New on DVD/Blu-Ray: April 23, 2013

With the ever shortening cinema to DVD window, we are now beginning to see some of the bigger 2013 releases coming to DVD and Blu-Ray. The next several weeks will show studios trying to supplement their blockbuster offerings in theatres with DVD and Blu-Ray releases that may or may not have achieved any traction during their initial release. The best releases, however, are still the movies from 2012 that many people missed when they had a limited theatrical run.

Here are this week’s top 5 new releases:

Top 5 New Releases

The Impossible (2012) New on Blu-Ray

5) The Impossible (2012)

When The Impossible was first released theatrically, director Juan Antonio Bayona received some criticism for portraying a devastating Asian disaster from the perspective of an affluent white family. However, critics and viewers who were able to look past that minor quibble had mostly good things to say about the film. It features strong performances from Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor and a breakthrough by young performer Tom Holland who has already been tapped for future projects by directors Ron Howard and Kevin MacDonald.

Jurassic Park 3D (2013) New on Blu-Ray

4) Jurassic Park 3D (2013)

The strategy by studios to boost sales by re-releasing an iconic film in 3D a few weeks before an updated DVD and Blu-Ray release seems to be working. I don’t normally recommend purchasing 3-D Blu-Rays, but for Jurassic Park it might be worth making an exception just because the visual effects from 20 years ago have held up so very well. The Blu-Ray set includes a 3-D Blu-Ray, a standard Blu-Ray, a DVD, and a Digital Copy. That seems like overkill, but the cost is the same as a standard Blu-Ray, so you might as buy it and give the extra discs to two friends.

Richard III (1955) New on Blu-Ray

3) Richard III (1955)

The Criterion has already released Laurence Olivier’s Richard III before as part of its Essential Art House collection and additionally as part of an Olivier’s Shakespeare Box Set. I own the latter and it is a must have for fans of Shakespeare. However, the geniuses at Criterion have given it a new digital mastering and beefed up the special features with a new commentary track from Russell Lees and John Wilders of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a new essay. If you do not already own a Criterion version of this classic, then definitely check it out.

The Central Park Five (2012) New on Blu-Ray

2) The Central Park Five (2012)

I’m a big fan of documentarian Ken Burns and was disappointed to miss his latest true crime investigation The Central Park Five when it played on PBS or in its very limited theatrical run. For those unaware, the film chronicles the infamous Central Park Jogger case where five black and latino men were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman. Last week’s manhunt surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombings revealed people’s biases as media outlets and blogs misidentified the culprits numerous times. This makes it feel like the wrongdoing from the 1980s that Ken Burns chronicles couldn’t be more relevant.

Wuthering Heights (2012) New on Blu-Ray

1) Wuthering Heights (2012)

Andrea Arnold’s moody retelling of the classic Bronte novel was named the 8th best film of 2012 by our very own Duncan Houst. Just about every critic who has seen it has responded very positively. It feels like the only thing that has prevented it from receiving more widespread acclaim is the fact that very few people actually saw it. I hope to fix that by getting my hands on it somehow now that it is more widely available on DVD and Blu-Ray. Perhaps when I revamp my best of 2012 list, this film will find a place on it.

Other Notable New Releases

Jack Reacher (2012) New on Blu-RayWith Tom Cruise’s new science fiction film Oblivion dominating the domestic Box Office, some people might be interested in checking out his less successful action movie from last  year, Jack Reacher, although Duncan suggests that it might not be worth seeking out. Duncan was also pretty cold on the first Box Office success of 2013, Gangster Squad. It’s probably only worth checking out if you’re a Ryan Gosling completist.

Two films that I purposely missed in theatres in 2012 are now available for me to purposely avoid on DVD and Blu-Ray. One is  the deplorable looking Scary Movie want-to-be A Haunted House. The other is the much less deplorable looking, but still not very enticing Promised Land from director Gus Van Sant (who I do love, don’t get me wrong).

In classic movie releases, The Criterion Collection has released a collection of the films of obscure director Pierre Etaix. If I knew anything about Monsieur Etaix, he would probably have fit into this week’s top five, but alas I know almost nothing about him or his work. The classic Kirk Douglas boxing movie Champion and the late career Groucho Marx comedy Copacabana also get their Blu-Ray premieres this week.

Streaming Pick of the Week

The Great Gatsby (1974) New on Blu-Ray

The Great Gatsby (1974)

Available on Netflix Watch Instant

We are two weeks away from Baz Luhrmann’s highly anticipated film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. To whet your appetite, why not check out Jack Clayton’s 1974 version with a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. It is certainly not the quintessential version of the film (I hope Luhrmann’s is better) and it sort of sucks the energy out of Fitzgerald’s work, but it does offer some pretty good performances and steals enough lines of dialogue from the book to make it tolerable.

Which new movies will you be buying, renting, or streaming this week?

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