As part of our new Blu-ray HQ on Rotten Tomatoes, we’re going to share what we’re watching on Blu-ray, whether they’re classics, personal favorites, or anything in between for a particular studio. As we roll into the new year, we’ll be sharing some of the Blu-ray releases from 20th Century Fox that have peaked our interest. If you’re searching for some variety in your viewing, see if some of our finds can give you some viewing inspiration for the new year!
Based on a true story, Antwone Fisher is a movie about the durability of the human spirit that a whole lot of people didn’t see. Directed by Denzel Washington and written by Antwone Fisher himself, the Certified Fresh (78%) film centers around the story of Antwone Fisher (played brilliantly by Derek Luke) trying to find his footing in life after a childhood filled with physical, mental, and sexual abuse from his life in a foster home. Looking for a place where he can belong, Fisher joins the Navy, where his explosive temper leads him to counseling sessions with a Navy psychiatrist (Denzel Washington) who not only helps Antwone unearth his personal problems, but welcomes him into his own home — something Antwone has never experienced. The Blu-ray features commentary with Denzel Washington and producer Todd Black, cast interviews, a making of featurette, and a feature on how filming on a Navy base changed since 9/11 that could be of interest war movie buffs. For even the toughest of movie watchers, the human aspect of Antwone Fisher’s inspiring true story will tug at most anyone’s emotional heartstrings.
Critics didn’t much like this Diablo Cody-penned horror/comedy, and neither, it seems, did audiences — the film flopped after much pre-release hype, which probably oversold the Megan Fox lesbian liplock and raunchy redband elements to the point where everyone thought they’d seen the film. In truth, Jennifer’s Body was always going to be a tough sell, because it’s not gory enough to appease a horror audience, and it won’t satisfy young men hoping to drool over Fox’s body. With its high school hierarchy, douchebag dudes and intense central friendship between cheerleader Jennifer (Fox) and nerdy Needy (Amanda Seyfried), the film is less horror/comedy than teen grrrl cult movie; Kusama’s trashy direction and Cody’s whip-smart dialogue recalling Heathers and Ginger Snaps. Like those films, if it finds an audience, it’ll be here. The BD contains both Theatrical and “Extended” versions, the latter ramping up the gore; plus deleted scenes, two commentaries with Kusama and Cody, on-set diaries and amusing high school featurettes with Fox and Cody.
There’s no denying that Planet of the Apes looks dated and quaint in the special effects department by today’s standards. Still, this heady blend of sci-fi and social commentary harkens back to a time in which the genre was more about ideas than hi-tech images; and Charlton Heston’s exasperated, intense performance is still something to behold. Planet of the Apes spawned a ton of sequels, a TV series, and a remake, but nothing tops the 1969 original and its widely-parodied-if-still-kinda-haunting finale. The 40th anniversary Blu-ray comes loaded with featurettes on the making of the film and its cultural impact, and there’s even a game and some in-movie pop-ups on the science behind the film, so if you’re a fan, you’ll want to get your paws on this.
Danny Boyle is one of those directors who dabbles in a lot of different genres, from drug-fueled crime capers (Trainspotting) to horror (28 Days Later) to fantastical coming-of-age tales (Millions). And just before he went Oscar on us with Slumdog Millionaire, he released his entry into the sci-fi realm, 2007’s Sunshine. The story takes place in the not-so-distant future and centers around the crew of a spacecraft and their mission to reignite the sun; as they draw nearer to the dying star, problems arise, and it becomes apparent that some things aren’t as they seem. Some people had problems with the film’s third act, when the story takes a turn for the horrific, but Sunshine‘s mindbending story and chilling atmosphere still satisfied enough critics to earn Certified Fresh status. On Blu-Ray, the stunning visuals come through in spades, particularly in scenes displaying the sun in all its glory, and it’s a worthy addition to have in any hi-def collection.
Everyone has their holiday movie traditions. Some go the Disney route, so go with live-action family comedies. However, cinephiles and action freaks would do well with Die Hard, the explosive 1988 Bruce Willis masterpiece. It’s only superficially about the holiday (it just happens to be set on Christmas Eve), but one should take any reason to see Willis at the top of his game, in a tense thriller that, while delivers the goods for violence seekers, is actually smart and something of a slow-burner. Willis doesn’t just go in guns blazing: he sneaks around the building, biding his time, taking out people quietly and one by one. Just like any smart NY cop would do. You can find Die Hard as part of a collection, fleshed out with the other three movies that followed with varying degrees of success.