New to DVD and Blu-ray: ‘The Hunger Games,’ the Ultimate Shark Week Movie and More
New on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming this week, it just might be the home-viewing week of the year, as classics and new favorites arrive at your doorstep with 'The Hunger Games,' 'Jaws,' 'Kill List' and 'The Raid: Redemption' all arrive …
One of the smash hits of the year -- and, more interestingly, a film that deserved to be a smash hit. Director Gary Ross brought the weird tomorrow of the best-selling books to life, and actress Jennifer Lawrence filled what could have been tween melodrama with real emotional depth. The picture and sound are excellent in the home release of 'The Hunger Games,' and there's also three hours of extras like making-of material and interviews. The real pleasure here, though, is just the film itself -- a brawny action-filled epic, to be sure, but also one that has big ideas and neat plot turns to go with the effects and explosions. If any big-studio science-fiction film deserves an audience -- and to be taken seriously -- this year, it's this one.
Separate 'Jaws' from its legend -- which is well-nigh impossible, I know -- and just watch it, in this amazingly restored Blu-ray that offers an amazing chance to really appreciate the look and direction of what may be Steven Spielberg's most perfect film. On a sunny Fourth of July weekend in a seaside tourist town, a man-killing shark in the water means trouble, until it means death, and the local cop (Roy Scheider), a University researcher (Richard Dreyfuss) and a Navy Vet fisherman (Robert Shaw) go out to kill it... or die trying. There's a plethora of great extras, yes, and of course there's a reason why this movie is a legend -- but this isn't just a classic film, it's a classic summertime film. If this new Blu-ray makes it at all possible for you to watch 'Jaws' even only once just for itself, and with all concerns and reputation and memories put aside... then it's worth it.
One of the highlights of the Film Festival circuit last year, where it creeped out thrill-seekers of the most depraved kind at midnight showings everywhere, Ben Wheatley's 'Kill List' is one of the most gripping and tense films we've seen in decades. If anyone tries to tell you about 'Kill List' -- other than it starts as an ex-military family man hoping to stay above water takes on sketchy-but-profitable freelance work -- walk away, fast. Wheatley's a real talent as a director, and I know this because of the fact that 'Kill List' has an iron-strong grip on the audience that starts slow and gradual until it's a brutal force of pure tension that leaves you devastated. The DVD and Blu-ray release has plenty of extras -- Wheatley's a surprisingly happy chap, considering how grisly his films are -- and the movie itself is knock-me-down impressive.
'Spiffed Up' for release in the US of A with a grammatically confusing title (much like 'The Avengers,' there's a verb here that needs a subject) and a soundtrack by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, 'The Raid: Redemption' is a action movie so impressively made it will leave you slack-jawed with delight and wonder. An elite team of cops are out of their depth when asked to take over the local crimelord's hideout, which is an entire apartment building, with the cops locked in and on their own... There are amazing extras here, and the making-of material is a treasure in and of itself. Seriously: If you want to see some of the most exciting action film making of this decade -- and, in Gareth Evans, the rise of one of its most exciting directors -- get over your weak, bloodless fear of subtitles and see 'The Raid.'