It’s been a long time since I’ve thought to put a Dru on Blu column together, but there’s enough solid releases on the horizon that I thought “why not?” Let’s begin with some titles that just came out this past week, since February 25, 2014 was a big day for comic book cinema on home video.
The sequel to Thor, largely recognized as a superior effort to the original outing, left me a little wanting. The garish colours and canted camera angles of Asgard in Branaugh’s film have been exchanged for a largely drab Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings-type palette and shooting style. For most, that was an improvement, but I miss the fun of the original. Still fun, however, is Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and he carries the film on his considerable shoulders with ease. Tom Hiddleston fares less well this time out, largely due to the plot contrivances surrounding the Loki character, and Natalie Portman, Christopher Eccleston, and Stellan Skarsgard are largely wasted in thankless roles. The plot, moreover, tends to completely derail the film’s main pleasures, which lie in small moments (hanging up the hammer, a Hemsworth quip, a Russo beatdown, a visit from a fellow Avenger).
The disc features some bonus features, but the main attraction is certainly All Hail the King, the latest Marvel One-Shot (hey, that’s our thing!). We’ll be sure to devote a segment to this and other of Marvel’s short films on a future episode of the podcast.
This is the one I can’t wait to see. I missed it theatrically and can’t wait to catch up with it when I have three hours to spare. We’ll hopefully cover it on the podcast by the end of 2014, as well. In the States, the initial release is through The Criterion Collection, but without any bonus features, it’s no better than the Canadian release. (Criterion is promising a more bonus-laden release sometime down the line; if you’re like me, you’ll hold out for that one and give this initial release a rental or US-only Netflix stream.)
The Shadow (Collector’s Edition Blu-ray)
The SHOUT! Factory does a great job with these kinds of releases (I wish they had the rights to The Rocketeer instead of Disney), though this one seems a bit light on features for a “Collector’s Edition,” with just a handful of (new) interviews with cast and crew. At least it’s in its original aspect ratio, unlike the initial full-frame DVD release.
March 4, 2014
By all accounts, this was a superfluous Americanization of an excellent South Korean manga adaptation that drew primarily on the previous film version rather than going back to the original source for a re-adaptation. That said, I’m still intrigued by the excellent cast (Brolin, Olson, and Jackson are enough to get me on board) and I’ll still see anything with Spike Lee’s name on it. I’m actually in the minority with regard to the original (I think it’s hugely overrated, and one of Chan-wook Park’s weaker efforts overall), so I see some potential for improvement in this remake, even if conventional wisdom disagrees. The release has some deleted and extended scenes and featurettes.
March 25, 2014
I mostly don’t even pay attention to Marvel’s DTV animated efforts anymore, which means I probably put about as much thought into them as the Studio itself. It’ll probably show up on Netflix somebody, at which point I’ll dutifully add it to my queue, where it will stay, probably unwatched forevermore. Unless Babbsy wants to cover it on the show.
April 22, 2014
Spider-Man 2 (4K-Mastered Blu-ray)
Remember those old Superbit DVDs with the ugly silver packaging and marginally better picture quality? This is about the same schtick, HD version. If you’ve already got Spider-Man 2 on Blu-ray, you’re fine. If, like me, you haven’t upgraded to an HD copy yet, this might not even be the one you want to get, though. I’m guessing that the entirety of the disc is devoted to the film itself, eschewing all bonus features in favour of better A/V specs on the feature. If you can get both cuts of the film at a cheaper price, I’d say that’s the package to get.
May 6, 2014
Now this is how to do a DTV animated release. DC continues to draw on fairly recent comics arcs for their DCAU films—this time, it’s Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert’s Batman and Son. I haven’t read it, but if I’m hoping this does well enough to warrant a separate adaptation of Morrison and Frank Quitely’s run on Batman and Robin, featuring a Dick Grayson Batman and Damien Wayne Robin. These releases always feature a solid making-of doc, a featurette or two devoted to the history of the characters, and a handful of episodes of DCAU series like Batman and Justice League, in addition to a preview of the next film on the slate (which is, in this case, probably Batman: Assault on Arkham).
May 13, 2014
If you’ve followed our site for long enough, you may recall my coverage of the 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival, where I named Wrinkles one of my favourites. A sensitive animated film about old age and Alzheimer’s disease, Wrinkles stood out among the terrible horror films you tend to be inundated with at Fantasia. Since seeing it, I’ve wanted both to see it again (soon I can!) and to read Paco Roca’s original graphic novel (which, as far as I can tell, has yet to see English translation—if I’m wrong, somebody let me know!).