Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray and 4K 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 or link to purchase it from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on social media with your friends.
Pick of the Week: “Eighth Grade”
Navigating the social minefield of adolescence these days is very different compared to even five years ago, but comedian Bo Burnham’s directorial debut taps into this particular moment in time – a formative period in every teenager’s life – with such painstaking realism that you’d be hard-pressed not to relate in some way. Though “Eighth Grade” hardly reinvents the coming-of-age drama, it’s well written and boasts strong performances from Elsie Fisher (whose endearing turn as the sweet but introverted Kayla will make you want to reach out and hug her) and Josh Hamilton as her well-meaning father. While we’ve all been conditioned to expect the worst from stories like this, the fact that “Eighth Grade” practically revels in its innocence instead of exploiting it for some hidden agenda is really refreshing.
Extras include an audio commentary by writer/director Bo Burnham and actress Elsie Fisher, as well as a making-of featurette and some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Also Out This Week:
“Skyscraper” — Dwayne Johnson is an insanely likeable performer whose mere presence can improve just about any movie, but that doesn’t mean he’s immune to making garbage. In fact, Johnson has starred in quite a few turds recently, including this “Die Hard” rip-off, which never fully embraces the ridiculousness of its premise, and as a result, isn’t nearly as fun as you’d expect. Though the movie features a couple great sequences (like Johnson’s physics-defying jump from a construction crane into a burning building), “Skyscraper” is so unexpectedly dull that you have to wonder where it all went wrong. Extras include an audio commentary by director Rawson Marshall Thurber, a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
“Hotel Transylvania 3” — I’ve made it a point to avoid the “Hotel Transylvania” movies up until now, and if the third installment is anything to go by, it was the right choice, because this is exactly the kind of lowest common denominator crap that no parent should expose to their kids. It’s loud, obnoxious and completely lacking any wit. Additionally, the voice performances are so phoned in that it wouldn’t be surprising to learn they were actually recorded over the phone, while the main plot feels like an afterthought compared to the childish vignettes that pad out the story. Why anyone would waste their time on a film like “Hotel Transylvania 3” when there are far better family-friendly options out there is beyond me. Extras include a recap of the first two films, a short featurette on the voice cast, two new mini-movies and more. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
“The Evil Dead” — Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” films have been released on DVD and Blu-ray so many times that it’s become a running joke among movie collectors. However, that won’t stop diehard fans from welcoming this latest version of the 1981 original (which marks its 4K debut) with open arms. Though the transfer is obviously limited by the film’s age and cheap budget, it’s still a noticeable improvement over past editions, and that’s all you can really ask for from a movie like “The Evil Dead.” This has never been a particularly good-looking horror flick, but it’s a bonafide cult classic and a must-have for any collector looking to expand their 4K library. Extras include an audio commentary by writer/director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell and producer Rob Tapert. FINAL VERDICT: BUY