This week’s Blu-ray round up is headlined by the Marvel smash hit (no, the other one) Thor: Ragnarok. Plenty of other great movies land on Blu-ray this week, some new titles and other reissued and remastered classics.
The funniest Marvel movie yet gets the absolutely funniest Blu-ray edition yet. The bizarre and colorful world of Thor: Ragnarok adopted the hilarious voice of its director Taika Waititi, and that comedic tone extends to its Blu-ray special features with each little tidbit on the disc being astoundingly funny.
Thor: Ragnarok itself is so wildly entertaining that it’s probably illegal in numerous countries around the globe. It’s a sharp film that carries with it themes about the horrors of colonialism (something that Black Panther just took to a whole different level) without ever losing its sense of entertainment. Taika Waititi assembled an all-star cast to populate the world of Ragnarok and let them loose to be strangers and sillier than ever before, especially Chris Hemsworth who continues his ascent as a phenomenal comedic actor after his scene-stealing turn in 2016’s Ghostbusters.
The special features on the Blu-ray of Thor: Ragnarok have plenty of behind the scenes featurettes, and through those glimpses into the film’s production you can really see the loose atmosphere that Taika Waititi created on the set and how that atmosphere carried over into the final film. There are also featurettes that examine the casting of the film and how the great Jack Kirby influenced the design. The stand out features on the disc are the ones where Taika just lets loose with the madness. There is a third Team Daryl short which is just as funny as the first two shorts. A short featurette about Taika Waititi’s motion capture character Korg keeps the laughs coming in the bonus features. But the real gem of the Thor: Ragnarok Blu-ray is the audio commentary by Taika Waititi, where the New Zealand filmmaker goes bonkers, riffing on his own movie and just cracking absurd joke after joke in what is probably the funniest commentary track since John Waters’ films were being initially issued on DVD.
I am a fan of Marvel’s films but I don’t always find it absolutely necessary to own each installment in its ever-expanding cinematic universe, but Thor: Ragnarok is definitely one of the must-own titles from the comic book juggernaut.
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut (we’re not counting her co-directing credit with Joe Swanberg), Lady Bird, was one of the best reviewed films of 2017 and rightfully earned a slew of Oscar nominations for its coming of age story set in 2002 Sacramento, California. Lady Bird didn’t take home any golden statues on Sunday, but that doesn’t matter. Great movies don’t always win Oscars and Lady Bird is a great movie.
In what should be her final role as a high schooler, Saoirse Ronan stars as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, an oddball teenager trying to find her place in the world while attending a Catholic high school. The 24-year-old actress secured her third Oscar nomination of her young career for the role of Lady Bird, and though she didn’t take home the award she shouldn’t worry because I suspect that she’ll eventually take the stage with a golden statue in hand. However, playing the complicated mother Marion, Laurie Metcalf was robbed in the Best Supporting Actress race. The cast of Lady Bird brings such honest energy to the film, blending its comedic and dramatic elements seamlessly to the point where it’s hard to hate Dave Mathews Band’s “Crash” anymore.
The Blu-ray for Lady Bird features audio commentary from writer-director Greta Gerwig and cinematographer Sam Levy. There is also a featurette on the making of the acclaimed film.
The Dark Crystal
Jim Henson’s 1982 fantasy The Dark Crystal lands on Blu-ray with a new edition from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The stunning artistry of the film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz pops off the screen on Blu-ray in what is the definitive edition of the beloved children’s classic.
This new edition of The Dark Crystal has plenty of special features to examine the legacy and making of The Dark Crystal, including rare deleted scenes and an audio commentary track by Brian Froud, the conceptual artist behind the film’s stunning visuals. Complementing the various special features on the disc is the packaging of this new edition, presented in a hardcover book case with a glossy booklet of essays and conceptual art. It’s been almost 30 years since we lost Jim Henson but his robust legacy will continue to touch the lives of children and adults alike thanks to fantastic Blu-ray editions of his fantastical works.
A Fistful of Dynamite (aka Duck, You Sucker!)
Sergio Leone is best knowns for his trilogy of westerns with Clint Eastwood, headlined by The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. One of the Italian great’s lesser known films finally lands on Blu-ray thanks to the efforts of the folks over at Kino Lorber Studio Classics (who recently reissued the theatrical cut of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on Blu-ray for the first time), bringing A Fistful of Dynamite (also known as Duck, You Sucker!) to Blu-ray. Rod Steiger and James Coburn star as an IRA explosive expert and a Mexican bandit that are forced to unite and join the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s in Leone’s unusual western epic.
For a myriad of reasons, A Fistful of Dynamite never captured the attention of cinephiles in the same way as Leone’s other epic westerns, and a big part has been the film’s lack of availability on home video for many years – it was issued on DVD in 2003 and Blu-ray in 2013 but was hardly available before then. Kino Lorber has a fantastic track record when it comes to reissuing unheralded classics and that tradition continues with A Fistful of Dynamite.
With a sequel ten years in the making landing in theaters this weekend, Scream Factory (the horror imprint of Shout! Factory) issues a brand new edition of the 2008 cult horror classic The Strangers. Because this is Scream Factory, The Strangers gets the deluxe treatment with two cuts of the film remastered for the new edition. The 10-year anniversary edition of The Strangers also boasts a number of new special features, including interviews with cast members and writer-director Bryan Bertino.
Before The Strangers: Prey at Night frightens audiences this weekend, reunite with the original cast of killers that made the first film a cult classic with another fantastic edition from Scream Factory.