This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: The Jungle Book, Me Before You, Arrow

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

This Week: The jaw-dropping new Jungle Book, the weepie windfall Me Before You, and more late summer boxed sets.

► Remember that crazy time when ‘The Lone Ranger’ bombed and Disney’s mojo was slipping? Right. As of now, four Disney-owned properties are among the Top 6 movies of 2016, all making more than $340 million – including THE JUNGLE BOOK. Jon Favreau’s triumphant update of the Rudyard Kipling book is a special effects marvel – possibly a new benchmark for CGI – while telling the classic story in a whole new way. It’s a kid’s film not afraid to be a little scary, creating a world that drew plenty of comparisons to ‘Avatar.’ The 3-D was worth the extra coin as well, though the 3-D blu-ray won’t be released until later this year. Bonus stuff includes Favreau commentary, the search for the kid to play Mowgli, and how the effects team created this world.

► Get out the hankies, ME BEFORE YOU lays it on thick. Based on the book that made moms everywhere cry four years ago, Emilia Clarke plays an unemployed waitress who takes a new job as a caregiver for a wealthy ex-banker (Sam Claflin) paralyzed from a motorcycle accident. With his will to live fading, will our Khaleesi pull him from the brink of suicide? An out-of-nowhere hit this year (more than $180 million worldwide), but as with the book, the disability rights movement wasn’t happy with the film’s message. Blu-ray extras include a page-to-screen featurette.

► After defeating Ra’s al Ghul and walking away from the superhero biz, ARROW’s Ollie is needed back in Star City when a new criminal gang called the Ghosts start assassinating the city’s leaders. In so doing, he finally adopts the name Green Arrow. Neal McDonough nearly steals the season as Damien Darhk, but the show hits a tired stretch during the second half (after the Flash crossover), and ratings dipped sharply.

► Season 2 of the CGI animated STAR WARS REBELS has a new alliance forming to try and restore peace through the galaxy, as Vader sends out new Inquisitors to hunt down the last of the Jedi. Takes place 14 years after Episode III and five years away from Episode 1V, with a visual style that takes its cue from Ralph McQuarrie’s original Star Wars concept art. Season 3 starts Sept. 24.

► Now one of ABC’s longest-running series ever, GREY’S ANATOMY rallied to jump ten spots in the ratings for Season 12, finishing #21 for the year. A strange thing happens when a show lasts this long – a grudging respect develops, despite the same hokey clichés and moldy melodrama it has pushed for years. In this case, the gang at Grey Sloan Memorial deal with the loss of McDreamy in Season 11 by enduring all new ordeals and soured relationships. The final season for longtime cast member Sara Ramirex, and despite those rumors, original cast member Katherine Heigl doesn’t show up. The 13th season of this juggernaut starts Sept. 22.

► Bringing John le Carre’s 1993 book to present day, the six-part miniseries THE NIGHT MANAGER has Tom Hiddleston as a former British solder now working as the manager of a Swiss hotel who is asked by the government to infiltrate the inner circle of an international arms dealer (Hugh Laurie). A convincing argument for adapting books as miniseries. Blu-ray has the six unrated episodes which originally aired on the BBC.

THE COMMITMENTS marks its 25th anniversary by making its blu-ray debut, including a ’25 Years Later’ featurette with director Alan Parker and some of the cast. Features from the previous DVD edition return, including Parker’s commentary and behind-the-scenes extras. It was easy to get sick of this movie’s incessant soundtrack back in the day – I can’t bear listening to the CD ever again – but the movie is still a funny, honest look at a Dublin dreamer trying to start a soul band. Despite all his grim classics (Midnight Express, Angel Heart, Pink Floyd – The Wall), this has become Parker’s most beloved movie.

► Six years before he pushed cinema forward with ‘Metropolis,’ Fritz Lang made the expressionistic fantasy DESTINY, in which Death (Berngard Goetzke) grows weary of his bummer job and gives a young woman a chance to bring back her recently departed fiancé. She’s given three tragic scenarios in different parts of the world, and must save at least one life. Blu-ray includes a new score by Cornelius Schwehr and commentary by film historian Tim Lucas.

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