Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.
For someone with such a prolific acting career, Dwayne Johnson has a pretty good track record. Unfortunately, his charismatic screen presence isn’t enough to rescue “Baywatch” from drowning in its own stupidity. Not only is the movie surprisingly unfunny, but the raunchy humor feels so forced that it makes you question why it had to be R-rated at all. Though Johnson fares better than the rest of the cast (especially Zac Efron, whose Ryan Lochte-esque character is appallingly bad), his talents are wasted on the juvenile script. The only people who might find this kind of lowbrow comedy funny probably weren’t even alive when the original TV show was on the air. There are bad ideas, and then there are really bad ideas, and sadly for fans of slow-motion running, “Baywatch” falls under the latter.
Extras include a trio of featurettes on making the film and some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
“Gotham: The Complete Third Season”
“Gotham” has all the ingredients of a great superhero show, but it’s never really lived up to its full potential, and that disappointing trend continues with the third season. Though it features some good performances and high production values, “Gotham” too often falls victim to some very silly plotting and questionable character development. The season-long storyline involving Penguin and Riddler’s evolving relationship seems out of character for both villains, while Jim Gordon is completely unrecognizable from his comic book counterpart. To be fair, its problems go beyond the radical changes made to the established Batman mythology, but when your Batman show strays so far from the very things that originally attracted fans, that’s probably a good place to start.
Extras include a pair of featurettes on the show’s new villains, a behind-the-scenes look at Ben McKenzie’s directorial debut (“These Delicate and Dark Obsessions”), the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con panel and deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“The Lion King”
“The Lion King” is hands-down one of my favorite animated films, partly for nostalgic reasons but also because it’s really that good. Sure, the movie is basically just a loose (albeit much happier) rendition of “Hamlet,” but this is Disney at its absolute best, from the colorful cast of characters to the vibrant animation to the excellent music. It also has a greater emotional range than most animated films, effortlessly shifting between drama, suspense and comedy over the course of its 88-minute runtime, and boasts one of the best villains in Disney history with Jeremy Irons’ deliciously evil Scar. There’s hardly a bad thing to be said about “The Lion King,” and that’s why it’s become such a beloved classic. If you missed out on the chance to add this to your collection the last time around, now is the perfect opportunity to right that wrong.
Extras include an audio commentary by producer Don Hahn and co-directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, a new conversation between Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, never-before-seen voice recording sessions, archival footage of story pitches, a sing-a-long version and much more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
“Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season Three”
It’s surprising that a show like “Star Wars Rebels” hasn’t found a bigger audience among “Star Wars” fans, because while it may not be essential viewing, there’s enough connective tissue between “Rebels” and the core franchise films that it enriches the overall experience. With that said, it’s easy to see why the series never quite caught on. Despite several great episodes spread across Season Three that dig deeper into Jedi mythology and Sabine’s Mandalorian history, it’s just as hit-and-miss as previous seasons. The numerous cameos are enjoyable, and the duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul is the ultimate piece of fan service, but the Rebels themselves still aren’t very engaging, which remains the show’s biggest problem and one that ultimately prevents it from reaching its full potential.
Extras include audio commentaries on five episodes with executive producer Dave Filoni, a series of featurettes on some of the new characters and locations, a look at the Kenobi/Maul rivalry and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Director John Frankenheimer may be best known for earlier work like “The Manchurian Candidate” and “The French Connection II,” but 1998’s “Ronin” is arguably one of the best films of his career. A taut, old-school thriller that signified a return to form for Frankenheimer after a string of critical failures, “Ronin” has become somewhat of a cult classic in recent years thanks to its smart script (co-written by David Mamet under a pseudonym), top-notch action and an outstanding ensemble cast featuring Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgard, Jonathan Pryce and a wonderfully unhinged Sean Bean. Though the movie drags a bit in the latter half and is overly complex in its plotting, “Ronin” rises above those shortcomings to succeed both as a gritty throwback to ‘70s crime films and a forerunner to today’s more grounded action fare.
Extras include an audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer, a brand new interview with cinematographer Robert Fraise, a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews with the cast and crew, an alternate ending and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“Batman and Harley Quinn”
After last year’s misguided and offensively bad adaptation of “The Killing Joke,” it didn’t seem possible that the DC animated universe could sink any lower, but “Batman and Harley Quinn” proves otherwise with what amounts to a poorly written piece of fan fiction that’s driven by juvenile humor and more icky sexual innuendo. Not only is Harley’s involvement in the story fairly pointless, but the movie has so little plot that it has to pad out its 74-minute runtime with back-to-back musical sequences and awkward moments of silence. Though writer/producer Bruce Timm may be respected among fans for his work on “Batman: The Animated Series,” he’s forfeited much of that goodwill by ruining the very character (with some assistance from Melissa Raunch’s grating voice performance) that he helped create.
Extras include a featurette on the history of Harley Quinn, an interview with Nightwing voice actor Loren Lester and a sneak peak at the upcoming DC Universe original movie, “Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.” FINAL VERDICT: SKIP