold, stay for the Lundgren. THE PACKAGE has Steve Austin as a mob enforcer who’s assigned to make a special delivery to a crime lord called The German (that would be Dolph). Cue the hit men, mercenaries and assassins who suddenly hunt him, oblivious to the Stone Cold Stunners they’re about to receive. Please go back to the WWE, Steve. Anything’s better than this.
► Wish I could tell you SNOW SHARK is a clever title for something else, but no, it’s exactly what it says: A shark that attacks people in the snow. With acting even your local community theatre would reject and a film crew that apparently couldn’t afford a boom mike, here’s the tale of a prehistoric predator unearthed by an earthquake, free to terrorize unsuspecting snow bunnies. I’ll wait for the Criterion edition next year.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!