Out on November 27 and December 4
Andy Serkis’ Caesar seeks revenge on mankind. James Cameron’s sci-fi classic gets a 4K restoration.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of War for the Planet of the Apes, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Party, Scars of Dracula, Transformers: The Last Knight, The Wages of Fear, A Fish Called Wanda, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Life Is Sweet, Don’t Torture a Duckling, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
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War for the Planet of the Apes
The rebooted Apes trilogy climaxes with a finale that reaches a satisfying end point without adding much substance to what’s gone before. Yes, Andy Serkis’ Caesar – here seeking revenge on mankind – remains a masterly combo of VFX and soulful emoting, while Woody Harrelson fumes as his Kurtz-like nemesis.
From a storytelling standpoint, alas, it’s more snore than war, with a solemnity absent from Rise and Dawn.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Featurettes (BD), Deleted scenes, Concept art
Director: Matt Reeves; Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn; DVD, BD, 3D BD release: November 27, 2017
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Fresh from its 3D cinema re-release, James Cameron’s seminal sci-fi sequel gets a spanking new home-ent roll-out.
Extras-wise, the biggest addition here is T2: Reprogramming The Terminator, a 55-minute doc featuring fresh interviews with Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more, plus some great behind-scenes footage (Linda Hamilton on a gun range, Robert Patrick cracking up on set). The 4K restoration is sumptuous too; one of the best sci-fis ever made just got better.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Commentary, Deleted scenes
Director: James Cameron; Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong; DVD, BD, 3D BD, 4K release: December 4, 2017
“Tonight is one big round of laughter!” beams Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers, in brownface) in Blake Edwards’ cult comedy. Sadly, 1968’s audiences disagreed: while harking back to the silents and Jacques Tati, perhaps its technically brilliant, heavily improvisational style was also just too far ahead of its time.
Sellers utterly disappears into his role as the loveable chaos merchant invited by mistake to an LA party teeming with drunks, racists and sex-pest producers (clearly, nothing much changes in Hollywood).
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Profiles
Director: Blake Edwards; Starring: Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet, Natalia Borisova; BD release: October 16, 2017
Scars of Dracula
The film that most Hammer purists pretend to ignore, Christopher Lee’s sixth outing as the sun-shy count is generally considered the moment when the horror house started to crumble. A plastic bat conveniently resurrects a dead Drac in the opening scene and the following 90 minutes are all cheap sets, awful acting and Hammer’s first R-rated levels of gore.
It’s hardly a classic, but still worth a watch for Lee, who sinks his fangs into a juicier amount of screen time than usual.
Director: Roy Ward Baker; Starring: Christopher Lee, Dennis Waterman, Jenny Hanley; Dual format release: October 30, 2017
Transformers: The Last Knight
Michael Bay ends his Transformers tenure not with a bang but a whimper, albeit an ear-blistering one. First-time viewers shouldn’t worry about the mangled mythology; none of it adds up, even if you’ve seen the previous four movies. Mark Wahlberg returns as inventor-warrior Cade Yeager, but ham of the match is Anthony Hopkins.
Our wild-eyed guide to the story’s attempts at rewriting history (all of it), he looks like he’s having a blast. Shame it’s not contagious. Extras feature Bay directing via loudhailer and not taking any crap, even from his own frickin’ mother.
Director: Michael Bay; Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel; DVD, BD, 3D BD, 4K release: October 30, 2017
The Wages of Fear
Four desperados, including a grizzled Yves Montand, embark on a near-certain suicide mission in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic existential thriller. The goal: ferry truckloads of volatile nitro-glycerine (“One bump and you’re a goner”) across the South American jungle to put out a blazing oil well fire for $2,000 each – the titular wages.
With no let-up in suspense, it’s a bleak and brilliant action-noir – as black as the oil spills that their “coffins on wheels” slip through, amid crumbling bridges and rocky landslides.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Interviews, Essay booklet
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot; Starring: Yves Montand, Charles Vanel, Peter van Eyck; Dual format release: October 23, 2017
A Fish Called Wanda
On release, critics wondered whether A Fish Called Wanda owed more to its writer/star, Monty Python maestro John Cleese, or its director, Ealing Studios’ Charles Crichton. In 2017, Python is older now than Ealing was then, so it’s easier to see that this unique creative marriage birthed one of the greatest British comedies of any era.
The set-up is pure caper, a successor to Crichton’s The Lavender Hill Mob, as American moll Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), her deranged ‘brother’ Otto (Kevin Kline) and stuttering henchman Ken (Michael Palin) double-cross each other after a heist. As the plot ensnares Cleese’s barrister Archie Leach, the film gathers comic momentum via Fawlty Towers-level farce, Cleese’s oh-so quotable screenplay and some blackly comic post-Python business involving a tragic trio of dogs.
Long before Richard Curtis brought the Yanks over to boost the box office, the film pits British reserve against American vulgarity. It’s a brilliant duel that proved a partisan triumph on both sides of the Atlantic.
Impressive extras include tons of archive material shot and presented by Cleese, who perhaps sensed – rightly – that Wanda would stand the test of time. After all, what else is ‘don’t call him’ stupid Otto but a prototypical Trump supporter?
EXTRAS: Commentary, Featurettes, Archive documentaries
Director: Charles Chrichton; Starring: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline; BD release: September 18, 2017
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
“Lord of the Rings meets Lock Stock” is the elevator pitch for Guy Ritchie’s King Ar-fur. Inevitably, the pair go together like Lembas bread and bacon. Charlie Hunnam stars as the once and future king, a cheeky chappie raised on the streets who – would you Adam and Eve it! – is the rightful heir to the throne.
Ritchie employs his usual grab bag of tricks to slick, if anachronistic effect, but this proposed franchise-launcher is one sword short of a stone.
Director: Guy Ritchie; Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law; DVD, BD, Digital HD, 4K release: September 18, 2017
Life Is Sweet
Best remembered for Timothy Spall’s woefully misconceived, would-be gourmet restaurant – boasting such delicacies as ‘pork cyst’ – Mike Leigh’s film focuses mainly on a fractured north London family.
Dad (Jim Broadbent) has been conned into buying a clapped-out hotdog stand, one daughter (Jane Horrocks) is bulimic, twin sis (Claire Skinner) gets on with her plumbing apprenticeship, and mum (Alison Steadman) tries to hold things together. Funny, poignant and affectionate. Extras include cherishable 2012 short A Running Jump.
EXTRAS: Short, Commentary, Interviews, Booklet
Director: Mike Leigh; Starring: Alison Steadman, Jim Broadbent, Claire Skinner; Dual format release: September 18, 2017
Don’t Torture a Duckling
Director Lucio Fulci made many classic horror films, including Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) and The Beyond (1981), but this was his favourite. A rare giallo set in the rural south of Italy, it charts a series of child murders and the resulting investigations.
Taking in themes of superstition and modernity, it still remains a challenging watch that blends breathtaking vistas with stunning violence. This restoration is switchblade sharp, with extras including analysis by genre aficionados, new cast interviews and audio recollections from Fulci himself.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Discussion, Video essay, Interviews, Booklet
Director: Lucio Fulci; Starring: Florinda Bolkan, Barbara Bouchet, Tomas Milian; Dual format release: September 11, 2017
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Whether you choose the restored, 197-minute roadshow version or the marginally sprightlier, 163-minute wide-release edit (both here), Stanley Kramer’s comedy is a long, long, long, long movie.
While the story’s madcap chase could probably be chopped down further, there’s an undeniable fascination to Kramer’s raucous maximalism. The destructive glee of the stunt work is outdone only by the audacious ‘spot the cameo’ casting, including Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Documentary, Archive material, Booklet
Director: Stanley Kramer; Starring: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman; BD release: September 4, 2017