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: It’s been 30 years since Kal-El was jettisoned to Earth by his father (Russell Crowe) just before their home planet of Krypton was destroyed. Raised as a human named Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and taught to hide his superpowers, Clark eventually accepts his role as Earth’s protector just as Zod (Michael Shannon), the man responsible for his father’s death, arrives on the planet with plans to terraform it into a new Krypton.
WHY: The Superman franchise was practically DOA before Warner Bros. enlisted the aid of Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer to press the reboot button, and in doing so showed that the studio is finally starting to think about the bigger picture. One of the main problems with Superman as a character is that he’s pretty dull compared to the likes of Batman. Director Zack Snyder really can’t change that, but he at least manages to make him feel more relatable by depicting him as a bit of an outcast. Henry Cavill proves himself more than capable of carrying the Superman torch with his subtle yet effective performance, while Russell Crowe and Kevin Coster both turn in solid work as Kal-El/Clark’s respective fathers. The best thing about “Man of Steel,” however, is the action. The fight scenes are lightning fast and brutal, playing up the superhuman angle in a way that’s never been done before. The fight between Superman and two of Zod’s soldiers in the streets of Smallville is particularly memorable, delivering everything you’d expect from a modern day Superman film. Granted, it’s not as groundbreaking as what Nolan achieved with “Batman Begins,” but considering Warner’s recent track record with DC Comics characters, it’s a big step in the right direction.
EXTRAS: In addition to a feature called “Journey of Discovery” that tracks the making of the film with interviews, storyboards and other behind-the-scenes footage as the movie plays in the background, the two-disc set includes featurettes on rebooting the franchise, stunts and visual effects. There’s also a faux documentary about Planet Krypton that’s almost as pointless as the “Hobbit” promo that appears in the extras.
FINAL VERDICT: RENT
WHAT: Upon arriving in postwar Hong Kong, legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man (Anthony Wong) begins teaching a new class of pupils amid a backdrop of poverty, labor strikes and police corruption. But when a local crime lord threatens one of his students, Ip Man is called into action once again, despite his attempts to lead a peaceful life.
WHY: There have been so many movies about Ip Man released over the last few years that it’s become overkill, and although “The Final Fight” takes a completely different approach by exploring the martial artist’s later years, it’s the weakest Ip Man film to date. The Donnie Yen movies featured some great action choreography, and Wong Kar-Wai’s “The Grandmaster” looks absolutely gorgeous, but the only thing that “The Final Fight” has going for it is its cast. Anthony Wong turns in a solid performance as Ip Man, handling the action sequences fairly well for an actor with little experience in the genre, while Jordan Chan and Eric Tsang are both good in supporting roles, though I would have liked to see more of both characters. Unfortunately, the film lacks focus, unable to decide whether the story is about Ip Man or his various pupils, constantly shifting attention throughout its sluggish 100-minute runtime. Director Herman Yau does an admirable job of juggling the many subplots, but in the end, it’s the movie’s undoing.
EXTRAS: There’s a making-of featurette and interviews with the cast and crew.
FINAL VERDICT: SKIP