Blu Tuesday: Suicide Squad and More

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.

“Suicide Squad”

WHAT: When a powerful witch named Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) escapes captivity and sets out to destroy the world, A.R.G.U.S. director Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) enlists no-nonsense soldier Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to lead a covert team of the world’s most dangerous criminals – including sharpshooter assassin Deadshot (Will Smith), the Joker’s deranged sidekick Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and pyrokinetic gangster El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) – to stop her.

WHY: Following the disaster of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” moviegoers looked to “Suicide Squad” to get the DC Extended Universe back on track. Unfortunately, while there’s a lot to like about the basic setup, it’s too often hindered by the film’s many flaws and surprising conventionality. The movie doesn’t disappoint when it comes to its colorful roster – especially Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto (as a very different iteration of the Joker), all of whom deliver great work in their respective roles – but while it’s packed with some great character moments, they’re spoiled by the lame plot and even lamer villain. There was a much better story to be told, or at the very least, a better way to tell it, but “Suicide Squad” gets so caught up in trying to compete with DC’s bigger properties that the film loses sight of what made it such a unique and exciting idea from the outset. Although it’s not quite the post-“Batman v Superman” pick-me-up that many people were expecting, there’s enough good to be salvaged from David Ayer’s original vision that it’s not a total failure, either.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes a series of featurettes on the characters, boot camp training for the cast, filming the action sequences and the Joker/Harley relationship, as well as a gag reel and the extended cut of the movie, which runs about 13 minutes longer.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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Blu Tuesday: Jason Bourne and More

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.

“Jason Bourne”

WHAT: When former CIA analyst Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) steals top secret files on the agency’s black ops programs and uncovers new details about David Webb’s (Matt Damon) past, the Treadstone agent formerly known as Jason Bourne is dragged out of hiding. Hot on his trail is ambitious CIA cyber division chief Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander) and a vengeful operative (Vincent Cassel) with a personal grudge against Bourne.

WHY: Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass were pretty adamant about being done with the Jason Bourne franchise after 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum,” but following the disappointment of the Jeremy Renner-led spinoff “The Bourne Legacy,” Universal must have thrown duffle bags of money at the duo to convince them to come back. They should have resisted, because while it’s good to see Damon and Greengrass return to the series that helped make their careers, “Jason Bourne” doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Not even Damon looks particularly excited to be back, speaking as little as possible over the course of the film’s bloated two-hour runtime. Though it boasts an excellent cast (including Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel and Riz Ahmed) and some great action that culminates in a thrilling car chase through the Las Vegas strip where a SWAT truck is used like a battering ram, “Jason Bourne” is so fixated on its titular character’s past (yet again) that it fails to look ahead to the future.

EXTRAS: The Blu-ray release includes a general making-of featurette, as well as five additional featurettes on filming the major fight scenes and the Athens and Las Vegas chase sequences.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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Blu Tuesday: Don’t Breathe, Pete’s Dragon and The BFG

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.

“Don’t Breathe”

WHAT: Three young thieves break into the house of a blind Iraq war veteran (Stephen Lang) who’s reportedly sitting on a large stash of money. But the man isn’t as innocent as he seems, and before long, the intruders (including Jane Levy and Dylan Minnette) are unexpectedly thrust into a fight for their lives.

WHY: Following his 2013 remake of “The Evil Dead,” it’s nice to see director Fede Alvarez return to more original genre fare like “Don’t Breathe,” which features one of the best horror premises in recent years. The film gets off to a cracking start as well, ramping up in intensity at every turn as the burglars slowly make their way into the blind man’s house, only to discover that they’re messing with the wrong guy. Unfortunately, while the first half is a really strong home invasion thriller that smartly uses its confined space and sound design to build suspense, “Don’t Breathe” is ruined by some lazy writing. Not only does it contain a really dumb twist that comes completely out of left field, but the characters are so idiotic that their poor decision-making skills will have you pulling your hair out. It’s been a while since the horror genre has had protagonists this patently stupid, and when combined with the sheer implausibility of certain events, it turns what could have been a new cult classic into just another mediocre B-movie.

EXTRAS: In addition to an audio commentary by director/co-writer Fede Alvarez, co-writer Rodo Sayagues and actor Stephen Lang, there’s a collection of featurettes on the cast, production design and score, and eight deleted scenes with optional commentary.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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Blu Tuesday: Hell or High Water and More

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.

“Hell or High Water”

WHAT: When a divorced father (Chris Pine) desperate to provide for his two sons learns that the bank is going to foreclose on his family’s ranch, he teams up with his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) to pull off a series of robberies at the bank’s various branches across Texas. Hot on their trail is Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), an aging lawman who would rather go down in a blaze of glory than be forced into retirement.

WHY: For as old-fashioned as “Hell or High Water” feels at times, it’s a movie that deals with some incredibly timely themes, especially in a post-election America still reeling from the last economic depression. Following his little-seen 2013 gem “Starred Up,” director David Mackenzie delivers yet another engaging family-centric story (based on a script by “Sicario” writer Taylor Sheridan) that excels in its simplicity. It’s gorgeously shot, displaying both the beauty and sadness of its picturesque landscape, and features a trio of excellent performances by Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. Nobody does unhinged quite like Foster, and this is easily Pine’s best work in years, but the movie ultimately belongs to Bridges, who’s devilishly funny as the veteran Texas Ranger, trading affectionately racist barbs with his Mexican/Native American partner played by Gil Birmingham. Though the film follows a pretty standard cops-and-robbers formula, it does so with such razor-sharp proficiency and well-drawn characters that it succeeds not just as a terrific genre film but a modern American classic in the same vein as “No Country for Old Men.”

EXTRAS: There’s a trio of featurettes on the characters, performances and visual style of the movie, footage from the red carpet premiere and a filmmaker Q&A.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

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Blu Tuesday: Game of Thrones and More

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.

“Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season”

WHAT: In the wake of Jon Snow’s murder, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) tightens his grip on the North just as Cersei (Lena Headey) struggles to retain her power in King’s Landing. Meanwhile, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) plans her escape from Dothraki captivity, Arya (Maisie Williams) begins her apprenticeship at the House of White and Black, and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) continues his training under the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow)… all while the threat of the White Walkers looms on the other side of the Wall.

WHY: The sixth season of “Game of Thrones” was undeniably the Year of the Woman, with characters like Cersei, Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, Yara and Brienne all emerging as genuine power players across the Seven Kingdoms. It’s also a season that, despite the dense and complex nature of its storytelling, really put the pedal to the floor as the show barrels towards its inevitable conclusion, inspiring the hashtag #EfficiencyisComing in the process. And this year was nothing if not efficient, even if it spent two whole episodes pretending that Jon Snow was permanently dead when everybody knew that wasn’t the case. Minor quibbles aside, Season Six is one of the best in the show’s history, boasting strong performances from Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (among many others) and top-notch episodes like “The Door” (RIP Hodor) and the Miguel Sapochnik-directed twofer “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter.” For a season that could have easily felt like the banal but necessary prelude to the much-anticipated climax, it doesn’t disappoint, delivering all the drama, political intrigue, action and comedy that “Game of Thrones” fans have come to expect.

EXTRAS: There’s a massive amount of bonus material, including cast and crew audio commentaries on every episode (and two each in the case of episodes 5, 9 and 10), a behind-the-scenes look at filming the Battle of the Bastards and creating Vaes Dothrak, featurettes on the mythology of Westeros and Ethos, deleted scenes and more.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY

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