Avengers: Age of Ultron – Initially, I felt like a massive outlier in my disappointment with The Avengers sequel, but it seems like a lot of people have since come around to my view that, like Iron Man 2, it often feels more like a corporate-mandated segue to the next thing than something good in and of itself. The fact that director Joss Whedon is pretty blatant about not having enjoyed making it is sort of a belated “duh” – it showed. When the movie does stop to have fun – with James Spader’s Ultron, mostly, or Paul Bettany’s Vision – it soars. But when it gets back to the supposed major characters, it feels like it’s retreading conflicts we should have already resolved (Tony is sellfish, Steve is patriotic; Hulk wants to help, but he’s dangerous; Black Widow has too much “red on her ledger”). Regardless, I have a feeling future films will make it an essential part of your collection anyway, just as The Phantom Menace gained weight when Jar Jar’s unearned hero status in it led to his giving Palpatine absolute power. Although, since we’re past being spoiled, can I just say WTF regarding the Stan Lee cameo? Because it’s either a big slap in the face or a massively ironic joke to have Stan Lee playing a veteran who was at Omaha Beach. Thing is, Lee was not – but Jack Kirby was (albeit not at the big major battle there).
Extras -most of which can probably be found online right now – include deleted scenes (including more explanation of Thor’s magic dreaming pool), a gag reel, and featurettes about the locations and the Infinity Gems. I’ve seen some sources mention a commentary track, but no confirmation of who’s on it, so don’t count on that being legit.
Spy – Again, I’ll say that if you thought Melissa McCarthy’s action movie spoof was going to be the same sort of gross fat joke she sometimes indulges in order to make a paycheck, banish those thoughts – it’s actually about a woman who gets stereotyped as such even though she was once a promising and skilled spy. Now, faced with a threat that overwhelms her colleagues, she has to regain her self-esteem and put those skills back into practice after having been stuck at a crappy desk job for years. The additional casting of Jude Law as a James Bond type you can’t trust, and Jason Statham as a raging sexist asshole caricature of himself, contributes to the canny undermining of all Hollywood stereotypes in this area. If you want the movies to stop turning overweight folks into fart jokes, support films like this. Blu-ray and DVD include an extended, unrated version of the film, though I can’t imagine what they had to cut – the scene involving Statham’s dick-pics alone is right on the border, but just what it needed to be. Dear Paul Feig: if your Ghostbusters is this good, you have nothing to fear from me. If it sucks like Unaccompanied Minors, we’ll talk.
Outlander, Season 1 Volume 2 – Not having learned anything more about this series since the last time I wrote it, I ask that you please permit me to repeat myself: “A 1940s combat nurse goes back in time to 1700s Scotland, where she falls for a highlander and finds herself at odds with her ’40s-era husband’s evil ancestor. I hear good things, but in line with another famous Scottish franchise, I really do feel that when it comes to season sets on disc, ‘there should be only one’ per year. That said, the franchise I’m thinking of totally ignored the rule as well.”
Poltergeist – I really enjoyed the 3D Poltergeist remake, but in hindsight I think it may have been because I didn’t remember the original as well as I thought. Or it may just have been that the 3D was cool. Or that any movie featuring an avalanche of clowns is okay in my book, automatically, especially if Sam Rockwell’s in it too (Iron Man 2 had an avalanche of DRONES. Not the same). I guess if you don’t have a 3D TV, watch at your own risk.
Christine – If you didn’t get the 2013 limited-edition Blu of John Carpenter’s Stephen King’s killer car movie, it’s back mostly intact, minus an isolated score option, but with more language selections. Just writing this made me wonder what the hell happened to creepy lead Keith Gordon since Back to School – turns out he directed a lot of TV. Anyway, as I live in L.A., the story of a guy whose new car turns him into a possessive, psychotic asshole could be called “Every Person Who Lives Near Me: A Biopic.” But in small towns I guess it’s less common.
Grimm: Season 4 – Cops keep fighting fairy-tale monsters, and the masks depicted on the cover of this set look especially entertaining…
…and those are the highlights of this week. What’s on your list?