Blu-ray Today: Shailene Woodley, Katee Sackhoff, Karen Gillan and Dragon Ball Z

By Luke Y. Thompson in DVDs
Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 8:00 am

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Oculus - Putting Katee Sackhoff and Karen Gillan in mortal danger is a great way to frighten the hell out of sci-fi fanboys and girls like most of us, and this tale of a haunted mirror delivers the scares in spades, as Gillan plots revenge on the evil looking-glass while it fights back by distorting her perception of reality. Past and present collide as she and brother Brenton Thwaites lose the ability to distinguish between their childhood with increasingly deranged parents, and adulthood bewitched by the ghosts in the glass - my only major complaint is that the lines of reality get so blurred by the end that it's hard to feel the jeopardy if it's mostly imagined.

The original 32-minute short that spawned the feature is included, as are deleted scenes with optional director's commentary.



Divergent - I'm a fan of Shailene Woodley in movies like The Spectacular Now, but I can't yet bring myself to care all that much for Divergent, a sci-fi allegory of high-school cliquishness that anyone of college age or higher may find less-than-fascinating. Maybe the sequels will explain exactly what it is that all these kids in fighting school are actually training for. If you are interested in the making of the film, however, the Blu-ray includes two commentary tracks (no Shailene, alas; director Neil Burger on one, and producers Lucy Fisher and Douglas Wick on the other), deleted scenes, a making-of documentary and a Blu-exclusive featurette.

Dragon Ball Z Season 6 - I really don't care about this at all, but some of you do, and I don't begrudge you that. From what I can gather, however, it features a cropped aspect ratio, which seems somewhat fan-unfriendly.

Phantom of the Paradise - Brian De Palma's '70s musical mash-up of Faust and The Phantom of the Opera tends to make rabid fans of many who see it, and they'll be thrilled with this new combo pack edition loaded with new interviews, commentary tracks, featurettes and more, spread across both the Blu-ray disc and included DVD. If you haven't seen the movie, know that it's one of those uniquely weird films specific to the era that has become even stranger to look at with the passage of time. Though the vehemence of hardcore fans can be off-putting, check it out anyway - this is the De Palma of Carrie, not Mission: Impossible.

The Full Monty - It deserves better than a bare-bones release, especially since there was a deluxe DVD version, but what can you do? I was just having a conversation this past weekend about movies that can truly take you away from whatever negative baggage is swirling in your head and make you feel great, and for me, this was it. At a time when my roommmate/best friend was not paying her share of the rent and I was looking at having to kick her out and worrying what I'd do next, I went to see this movie comedy about English working-class shlubs who decide that the best way to make some extra money would be to put on a strip show. All my problems were forgotten as I watched, and no, it wasn't just because I saw schlong (you really don't, anyway). It was a breakthrough role for Tom Wilkinson, who started showing up in everything after that, and a reminder of Robert Carlyle's range, as all of us went, "THAT's the dude from Trainspotting?"

Ironclad: Battle for Blood - Apparently this is a sequel to a movie about evil Celtic warriors that I never heard of. Good for it.

Without Warning - A giant, fake-looking alien played by the same guy who was Predator is going around throwing discs at young horny teenagers, and draining their blood in the process. Fortunately for those crazy kids, Jack Palance and Martin Landau are here to help.

Oh, and also...

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...this guy.


YEAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Those are my top Blu-ray picks this week. What would you add?

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