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: “Dazed and Confused”
Writer/director Richard Linklater has made some great films in his 30-plus-year career, but none are as endlessly rewatchable as the 1993 cult classic “Dazed and Confused.” It’s the ultimate hangout movie — a love letter to Linklater’s teenage years that nails the high school experience better than perhaps any other film in the decades since. The whole thing feels so effortless and naturalistic, from the script to the performances, that it’s like traveling back in time to your own adolescence, when hanging out with your friends was all that mattered. Though “Dazed and Confused” is by no means perfect, it’s a wildly entertaining coming-of-age comedy that has continued to endure thanks to its brilliant cast, quotable dialogue and killer soundtrack.
The new 4K digital restoration from Criterion, which was supervised and approved by Linklater, offers a subtle improvement over the previous Blu-ray release, while the extras are all the same, including an audio commentary by Linklater, a making-of documentary, on-set interviews, audition footage, deleted scenes and more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
Also Out This Week:
“Empire of Light” — A loving ode to movie theaters and how they bring different people together through the power of cinema and community, director Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” is a well-meaning period drama that falls short of its potential. Though the ensemble cast does well to keep things afloat, especially Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, whose unlikely (and underdeveloped) romance forms the spine of the story, the movie’s shallow attempts at exploring major issues like mental health and racism prevent it from truly shining. “Empire of Light” has enough bright moments to keep you engaged, but it’s hard not to feel like it should have been so much better. Extras include a behind-the-scenes look at making the film. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“The Inspection” — Based on writer/director Elegance Bratton’s real-life experience as a young, gay Black man in the Marines during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era of the U.S. military, “The Inspection” is a deeply personal story that is unfortunately held back by its generic narrative. Though newcomer Jeremy Pope delivers a strong lead performance as Bratton’s proxy, it doesn’t change the fact that this is still a pretty straightforward boot-camp movie about the triumph of perseverance. If nothing else, though, the film serves as yet another reason to hate the military for the backward and broken system that it is. That may not have been the point of Bratton’s story, but it’s one that many viewers will glean from it nonetheless. Extras include an audio commentary by Bratton, as well as a making-of featurette and some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“Magnificent Warriors” — After bursting onto the Hong Kong film scene with 1985’s “Yes, Madam,” Michelle Yeoh solidified her status as one of the industry’s most exciting new talents with a pair of films by director David Chung, including this 1987 action-adventure flick about a mercenary pilot who’s sent on a mission by the Chinese government to rescue a spy from Japanese-occupied territory. Though the movie admittedly starts out pretty rough, it gets better as it goes along thanks to its charismatic star, some solid fight sequences and a fun comedic turn from Richard Ng. “Magnificent Warriors” is by no means top-notch Hong Kong fare, but it’s an entertaining period action film whose pros just about outweigh its cons. Extras include an audio commentary by film historian Frank Djeng, as well as interviews with Yeoh and stunt director Tung Wai. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“The Old Way” — Nicolas Cage has so many acting credits to his name (106 and counting) that it’s hard to believe that he’s never made a Western until now. Brett Donowho’s “The Old Way” is about as traditional as Westerns come — a run-of-the-mill revenge story that borrows generously from genre classics like “True Grit” and “Unforgiven.” There’s not much originality to be found in Donowho’s tale, and its budgetary constraints are plain to see, but while “The Old Way” is by no means a good film, it’s a lot better than expected thanks to a pair of solid performances by Cage and young Ryan Kiera Armstrong, whose unique father-daughter relationship is fun to watch play out on screen. Extras include two audio commentaries (one by Donowho and another by composer Andrew Morgan Smith), as well as a behind-the-scenes look at making the film. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
Disclosure: Bullz-Eye was provided a copy of the above titles for review purposes.