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This Week on Blu-ray: February 5-12

Posted February 2, 2013 09:04 PM by Josh Katz

Show all Blu-ray releases this week

For the week of February 5th, Paramount Pictures is bringing the dark drama Flight to Blu-ray. Nominated for two Academy Awards - Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay - the film marks director Robert Zemeckis' return to live-action filmmaking for the first time since 2000's Cast Away, and Zemeckis demonstrates that his eye for crisp staging and narrative momentum (particularly in the harrowing plane crash sequence that anchors Flight) haven't gone to seed during his years in the Polar Express/Beowulf/A Christmas Carol wilderness. While John Gatins' script isn't quite up to snuff - it trots out addiction film clichés that were losing freshness right around the time of Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend - Flight still mostly works, thanks to Zemeckis' direction and Denzel Washington's towering, vanity-free lead performance.

In his Blu-ray review, Martin Liebman praises Flight as "a remarkable picture starring arguably the most talented actor of the past two-plus decades and directed by one of Hollywood's best, a man who understands the ins-and-outs of the human drama as well as any filmmaker alive...Its ability to tell a story in which the audience hopes for inaction rather than action makes it a unique and highly satisfying human interest tale about a very personal struggle with demons and an effort to avoid the bright spotlight of modern media and, more importantly, the reflection in the mirror and the tell-tale signs of a soul in peril."

Also hitting the HD format is the Disney classic Peter Pan. The picture has always been one of the Mouse House's most effortlessly charming features, and a look at Disney's gorgeous new Blu-ray reveals why: for a story that includes alligator attacks, violent pirates, and duplicitous fairies, Peter Pan never aspires to be anything more than a light, easy-going time at the movies. It's as blithe as an afternoon of playing pirates in the woods, and just as consequence-free. In its own way, Peter Pan gets the pleasures of adolescence - particularly as an escape from adulthood - better than most serious movies on the subject do.

Kenneth Brown's Blu-ray review calls the animated picture "As much a classic today as it was twenty, forty or sixty years ago...[I]t remains the wondrous adventure and magnificently animated spectacle it's always been. With Disney's Blu-ray release, it's even more wondrous and magnificent. Backed by a stunning video presentation (albeit one slightly altered from its source), a strong DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, and well over four hours of special features, the new Diamond Edition release of Peter Pan is a must-have for any Disney fan or animation aficionado."

On Tuesday, Warner Bros. is also offering a high-definition upgrade of its beloved catalog title Cabaret. Bob Fosse's 1972 classic remains one of the most unnerving musicals ever made; it's a surrealistic jape into Weimar-era Germany, as the entertainers at a decadent nightclub experience the pervasive influence of the Nazi party. Fosse turns audience expectations for the musical format on their head, using his jaundiced eye to skew and distort the film's Kander & Ebb-penned songs. Liza Minnelli and Michael York are great in the leading roles, but Joel Grey steals the show as the club's perverse, Satanic M.C.

Michael Reuben writes that "Fosse only had time to complete three more films before he died in 1987 at age 60 of a heart attack. Of the three, only one of them, the nakedly autobiographical All That Jazz, is an undisputed masterpiece, though it was poorly received at the time. Had Fosse survived to continue his restless experimentation on stage and screen and to champion the presentation of his previous works in what was, at the time of his death, still the fledgling home video market, Cabaret might be better known, and we might not have had to wait until now for a first-rate presentation of one of the 20th Century's greatest films."

Finally, we end the week with a destined-to-be "so bad, it's good" camp classic: Alex Cross. The film takes its inspiration from a series of novels by author James Patterson (as well as the Morgan Freeman-starring Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider) even though its risible, unintentionally funny dramatics make it more of a spiritual sibling to Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Nothing about Alex Cross works, from Edward Burns' tired sidekick role, to Matthew Fox's ludicrously histrionic villain, to a variation of the Idiot Plot that contorts itself into ever-more implausible knots in an effort to "surprise" the viewer. Best (worst) of all is Tyler Perry's performance as the title character; nothing says "tortured police detective" quite like the star of Diary of a Mad Black Woman, and Perry vacillates between sleepy and overblown in an effort to convey Cross' rage and intelligence. It doesn't work, though it's manna from heaven for Bad Movie Lovers.

Jeffrey Kauffman goes comparatively easy on the film in his Blu-ray review, noting that "There's just a jarring disconnect between the relatively realistic (if awfully deductive) Alex Cross and the over the top villain he's pitted against. It's beyond even a showdown between, say, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty and plays more like Sherlock Holmes against Magneto...Fans of the Patterson novels might want to check this out as a rental, but I strongly doubt Perry's rabid regular fan base is going to be storming the battlements to see their erstwhile Madea playing it straight for a change."

Source: | Permalink | United States [Country settings]

News comments (19 comments)

  Feb 02, 2013
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This week I am never gonna grow up!

Top reviewer
  Feb 02, 2013
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"Alex Cross" really, really sucks. Don't bother.
  Feb 02, 2013
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Peter Pan for me, hoping to rent flight, so maybe I'll get that. We also get skyfall and argo on digital hd!

Top reviewer
  Feb 02, 2013
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Peter Pan and nothing else matters

  Feb 02, 2013
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Toys in the Attic!

  Feb 03, 2013
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Peter Pan & Flight for me. Cant Wait!

Top reviewer
Top contributor
  Feb 03, 2013
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Peter Pan for sure!

  Feb 03, 2013
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House of Cards all day long, fantastic series!!!!!!!!!!

Boothill Gunslinger
  Feb 03, 2013
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The ONLY thing good about "Alex Cross," and there was one, was Matthew Fox. He put everything into his character. He lost a ton of weight like Christian Bale did for "The Machinist," and he really pulled it off well. It's too bad his efforts were destroyed by that bonehead, Tyler Perry.

I might get it just for his incredible performance, but then again, I may not.

Peter Pan
Here Comes The Boom (when the price gets down to $4.99)
Toys In The Attic

  Feb 03, 2013
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Just Flight for me this week.

  Feb 03, 2013
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Peter Pan and Here Comes the Boom for me.
  Feb 03, 2013
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Anything with Denzel is gold to me, so Flight is day one! I will also be getting The Ballad of Narayama!

  Feb 03, 2013
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@ Sopranogl

I think most people figured it would when they learned "starring Tyler Perry." But, uh, thanks for the heads up.

  Feb 03, 2013
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Laura (Pre-ordered)
Cabaret (Pre-Ordered)
Peter Pan (In-store)
The Ballad of Narayama (When this goes on sale)
  Feb 04, 2013
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Peter Pan and Laura should be arriving any day now. I might pick up Cabaret and Flight eventually.

  Feb 04, 2013
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Peter Pan and Cabaret for me this week.

  Feb 04, 2013
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Peter Pan - Target Digibook

  Feb 05, 2013
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laura in my hands ... pan at bb ... flight when it drops
  Feb 07, 2013
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I ordered Jazz Singer, Cabaret, and A Star Is Born digibooks from amazon because my best buy could care less to carry them. I've already watched SIB and I don't know why the reviewer did'nt give it 5 stars, the picture quality, audio is truly superb for a film that came out in 1976........................

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