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.
WHAT: Twenty-two years after the disastrous events of the original Jurassic Park, Isla Nubar is now home to a fully functioning dinosaur theme park called Jurassic World. In an attempt to raise public interest, the park has genetically engineered a brand new dinosaur called Indominus Rex, but when it gets loose and goes on a killing spree, operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) enlists the help of raptor wrangler Owen (Chris Pratt) to hunt it down before it wreaks havoc on the park’s attendees.
WHY: Though it doesn’t hold a candle to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original, “Jurassic World” is the sequel that fans have wanted (and deserved) for decades – a big, summer spectacle that understands the DNA of the franchise and doesn’t take itself too seriously. The first act is admittedly a bit messy as director Colin Trevorrow gets all of his pieces on the board, but the story really picks up once the Indominus Rex breaks free from confinement, turning into a full-fledged adventure film with no shortage of dinosaur-caused destruction. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are both solid in their respective roles, while Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan and Jake Johnson round out the excellent cast. Even the two kid actors (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) are pretty likable, and that’s saying something. Granted, the movie isn’t without its flaws (particularly when it comes to basic common sense and logic, like in the climactic dino battle at the end), but it’s an entertaining piece of fan service that makes up for having to suffer through the last two sequels. And if the film’s box office domination is any indication, “Jurassic World” is just the beginning, although it’s difficult to imagine how John Hammond’s dream could possibly live on after yet another public catastrophe.
EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes a pair of featurettes on making the film, a behind-the-scenes look at the visual effects, a tour of the park’s Innovation Center, a discussion between director Colin Trevorrow and star Chris Pratt, deleted scenes and more.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT
WHAT: After a nuclear war wipes out most of humanity, a young woman named Ann (Margot Robbie) endures on her own, miraculously isolated from the fallout. But when two men – scientist Dr. John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejifor) and mysterious stranger Caleb (Chris Pine) – arrive on her family’s farm, the three survivors form a precarious bond that threatens to unravel when jealousy sets in.
WHY: Director Craig Zobel’s latest drama may be a marked improvement upon the vile and moronic “Compliance,” but it actually shares many of the same themes, including morality, trust and the weight of one’s actions. All three actors deliver solid performances – especially Margot Robbie and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who are given more time to develop their characters – but unfortunately, not a lot happens over the course of the film’s 98-minute runtime that’s particularly compelling. There are some really good moments littered throughout, like Ann’s introduction to Dr. Loomis, or the tense face-off between Loomis and Caleb in the movie’s closing minutes, but they’re surrounded by long periods of nothingness that test your patience. The arrival of Chris Pine’s character adds some much-needed conflict to the proceedings, although it takes the story into more predictable territory, while the religious undertones (from the Eden-like valley, to Caleb’s snake-like instigator) are laid on a bit thick. Though “Z for Zachariah” isn’t quite as boring as it could have been thanks to its outstanding cast, the film never rises above mediocrity, ultimately squandering its promising, post-apocalyptic premise.
EXTRAS: There’s a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, and interviews with director Craig Zobel, writer Nissar Modi and actors Margot Robbie and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT
WHAT: Two surviving members of the Frieza Force travel to Earth in search of the Dragon Balls so that they can resurrect their leader. When their wish is granted and the galactic tyrant returns more powerful than before, Frieza sets out to exact his revenge on Goku, who is training off-world with Whis after his fight with Beerus the Destroyer.
WHY: 2013’s “Battle of the Gods” may have been the first “Dragon Ball Z” movie produced in almost 20 years, but while that film served as a sufficient appetizer for fans of the series, “Resurrection F” is the main course, higlighted by the long-awaited rematch between Goku and Frieza. Though Goku has faced off against much tougher adversaries, there’s a reason why Frieza is still the most iconic villain in the franchise, and his fight with Goku doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it more than makes up for the anti-climactic battle in the last movie. “Resurrection F” also improves upon its predecessor by giving the supporting characters more to do. Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, Tien and even Master Roshi get in on the action, fighting off the first wave of Frieza’s attack as they await Goku’s return, and although Vegeta is once again relegated to the sidelines, at least he gets to land a punch this time around. “Resurrection F” follows the typical “Dragon Ball Z” formula to a tee, so there aren’t any major surprises, but it boasts great animation, some killer action beats and plenty of fan service for longtime viewers of the anime.
EXTRAS: There’s a behind-the-scenes look at recording the voices for the U.S. release and some interviews with the cast.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT