A huge chunk of the dazzling, big budget movies are released around the holidays, but January is a time when a lot of films are gaining awards notice, which means there are plenty of movies heading to Blu-ray and DVD before the Oscars air on February 28. Among this month’s big Blu-ray releases are The Martian and The Walk, but there are some excellent Digital movies hitting homes this month, too, including but not limited to Straight Outta Compton, Crimson Peak and Black Mass. Give the full list a look, below.
If you’re still keen to check out December releases, you can see them all here.
The Walk, Blu-rayJuggling and street work aren’t enough of an emotional high for Philippe Petit, a real-life tightrope walker who is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the film. Other bit players like Ben Kingsley and Charlotte Le Bon show up as characters supporting Petit in his biggest of big endeavors—aka walking between the Twin Towers on a tightrope—but this is mostly Gordon-Levitt’s rodeo. Overall, Robert Zemeckis’ lengthy story about the makings of a tightrope walker does have one big payoff: the walk itself, which is shot from such angles that the stakes are high and the visual effects are glorious. Having seen it on Blu-ray, I can only imagine what The Walk looks like in 3D, but I'd guess only good things can be said about that copy. If you were inspired by many of the dazzling effects in The Walk, you can catch the Blu-ray bonus features,which explain how very few practical effects had to be built in order to make the Twin Towers and Petit’s very famous walk come to life. The man of the hour even pops up in the extras, and an alternative opening and other deleted scenes provide even more whimsy and character background in the film. You can order your own copy over at Amazon.
Flesh and Bone, Blu-rayIt’s long been assumed that delicate and stunning ballet choreography only comes with a lot of pain. Regardless, the lead in Starz’s ballet drama Flesh and Bone, Claire (newcomer Sarah Hays), is used to a lot more pain than the kind sustained in her feet and ankles. She’s run away from home and her brother (Josh Helman) does not behave in a very brotherly manner toward her. This is one ballet story that’s not particularly romantic. Newcomer Sarah Hay is willing dancer but a troubled young woman and she’s surrounded by a well-acted cast who all play their own distinctive parts in her ultimate tale, including great turns from Damon Herriman as Claire's watcher and homeless neighbor Romeo, Ben Daniels as the compelling ballet head Paul Grayson and Irina Dvorovenko as the aging prima donna Kiira. It’s an overly dark story and often unsettling, but once you turn on the eight-episode series, it’s likely you’ll binge-watch your way through. Starz’s Blu-ray release is a barebones affair, with only a behind-the scenes feature called "Creating the World of 'Flesh and Bone" available with the set to "flesh out" Breaking Bad scribe Moira Waley-Beckett’s limited event series. Order your own copy, here.
True Detective: Season 2, DVDFew shows elicited such a monumental amount of anticipation as True Detective did in the time between the polarizing Season 1 finale and the equally polarizing Season 2 premiere. With a positively stellar cast that includes Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch, the sophomore season of the dark and violent HBO drama centered on the aftermath surrounding the murder of a California land developer with a hand in way too many cookie jars. It came with everything one would expect from a neo-noir, from distinct murders to oodles of smoking to a moodiness so thick you can’t put a bullet through it. The complication-filled season was either ploddingly boring or exceedingly tense, depending on what you were looking for, and audiences were keen on expressing exactly what they thought of it all. The DVD set features a few features that fans will enjoy, including a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at the city block-spanning shootout centerpiece and a brief overview of the season as a whole. (The location-porn extra compiling overhead shots of California locations was questionable.) I most enjoyed the commentaries with the stars and creator Nic Pizzolatto that accompanied two episodes, including the finale. If this sounds up your gritty alley, go ahead and order your own copy over on Amazon.
Other January 5 Blu-ray And DVD ReleasesThe Visit
Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser
Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse
The Green Inferno
Sleeping With Other People DVD
Broad City: Season 2 DVD
Agatha Christie’s Partner in Crime
Week of January 5 Digital ReleasesGalavant: Season 1 Our Brand Is Crisis
Jem and the Holograms
Straight Outta Compton
New Girl: Season 5 (January 6)
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (January 7)
American Crime (January 7)
The Martian, Blu-rayAbove all else, The Martian is a love letter to problem solving. It’s a big budget, over-the-top reminder that human beings are capable of accomplishing incredible things when they work together and have their backs against the wall. To get stranded Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) back from Mars, the smart people over at NASA must scheme, bicker, lie, barter and use their incredibly well-developed brains. It’s a gigantic ordeal, and thanks to Ridley Scott’s careful direction, it always feels exciting and understandable. The math may be too complicated for most of us, but the spirit is alive and exciting. Plus, with a slew of incredible supporting performances featuring everyone from Jeff Daniels to Donald Glover to Jessica Chastain, The Martian has as much talent as any film released in 2015. Extras include a gag reel--which I guess makes it more of a comedy?--and some behind-the-scenes featurettes that look at the making of the movie, all courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Plus, there are some Ares focused extras, many of which can be viewed online. The Martian is absolutely one of a handful of must-own movies that came out in 2015. Own it now.
Hotel Transylvania 2, Blu-rayDirector Genndy Tartakovsky came back for the Hotel Transylvania sequel, and because he and most of the main cast are back, the result is another pretty cute and warm comedy that can be enjoyed by family members of all ages. It’s one issue is that it takes a while to get into the main narrative, as we need to catch up with characters like Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his pals Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Griffin (David Spade) and Murray (Keegan-Michael Key), not to mention the nuptials between Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and a pregnancy before the movie can get to the real story. This is just a speed bump created when Hotel Transylvania 2 decided to tell a story at a much later time than the original movie, but once we get into through the beginning, the pace is quick and entertaining. You’ll have a blast, and so will your kids.
One of the things I really like about Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s set is that it is pretty interactive. The characters from the movie will talk to you—or preferably your kids—when you pop the disc in, enticing you to stay for a sing-a-long "scary-oke." Some deleted scenes are also included and audio commentary, but the extras that are more kids-geared are always going to be better for this sort of release than commentary from Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel and Allen Covert. Disney has enough of an adult fandom that I don’t think it has quite the same problem, but with this release, stick to the Scary-oke. Order your own copy of Hotel Transylvania 2 over at Amazon.
January 12 Blu-ray And DVD ReleasesSinister 2
Mr. Robot: Season 1
Paranormal Activity 5: The Ghost Dimension
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride The Devil Wears Prada: The 10th Anniversary Blu-ray
The Stanford Prison Experiment
All of My Heart
Week of January 12 Early Digital ReleasesBlack Mass
The Last Witch Hunter
Burnt (January 15)
The Intern, Blu-rayNancy Meyers has made a career out of directing romantic, sentimental movies (and The Parent Trap). This time around, the writer and director ultimately opted to look at a different sort of relationship, creating The Intern, a story about a young woman named Jules (Anne Hathaway) who is just getting her first big experience as a boss and the relationship she cultivates with her retired intern, Ben (Robert De Niro). This seems like a pretty uncomplicated plot, but Meyers’ viewpoint is generally complicated, and Jules’ stressed relationship with her husband Matt (Anders Holm) actively plays into the plot, as well. Luckily, there are plenty of hijinks that come when Ben begins to engage with a bunch of other millenials (loveably played by Adam Devine, Zack Pearlman, Nat Wolff and Christina Scherer). It’s a fun movie and an engaging one, although not one that is meant to be groundbreaking or Awards-worthy. Three featurettes come with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s set and do a lot to explain how Meyers came up with the idea for The Intern and hired a lot of young (or at least young-ish) comedians to really add to the script. Another segment looks at the fashion in the movie, but we gotta say, that one's a little less exciting. If you are just finding The Intern or would love to revisit the movie, you can order your own copy of the film, here.
Straight Outta Compton, Blu-rayStraight Outta Compton is about more than the music that made N.W.A. famous, but the music is also what propels the music biopic film into something a bit more enigmatic and fun. While largely focusing on the rise of N.W.A. and the behind-the-scenes drama that caused problems for the rap crew, the movie also touches on a lot of cultural problems facing Los Angeles in the early nineties, although there are gaps in its narrative. It’s not a fun, feel-good movie, but thanks to solid performances from Paul Giamatti (playing Jerry Heller), Corey Hawkins (playing Dr. Dre), Jason Mitchell (playing Eazy-E), O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube) and a solid pace, Straight Outta Compton’s 2 ½ hour runtime flies by. Not only do you get a lot of movie with Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s set, the extras are extensive. A slew of deleted scenes, including on musical performance, exist with the Blu-ray. A ton of behind-the-scenes extras look at the origins of the film and feature both the actors and the real-life musicians who were available to interview and spent time on set (including DJ Yella, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, who has also had a prolific acting career in the days since N.W.A was a thing). Many of them also were producers on the movie, and seem to be actively involved with production. If you liked the movie, the extras are fascinating; check ‘em out with your own copy over at Amazon.
Other January 19 Blu-ray And DVD ReleasesStraight Outta Compton
The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Continuum: The Final Season (Season 4)
12 Monkeys: Season One
Jem and the Holograms
Week of January 19 Early Digital ReleasesSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs (out of the vault)
Spectre (Friday, January 22)
Goosebumps, Blu-rayThe cleverest thing about Goosebumps, Rob Letterman’s film adaptation of the kid-horror works of R.L. Stein, is the fact that it adapts almost all of the author’s popular characters and plotlines into one smorgasbord of a supernatural thriller. Like Slappy, the menacing ventriloquist dummy? He’s here. How about the Lawn Gnomes, or the Invisible Boy? They’re here, as well. So is Stine, though the author is played by Jack Black, who needs the help of two teenagers (Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush) when all of his literary creatures escape from their books. Both funny and fun, Goosebumps succeeds as an introduction to horror, and as a nostalgic tribute for anyone who read every R.L. Stine book growing up. Grab a flashlight, crawl under your covers, and enjoy the Blu-ray. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s set comes with a few jazzy extras, including an alternate opening and a blooper reel. However, the really fun ones are the behind-the-scenes extras, which teach the kids at home things like gas and water don’t mix and how to make their own monster masks. If your kids want to look like R.L. Stine’s characters, take a look at "Creaturefied!." You can order your own copy of Goosebumps, here.
Other January 26 Blu-ray And DVD ReleasesBurnt
Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Third Season
Downton Abbey: Season 6
Week of January 26 Early Digital ReleasesThe X-Files (The New Series) (January 25)