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: “Loki: The Complete First Season”
While Marvel fans will no doubt debate about which of the Disney+ MCU shows is their favorite, “Loki” is easily one of the top contenders, as it’s an incredibly entertaining and visually rich vehicle for one of the MCU’s best characters. Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki gets better with each new appearance, and he really gets to spread his wings in this six-episode first season, exploring new sides and layers to the reformed villain that the films simply didn’t have time for. Sophia Di Martino (as Loki variant Sylvie) and Owen Wilson (as TVA agent Mobius) are also excellent in their respective roles and prove welcome additions to the MCU, while the “Quantum Leap”-inspired premise provides almost limitless storytelling possibilities. Though “Loki” is ultimately just another cog in the larger Marvel machine, what sets it apart from other recent MCU projects is that it feels emboldened rather than weighed down by those connections.
Extras include a making-of documentary, deleted scenes, a gag reel and more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
Also Out This Week:
“Elemental” — Pixar has been on a bit of a down streak lately with films like “Soul,” “Luca” and “Lightyear,” so the studio’s latest movie, “Elemental,” comes as quite a surprise. Though not as great as Pixar’s best work, “Elemental” is the first movie in years that feels like a true return to form. An immigrant love story that plays like a family-friendly version of “West Side Story,” “Elemental” is set in a New York-style metropolis where different elements — fire, water, earth and air — attempt to coexist, providing the framework to touch upon subjects like immigration, discrimination and interracial relationships. It’s a little too on-the-nose at times, but “Elemental” succeeds thanks to its likable characters, emotionally resonant narrative and stellar animation. Extras include an audio commentary by director Peter Sohn, VFX supervisor Sanjay Bakshi, animation supervisor Mike Venturini and directing animator Gwen Enderoglu, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at making the movie, the short film “Carl’s Date” and some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: BUY
“Insidious: The Red Door” — The term “scream queen” gets bandied about a lot within the horror genre, but it’s very rare to see similar phrasing applied to male performers. Between his work in the “Insidious” and “Conjuring” series, however, Patrick Wilson is the closest thing to a modern-day scream king, so it’s fitting that he would make his directorial debut in the franchise that started it all. Though “The Red Door” is technically the fifth movie in the “Insidious” series, it’s only the third installment to focus primarily on the Lambert family and serves as a sort of trilogy-capping finale to their story. Unfortunately, in doing so, it rehashes many of the same beats as the first two movies, causing “The Red Door” to feel a bit derivative. Wilson does a solid job behind the camera, creating an eerie atmosphere that’s reminiscent of past installments, but despite numerous jump scares and some creepy demons, “The Red Door” fails to deliver anything close to the fright fest of the original. Extras include a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” — If something seems a little familiar about DreamWorks Animation’s latest film, which tells the story of a teenage girl who suddenly transforms into a giant creature, it’s because “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” is almost a carbon copy of Pixar’s 2022 Oscar-nominated feature “Turning Red.” The two movies have their differences, of course, but it’s hard to look past the glaring (and numerous) similarities. Even worse is that “Turning Red” is the better film, and so while “Ruby Gillman” has some cool ideas and cute animation — the underwater world is far more interesting than the above-water stuff — it constantly falls short when measured against the competition. Extras include an audio commentary by director Kirk DeMicco and several members of the crew, as well as some behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“La Bamba” — This 1987 musical drama from director Luis Valdez may be best known for being Lou Diamond Phillips’ film debut, but it’s a pretty standard biopic that never really gets out of second gear. Though the tragic story of rock-and-roll trailblazer Ritchie Valens is ripe for the big screen, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The acting by Phillips and co-star Esai Morales is so wooden and melodramatic that it feels like you’re watching an afterschool special at times, while the musical performances are so obviously lip-synched that they lose some of their impact. With that said, “La Bamba” is still a fairly enjoyable biopic for what it is, and the movie looks better than ever thanks to Criterion’s new 4K digital restoration. Extras include a pair of audio commentaries (one by Valdez, Phillips, Morales and producer Stuart Benjamin, and the other by producers Taylor Hackford and Daniel Valdez), as well as a making-of featurette, audition footage and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT
“Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” — After single-handedly revitalizing the horror genre in the late ‘90s with “Scream,” Dimension Films decided to strike while the iron was hot by attempting to revive the “Halloween” series with a new installment that would bring back Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode. Designed as a direct sequel to 1981’s “Halloween II,” “Halloween H20” certainly had the potential to be a solid entry in the franchise, but it’s a dull and largely toothless installment that lacks any compelling characters or creative kills. The only thing that “Halloween H20” has going for it is the ballsy decision to kill off Michael Myers in its final moments — a choice that was ultimately rendered pointless when the film’s 2002 follow-up retconned the death in the lamest way possible. Though “Halloween H20” isn’t the worst movie in the series, it isn’t very far off, and this new 4K release celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary doesn’t do much to change that. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP
Disclosure: Bullz-Eye was provided a copy of the above titles for review purposes.