This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Gravity, Thor: The Dark World, Nebraska
This week: A groovy Gravity blu-ray, Thor drops the hammer, and a career-capping show from Bruce Dern in Nebraska.
► GRAVITY was just about the most unreviewable movie of last year. You could try describing the simplistic plot, you could attempt to explain the tension, but here’s a movie you simply have to lose yourself in. This is truly one of the most immersive films I’ve ever seen in a theatre, a technical and emotional masterwork from Alfonso Cuaron. Sandra Bullock is likely a lock for Best Actress, and the special effects really have no competition this year – when is the last time a film made you forget the effects even as they filled the screen? It’s bravado moviemaking, tipping its cap to Hitchcock and Kubrick while feeling totally original. Like the best suspense films, you feel completely alive while watching it, dreading what awaits in every scene. The three hours of bonus stuff doesn’t include commentary but does have an extensive making-of documentary.
► It’s the least of the recent Marvel movies, but THOR: THE DARK WORLD is a fun enough Asgardian romp to tide you over until the next ‘Captain America.’ It’s not as polished as the first, and the villain is much less memorable, but Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder has more moxy this time, and Tom Hiddleston as Loki pretty much steals the movie again. The painful part is a script trying to give Natalie Portman a reason for being here, and a busy final sequence that piles on one too many swerves. Fans of the classic Infinity Gauntlet story will get a charge out of the mandatory bonus scene after the credits. Blu-ray includes the new Marvel One-Shot short All Hail the King.
► Alexander Payne has never come close to making a bad film, and NEBRASKA may have been his most acclaimed yet. Oscar-nominated Bruce Dern stars as a man on the cusp of dementia who believes he has won a million dollars in a sweepstakes. His attempt to collect his winnings involves a road trip with his son (Will Forte) as news of his mission reaches family and friends. Payne is up for Best Director for the third time.
► Cartoon Network’s ADVENTURE TIME may have perfected the two-tier kids show – accessible for children, complex enough for adults. Inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, it follows a kid and his magical dog as they traverse a post-apocalyptic land called Ooo. Season 3 contains all 26 episodes, each about 11 minutes long. This is the season which introduced Fionna and Cake, whose debut in the 9th episode drew the show’s biggest ratings at the time.
► The Criterion Collection gives it up for one of Steven Soderbergh's first films this week. KING OF THE HILL in 1993 was Soderbergh stepping far away from his classic debut 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' - a period when people wondered if he would ever answer the hype ('Out of Sight' five years later started an incredible run to settle that debate). This unappreciated early gem stars Jesse Bradford as a kid trying to survive on his own in a dingy hotel after his mother is sent to a sanitarium. Adrien Brody, Karen Allen, Katherine Heigl and Lauryn Hill formed one of Soderbergh's first great casts.
► Criterion also takes a crack at Roman Polanski’s scenic 1979 classic TESS, which briefly made Nastassja Kinski one of the world’s most desirable women (naturally, there were rumors Polanski had ‘relations’ with her when she was 15). This was the film his murdered ex-wife Sharon Tate wanted to do, about a peasant girl whose bloodline may have rich connections. It leads to rape and murder. Blu-ray features a new digital transfer and a vintage 45-minute documentary.
► Indie flick THE WAIT brings Jena Malone and Chloe Sevigny together for a slow-burn thriller about a psychic giving a grieving family hope their recently deceased mother will be resurrected. I presume that doesn’t mean zombie, but I wouldn’t bet against it.
► Whatever clichés Danny Trejo and Robert Rodriguez didn’t pilfer for the ‘Machete’ movies, they cover in BULLET. Trejo is a L.A. detective whose grandson is kidnapped by a drug cartel. Do you suppose he does things by the book? The big baddie is played by ‘Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks. Rodriguez produces.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!