Jack Reacher - Paramount - Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, Richard Jenkins. Full cast + crew
Here's a plea I rarely make when it comes to big-budget Hollywood movies starring one of the most famous faces on the plnaet: please watch Jack Reacher. Please rent it On Demand or pick it up on Blu-ray. Please keep a good word of mouth going for it, because damn would it be a shame if we never got any sequels.
This is an excellent thriller that feels ripped right out of the '90s, a time when audiences respected whodunit-type investigation films. Christopher McQuarrie has an impeccable feel for tone and character, going ballsy and dangerous (good luck forgetting the opening shot anytime soon) and warm and funny whenever he needs to. There's nothing out of step in this movie. It's just a purely satisfying, wholly entertaining thriller-- more so than most movies from 2012 that almost all arrived with considerably more fanfare than Jack Reacher did. Let's all grab a copy and collectively hope the people at Paramount really do make a few more of these. We'll all be for the better if they do.
Special Features: Commentary with Cruise and McQuarrie; commentary by the composer; over 48 minutes of making-of materials that look at how Lee Child's One Shot finally made it to the big screen.
Mama - Universal - Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
Director: Andy Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet. Full cast + crew
Mama is to be commended for not being your average studio thriller. It's got some imagination and its plot about twin girls and the spirit that follows them feels more like a J-horror movie than anything out of Hollywood, but it's not a very good movie overall.
The adults in it are mostly jerks with terrible communication skills and completely irrational behavior. The kids are typical horror-movie kids: there to be freaky before disappearing for large bits of time when it's more convenient for the story to not have them around. It does, however, have a handful of freaky images in it, and a pretty out-there ending. So, it gets the job done as far as PG-13 horror movies go, but don't expect it to stick with you longer after the credits roll.
Special Features: Commentary with the brother/sister team that created it; the original short that inspired it; behind-the-scenes featurettes on the effects (16 minutes in total); eight minutes of deleted scenes.
Other Notable New Releases
If you're a genre nut, do check out The ABCs of Death. It's an absolute assault on your eyes and ears and moral core, and not every short film in the 26-part anthology is a home run, but the ones that do work are really, really, really cool. It's an experimental film, and if you like horror movies, you need to give it a shot. If you don't, stay away. It will traumatize you. (Note: Blu-ray.com had the release date wrong, and The ABCs of Death doesn't hit until May 21. Sorry about that.)
For an experimental film of a different kind, but one that's bound to appeal to as specific an audience as The ABCs of Death, check out Shane Carruth's Upstream Color. I still haven't seen it, and I've intentionally kept myself in the dark regarding its plot, but the reactions seem to be split between "It's brilliant" and "What the hell was that?" Safe Haven, the new Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) romantic drama, will probably have you saying "What the hell was that?" as well, though for wholly different reasons.
For a more straightforward movie, check out the new Blu-ray release of the classic WWII film The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence and many more manly men. Unfortunately this disc isn't as robust as other studios have put together for similar films of the period (like The Bridge on the River Kwai), and the video transfer, while superior to DVD, isn't going to blow your mind. But neither of those things change the content of the movie, so if you've never seen this based-on-a-true-story film about a batch of POWs who escaped a Nazi prison camp, do yourself a favor and remedy that soon.
Pop in the new Blu-ray for Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights (both films on one disc) and you'll first be treated to a trailer for this summer's The Lone Ranger. It's actually an appropriate mood setter, as it'll remind you that this Owen Wilson, Jackie Chan team up is what used to pass for a summer Western adventure movie. The first film actually holds up well as a charming action movie about unlikely buddies in over their heads. It's got good action, good characters, and a wholesome sense of fun. The sequel, however, is a victim of its own success, with everything being dialed up one more notch. It's got more improv, more anachronistic jokes, and an even sillier plot. Still, they're totally acceptable movies, though, and maybe they'll get you in the mood for The Lone Ranger.
Warner Bros.' New Steelbooks
The 30 films below (and a few not pictured) are all getting fancy new steelbook Blu-ray releases today. Keep in mind that the content of the discs is the same as their older releases, it's only the cover art that's getting an improvement. Most of these movies can be had for half the price of these new issues, but if steelbooks are your thing, these are now an option.