It’s another busy week for Blu-rays, so I don’t want to waste too much time here, but with so much good stuff being released over the next few weeks, you might want to plan ahead so you don’t go broke buying all the great Oscar nominees and catalog titles coming to Blu-ray. With that said, there are definitely a few movies this week that no cinephile should ignore, so read on to find out which ones they are.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the release of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” but even after all that time, it remains one of the director’s finest films and arguably the best movie ever made about the Holocaust. Though the film is plagued by many of the typical Spielbergian problems – namely its bloated runtime, which is even worse than usual due to the somewhat meandering pace and useless subplots – Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is superb (it looks even better in high definition) and the acting is great all around. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes’ Oscar nominations were both fully deserved, delivering some of the best work of their careers as the heroic Schindler and psychotic SS officer Amon Goeth, respectively, while Ben Kingsley’s absence from the Supporting Actor category feels unjust in hindsight. Still, the movie walked away with seven Academy Awards that year – including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay – so it’s not like it didn’t receive its fair share of recognition, and now that it’s finally on Blu-ray, a whole new generation of moviegoers can finally enjoy Spielberg’s excellent drama the way it should be seen.
Blu-ray Highlight: The Blu-ray doesn’t actually feature any bonus material, but the accompanying DVD version does, although the only extra of note is a documentary from 2004 that combines archival footage with survivor interviews about the Holocaust. It’s just a pity that Steven Spielberg couldn’t be bothered to do an audio commentary.
It’s been quite awhile since I saw an animated movie that I really loved (the kind you can watch over and over again), but Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” is that good. Though it was unfairly snubbed at this year’s Oscars in favor of Pixar’s mediocre fairy tale “Brave,” Rich Moore’s directorial debut has a much better chance of standing the test of time, even if the early rumors of a sequel don’t exactly fill me with glee. After all, its wildly inventive premise is one of the many things that separate “Wreck-It Ralph” from other films in the genre, and the fact that it appeals to video game fans of all ages certainly doesn’t hurt. The digital cameos lend some authenticity to Ralph’s world and are smartly integrated into the story without drawing too much attention, while the casting is pretty much spot-on, especially John C. Reilly as the title character and Sarah Silverman as his spunky sidekick. Though it would have been fun to see Ralph game-jump into more than a few games, I guess something has to be saved for the sequel, no matter how bad of an idea it may sound.
Blu-ray Highlight: Hosted by Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, Disney’s latest Intermission feature reveals some of the film’s Easter Eggs whenever the disc is paused, but the real highlight is John Kahrs’ visually stunning (and Oscar-winning) “Paperman” short.
As far as 1980s cult classics go, “Red Dawn” isn’t the most popular of the bunch, but it is one of the few movies to receive a remake that actually makes sense. Though it’s hard to beat the cast of the original, director Dan Bradley’s update boasts a solid group of young actors, including Chris “Thor” Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. The only real problem is Josh Peck, who isn’t terribly convincing as the impulsive star quarterback and falls flat in many of the film’s more emotional scenes. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t rely too heavily on the strength of its characters to move the story along, but when your lead is as bad as Peck is here, it’s hard to ignore. A lot of the film’s success ultimately comes down to the excellent action sequences, and that’s where having a guy like Bradley – who worked as a stunt coordinator and second unit director on several big movies – pays off. He may not get the best performances from his actors, but the action scenes are never lacking in excitement. Granted, the movie is about as subtle as a chainsaw, but it doesn’t try to hide what it is either, and that’s what makes “Red Dawn” such a fun guilty pleasure.
Blu-ray Highlight: A review copy didn’t arrive in time, but after the film’s theatrical release endured such a long delay, it’s hard to imagine MGM going all out for this one.