Blu Tuesday: The Revenant, Veep and Silicon Valley

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“The Revenant”

WHAT: During a hunting expedition in the early 1800s, fur trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) miraculously survives a bear mauling and is left for dead by members of his group. When one of the men responsible (Tom Hardy) kills Hugh’s half-Native American son after he protests about leaving his father to die, Hugh conjures up the strength to navigate the rough terrain and weather in order to seek vengeance.

WHY: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s follow-up to “Birdman” is an unflinchingly brutal tale of survival and revenge that completely immerses you in the rugged conditions of early frontier life. Iñárritu does his best Terrence Malick impression with this gorgeous drama filmed largely in the Canadian wilderness, reteaming with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to deliver more of the same great visuals and signature tracking shots, which amplify the realism of the never-ending suffering that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character endures throughout the story. The much talked about grizzly bear mauling may be one of the most intense sequences ever captured on film, but it’s only a small piece of the actor’s raw and physically demanding performance. Though Tom Hardy is absolutely electric as the villain, DiCaprio has the tougher role, and he makes you feel every bit of blood-curdling agony. “The Revenant” is the classic battle of man vs. nature at its cruelest, and save for some pacing issues (at 156 minutes, it’s way too long), it doesn’t disappoint.

EXTRAS: There’s a 44-minute documentary on making the movie and the social responsibilities of portraying Native American people and their culture in film.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

“Veep: The Complete Fourth Season”

WHAT: Following her unexpected promotion to the Oval Office, former Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) must juggle her new responsibilities as POTUS with managing her campaign for re-election, including finding the perfect running mate.

WHY: Julia Louis-Dreyfus has dominated her category at the Emmys for the last four years with her performance as Selina Meyer on “Veep,” and for very good reason. Though the actress has been a perennial nominee since “Seinfeld” (and even won a couple times before), the HBO comedy is perhaps the crowning achievement of her career. “Veep” is hands-down the funniest show on TV, boasting razor-sharp writing that skewers the political process, like in this season’s hilarious “B/ill” and “Election Night”; an excellent supporting cast made even better by guest star Hugh Laurie; and a penchant for audacious plot twists – for instance, the decision to make Selina president, rendering the show’s title irrelevant in the process. Although the Season Four cliffhanger casts uncertainty on just how long she’ll hold that position, it’s a clever way of shaking up the status quo and providing an even bigger stage for Selina and her team’s merry-go-round of failure and humiliation. If you think the real-life presidential election is a joke, you haven’t seen anything yet.

EXTRAS: There are some deleted scenes, but that’s the extent of the bonus material.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

“Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season”

WHAT: When Hooli CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) sues Pied Piper for intellectual property theft in a desperate attempt to acquire the company, and Raviga Capital withdraws its funding as a result, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) begins the search for a new investor.

WHY: “Silicon Valley” relies on such a frustrating amount of manufactured conflict to drive the story each season that it would be painful to watch if the show wasn’t so funny. But it is funny – really funny, in fact – thanks to creator Mike Judge’s absurdist humor and the vastly underrated ensemble cast. Though everyone plays their role to perfection, Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr and Kumail Nanjiani are the real standouts as the main trio behind Pied Piper’s success. Guest star Chris Diamantopoulos also delivers some good work as a douchebag billionaire modeled after Mark Cuban, while Josh Brener’s Big Head is given a bigger part to play. The attempt to replicate the whiteboard hilarity of last year’s season finale (“Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency”) isn’t quite as memorable, but the episode in question (“Homicide,” in which Starr and Nanjiani’s feuding programmers debate the morality of letting an arrogant stuntman kill himself) is so well written that it demonstrates how great “Silicon Valley” can be when it’s firing on all cylinders.

EXTRAS: There are six audio commentaries featuring various cast and crew, a featurette on the art and science behind the show, and a collection of deleted scenes.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

  

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