Blu Tuesday is a weekly column where we review the newest Blu-ray and 4K releases, along with a brief rundown of the included bonus material, to determine whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping.
Pick of the Week: “The Woman King”
If the real-life female warriors at the center of Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Woman King” seem awfully familiar, it’s because they served as the inspiration for the Dora Milaje, the all-woman military guard who first appeared in Christopher Priest’s “Black Panther” comics in the late ‘90s and who played a pivotal role in Ryan Coogler’s film of the same name. In fact, that movie’s success is likely what led to “The Woman King” finally being greenlit, and it’s a good thing that it was because it’s a thrilling entry in the largely forgotten historical action genre. While the film isn’t as historically accurate as you might expect — it’s very much a fictionalized account of the Dahomey Mino — “The Woman King” is buoyed by some great production and costume design, rousing set pieces and strong performances from Viola Davis, John Boyega and newcomer Thuso Mbedu.
Extras include an audio commentary by director Gina Prince-Bythewood and editor Terilyn A. Shropshire, as well as a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes and audition footage. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Also Out This Week:
“The Roundup” — One of the best things about Lee Sang-yong’s “The Roundup” is that you don’t need to have seen its predecessor, the 2017 South Korean hit “The Outlaws,” to enjoy the film. Though it brings back many of the same characters from the first movie — including Don Lee’s no-nonsense police detective, nicknamed the Beast Cop for good reason — “The Roundup” operates as a standalone story that contains a great mix of hard-hitting action and dry humor. It’s a pretty standard buddy cop movie in a lot of ways, but the charismatic Lee (who is as comically gifted as he is physically imposing) elevates the film beyond its genericness, resulting in a largely entertaining action-comedy that would make Shane Black proud. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“Ticket to Paradise” — Ol Parker’s “Ticket to Paradise” feels like a blast from the past — a light and breezy romantic comedy starring a pair of old-school movie stars that fully embraces its genre conventions at a time when most rom-coms attempt to subvert them. George Clooney and Julia Roberts are perfectly matched as the bickering divorcees forced to band together to disrupt their daughter’s hasty wedding engagement, while Kaitlyn Dever also turns in strong work as the bride-to-be. Though “Ticket to Ride” is incredibly formulaic and predictable, almost to a fault, it’s a charming slice of comfort food cinema that manages to entertain in spite of its flaws. Extras include a behind-the-scenes look at making the film. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“Smile” — Writer/director Parker Finn certainly has good intentions with his feature debut, “Smile,” by using the horror genre as a way of exploring mental illness and the effects of trauma. Unfortunately, those good intentions are wasted on a dull and derivative script that doesn’t seem to contain a single original idea; the story draws heavily from other psychological horror films like “It Follows” and “The Babadook,” while even the creepy smiling faces have been done before. More concerning is the movie’s lackluster protagonist (partly due to Sosie Bacon’s bland performance) and the fact that the film never really builds any tension or suspense over the course of its bloated two-hour runtime. It’s just one lazy jump scare after the next, and that’s simply not enough to capture your attention in the way that the movie requires. Extras include an audio commentary by Finn, as well as a making-of featurette, some deleted scenes and the original short film. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” — This has been a miserable year for family movies, and “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” is right up there as one of the worst. Based on the first two books in the popular children’s series, the film has such little regard for logic that it might as well have been written by a toddler. Nothing about this movie makes sense — from the fact that the titular crocodile can sing but not talk to the almost immediate acceptance by the human characters upon meeting him. The acting isn’t much better, though Javier Bardem deserves kudos for completely throwing himself into his role and seemingly having a lot of fun doing so. Unfortunately, while Bardem is enjoyable to watch, and the original songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are pretty catchy, the rest of the film is garbage — an atrocity against cinema that never should have made it past the pitch stage. Extras include a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes, karaoke versions of the film’s songs, a blooper reel and more. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
Disclosure: Bullz-Eye was provided a copy of the above titles for review purposes.