This week sees the Blu-ray release of Sony Pictures' Lockout. The latest film from producer/writer Luc Besson's B-movie action stable - other notable examples include The Transporter and Taken - Lockout attempts to present a nearly full-scale replica of John Carpenter's 1981 cult favorite Escape from New York; swap out "futuristic Manhattan" for "futuristic space prison" and "The President" for "The President's daughter," and the two thrillers become almost identical.
That said, creative theft aside, Lockout is still a lot of fun, thanks to Guy Pearce's tongue-in-cheek Snake Plisskin riff and enjoyably preposterous action sequences (which are, in this unrated Blu-ray cut, bloodier and more impactful than in the watered-down theatrical version). Martin Liebman's Blu-ray review definitely appreciates the movie on its terms and notes that, "Lockout...lacks smarts or anything resembling a deep plot, but they don't get a whole lot better than this when it comes to mindless poporrn-munching cinema with lots of explosions, gunfire, space ships, and even a little bit of intrigue, suspense, and humor to carry the movie when the guns cease and the action slows."
Tuesday also brings Warner Home Entertainment's highly anticipated Singin' in the Rain Blu-ray. Singin' in the Rain is one of the greatest movie musicals ever made - if not the greatest, a designation that many critics would assign the film - and what makes it so special is how it marries its song-and-dance elements to a compelling story; it is as much a witty comedy about the vagaries of show business as it is a big-screen spectacle. Its sweet-cynical viewpoint has endured, influencing filmmakers such as Michel Hazanavicius, whose Best Picture winner The Artist owes much of its existence to the 1952 Gene Kelly classic.
In his Blu-ray review, Kenneth Brown gives the feature his highest recommendation as he implores readers to "consider, if only for a moment, that a 1952 musical, if given the chance, could be one of the most gratifying movie-watching experiences of 2012...Singin' in the Rain is a true classic; perhaps even, as the AFI continues to declare it, the greatest movie musical of all time. And, frankly, there's no time like the present. So stop scoffing, stop thumbing your nose, stop shrugging your shoulders. Give Singin' in the Rain a fighting chance and see - just see - where it takes you."
Courtesy of Olive Films, another cinematic favorite from 1952 makes its HD debut on Tuesday: director Fred Zinnemann's Western High Noon. Looking at the film today, what impresses is its restraint. Even as it tells the story of a proud lawman (Gary Cooper, never better) forced to confront a gang of vengeful killers by himself, High Noon never reaches for melodramatic thrills or excesses. It simply watches Cooper's character as his friends and associates abandon him - one by one - and then contrasts his growing isolation with a ticking clock, a clock counting down to the agents of his destruction.
Jeffrey Kauffman uses his Blu-ray review to highlight the picture's understated menace, how "this is a film that moves relentlessly through increasing desperation without so much as a hint of hyperbole. Fifties audiences didn't know what to make of a Western that didn't feature 'shoot 'em up' moments, thunder horse hooves, and other well worn tropes of the idiom. Luckily, we can look back on High Noon now from the vantage point granted by all the films that followed in its wake and aped some of its techniques, and realize it for the undeniable masterpiece it is."
Finally, the Criterion Collection delivers its Blu-ray upgrade of Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law this week. The distributor has a great relationship with Jarmusch - in 2010, Criterion released a terrific Blu-ray of his 1989 masterpiece Mystery Train - and the Down by Law results are equally impressive. In addition to the luminous HD transfer, the disc contains hours of interview materials with the mercurial filmmaker, who delivers characteristically iconoclastic ruminations on how he made Down by Law and what the finished film means to him. The Blu-ray is a fitting platform for one of Jarmusch's best films, a spooky, silly ode to New Orleans and the "prison escape" movie genre that features wonderful performances from Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni.
Svet Atanasov's Blu-ray review reserves similar praise for the film, which, "Shot in black and white...is a strikingly poetic film. The panoramic vistas from the bayou, in particular, are superb. Earlier in the film, the way the camera captures the long shadows in the city is also very effective...Releases such as this one are one of many reasons why Criterion are considered by many the best distributor around."
@ibeetle I don't really understand how Blu-ray.com defines "this week", because they start the week on Tuesday, but the headline says July 17-24 (which is 8 days, oddly). TNG S1 hits on the 24th. Perhaps they meant to say July 17-23?
Arriving from my preorders is the classic 70s crime drama Mean Streets, which I've long wanted to add to the Martin Scorsese section of my collection.
I will likely also pick up Down by Law this week from Barnes & Noble's big Criterion sale.
Sooner rather than later I'll certainly acquire the Ultimate Collector's Edition of Singin' in the Rain, one of my favorite films of all time (and not just musical films). It will be a terrific upgrade from my DVD. Additionally, I'll definitely at some point upgrade my DVD copies of two more classics of the 50s, High Noon and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
Finally, I may consider, down the line, The Turin Horse a very unusual—and melancholy—film (to put it mildly).
Probably pick up butterfly effect, not sure how it\s held up but i remember being surprised with it years ago. Also Stooges isn't that terrible, I laughed more then i thought, If the bluray has some good features (maybe a doc on the real stooges or some classic shorts?) i'd pick it up