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 social media with your friends.
Despite rumors of reshoots and rewrites aimed at making it more commercially appealing, “Rogue One” feels every bit like the film that director Gareth Edwards promised, a slightly darker and grittier Star Wars movie that explores new territory for the franchise. Though it’s not without its flaws, “Rogue One” effortlessly fits into the Star Wars universe with an enjoyable one-off story that works both as a standalone film and a complement to the original trilogy. The action sequences are among the best in the series, while the ensemble is packed with instantly classic characters like Donnie Yen’s blind warrior monk and Alan Tudyk’s reprogrammed Imperial droid. Perhaps most impressive, however, is that despite already knowing how the story ends, “Rogue One” still manages to be suspenseful and surprising.
Extras include a trio of featurettes on the film’s origins, its visual style and the CG technology used to recreate Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin, as well as some character profiles, a look at the various Easter eggs and more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
Proving that not even a great cast can save a bad movie, “Office Christmas Party” is shockingly unfunny despite the wealth of comedic talent involved, including Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn and Kate McKinnon. It takes nearly 40 minutes before the first legitimate laugh-out-loud moment occurs (Jillian Bell on scene-stealing duty once again), and there aren’t many more to follow in the remaining hour. Though the film’s premise is ridiculously simple – it’s right there in the title – the ensuing orgy of debauchery isn’t as amusing or raunchy as you’d expect. In fact, it’s pretty boring. Judging from the outtakes during the credits, the actors certainly had a good time making this movie; it’s just a shame that it didn’t translate on screen.
Extras include an audio commentary by directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck, a making-of featurette, outtakes and some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
Jim Jarmusch’s existential slice-of-life drama “Paterson” probably won’t win over many new fans, but longtime admirers of the director will absolutely eat it up. Adam Driver delivers an outstanding, soulful performance as the eponymous bus driver-cum-poet, and Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani is also great as his bubbly girlfriend, like a young Salma Hayek. But while the pair has a really sweet and supportive relationship (the kind you rarely see in cinema) that keeps you invested in the story, the rest of “Paterson” is a dull slog. Though Jarmusch attempts to showcase the poetic beauty of his protagonist’s repetitive and mundane life, it’s just not as captivating as he likely intended. The movie is definitely worth seeing for its lead performances, but your mileage will vary beyond that.
The Blu-ray release doesn’t include any bonus material. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Johnnie To is without a doubt one of the best directors in Asian cinema, but he also happens to be incredibly prolific and therefore not immune to making bad movies like “Three.” Though it features an intriguing premise and a game cast, To’s latest thriller is a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas that don’t quite come together. For an 89-minute film, “Three” spends too much time on the setup and building false tension instead of hurtling towards its violent conclusion. To’s stylized, slow-motion shootout is a sight to behold when it finally does arrive, but most viewers will have already checked out by then due to the lack of compelling (read: intelligent) characters and some poor attempts at comedy. To is much better than this, and he has the resume to prove it.
Extras include a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT