This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Under the Skin, Rio 2, Orphan Black
This week: Scarlett Johansson shows some skin, reheated Rio, and the clone wars resume for Orphan Black.
► Scarlett Johansson gets her freak on as a body-harvesting alien in Jonathan Glazer’s UNDER THE SKIN, luring dudes into bed (that must have been difficult) and then making off with their hides. The film’s strange vibe is due to the improvisational approach to the dialogue – the ‘victims’ were non-actors given just a rudimentary explanation of scenes. Johannsson eventually takes pity on a man with a facial disfigurement, and she starts to adapt to her human body, which displeases the alien who monitors her. If you’ve been waiting for the Scarlett money shot all these years, your day has arrived.
► What is the benchmark for animated movies now? How much do they need to make to not be considered flops? Considering the pure crap that kills at the box office, RIO 2’s tame $129 million in North America has to be a disappointment. And yet, it made about the same worldwide as the original – a colorful but forgettable charmer from the studio that made the ‘Ice Age’ films. Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway and Jamie Foxx all return their voices as new parents Blu and Jewel head to the Amazon to search for a new flock of Macaws. Producer/writer Don Rhymer’s final film before dying of cancer in 2012.
► ORPHAN BLACK lays on the intrigue and mythology for a busy second season, as the clones don’t just contend with their own sinister origins but a new gang of outlaw baddies called the Proletheans. Holding it all together once again is Tatiana Maslany, playing multiple characters all with their own distinct look and personality. Seriously, just give Maslany all the Emmys – she’s that damn good here. Instead, they don’t even nominate her.
► We may never get a sequel to BLACK DYNAMITE, but here’s something even better: Adult Swim’s 10-episode animated series bringing back Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson and others from the classic blaxploitation spoof. Among his adventures: Saving a young Michael Jackson, escorting a coked-out Richard Pryor to the Sunset Strip, and joining O.J. Simpson for a lunar mission. The best has Richard Nixon sending Elvis to take down Dynamite, but when he croaks our hero has to return him to Graceland before white America blames the brothers for his death.
► Criterion does Cronenberg this week with a souped up new blu-ray for SCANNERS. To go with a new digital transfer is a new documentary on the film’s effects, new interview with Michael Ironside, an excerpt from a 1981 Cronenberg interview for the CBC and Cronenberg’s first feature film, 1969’s ‘Stereo.’ Until ‘The Fly’ five years later, this was Cronenberg’s biggest hit, and it’s certainly the most fun of his gonzo early movies. Dick Smith’s make-up effects for the climactic Scanner duel are still amazing.
► Criterion’s other big release this week is Robert Bresson’s minimalist PICK POCKET. The 1959 French film has Martin LaSalle as a thief who falls in with a group of professional pickpockets, a skill which leaves him unable to redeem himself when his mother needs him. Extras include an introduction by Paul Schrader, a vintage interview with Bresson from 1960 and commentary from film scholar James Quandt.
► Bohannon (Anson Mount) seeks control of the Union Pacific Railroad he’s helping build during Season 3 of AMC’s HELL ON WHEELS. Which doesn’t sit well with businessman Doc Durant (Colm Meaney) and a slew of other baddies who pop up in this overlooked series. When you’re on the same network as ‘Mad Men’ and ‘The Walking Dead,’ it’s a fight for attention. Season 4 starts August 2.
► Shout! Factory dusts off another nugget with the 1982 critter feature DEADLY EYES, in which Toronto is overtaken by man-eating rats. Loosely based on James Herbert’s book ‘The Rats,’ the giant rodents (actually just Dachshunds in costume) have been feeding on grain contaminated by steroids, and it’s up to a college basketball coach (Sam Groom) and a health inspector (Sara Botsford) to exterminate them. A gruesome final scene makes up for all the cheese.
Also out this week:
Be sure to check out what's new on Netflix streaming for the month of July in our new video column below!
SO WHAT DVD/BLU-RAYS ARE YOU GUYS STOKED ABOUT THIS WEEK?!