This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Aug. 14
This week: A huge week includes a hefty serving of Hunger Games; Year 3 of Community; a new action classic in The Raid; and some movie about a big shark.
► Is anything this old supposed to look this good? JAWS turns 40 in just a few years, but its Blu-ray debut this week makes it look like it came out yesterday. One of a handful of classics getting the restoration treatment for Universal’s 100th anniversary, the film looks and sounds stunning – distractingly so, for those who prefer a bit of grain to go with your Great White. But what they’ve done here is incredible – every splash, every bump in the boat, even Harry’s bad hat pops off the screen. The restoration makes up one of the bonus features, but fans will most savor the new documentary ‘The Shark is Still Working,’ which makes a nice twin bill with ‘The Making of Jaws,’ ported over from the 30th anniversary DVD. As for the movie … if there is a person alive who doesn’t love ‘Jaws,’ show yourself so you may be publicly shamed.
► For several reasons, THE HUNGER GAMES was positioned to be the next ‘Twilight’ saga. That was an insult – it had, and met, much higher aspirations. If you can get past the hefty borrowing from ‘Battle Royale,’ this first movie based on Suzanne Collins’ teen-fave trilogy had enough emotion, action and surprisingly good performances to keep all camps happy. This is much, much better than that ‘Twilight’ swill, even with its tired attempt at a love triangle deflating some of the film’s weightier themes. The two-disc Blu-ray includes a chat with Collins about the Hunger Games phenomenon.
► A slow start to Season 3 had COMMUNITY fans a bit antsy, but things rounded into form by the end … even without another paintball episode. A few new classics take its place, including the alternate timeline masterpiece ‘Remedial Chaos Theory’ which involves pizza, Yahtzee, and a housewarming party for Troy and Abed. Ominous signs loom, however: The brilliant season finale had the lowest ratings of the show’s history, and, of course, series creator Dan Harmon is gone after an ugly scrap with Chevy Chase. The end is near, Greendalers … enjoy it while you can.
► You would think after that trainwreck fifth season DEXTER couldn’t go anywhere but up. You would be so very wrong. The show’s sixth and by far worst season introduces its most ridiculous villain in religious nutjob The Doomsday Killer (Colin Hanks), has Dexter questioning his faith (yawn), and, most bewildering, suggests Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) has the hots for her brother. Bravo, writers, for stretching this thing past any hope of saving. Even the cliffhanger ending - a stupidly long overdue scene - isn’t stirring much excitement for Season 7. Pull the plug, this thing’s done.
► No sooner was the Indonesian action flick THE RAID: REDEMPTION causing a stir than a U.S. remake was announced. The good news is, original director Gareth Evans will be executive producer, and he’ll likely bring the same choreographers responsible for the incredible fight scenes. A crowd favorite the moment it was screened at last year’s Toronto International Film Fest, it follows a rookie ass-kicker (Iko Uwais) assigned to retrieve a crime lord from a 15-storey slum apartment building, which houses every scumbag in the city. Don’t expect suave storytelling here – this is one, long, majestic action sequence.
► How PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY didn’t win the Best Documentary Oscar this year may have been a bigger shocker than Meryl Streep’s thievery for Best Actress. The concluding chapter to directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s trilogy on the West Memphis Three examines the long, fascinating road to force a retrial for three small town outsiders imprisoned for the murder of three eight-year-old boys. If you aren’t a mess by the end (especially if you’ve seen the first two), you are a manlier man than me.
► I remember the exact moment Kevin Smith lost me. It was when he came out and insisted buddy Ben Affleck’s ‘Daredevil’ movie was really good, when everyone knew it was a piece of crap. He lied to us, and for someone so quick to riff on shit movies, it felt like a betrayal. His ‘Red State’ went a long ways to winning me back, and with JAY & SILENT BOB GET OLD: TEABAGGING IN THE UK, the road to forgiveness continues. This set is comprised of three live shows Smith and life partner Jason Mewes did in England this year. The tour continues at Fan Expo in Toronto Aug. 24.
► Maggie Q is the secret crush of every guy who won’t admit to watching a female action series. The second season of CW’s NIKITA finds our high-heeled government assassin evading Division with the man who created her, all the while holding a hard drive that could bring the group down. A much better series than its ‘90s counterpart (‘La Femme Nikita’), but plagued by dismal ratings: Only six network shows did worse last season.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!