Blu Tuesday: Bad Teeth, Big Hair and Alien Invasions

It’s another slow week for Blu-ray fans, with only two major titles being released, neither of which is worth more than a rental. Warner Bros.’ repackaging of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and the Werner Herzog documentary “Into the Abyss” are also hitting stores, but since I didn’t receive either of those for review, this week’s column is going to be brief.

“The Iron Lady”

Every bit the listless piece of Oscar bait that everyone expected it to be, “The Iron Lady” is essentially a made-for-TV movie with an award-worthy performance at the center. Yes, Meryl Streep is almost offensively talented as an actress, but she’s also been much better in a lot of other movies than she is here playing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Though Streep absolutely nails her portrayal of the controversial politician (thanks in large part to some excellent make-up work), the movie itself is a rather cold and insipid biopic that isn’t nearly as interesting as it probably could have been in the hands of a more talented filmmaker. Jim Broadbent and Alexandra Roach (as Thatcher’s husband and younger self, respectively) deliver some good work in supporting roles, but this is clearly Streep’s show. It’s just a shame that her fantastic performance was wasted in such a mediocre movie, because if the actress was going to finally win another Oscar after so many years, it should have been for something much more memorable than this.

Blu-ray Highlight: Regrettably, there is none. All of the so-called “bonus featurettes” are less than three minutes long and recycle a lot of the same footage from “Making The Iron Lady,” which is more of just a standard rundown of the characters and actors that play them. It’s a bit baffling that some kind of makeup featurette wasn’t included seeing as how the film won an Oscar for it, because it surely would have been worth watching.

“The Darkest Hour”

When I previewed Chris Gorak’s sci-fi thriller back in December, I expressed my annoyance with the fact that it was being released in a month where it had virtually no chance of success. Of course, that was when I still thought the film had potential, but in hindsight, it’s easy to see why Summit showed so little confidence in the movie. Despite boasting a cool premise and a talented young cast (including Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby and Joel Kinnaman of “The Killling”), “The Darkest Hour” is B-movie material at best, marred by terrible performances, clichéd characters and a lack of excitement. The film’s only redeeming quality is the special effects, but Gorak relies on the image of the invisible aliens turning its victims to dust so often that you wonder if it’s the only card he has to play. Because when the aliens’ comically lame physical form is finally revealed, you’ll understand why they spent most of the movie hidden in stealth mode. Spoiler alert: it’s even worse than it sounds.

Blu-ray Highlight: Though fans will probably get a kick out of the short film “Survivor,” which explores the human resistance forming around the world, the “Visualizing an Invasion” featurette is an interesting look at designing the aliens, their unique POV shots and the cool “shred” effect that happens when you come into contact with them.

  

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