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Blu Tuesday: Superheroes and Street Fights

It’s been a little busy around the office this week with my wedding fast approaching, so I haven’t had the chance to review everything that I would have liked. But don’t let that stand in the way of you enjoying all the fantastic new releases, because in addition to the films featured below, there are a handful of other titles worth checking out, like Criterion’s “Rashomon,” “Your Sister’s Sister” and “Entourage: The Complete Series.”

“The Amazing Spider-Man”

There was a lot of criticism regarding Sony’s decision to reboot the Spider-Man franchise only a decade after Sam Raimi’s first film was released, but it was time for a change. Though Peter Parker’s origin story feels a bit repetitive to sit through all over again, once the movie frees itself from those chains, it never looks back. The action scenes are entertaining if not exactly memorable, and the campier aspects of Raimi’s trilogy have been removed. Director Marc Webb does a really good job of juggling the action, comedy and drama, but his most important contribution to the movie is providing more emotional depth to the characters, which makes Peter’s various relationships a lot more interesting. It certainly helps that Webb has rounded up such an impressive cast of actors to fill every major role, and that begins with his two leads. Emma Stone is perfectly cast as the smart and sexy Gwen Stacy, while Andrew Garfield easily outshines Tobey Maguire’s geeky portrayal of the wall-crawler. Though “The Amazing Spider-Man” isn’t quite the radical reboot that “Batman Begins” proved to be, it’s not that kind of film. It’s a little darker and more grounded in reality, but for the most part, it’s the same Spider-Man that everyone knows and loves.

Blu-ray Highlight: Sony has assembled an impressive collection of bonus material for the Blu-ray release, including a nearly two hour making-of featurette called “Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider-Man Reborn” that covers a variety of topics like casting, creating the Spidey costume, the Lizard’s creature design, visual effects and more.

“They Live”

While not as popular as “Halloween” or “The Thing,” John Carpenter’s “They Live” remains as timely and relevant today as it was back in 1988, especially when viewed in the context of social movements like Occupy Wall Street. It’s actually really surprising that Hollywood hasn’t tried remaking the film, because although the original is entertaining as a B-movie guilty pleasure with some hilarious quotes (“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.”) and one of the best knock-down-drag-out fight sequences in history, there’s plenty of room for improvement. The first act is painfully slow as it builds to the reveal of the aliens, the effects haven’t aged particularly well, and though Roddy Piper is good in the more physical aspects of the role, he leaves a lot to be desired in the acting department. Still, the movie is a cult classic for a reason, and Shout! Factory has done a great job with the new video transfer, making this a must-buy for fans of ‘80s cinema.

Blu-ray Highlight: In addition to the old commentary with director John Carpenter and star Roddy Piper, there’s also a new interview with Carpenter where he discusses the idea behind the film, casting his leads, and filming the infamous alley fight sequence.

  

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