Blu Tuesday: Logan 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.

“Logan”

Despite being the most popular character in the X-Men franchise, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine hasn’t had much luck when it comes to his solo outings. Though director James Mangold made half of a good film with “The Wolverine,” his second bite of the apple is a much-improved genre flick that finally gives the character his due. “Logan” may be a slower, more character-driven comic book movie, but it’s incredibly gritty and violent as well, easily earning its R rating with a handful of claw-slicing action sequences peppered throughout. While “Logan” certainly isn’t without its flaws (from the underwhelming villains to the overlong runtime), there’s enough great stuff here, including strong performances from Jackman and Patrick Stewart, to succeed both as a refreshing deviation from the typical superhero formula and a fitting end to Jackman’s remarkable 17-year run as Wolverine.

Extras include an audio commentary by director/co-writer James Mangold, a six-part making-of featurette, deleted scenes and a black-and-white version of the film titled “Logan: Noir.” FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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Blu Tuesday: Return of Xander Cage 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.

“xXx: Return of Xander Cage”

Vin Diesel famously never made a sequel to 2002’s “xXx” because he didn’t believe in them, but that was before he became the go-to franchise guy with the “Fast and Furious” series, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and, to a lesser extent, the Riddick saga. However, it seems unlikely that “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” will reboot the stagnant franchise as intended, despite its blatant attempts to mimic the “Fast and Furious” films. Though it boasts the same over-the-top energy and its own multicultural cast, the movie comes off as nothing more than a second-rate rip-off with some truly ridiculous action sequences. It’s not a complete waste of time thanks to the involvement of Donnie Yen and Ruby Rose, but for a film that borders on so-bad-it’s-good territory for most of its runtime, “Return of Xander Cage” comes up short.

Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes on Vin Diesel’s return, the supporting cast, location shooting and stunts, as well as a gag reel. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

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Blu Tuesday: Heat 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.

“Heat: Director’s Definitive Edition”

Michael Mann’s 1995 crime thriller is one of the best films in the genre, and it’s aged remarkably well in the 20-plus years since its release. Though the movie is perhaps best known for the iconic diner sequence between stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, whose cat-and-mouse tension permeates the entire film despite only sharing two scenes together, “Heat” has so many memorable moments (including the opening heist and the climactic shootout) that it continues to be imitated to this day. Although there’s nothing different about the director’s cut featured here than the one that appears on the 2009 Blu-ray (for all intents and purpose, this is the official version of the movie), the new 4K remaster that was supervised by Mann is such a treat that it makes this rerelease a must-own for diehard fans.

Extras include an audio commentary by director Michael Mann, a three-part making-of featurette, the 2016 Academy panel with the cast and crew, a Q&A from the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, deleted scenes and more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY

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Blu Tuesday: Gold 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.

“Gold”

Stephen Gaghan’s long-awaited follow-up to “Syriana” may not have been the awards contender that some predicted, but it’s a mildly entertaining adult drama – inspired by the 1997 Bre-X mining scandal – that boasts some great work from Matthew McConaughey. Though the Oscar-winning actor looks every bit the part as balding, potbellied has-been Kenny Wells, his performance is much more than the physical transformation he’s undergone. He carries the film every step of the way, exuding his trademark charisma to turn Kenny into the kind of loveable loser that’s hard not to admire. The movie itself has some major problems, but McConaughey is such a compelling presence, fervently chain-smoking and guzzling booze throughout the film, that “Gold” just about gets by on his performance alone.

Extras include an audio commentary by director Stephen Gaghan and a series of featurettes on the film’s origins, location shooting in Thailand and star Matthew McConaughey. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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Blu Tuesday: La La Land 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.

“La La Land”

Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” was my favorite film of 2014, so the bar was set pretty high for his next project, a loving homage to the big, bold and colorful musicals of Hollywood’s Golden Age featuring two of today’s brightest stars. Thankfully, “La La Land” is every bit as enchanting as you’ve heard. Though it doesn’t have the most original story, the movie gets by on the strength of its delightful musical numbers and the irresistible charm of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, who radiate the kind of old-school glamour that feeds into the film’s nostalgic spirit. For a movie about chasing your dreams in a town known for crushing them, “La La Land” is surprisingly optimistic until its bittersweet end, providing the kind of Technicolor escapism that the world needs more of these days.

Extras include an audio commentary by writer/director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz, over an hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes (including a look at filming some of the musical sequences) and much more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY

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