Blu-ray Buyer’s Guide: November 15

gerald-holding-bucket-in-finding-dory

This week’s Buyer’s Guide is a grab-bag of some good stuff. We have a new multi-release, a great first release, and a couple of blatant cash-grabs.

Here are my picks for November 15, 2016.

118111_frontFinding Dory
Pixar Animation Studios
Written by Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse
Based on a story by Andrew Stanton
Directed by Andrew Stanton

Finding Dory was just what I expected from a sequel to Finding Nemo: beautiful, heartwarming, charming and funny. It wasn’t groundbreaking; just a good helping of Pixar comfort food.

The only thing that kept me from really enjoying the film was its character backtracking. Marlin was back to his neurotic self, despite having a pretty strong character arc by the end of Nemo. Still, it is an enjoyable film, and I’m purchasing it for no other reason that my future children will be glad we have it.

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Best Buy: 69-page activity book.

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Disney Store: Offer for a lithograph set and a coupon.

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Target: SteelBook packaging and lithograph set.

My Pick: I don’t find any of these offers very compelling, so I think I’m going for the standard version. I would probably get the SteelBook, but my copy of Finding Nemo isn’t SteelBook, so they wouldn’t match (I’m weird, I know). I’ll probably make my final decision when I get to the store.

Other Notable Releases:

5044_frontPunch-Drunk Love
Columbia Pictures / Criterion Collection
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

I’m so excited that this film is finally getting the Blu-ray treatment – and by Criterion, no less! Punch-Drunk Love is one of my favorite films of all time, and I’m still not entirely sure why. It’s like an abstract painting, from which many different meanings can be derived. It’s a love story, but it’s also a story about taking control of one’s life and getting out of the haze of the mundane – at least to me it is.

Adam Sandler gives the best performance of his career in this movie, and that’s saying a lot. Director Paul Thomas Anderson took Sandler’s goofy persona and turned it on its head – things that Sandler normally does in one of his movies (erratic behavior, destruction, personal injury) are now not sources of humor, but are awkward, sometimes scary, and often worthy of pity. The love story is also awkward, which is part of its endearing quality.

139142_frontThe Jungle Book (2016)
Walt Disney Pictures
Written by Justin Marks
Based on the 1967 film written by Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson and Vance Gerry
which is based on the book by Rudyard Kipling
Directed by Jon Favreau

Disney is currently on a tear of remaking their classic films. Some of them have turned out surprisingly well (Cinderella); others not so much (Maleficent). And for some I just scratch my head and ask “why?” (the upcoming remake of Beauty and the Beast). Jon Favreau’s take on The Jungle Book is little bit of all three categories, but more on the “surprisingly well” side. It is a wonderful adaptation, much darker than the original, with outstanding vocal performances. Idris Elba is a standout as Shere Khan, as well as the delightful Neel Sethi as Mowgli.

The Jungle Book was released on Blu-ray earlier this year, and the 3D version has now been brought to market with more bonus features. I really despise when studios double-dip like this. I purchased the pervious version and don’t plan on buying this one. The extra features don’t justify the cost, in my opinion. However, if you haven’t yet purchased this film, you should probably get this version, even if you don’t have 3D capability. More bonus footage is always a plus.

64238_frontStar Wars: The Force Awakens
Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Written by Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt
Based on characters created by George Lucas
Directed by J.J. Abrams

J.J. Abrams and his crew brought back Star Wars in a big way. The Force Awakens is fun and compelling for the most part, just like the original Star Wars Trilogy. Looking at the film a little under a year after its theatrical release brings new perspective, though. There were several story points that were confusing at first that are still pretty glaring even now.

I really don’t understand why Disney/Lucasfilm waited just under a year to release the 3D version of The Force Awakens. Everyone who wanted the film probably has it already. Perhaps to tie it into the hype for Rogue One? Regardless, like The Jungle Book mentioned above, this is a blatant cash-grab. And again, the added bonus features don’t justify buying the movie again. Actually, some of the features were Target exclusives on the initial release, so if you got yours there, there’s really no point.

Happy Watching!

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