Sort of a quiet week for Blu-ray and DVD, but that might just be because next week is going to be a gargantuan one, so they need to pace themselves. A few good releases to discuss, though, so plan your physical media budgets accordingly.
WWII movies used to be all the rage in the decades following the actual war (go figure), but nowadays unless they’re “War is Hell” reflections or Tarantino revisionist fare, they don’t tend to make them. They used to be a go-to for action movies, and writer-director David Ayer (of End of Watch and the upcoming Suicide Squad movie) has decided to bring back the action of men on a mission behind enemy lines with Fury, a movie that takes place almost entirely in and around a massive tank.
In it, Brad Pitt plays the non-silly version of his character in Inglourious Basterds who is a tank commander with a crew consisting of Michael Pena, new recruit Logan Lerman, and Shia LaBeouf, who actually gives a non-crappy performance. It’s gritty, it’s grimy, it doesn’t paint WWII in a happy light, but war isn’t pleasant and killing men is still killing men, even for country.
The first film produced by Team Downey, Robert Downey Jr’s production company he started with his wife, Susan Downey, The Judge is a real showcase for the actor, but also a showcase for actors in general. Stepping away from the big action movies that have been his home for the last few years, RDJ plays bigshot lawyer Hank Palmer who has to return home to rural Indiana after the death of his mother. His father (Oscar nominee Robert Duvall), the local judge, and he do not get along and haven’t for many years stemming from a number of incidents and the fact that Hank has been away and largely incommunicado for many years now. Hank’s older brother (Vincent D’Onofrio) has a wife and kids, and his younger brother (Jeremy Strong) is a bit slow, so needless to say they never thought about leaving.
After Hank has decided he can stand no more of his father, the Judge gets arrested for murdering a man with whom he has a long history with his car. There’s evidence to suggest he did it, but the Judge has no memory of it due to medical treatments he’s been receiving covertly. The two men need to put aside their differences if Hank is going to defend his father. Vera Farmiga, Billy Bob Thornton, Leighton Meester, and Dax Shepard also co-star.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
Ever since Bruce Timm stopped being in charge of the direct-to-video DC animated features, they pretty much just became a showcase for New 52 titles. Not across the board, but in a lot of cases, the voice cast of these Justice League titles has remained consistent, with Jason O’Mara playing Batman, Jerry O’Connell playing Superman, and Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern. This release brings Aquaman, a.k.a. Arthur Curry, played by Matt Lanter (The Clone Wars‘ Anakin Skywalker), to the fold and with him all the Atlantean characters the comics have big-upped in the last few years, including Mera (Sumalee Montano) and the evil Orm (Sam Witwer). It’s what you’ve come to expect from one of these releases and is not as good as the best of the bunch, but still solid enough.
Downton Abbey Series 5
Evidently, people still watch this show even if all the important and interesting characters have gone away. If you are one of those people, then vaya con stuffiness, amigos.
The first film directed by Kenneth Branagh also starred Kenneth Branagh and was the first of his much-lauded adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays. Beginning in a highly unconventional way, Branagh went with one of the histories, Henry V, for his debut, which meant a lot of people in armor, a lot of mud, and a lot of big men bolstering about hither and thither. Brian Blessed is in the film as well, which means there’s no shortage of loud and raucous bellowing in perfect diction. I think really good Shakespeare adaptations are a thing of beauty and can make you see the play in a different, perhaps clearer light, and this is certainly one of the better of these.
Please don’t let this utterly crap trailer dissuade you.