New on Blu: 'The Dictator,' 'Chimpanzee' and 'Good Will Hunting'
After last week’s embarrassment of riches with classic titles old (Jaws) and new (The Hunger Games), it seems only fitting that cinephiles and consumers get a bit of a break in order to properly process and enjoy their new purchases. That said, there’s a small handful of new releases this week – and one upgraded older favorite – for viewers to check out, providing not only the home-video debut of a few recent films, but the premiere of some lower-tier titles that may be just as much of interest.
Check out a shortlist of the week’s new releases:
Chimpanzee (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)
The Rundown: Disney tests my resolution to give a review of any movie with a monkey an extra star by creating one in which there are only monkeys. Tim Allen narrates this docudrama about a young chimp and the alpha male who takes him under his wing, metaphorically speaking.
How It Looks: Reference-quality amazing. Shot digitally in natural locations, this shares the same detail and clarity as nature documentary series such as Planet Earth, only with more monkeys, which equals better.
Best Extra: “On Location: The Making of Chimpanzee” is an in-depth look at the technical – and physical – challenges of making the film, which is about as fascinating as the film itself.
Buy, Rent or Avoid: As it’s about monkeys, I say "Buy" (twice)
The Dictator (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The Rundown: Sacha Baron Cohen reteams with Larry Charles for the most cinematic of his starring vehicles yet, a comedy about a moronic dictator who’s stripped of his identity and forced to fend for himself in the street of New York.
How It Looks: Some of the special effects used to create Aladeen’s empire look a little too glossy to be believable on the small screen, but for the most part the transfer faithfully and satisfyingly brings to life the story in the film.
Best Extra: Nothing, which seems mildly surprising given that this is less “real” than his previous efforts, which would seem to allow for more behind-the-scenes glimpses.
Buy, Rent or Avoid: Rent
The Rundown: 50 Cent continues to expand his straight-to-DVD empire with this crime drama about a young cop who seeks revenge on the man who killed his father after joining an elite – and deeply corrupt – team of detectives.
How It Looks: A solid transfer preserves director Jessy Terrero’s effectively polished cinematography, which features a lot of shadows and textures that might otherwise seem splotchy or distracting.
Best Extra: Although the commentary track featuring Terrero and 50 Cent is decidedly underwhelming, it’s still the best bonus content the disc offers.
Buy, Rent or Avoid: Unless you’re a hardcore 50 Cent fan, Avoid
Good Will Hunting 15th Anniversary Edition (Lionsgate)
The Rundown: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s breakthrough film as screenwriters remains an engaging, smart portrait of tough living tempered by new love.
How It Looks: The transfer hasn’t been changed since the release of a non-Anniversary edition last year, but detail and clarity were already sharp, making this the best presentation of the film, even if it’s not quite as pristine as audiences have become accustomed to in recent years.
Best Extra: While the majority of the bonus content is carried over from previous iterations, there’s a new hourlong retrospective documentary that gives a great and detailed overview of the conception of the film and how it became the minor classic it’s now considered.
Buy, Rent or Avoid: If you own the previous version, rent, but if not, then it’s a definite Buy
One In the Chamber (Anchor Bay)
The Rundown: Cuba Gooding Jr.and Dolph Lundgren star in this action thriller about an assassin whose screwup unleashes another assassin, played by Lundgren. Then they fight and stuff.
How It Looks: The transfer is solid and consistent, offering good clarity and sharp image quality for a film that, quite frankly, doesn’t necessarily need or deserve it.
Best Extra: A behind-the-scenes featurette offers little in the way of insights but includes a fair amount of set footage, which may or may not be of interest once you’ve seen everything the film has to offer.
Buy, Rent or Avoid: Rent