I am stunned by this release of Flash Gordon on Blu-ray. The movie itself is by very definition a cult classic. It’s bad, but deliciously bad. It’s campy in all the right ways and memorable in ways that still boggle the mind today. And yet, Universal chooses to release it in the most plain manner possible. All of the special features are shared by the previously released special edition DVD. The picture quality is improved for high definition, but it’s by no means a revelation. Sure, the film is getting up there in years and it was made in a period of time when movies didn’t look cheap on purpose for kitsch-effect. But something more could have been done here. It’s all in the presentation, and this presentation fails. The movie is as vibrant and colorful as ever, only to be flanked by a lack of extras. It’s a big disappointment for a movie so perfectly made for the DVD collector crowd. Sadly, this release isn’t saving anyone, let alone the universe.
“Terrible dialogue, dull characters, overly simplified story lacking nuance and character, unintentionally laughable at times, uninspired action.” That’s our own Rob Hunter being nice about it. I’m equally disappointed, mostly because I thought 2010 would bring about the resurgence of mythology. Greek gods and whatnot. But after seeing Clash of the Titans in mind-melting (in a bad way) 3D and then seeing Percy Jackson, I’m sold on the notion that some genres should be put to pasture. Sadly, this is one of them. The good news is that the work of Ray Harryhausen is not lost. Scrolling up to the Buy section reveals my strong recommendation on the Jason and the Argonauts Blu-ray, a more than apt substitute should you feel yourself even remotely interested in testing these waters. It doesn’t matter what I think of the special features (there are a few), the movie is undeniably bad. Avoid, avoid, avoid or face the wrath of the gods (not in a good way).
Showgirls wasn’t a good movie 15 years ago, and it certainly hasn’t aged well. It’s one of those few “guilty pleasure” movies that I would really urge people to feel guilty about, despite my strong stance on the issue (read: there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, as you should never feel guilty about liking a film). That said, it does look much better than it did on DVD and the soundtrack is as clean and poundy as ever. The special features do try to turn up the naughty a bit. They are also clearly in on the joke. The studio let a superfan named David Schmader do a commentary track about how Showgirls is one of the great trash masterpieces of all time. The track is called “The Greatest Movie Ever,” and it’s easily more entertaining than the movie itself. There’s also a learn-to-strip featurette that falls short of some of the Carmen Electra strip-aerobics DVDs I have in my collection, as well as about 20-30 minutes of behind the scenes material. If you really buy into the concept of Showgirls being a movie you must own, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from buying this Blu-ray. In the end, someone at the studio did put a lot of work into giving it a treatment better than most other good movies (see Flash Gordon, above) get. So if you’re like David Schmader, you’re going to want to pick this up. Otherwise please avoid in a similar fashion to the way you avoid that stripper with the lazy eye.
There’s nothing Hollywood does — yes, even more than remakes — that it loves more than making movies about itself. It’s the ultimate show of vanity from the world’s epicenter of self-love. Incredibly masterbatory and overly stupid is Jimmy Hollywood, featuring Joe Pesci, a ridiculous blonde wig and a young Christian Slater channeling the lost years of Matthew McConaughey. To accuse this movie, and by proxy its hair-brained plot, of being disconnected from reality would be a crime. It isn’t even loosely connected to realities estranged, touchy-feely uncle fantasy. In fact, it’s so ill-concocted that it belongs in the same trash bin where you’d find Showgirls. Only this time it’s minus all of the things that made Showgirls NC-17 (read: the things that make it watchable). Why anyone would want to own this movie is beyond me. If you have a deep-seated love for this flick and are willing to admit that’s not okay, let me know — I’ve got a spare copy of Jimmy Hollywood on Blu-ray with your name on it.
Don’t get me wrong — I really like Ladybugs. In a way that is probably a little much for a self-respecting man my age. Jonathan Brandis and Rodney Dangerfield infiltrate a girl’s soccer league to lead a rag-tag team of losers to victory and find love along the way? What’s not to love? It’s schlock of the highest order and it was nothing more than a character vehicle for Dangerfield, a comedian who always worked better in the background (see: Caddyshack), but I have fond memories of watching this movie on Tuesday afternoons in the summer when it was on relentless repeat on Cinemax. So you can imagine my distaste for a Blu-ray release that is completely void of extras, sporting a video transfer that looks like a copied VHS tape. Some movies deserve better. This one might not, but I think it does. And that’s what this column is all about — what I think. Right?… guys?… right?
Also out this week, but not available for review:
- Brooklyn’s Finest (Anchor Bay)
- Dr. Giggles/Otis (Warner Brothers)
- Eyeborgs (Image)
- Funny Farm/Spies Like Us (Warner Brothers)
- The Getaway (1972)/The Getaway (1994) (Warner Brothers)
- How the Earth Changed History (BBC)
- The Last Boy Scout/Last Man Standing (Warner Brothers)
- Last Chance to See (BFS)
- Love and Other Disasters (Image)
- Practical Magic/The Witches of Eastwick (Warner Brothers)
- Steve Byrne: The Byrne Identity (Image)