Blu-ray Today: Miyazaki, Romero, Koenig, Campbell…Thomerson?


Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – This is what happens when you wait too long to make a sequel, even if it’s good. Actors die, tastes change, and the artist/writer everyone once loved for being a misanthropic, drunk, misogynist anachronism is now hated…for STILL being a misanthropic, drunk, misogynist anachronism. Never mind that many aspects of this sequel are actually superior to the first – Josh Brolin’s Dwight beats Clive Owen’s, the 3D is insane, and the city actually feels like more than just a digital backdrop this time around. Audiences by and large weren’t into it, and odds are we won’t get a part 3.

And as I’ve said before, I can’t really disagree with the reasons why people hate the movie – it’s the ultimate power fantasy of emasculated drunken assholes who don’t really kick ass but wish they could. But if you ask me, there’s nothing wrong with that; I am, at times, one of said assholes, and this is pure escapism for my worst impulses. Bring it on again. As with the original, this disc includes an all-greenscreen version in fast-forward, lasting 16 minutes…sadly, there aren’t many other extras, leading one to believe that the usually prolific Robert Rodriguez may be holding out for a double-dip that there won’t be sufficient demand to ever make.

Automata – In a world blasted by solar flares, Antonio Banderas pursues malfunctioning robots and ponders humanity’s extinction. For a film that features so many practical effects, including robots that were operated by puppeteers, it’s a real shame the only extra besides trailers is a five-minute featurette. This is one of those movies that you leave wanting to think more about, so it’s a bummer the folks putting the disc together didn’t want to do more than the basics. Worth a rental, though.

The Wind Rises/Princess Mononoke/Kiki’s Delivery Service – First impulse: “Disney, you bastards! Three Miyazaki movies in one day?”

Second impulse: “Disney, you geniuses. A different Miyazaki movie for each family generation, released on the same day.” Give the children Kiki, an uplifting tale of a witch who learns how to make particularly good use of her flying broom. Teens can ponder the nature vs. civilization battles in Mononoke, while adults can debate whether or not it matters that The Wind Rises takes great liberties with World War II history in order to make the director’s point that art does not come without great cost sometimes.

Monkey Shines/The Dark Half – Of the two lesser George Romero horror movies coming out today, you’re better off with The Dark Half, as Timothy Hutton plays evil twin writers who represent art versus sensationalism. Monkey Shines, in which a handicapped man with a helper monkey develops a psychic link to his little friend and ends up making it kill people, was subject to heavy studio interference and is not one of the director’s favorites.

22 Jump Street – While it has maybe the best end credits of all time, and the disc comes with a bunch of deleted scenes, I’m not a big fan of this one, despite loving its predecessor. It just seems to blur the line a little too much between laughing at homophobia and laughing with it, and while I’m not hugely offended by that, it gets a little boring when it’s one of only two themes that get hammered home repeatedly (the other being “we’re doing stuff sequels always do, but ironically”). Here’s hoping the second Lego Movie isn’t as disappointing.

Into the Storm – Good special effects and not much else made this passable in the theater, but only watch it at home if your TV and sound are really top of the line.

Moontrap – Not to be confused with Roland Emmerich’s Moon 44, this 1989 sci-fi flick sees Walter Koenig and Bruce Cambell encountering aliens on the moon, so how can you resist?

Christmas Evil – A mentally disturbed man believes he’s the real Santa Claus, and doles out what he considers to be appropriate just desserts to the naughty and the nice. From 1980, it’s less of a slasher flick than many of its brethren, with notes of dark comedy and psychological horror. Oh, and it stars Fiona Apple’s dad.

The Dirt Bike Kid – Ralphie from A Christmas Story gets a flying bike, and he doesn’t even need E.T. to do it. The rest writes itself.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Classic German horror from the silent era, with uniquely surreal art direction, about a carney and his mysterious sleepwalking, psychic assistant (who may both only exist in the mind of a mental patient; heady stuff for a 1920 movie). Many, many horror films that have come since owe the movie a huge debt and I can’t wait to finally check it out in its entirety on Blu.

The Bubble – Before The Simpsons Movie or Under the Dome, there was The Bubble, an early single-strip 3D movie about a strange town trapped in…well, the title says it. Probably best watched on a 3D TV, as they’ve taken pains to restore all the “Space Vision” effects.

Trancers – Charles Band’s take on The Terminator has a future cop – Tim Thomerson IS “Jack Deth” – and crook chasing each other around ’80s Los Angeles, with punk rocker Helen Hunt caught in the crossfire. Why have I not seen this?

Those are my picks today. What more can you suggest?