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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: 2012, Ammonite, Born A Champion, Versus, Breach and Deep in Vogue


It’s a small week this week and next week, and I’m not entirely sure why, beyond the fact that 2020’s theatrical slate was ravaged by the pandemic, and they’re running out of smaller, independent films to release. But there are still a few good ones to look for out this week. Here’s the breakdown:

2012 (4K Ultra HD) – If there’s one movie I’ve been waiting for to make it to the premium 4K Ultra HD format, it’s 2012. I’m a disaster movie junkie, and 2012 is one of my absolute favorites of the genre. And not only do I love it, but it’s one of the most visually exciting disaster movies ever made. When you’re dealing with the end of the world, it’s bigger than just a single volcano or earthquake, and the special effects that bring all the mayhem to life are absolutely eye-popping. So getting to watch 2012 in full 4K glory… yeah, I’ve been waiting for that! And the wait was worth it. 2012 looks and sounds absolutely spectacular in ultra high def. Color saturation is off the charts, image clarity is razor sharp, and the whole thing practically pops off the screen. Add to that a surround soundtrack that will have you ducking and weaving explosions and flying debris, and it’s as immersive an experience as you can have without leaving the house. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Ammonite – Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan star in this period drama which has garnered some critical acclaim but might be a tough slog for viewers looking for an enjoyable movie experience. Loosely based on real events (at least in the fact that the main character, fossil hunter Mary Anning, was a real person), the film is set in England in the 1800s and is about how two women from opposite ends of the spectrum fall in love. And I’ll say this: the performances alone do make this film worth watching. Both Ronan and especially Winslet give these roles their all, and they are both amazing. But the film moves at its own pace, slowly developing a forbidden relationship, and the pacing is — at times — rather glacial. Honestly, I had a hard time getting invested in the film despite the performances, but I think there are people out there who will like it more than I did.

Born a Champion – It’s nice to see Sean Patrick Flanery in a lead role again. While best known for starring in The Boondock Saints, I’ve been a fan of Flanery’s for years and years, but in recent years he’s been more of a supporting player. In this new sports drama, Flanery co-stars with Dennis Quaid and Katrina Bowden as a martial artist who gets enmeshed in MMA fighting. Now, Flanery is actually an expert in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu he uses in the movie, and I’ve actually seen him do the film’s signature move — rendering someone unconscious within 30 seconds of encountering them — in person. (True story, he knocked out an interviewer using that move at New York ComicCon many years ago — at the interviewer’s request.) The film is kind of a typical successful fighter/gets beat/finds redemption type of story but with a few divergences from the usual formula along the way. Overall, I found it pretty enjoyable. I’m not an MMA fan, and I suspect you’ll enjoy the film more if you are, but Flanery is terrific and the story is solid enough to engage you even if you’re not into MMA. Worth a look, for sure.

Versus – Arrow Video continues to release Criterion-quality special edition home video releases, but with the focus on genre, cult, and niche movies, and they are knocking it out of the park. Their latest release is a two-disc special edition Blu-ray of Versus, a notorious and notoriously popular Japanese film from 2000. This release includes both versions of the film: the original theatrical release, and the 2004 Ultimate Versus version, which is basically an expanded director’s cut. Trying to explain the film’s story is both complicated and, well, unnecessary. This isn’t a plot-driven film; it’s action, mayhem, gore, and insanity. Think samurai zombies, gunfights, gangsters, blood and guts, and you get the picture. It’s a film that was a huge success when it came out and has developed a pretty dedicated fan following. While I can appreciate the non-stop chaos of the film, it’s a bit deafening and at times you just wish things would sort of… slow down for a minute. That said, if you like extremely over-the-top action and gore, you’ve come to the right place. In addition to the two versions of the film, this special edition release includes new cover art, a full-color booklet, and a metric ton of extra features. If you’re a fan of this film, you will not be disappointed!

Breach – Oh man, I really wanted to like this movie. You give me Bruce Willis, Thomas Jane, and Rachel Nichols and tell me they’re stuck on a spaceship with killer aliens, and I am there! And then I watched the film. Sigh. I mean, just… siiiigh. First of all, the film has a budget of roughly eight dollars, so that doesn’t do the film any favors. And it’s not even bad looking aliens, because for much of the film they’re sort of doing the body snatcher/zombie thing. But even the sets look like they were made by a high school drama department for a school play. Then you have the lead actor; I don’t like to disparage anyone, but lead actor Cody Kearsley has the charisma of a slightly damp sponge. I knew I wasn’t watching James Cameron’s Aliens, but I was hoping for maybe a fun low-key alien thriller to kill some time with. Well, I guess take out the words “fun” and “thriller,” and you’ve got Breach summed up nicely.

Deep in Vogue – Most people remember the Vogue dance style, popularized by Madonna in her song (and video), “Vogue,” which was a massive hit in the early 90s. The new documentary Deep in Vogue explores the underground vogue dance craze that is taking place in Northern England. Having become a refuge for many gay and trans people as well as people of color, voguing has taken on a life of its own. This hour-long film follows four vogue dance troupes, giving us a glimpse into this world that many of us probably didn’t know existed — I know I sure didn’t. We meet a lot of colorful characters and see some impressive dancing, and the short running time keeps it moving briskly. Worth a watch if you’re interested in the subject matter.

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