Blu Tuesday: “Aliens” and More


Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens"

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: “Aliens”

It’s hard to choose my favorite James Cameron film, but 1986’s “Aliens” is in the Top 3, as it’s the rare sequel that’s better than its predecessor. “Aliens” is bigger, meaner and scarier than the 1979 original, improving upon the premise in every way. Though it takes about an hour for things to really kick off, once the bodies start piling up, the movie steps on the gas and doesn’t look back. Most of the cast is little more than cannon fodder for the titular beasts, but there are several standout performances, including a hilarious Bill Paxton as loud-mouthed marine Hudson, a perfectly sleazy Paul Reiser as corporate scumbag Carter Burke and returning star Sigourney Weaver as the ultimate female badass, Ellen Ripley. It’s hard to believe that the movie was made for peanuts ($18.5 million) compared to today’s standards because it still holds up remarkably well — a fact made all the more obvious by this long-awaited 4K release, which looks incredible for a film closing in on the 40-year mark. Though some of the visual effects are a bit shaky, that doesn’t make “Aliens” any less of a sci-fi classic.

In addition to the 1990 Special Edition of the film, which includes 17 minutes of extra footage, the three-disc set contains a pair of audio commentaries by Cameron and the cast and crew, a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes, a montage of deleted scenes not included in the Special Edition and much more. FINAL VERDICT: BUY

Also Out This Week:

Ferrari” — Michael Mann’s “Ferrari” is not the all-encompassing, birth-to-death biopic that some people may have expected but rather a character-driven drama about a very specific time in Enzo Ferrari’s life. Perhaps more surprising is that the film doesn’t focus on his early racing days or the formative years of the Ferrari company. Instead, it follows the legendary Italian automaker during the summer of 1957 as he prepares his racing team for the prestigious Mille Miglia, all while facing personal and financial turmoil. That may not seem like the most accessible entry point into Ferrari’s story, and it shows in how slowly the movie takes to get going, but once all the pieces are laid out on the table, “Ferrari” revs to life thanks to its excellent cast, especially Adam Driver as the cold and stoic Enzo and Penelope Cruz as his long-suffering wife. Granted, “Ferrari” is a bit of a slow burn for a movie about high-octane racing, but it’s nevertheless a really solid drama about a “Godfather”-like figure that shouldn’t be missed. Extras include a behind-the-scenes look at making the film. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

Wish” — Disney’s “Wish” was supposed to be a celebration of the studio’s 100th anniversary, but that celebration was somewhat muted by the film’s tame reception, including a lot of hate from critics that was completely undeserved. Though it’s certainly not a top-tier Disney film, “Wish” is a solid addition to the Disney animated pantheon that boasts a likable lead, some great music (including the Oscar-worthy “This Wish”) and gorgeous visuals that blend 3D animation with a more traditional watercolor art style. The barrage of references to past Disney classics is cute but a little over-the-top, and Chris Pine’s villain is too one-dimensional to make much of an impact, but after the disappointment of “Strange World,” “Wish” is a mostly enjoyable, back-to-basics animated musical that will hopefully become better appreciated over time. Extras include a conversation with the film’s creators on making the movie, an in-depth look at the film’s various references, some deleted scenes, the excellent “Once Upon a Studio” short film and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

Poor Things” — Yorgos Lanthimos movies are an acquired taste, but they manage to surprise on occasion. Though his past work (“The Lobster,” “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”) has generally left me feeling cold, 2018’s “The Favourite” is a wickedly funny costume drama that ranked among my best films of that year. Lanthimos’ latest movie falls somewhere in between — an equally fascinating and frustrating coming-of-age tale about a Frankenstein-like experiment who embarks on a sex-fueled journey of self-discovery. Though it contains the same offbeat humor of “The Favourite,” “Poor Things” is bogged down by a problematic narrative, poor pacing and obnoxious camera gimmicks that add nothing to the storytelling. However, the production and costume design are absolutely stunning, and the performances (especially Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo) are top-notch, and that’s ultimately what makes “Poor Things” a worthy watch regardless of how you may feel about the film as a whole. Extras include a making-of featurette and some deleted scenes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” — “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” had an interesting road to theaters. The movie went through numerous test screenings, reshoots and re-edits to make it work within the constantly changing landscape of the DC Extended Universe, only for it to not really matter in the end. As the final film in the DCEU, “The Lost Kingdom” is an unfortunate exemplification of why Warner Bros. is scrapping its entire DC cinematic universe and starting from scratch. Though it’s certainly not the worst thing to be released under the DC banner, as it contains some decent action and fun chemistry between stars Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson, “The Lost Kingdom” is a pretty bland superhero flick that offers nothing new to the genre. Extras include a collection of behind-the-scenes featurettes. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

The Color Purple” — Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn is based on Alice Walker’s 1982 bestselling novel, “The Color Purple” is a perfectly fine but unnecessary rendition of the beloved story that doesn’t distinguish itself enough from the Steven Spielberg film to justify its existence. None of the songs are very memorable, and the upbeat musical numbers (though well choreographed and shot by director Blitz Bazawule) clash with the movie’s more serious tone. Bazawule’s version hits all the expected beats and contains some solid performances from Danielle Brooks and Taraji P. Henson (perfectly cast as Sofia and Suge Avery, respectively), but it ultimately falls flat due to an overlong runtime and a surprising lack of emotion. Extras include a making-of featurette, rehearsal footage and interviews with the cast and crew about the story’s legacy. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

Anyone But You” — Writer/director Will Gluck will forever have my admiration for helping turn Emma Stone into a star with the 2010 teen rom-com “Easy A,” but he hasn’t been able to replicate that film’s success in the years since, and his latest movie is his worst attempt yet. Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s comic play “Much Ado About Nothing,” “Anyone But You” is a poor excuse for a rom-com that’s saddled with a painfully unfunny script and a pair of romantic leads with zero chemistry. The ever-charming Glen Powell does his best to make the movie somewhat bearable, but co-star Sydney Sweeney undercuts every moment with her awful performance. Though Sweeney is hardly the root of the film’s problems, the actress is so unlikable that it only compounds an already bad situation. Extras include a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes and more. FINAL VERDICT: SKIP

The Abyss” — Much like Paramount’s 4K release of “Titanic” at the end of last year, the newly remastered version of James Cameron’s “The Abyss” looks so good that you’d think it was a brand-new movie were it not for the dated visual effects. The film itself is a bit of a mixed bag, mostly because the whole alien subplot is kind of lame and drags the story out longer than necessary. Everything before the oil riggers’ initial contact with the alien is captivating, and there’s some fantastic stuff in the latter half as well, including an underwater fight between Ed Harris and Michael Biehn’s characters that epitomizes the sheer technical achievement on display. It’s a shame that the movie is tarnished by its lousy central mystery because without it, “The Abyss” would likely be Cameron’s best film. Extras include two new featurettes — a conversation with Cameron and a retrospective on the film’s legacy — as well as the making-of documentary “Under Pressure” and archival material like the shooting script, the original treatment, storyboards and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

True Lies” — Though it’s far from James Cameron’s best work, “True Lies” is a light and diverting action-comedy that captures everything great (and not so great) about ‘90s cinema. The movie is incredibly cheesy and entirely too long, but once Jamie Lee Curtis’ bored housewife gets pulled into the espionage world by her secret agent husband (Arnold Schwarzenegger), “True Lies” starts to find its groove, thanks in no small part to its performances. Tom Arnold and Bill Paxton turn in some funny supporting work, and Schwarzenegger revels in the lighter moments that he’s given, but it’s Curtis who steals the show in one of her best-ever roles. It still falls a bit short compared to some of Cameron’s other films — and the same goes for this new 4K transfer, which looks waxy in certain shots — but it’s nevertheless a solid action-comedy that is worth revisiting for Curtis alone. Extras include a retrospective featurette, as well as archival material like the original script, storyboards, production stills and more. FINAL VERDICT: RENT

Disclosure: Bullz-Eye was provided a copy of the above titles for review purposes.


About Author

In addition to writing for, Jason is a proud member of the Columbus Film Critics Association (COFCA) and the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS).