This Week in Blu-ray, we celebrate one of my favorite movies of all-time. No, it’s not Alice in Wonderland or Wild Things: Foursome. Close, but no. This week I had the fortunate challenge of reviewing Michael Bay’s Bad Boys on Blu-ray, a release I’ve been waiting to review for a very long time. As with any standard week, there are some clear winners and losers among this week’s selection, including two of the year’s early blockbusters — one of which is worth the money, and another that will leave you howling in pain. Get it? Howling in pain. I’m talking about The Wolfman. Alright, lets move on.
I am unapologetic with my affection toward Michael Bay’s debut effort. So unapologetic that I will be dedicating this week’s Movies We Love entry to this film. So I’ll save you all of the mushy stuff about what makes this buddy cop story so great and jump right to the Blu-ray talk. On one level, Bad Boys is disappointing on Blu-ray. The special features are recycled from the DVD release and save for the movieIQ feature (which provides useless factoids like the fact that Martin Lawrence was named after Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy — his middle name being Fitzgerald), there isn’t anything new to report. But the film — made in 1995 — looks fantastic in high definition. Better than it ever has before. The transfer is clean, crisp and pulsing with the vibrant landscape of Miami. In my opinion, this is Bay’s best work, and perhaps one of his best-shot films. Having it on Blu-ray is a gift to anyone smart enough to see that.
Most of the heat around the release of Alice in Wonderland on Blu-ray is centered around the unconventionally quick turnaround time between its theatrical release (March) and its home video release (June). It’s one of the fastest turnarounds in history. As the DVD releases, the theatrical release just passed $1 billion dollars at the box office. Talk about double-dipping. That said, the Blu-ray release (with DVD combo pack) falls in line with the rest of Disney’s releases. It’s full of intuitive extras that will keep just about any fan of the film engaged for several hours beyond the film itself. There are several character featurettes as well as production featurette that each delve into one particular area (i.e. scoring, visual effects, stunts props, cakes and more). It’s a hard Blu-ray not to recommend based on the fact that it also comes with the DVD, making it a perfect choice for anyone who’s building their Blu-ray collection without wanting to let go of the comfort of DVD. Another note — Tim Burton’s film, like James Cameron’s Avatar looks much better sans 3D. On Blu-ray, it has color and life that wasn’t seen in its 3D theatrical release, making it even more impressive at home.
We must give credit to a movie that knows exactly what it’s about. And we’re not talking about story here. Undisputed III and by association, it’s director Isaac Florentine, understand that it isn’t about story, character and flashy visual effects. In this case, entertaining the masses is about several large, 12-abed men trying desperately to drain the blood from each others’ bodies one punch at a time. It’s about giants — for the most part Scott Adkins and the Chilean sensation Marko Zaror — standing toe-to-toe in a battle of unimaginable strength, agility and skill. And it’s this understanding that delivers such a beautiful, brutal experience. Think of it as a stylish, more intense version of the best MMA fights you’ve ever seen. Interested? Good. Because if what I’ve just said interests you, I’d recommend you get out and rent this Blu-ray. It’s great fun. Sadly, it has no special features, which is why it’s only a rent.
Neither of the Blu-ray’s two alternate endings make The Wolfman a good movie. That’s the most important note I have for this release. Easily one of the year’s biggest disappointments thus far, Joe Johnston’s return to one of Universal’s most iconic monsters is a mess. And there’s no mass of special features that can save it. Not the numerous featurettes, the wonderful U-Control functionality or the fact that, for a limited time, you can stream the original 1933 Wolf Man using BD-Live. None of that can save this uninspired film from itself. That said, I did enjoy some of the action and a lot of the U-Control pop-up trivia included on the Blu-ray. If you haven’t seen it, give it a rent. If you are one of the few who saw this film and enjoyed it, you’ll like what the Blu-ray has to offer.
In order to make an erotic thriller that lives up to the legacy of Wild Things, there are a few things that need to happen. One, the film must include some rising sexual tension that pays off with a big, hot, sometimes messy scene involving more than one naked, buxom lady. Foursome fails to meet this first requirement, and any others that would cause it to resemble anything close to a watchable film. The dialog is abysmal, the sex scene (singular) is boring and poorly choreographed, and the story is chock full of holes. In fact, the only thing I can say that I learned from the experience is that Ashley Parker Angel is a terrible actress. And that I have no idea what the phrase ‘Unrated Edition’ means.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again — even a decent movie can have a really bad Blu-ray release. And while War of the Worlds is a decent movie, it’s not the best of Spielberg. And while recent Spielberg movies like Saving Private Ryan and Minority Report got great HD transfers and special features out the wazoo, War of the Worlds got none of it. The movie looks fine, having been made in 2005. And there are some extras, but they are all recycled from past DVD releases. It’s a sad story that seems to repeat with every other catalog release we see from Paramount Home Video. On rare occasion, they release something from the archives to Blu-ray that’s worth buying. Sadly, this isn’t one of those rare occasions.
Also on Blu-ray, but not reviewed due to material being unavailable:
- Absolute Power (Warner Brothers)
- Class of Nuke ‘Em High (Troma)
- Clint Eastwood Collection (Warner Brothers)
- The Enforcer/Sudden Impact (Warner Brothers)
- Essential Eastwood: Director’s Collection (Warner Brothers)
- Heartbreak Ridge (Warner Brothers)
- Kelly’s Heroes/Where Eagles Dare (Warner Brothers)
- Life (U.K. Version) (BBC)
- Life (U.S. Version) (BBC)
- The Man With No Name Trilogy (MGM)
- The Rookie (1990) (Warner Brothers)
- Saints Road to XLIV: Collector’s Edition (Warner Brothers)
- The Stranger (Anchor Bay)