This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: True Detective, Shadow Recruit...
This week: The creepy genius of 'True Detective,' another face for Jack Ryan, and Liam Neeson makes the skies safer.
► As we all waited for ‘Game of Thrones’ to return, HBO’s TRUE DETECTIVE became our new national obsession for eight glorious, gut-wrenching weeks. As pulpy as it was profound, it paired the dream team of Woody Harrelson and Matt McConaughey as two Louisiana detectives who apparently crack a case with occult leanings in the mid ‘90s, only to have the case resurface 17 years later, by which point they’re estranged. Masterful plotting, as showrunner Nic Pizzolatto stuck to his game plan of keeping it about these two characters – the horrors they’re immersed in isn’t the focus. Which made the harrowing final episode that much more tense as we were totally invested in these guys. Again, just eight episodes to pull all this off. Season 2 has an impossible act to follow.
► Chris Pine becomes the fourth guy to play Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst Jack Ryan in the reboot JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT. The first of the series not based on one of Clancy’s books, it follows a young Ryan who switches from economics to the military after 9/11. After he’s injured in Afghanistan, he’s recruited to join the CIA against a Russian tycoon (Kenneth Branagh) manipulating the U.S. markets to collapse after a staged terrorist attack. Taking its cue from the Bond flicks, this one has way more action than the previous four. But its limp showing at the box office might mean the end of the series.
► Since ‘Taken’ made him an unlikely action hero, Liam Neeson keeps getting served softballs. NON-STOP, like the ‘Taken’ sequel,’ seems content just to have him here. He stars as a U.S. federal air marshal who receives a text during a flight that someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is put into a bank account. Like an Agatha Christie whodunnit, we’re then served a list of suspects, including Neeson, before an ending where suspension of disbelief is mandatory. Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o and Michelle Dockery co-star.
► Steve Coogan gives his fictional DJ character a full-length movie with ALAN PARTRIDGE. After his station is bought out and rumors of lay-offs start, his coworker Pat (Colm Meaney) snaps and takes the station hostage. All the while not knowing it was Partridge who pleaded with management to fire him. Coogan has been doing this character for so long, it has virtually melded with his own personality.
► After multiple documentaries and books, Atom Egoyan’s DEVIL’S KNOT is the first Hollywood treatment of the West Memphis Three case, in which three Arkansas teens were convicted in the deaths of three boys. Years later, new DNA evidence would point to their innocence. Nothing here the ‘Paradise Lost’ films didn’t already do, much more compellingly. Stars Colin Firth and (where you been?) Reese Witherspoon.
► ABC’s Sunday night was once so stacked, a middling show like RESURRECTION wouldn’t stand a chance. Now it’s the closest thing to a hit they have that night. These first eight episodes establish the mystery of a Missouri town where the deceased are returning back to life, exactly as they appeared when they died. That includes an eight-year-old boy who drowned in 1982.
► Seth McFarlane, of all people, helped bring COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY to TV. The follow-up to PBS’s legendary 13-part series in 1980, it broadens the ideas and theories of the late Carl Sagan, who had a huge influence on the new series’ host, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Some mindblowing stuff here, and all 13 episodes are guaranteed to leave you in awe. Much like the original, it takes vast amounts of science and caters it to the curious, not scholars.
► Season One of RAY DONOVAN nicely filled the void left by ‘Dexter’ on Showtime, pulling in the network’s biggest ratings ever for a pilot episode. Liev Schreiber plays a L.A. law firm ‘fixer’ – as in, he’s fixing to put a boot up your ass to solve problems. But he has problems of his own when his mob-connected dad (Jon Voight) is released from prison early to help the feds nail him. Season Two starts July 13.
Also out this week:
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!