This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Bridge of Spies, Last Witch Hunter

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

This Week: Spielberg and Hanks deliver again in Bridge of Spies, a bunch of 2015 bombs, and did anyone order a Martyrs remake?

► Is there some reverse karma going on with Tom Hanks at the Oscars? For awhile, it seemed like everything he did earned a Best Actor nomination. But two years ago he was snubbed for one of his best ever performances in ‘Captain Phillips,’ and he’s bypassed again for Steven Spielberg’s BRIDGE OF SPIES – merely one of the most nuanced performances anyone delivered in 2015. In this true story, he’s beyond great as James Donovan, an insurance settlement lawyer tasked with defending a KGB spy (Oscar-nominated Mark Rylance) in 1957. The trial is a formality, but Donovan’s respect for the law demands even a spy gets a fair defense. He warns against executing him in case the U.S. needs leverage if one of their own spies is caught in the Soviet Union. Which is exactly what happens. A sturdy, old-fashioned drama from Spielberg, and a stirring reminder of how amazing Hanks still is. It’s too bad the Oscars have forgotten.

► The problem with THE LAST WITCH HUNTER? The witches weren’t fast or furious enough. Vin Diesel had his sights set on another franchise with this action/horror hybrid, but it was a mostly charmless thriller ranking among 2015’s biggest bombs. Diesel plays an immortal witch hunter stalking his Witch Queen nemesis from 800 years ago in modern-day New York. Elijah Wood and Michael Caine co-star.

► Really, a movie about a campaign strategist? In Bolivia? How did OUR BRAND IS CRISIS not clean up? Alas, David Gordon Green’s political comedy was one of the worst wipeouts of 2015, hauling in just $7.5 million despite a valiant effort from Sandra Bullock as the consultant sent to South America to finesse a sluggish election. Once there, she finds herself up against an old rival (Billy Bob Thornton). A blu-ray extra looks at how Bullock convinced filmmakers to change the lead role from male to…well, her. A fantastic decision I’m sure no one regrets.

► Was there any way an American remake of the French horror classic MARTYRS could be anything but a farce? Taking one of the most gutwrenching, unforgettable movies of the last 20 years and stripping it of anything worthwhile is par for the course. While the framework is the same – a woman is joined by a friend to find the family that tortured her as a girl, only to find themselves part of a sadistic experiment – you aren’t left with that feeling of ‘What the hell did I just watch?’ the original laid on you.

► Lifetime’s THE LIZZIE BORDEN CHRONICLES looks at Lizzie’s life after she was acquitted of the axe murders of her father and stepmother, and also serves as a miniseries sequel to Lifetime’s movie ‘Lizzie Borden Took an Ax.’ Christina Ricci returns as the Massachusetts Sunday school teacher who was the O.J. Simpson of her time. Eight episode series picks up four months after the trial, with Borden and her sister Emma trying to start a new life. Cole Hauser plays the Pinkerton detective who decides to look deeper into the case. A few tidbits are true but this is mostly cheeky fiction.

► David Simon got back his ‘Wire’ mojo with the superb SHOW ME A HERO, a six-part miniseries based on former Yonkers mayor Nick Wasicsko’s efforts to desegregate public housing in the late ‘80s, and the ugly divide it creates in the city. Oscar Isaacs won a Golden Globe as Wasicsko. Stellar cast includes Alfred Molina, Winona Ryder and Carla Quevedo.

► Barry Levinson’s ROCK THE KASBAH has Bill Murray as a tired rock star manager taking his last remaining client on a USO tour of Afghanistan. He’s stranded in Kabal, without a passport to return home, and ends up guiding a young Afghan girl through her country’s version of American Idol. One of the worst opening weekends ever for a movie that played in at least 2,000 screens – it seemed to be a trend last year.

► The docudrama TRUTH revisits the last days of anchor Dan Rather and his producer Mary Mapes at CBS News. Just before the 2004 presidential election, Mapes and Rather reported on George Bush’s preferential treatment with the Texas Air National Guard in the early ‘70s, allowing him to avoid serving in Vietnam. Shortly after the story aired, however, its accuracy is questioned and a key document may not be what it seemed. Robert Redford plays Rather, Cate Blanchett is Mapes.

Also out this week:





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