Spirited Away – Simply put, one of the greatest movies of all time, and if you don’t own some form of it, your life thus far has been lacking. There’s just nothing quite like this animated tale of a young girl who is put to work at a bath house for elemental spirits in order to undo the curse that has turned her parents into pigs from eating too much magic food. Spider-limbed engineers, giant-headed witches, river dragons, overfed faceless blobs and tiny soot sprites are among the many creatures that play key roles in what I consider to be Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece. If you ever loved books like the original Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio growing up, this is a story that will immerse you just as they did.
I actually persuaded my mother to see this and she liked it. And fantasy is not her thing AT ALL. The Blu-ray includes many of the DVD special features, and most notably an option to replace the film’s visuals entirely with the original Japanese storyboards.
The Cat Returns – This is a non-Miyazaki Ghibli film that I’m not familiar with at all, in which a young schoolgirl inadvertently agrees to marry the King of the Cats. I presume it never gets to the point where we have to figure out what their babies would be like, though that is of course where my mind goes.
Chappie – What might have been a simple, terrible ripoff amalgamation of Short Circuit and RoboCop became something very different in director Neill Blomkamp’s hands, largely due to the brilliantly insane casting of South African rave-rappers Die Antwoord as sort-of themselves, crazed criminals who kidnap a robotic law enforcement unit with advanced programming that brings him fully to life. And unlike in the director’s misbegotten and preachy Elysium, the nutso levels of violence utterly outweigh any attempt at a message, which is a good thing. The Blu-ray includes an extended scene and an alternate ending, plus several featurettes that look at Sharlto Copley’s mo-cap performance as the eponymous robot, among other things.
There’s also a three-disc Blomkamp set available today, but you should already have District 9 and you do not need god-damned Elysium.
Tentacles/Reptilicus – Not quite a fair pairing. In one, John Huston, Shelley Winters and Henry Fonda fight an octopus; in the other, a Danish cast got overdubbed as they battled a regenerating dinosaur. The latter movie somehow got a new HD transfer, and aside from that the only extras here are trailers.
Hero and the Terror – Arguably the stupidest-named Chuck Norris Cannon film ever, it sees the ageless hero pursue a serial killer, and has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I have not seen it, but am disappointed to learn that Norris’ character is named Danny O’Brien, rather than Danny Hero, as it should be.
The Lazarus Effect – Blumhouse branches out of their usual haunted house rut with a movie about raising the dead, starring indie-mumblecore lead Mark Duplass. It’s probably just okay, if you’re asking me to guess. And you didn’t. So whatever.
The Happiness of the Katakuris – Japanese auteur Takashi Miike is so insanely prolific that his films are inevitably a hit or miss affair, but this partly animated musical – about a family who open a country inn, only to have every guest turn up dead – is, from what I hear, one of the best ones.
BUY SPIRITED AWAY! But seriously, is there anything else I missed?