Spring is thinning out the selection a little but we start this week with the new Nicole Kidman thriller, Destroyer. Kidman plays LAPD Detective Erin Bell, a woman beaten down by her history of undercover work who struggles with the consequences of that work years later. When the leader of the gang she was undercover in re-emerges she must start to work her way through the remaining members and delve into her troubled own past to finally confront it and bring a reckoning with the demons that destroyed her.
Director Karyn Kusama, known for her previous efforts Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body and the brilliant The Invitation, takes on this dark and gritty story of a cop struggling with her past with the confidence of a director much more experienced than she actually is. Kidman delivers a very different performance, almost unrecognizable as the weathered detective and really conveys the character well as someone who is beyond giving a damn. Destroyer also features a great supporting cast including Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany, Captain America’s Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, and Toby Kebbell. Dark, serious, brooding and sometimes disturbing, Destroyer is a big departure for Kidman and an intriguing cop thriller.
Next up is a new thrill ride horror film called Escape Room. When six strangers are given mysterious black boxes with invitations to an exclusive new escape room with large financial prizes for winners, they find themselves trapped within a huge complex full of puzzle rooms that failing to solve could cost them their lives. Now they must not only survive but also discover who planned everything in the first place and what all six of them have in common.
Escape Room is horror-lite, digestible for younger audiences mainly, and is a pretty direct rip off of the Saw series, but it still makes for some really fun set pieces amping up the story to many distinct rooms instead of one, and making some of them quite impressively elaborate. Escape room is not original but it is a fun romp and a nice entry film for younger horror lovers.
Lastly this week is a new 4K edition of Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 sci-fi thriller Alien. Sigourney Weaver stars in the iconic role that made her a star as Ellen Ripley, a crew member on the commercial spaceship Nostromo. On their way back home to Earth, the crew of the Nostromo pick up a distress call from a distant moon. But once on the surface they discover a mysterious hive colony of some unknown creatures and the distress call is discovered to actually be a warning. But by the time they learn what is on the moon, they must face the most deadly creature in space as they try to survive if they ever hope to get home.
Alien is pretty much a perfect film blending elements of sci-fi, thrillers, horror and drama into one of the most intense films ever made. And it holds up perfectly as well, never looking dated or cheesy. The cast are all spot on perfect and deliver their parts as if this were Shakespeare making for a fully immersive and believable experience. This new 4K disc offers the very best the film has ever looked. While it doesn’t pop like a new film, it holds up extraordinarily well for a 40 year old film and while many 4K releases of classic films only tend to make inconsistencies and flaws more visible, Alien looks spectacular. The picture is deep and clean with incredible clarity, especially considering how much of the film takes place in the near dark. But when the film is in the well lit room of the spacecraft, the picture is breathtaking. This 4K upgrade of Alien is well worth the double (or triple or quadruple) dipping, and may be the only one you will ever need.
Also of note this week is the new comedy What Men Want, the Blu-ray debut of both of Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura films, and the Blu-ray debut of the classic Albert Brooks comedy Modern Romance.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday April 23, 2019
A Face in the Crowd* - Criterion Collection
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)*
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995)*
Alien 40th Anniversary 4K
Book of the Dead
Death is a Number – Juno Selects Series
Doll Murder Spree
Modern Romance (1981)*
Noir Archive Volume 1: 1944-1954 (9 Movie Collection)
Scared Stiff (1987)*
Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost
Scream and Scream Again (1970)
Strangers at the Door
The Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi Collection*
The Con is On
The Curse of La Llorona
The Green Inferno Collector's Edition
The High Chaparral: Season Three
The House of the Seven Gables (1940)*
The Land Unknown (1957)*
The Lightest Darkness*
The Strange Door (1951)*
The Witch 4K
Tito and the Birds
Torment – Juno Selects Series
What Men Want
White Sands (1992)*
*Catalog Blu-ray debut