Gravity - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris. Full cast + crew
If you were concerned that Gravity wouldn't hold up on the small screen, you need not worry. Alfonso Cuarón's film is just as much a stunner at home as it was on the biggest screen in your town. Sure, the experience may not be quite as immersive, but it doesn't lessen that this is one of the most finely crafted pieces of cinematic magic ever created.
Yes, you can pick apart the script if you want. You can call it all a very obvious metaphor for letting go if you want. I won't complain or defend the film. But Gravity is so much more than its plot or its characters: it's a bold, innovative reminder of the childlike wonder movies can still instill in us.
Special Features: If you've wanted to know how every single second of this movie was conceived and executed, then this Blu-ray release has you covered. It comes with well over two hours of material dedicated to the technical side of the process. Then there's Aningaaq, the 10-minute short film Jonás Cuarón made as a companion piece to the film, plus a 22-minute special narrated by Ed Harris about the real science and potential scenarios that inspired the disaster in the film.
The Shadow - Shout! Factory - Blu-ray
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Cast: Alec Baldwin, John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Peter Boyle, Ian McKellen. Full cast + crew
As with Darkman, which Shout! Factory also recently released on a collector's edition Blu-ray, The Shadow is a breed of superhero movie that just wouldn't fly these days. It's not quite the unique, badly burned snowflake that is Darkman, but it's another relic of a time when it was okay to take on some sillier characters so long as you did it with sincerity and panache.
Alec Baldwin stars as The Shadow, a pulp hero with the somewhat nebulous ability to "cloud men's minds" and it's up to him to save New York from the grips of a villain with a ridiculous plan. Some of its digital effects certainly haven't aged all that well, but there's an undeniable charm to the whole thing that certainly has withstood the test of time. Plus, Baldwin is great as the titular crusader, and the movie has a personality all its own despite such obvious roots in pulp fiction.
Special Features: Not a ton, unfortunately, but there is a newly produced 24-minute retrospective with the key cast and crew as they remember what it was like making the film.
Other Notable New Releases
In theaters I felt Thor: The Dark World did a lot of treading water, but also greatly delivered on the action by the time it got to its cool, creative climax. Watching it again at home, I couldn't help but see all of its problems magnified. Sure, the cast is great, but the script delivers a dull bad guy and totally backs off all of its emotional weight nearly every time it delivers on a big moment. It feels oddly like filler between all the other, bigger Marvel movies, and that's not a good thing.
If you want some real science fiction this week, get your fix with Mr. Nobody, Jaco Van Dormael's film that takes a sweeping, imaginative look at life, decisions and a world of unrealized potential. Mr. Nobody was actually made back in 2009, but like that year's Cabin in the Woods, it's way better than the delay would have you believe, and thankfully it's now finally available.
Getting away from spectacle entirely, you can turn to Nebraska, a wonderful film about a father and son rediscovering their relationship to one another. That sounds sappy, but this is a smart, sweetly acted film about how difficult it can be to push the past behind you and acknowledge the present.
Also out this week is the acclaimed French film Blue Is the Warmest Color, as well as 1962's The 300 Spartans. I haven't seen the former, but the latter is a much more historically minded retelling of the now incredibly familiar story of the (relative) few making a stand against a legion.
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