New Blu-ray Releases Captain Marvel

This week’s Blu-ray column might be one of the most eclectic to date. We have five superhero movies, all of which are wildly different than one another. Then there are two thrillers, both of which are also quite different from each other. And if all of that isn’t enough, you’ll also find a political biopic and a dance movie straight from hell. These are the new Blu-ray releases and their special features you should check out this week.

Captain Marvel
(Now On Digital; On Blu-ray June 11)

Marvel took their sweet time giving a female superhero her own movie (Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn’t count, because the Wasp still has to share the title with Ant-Man). That movie was Captain Marvel, and the result was…pretty good! Look, Captain Marvel isn’t groundbreaking the way Black Panther was. It unfortunately follows the standard Marvel movie formula far too closely instead of taking risks or going to new exciting places. But is that such a bad thing? There’s nothing wrong with a solid movie that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and that’s what this is. The movie has problems – it runs too long, the script is a bit wobbly, and a lot of the action is shot in a rather flat, boring way. But Captain Marvel triumphs for two specific reasons. One is Brie Larson, who plays the title character like a female Han Solo – constantly cocky and sure of herself, even when she’s in over her head. It’s a blast to watch Larson more or less roll her eyes at everyone and everything in this movie before punching people into space. The other successful element is Ben Mendelsohn as Talos. Mendelsohn has already established himself as one of our very best character actors, and here he proves once again why he’s so damn good. Even though he’s buried under a ton of alien makeup, Mendelsohn brings pathos, humor and fun to the part of a character who isn’t who he appears to be. Oh, wait, did I say two specific reasons? I should’ve said three, because the third is Goose the Cat, who steals the entire damn movie.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

I’ll say this about Marvel: they’re one of the few major studios who are keeping the director’s commentary alive. While the Captain Marvel commentary, from directors/screenwriters Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, can’t hold a candle to some previous Marvel commentaries (Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok is still the best), it’s always rewarding when filmmakers are willing to sit down and talk a little bit about their process.

The 4K release of the film looks phenomenal. In fact, I’d dare say it looks better than it did in theaters – mostly because modern movie projection has become pitiful and lackluster. Here, rendered in 4K, you can appreciate the visual appearance of the film – the colors pop, and the world looks less drab, even though it does unfortunately suffer from the usual Marvel parking lot color palette problems.

But let’s be honest: if you’re a collector of Marvel Blu-rays, and a completist, you’ll want this on your shelf.

Special Features Include: 

  • Movie with Intro – An introduction by directors/screenwriters Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
  • Movie with Commentary – Commentary by directors/screenwriters Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.

Featurettes:

  • Becoming a Super Hero – Follow Brie Larson’s journey as she joins the MCU, and see what it takes to be a Marvel Super Hero in every sense of the word.
  • Big Hero Moment – Explore how impactful Captain Marvel’s entrance into the MCU is, and how she inspires audiences around the world.
  • The Origin of Nick Fury – Witness some of the MCU’s most significant events through Nick Fury’s eyes, and see how his influence helped shape the MCU.
  • The Dream Team – Discover why Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck are the perfect pair to direct Marvel Studios’ most powerful hero.
  • The Skrulls and the Kree – Take a deeper look into the Skrulls and the Kree, their ongoing conflict, and the importance of shifting perspectives in the film.
  • Hiss-sterical Cat-titude – The cast and crew dish on working with Goose and the raw talent it takes to portray such a complex character on-screen.
  • 6 Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel

Digital Exclusives:

  • Journey into Visual Effects with Victoria Alonso
  • What Makes a Memory: Inside the “Mind Frack”
  • Concept Art
  • On-Set Images

 

 

Blue Velvet

David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet is considered a classic for a reason. With his unique aesthetic and macabre sense of humor, the filmmaker showed us the dark side of suburbia with this twisted, kinky, perverted nightmare. College student Kyle MacLachlane gets caught up in the middle of a seedy world that exists on the underbelly of his seemingly boring, peaceful town. That underworld is lorded over by Frank Booth, played with delicious menace by Dennis Hopper. The plot involves MacLachlane’s character getting mixed up with a sexy lounge singer (Isabella Rossellini) while also involving his sweet, good-hearted love interest, played by Laura Dern. But like most Lynch films, plot is secondary. Instead, the filmmaker is more interested in conveying an overall feeling, and that feeling is dread. Lynch can often pull humor out of that dread, and he does so several times here. But the dread and darkness are always there. The prevailing sense that nothing here is normal, and it never will be. Now it’s dark.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Criterion, as is their style, have put together a killer new Blu-ray release. Many of the features here have been available before – like The Lost Footage, which features 50+ minutes of deleted scenes cut together by Lynch himself. But it’s really the transfer you’re going to want to buy here, and it’s worth every penny. The textures that are so prevalent – the close-up of ants squirming over a severed ear; the folds of Isabella Rossellini’s robe; the light and shadow bouncing off of Dean Stockwell’s face as he sings into a lamp – are as crisp and clear as they ever were. This is a must-own in every sense of the word.

Special Features Include: 

  • New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, both supervised by director David Lynch
  • Alternate original 2.0 surround sound­track
  • The Lost Footage, fifty-three minutes of deleted scenes and alternate takes assembled by Lynch
  • “Blue Velvet” Revisited, a feature-length meditation on the making of the movie by Peter Braatz, filmed on-set during the production
  • Mysteries of Love, a seventy-minute documentary from 2002 on the making of the film
  • Interview from 2017 with composer Angelo Badalamenti
  • It’s a Strange World: The Filming of “Blue Velvet,” a 2019 documentary featuring interviews with crew members and visits to the shooting locations
  • Lynch reading from Room to Dream, a 2018 book he coauthored with Kristine McKenna
  • PLUS: Excerpts by McKenna from Room to Dream

 

 

The Batman Quadrilogy 4K

At last, Batman and Robin on 4K! Jokes aside, these new 4K transfers of the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Bat-films are a welcomed edition to any Blu-ray shelf. Yes, even the Schumacher ones. Burton’s 1989 Batman brought the Dark Knight to the big screen in a way the general public wasn’t used to, and launched a whole new world of superhero cinema in the process. Michael Keaton‘s homicidal Batman remains the gold standard – Keaton knew just how to play up Batman’s inner darkness in a way no other actor has so far figured out (maybe Robert Pattinson will nail it). Burton followed up his considerably dark Batman with the even darker Batman Returns, a psycho-circus of a fever dream featuring a ghoulish nose-biting Penguin and sexy zombie Catwoman. The film remains one of the best Batman movies, but its overwhelming freakishness scared Warner Bros. enough to seek out something lighter. Enter Schumacher, who took Batman back to the campy roots of the Adam West series, creating the neon-drenched, homoerotic Batman Forever. The film has not aged well, and really wasn’t even that good to begin with. And yet…it’s entertaining. And then came Batman and Robin, the movie that effectively killed Batman films for several years. Yes, it’s stupid and nonsensical. But how can you not at least partially enjoy a movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger makes approximately 4000 puns about ice?

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Batman isn’t the first movie I saw in theaters – that mantle belongs to 1985’s Follow That Bird. But Batman is the first movie I remember seeing in theaters. I have no memory of any theatrical experience before it, but I can distinctly recall going to the theater with my parents and watching in awe as the opening credits swooped around a stone bat symbol as Danny Elfman‘s theme blasted. It was magical. And the new 4K release of that film recaptures that magic. I’ve seen the ’89 Batman many times since its release, but no subsequent viewing ever rekindled the sensations I felt when I was a child…until now. As we all know, Batman is a visually dark film, and that darkness is stark and shot through with grain on this release, making the movie somehow look exactly like it did back in movie theaters in 1989. The rest of the releases look great as well. Even the maligned Schumacher movies are rich in visual splendor here, aided by Schumacher’s love of neon lighting. These releases come with some truly terrible covers, but beyond that, they’re the definitive versions of the original quadrilogy.

Special Features Include: 

  • The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray discs of Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin will feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar. Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.

 

 

Nixon

Once upon a time, there was a wildly insecure man who managed to trick millions into voting for him to be President of the United States. Even though this man was now the most powerful person in the world, he still felt unhappy and unsatisfied, and thus lashed-out at those he perceived to be his enemies. He also had no problem breaking the law, and embracing rampant corruption. But enough about Donald Trump, let’s talk about Nixon. When the unabashedly liberal Oliver Stone announced he would be making a movie about Richard Nixon, people assumed the filmmaker was setting out to take a hatchet to the former president – who was still alive when the movie went into production. To be fair, if Stone had wanted to attack Nixon with no reservations, he would kind of be justified, since Nixon was, after all, a corrupt, vindictive creep. But oddly enough, Stone’s Nixon actually manages to find some sympathy for the devil. Yes, this Nixon, played marvelously by Anthony Hopkins, still ends up betraying the country and his office. But Stone attempts to get into the man’s head, and find out why he did the things he did. The end result paints a portrait of a sad, lonely man who hated himself so much that he could never stop and revel in his accomplishments. “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” asks the Biblical quote at the top of the film, perfectly summing up the story Stone is about to tell.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Nixon has been on Blu-ray before, but the good folks at Kino Lorber have given it a slight upgrade that looks, and sounds, better than ever. Stone, working with legendary cinematographer Robert Richardson, plays constantly with bright light and deep shadow in this film, and both are rendered beautifully in this release. I’d still love for a 4K release of this – along with one for Stone’s JFK. But until that happens (if it ever happens), this is the version you’re going to want to pick up.

Special Features Include: 

  • Includes both the original 191-minute theatrical cut and the extended 212-minute director’s cut | Two Audio Commentaries with Director Oliver Stone (Director’s Cut): Oliver Stone Discusses the Film’s Performances, Style & Scrip/Oliver Stone Discusses the Politics & History of the Era
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historian Jim Hemphill (Theatrical Cut)
  • Deleted Scenes Introduced by Oliver Stone (58:16)
  • Beyond Nixon Documentary (35:19)
  • Charlie Rose Interviews Oliver Stone (55:09)
  • Making-of Featurette
  • 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

 

Greta

Neil Jordan‘s Greta is a big pile of trashy fun. A film that blends an arthouse sensibility with a totally bonkers execution. Is the story predictable? Yes. But that doesn’t make things any less surprising, and fun. Chloë Grace Moretz plays sweet, naive New Yorker Frances, who finds a handbag on the subway. The handbag belongs to Greta Hideg, played with over-the-top glee by Isabelle Huppert. Frances returns the handbag to Greta, and finds the older woman to be sweet and kind of lonely. Since Frances is a bit lonely herself, the two strike up an unexpected friendship. But Frances soon learns that Greta is not who she appears to be. Worse, Greta is also kind of a lunatic. And it becomes almost impossible for Frances to remove her from her life. From here, the story descends into Fatal Attraction by way of Mommy Dearest, and the end result is a hoot. Huppert is the main draw here, clearly having fun playing up Greta’s kookier side.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Greta is like a combination of junk food and comfort food. It’s the perfect silly-yet-entertaining thriller to pop on at any time. Even once you’re familiar with all its twists and turns, Jordan’s movie is inherently watchable. In other words, it’s exactly the type of film you want to add to your collection. Every day is a good day to watch Isabelle Huppert murder someone and then dance around her house like a lunatic. So pick up Greta, put it on a shelf, and take it down whenever you need its wacky charm.

Special Features Include: 

  • Includes a digital copy of Greta
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Greta: Enemies and Friends

 

 

Climax

How does one even begin to describe Climax, the latest bit of provocative what-the-fuckery from director Gaspar Noe? It’s a dance-filled descent into hell; Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom meets the entire Step Up franchise meets Event Horizon. For 96 pulse-pounding, eye-popping minutes, Noe takes us inside a dance academy in chaos. The dancers have all been secretly drugged with sangria spiked with LSD, and proceed to go out of their god damn minds before our eyes. It’s bleak, it’s funny, it’s wholly unique. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of Noe, but this might be his best movie – a perfect showcase for his perverted talents. Of the energetic cast, Sofia Boutella stands out the most as the informal lead of the story, bending, twisting and flailing her way through the mayhem like Isabelle Adjani in Possession.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

I’ll be honest: the American release of Climax is a bit lacking. The Arrow Video UK release, which I was not sent, is loaded with special features, while this release, from Lionsgate, has only one featurette. But the film is special enough to warrant a purchase, and the U.S. version will cost you significantly less. This is worth owning simply so you can rewatch it over and over, studying the frames as you try to figure just what the hell is going on. Climax‘s visuals are remarkable in their horrifying beauty, and even if you’re repulsed by what unfolds here, I have a feeling you’ll want to watch it all over again.

Special Features Include: 

  • “A Visceral Experience: Making Climax” Featurette
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