What to Watch prides itself on often offering a wide variety of material from TV seasons to On Demand exclusives to remasters of classic flicks. Not this week. All six of the New Releases that you may be drawn to in your favorite store or on your favorite service are movies, and all released in the last 18 months. But the variety within those movies is remarkable. A Best Picture winner, action flicks, a superhero, and two indie drams that waste talented casts. Pick your favorites. Here’s how we would rank ‘em.
Blu-ray Review: ‘Born on the Fourth of July’ Joins Universal Anniversary Line
CHICAGO – A number of films have been inducted into the Universal line of 100th Anniversary Blu-rays, the best wave of catalog Blu-ray releases of 2012 and an increasingly impressive collection, but few have been as current as Oliver Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July.” Oliver Stone has a new movie in theaters (“Savages”), co-star Kyra Sedgwick is starting her final season of TNT’s “The Closer” this week, and, well, star Tom Cruise has been in the headlines a bit lately. Maybe you noticed.
My concern about all the drama surrounding Tom Cruise’s personal life and religious beliefs is that it will overshadow the fact that he’s a damn good actor. He’s one of the best of his generation and he’s constantly underrated in large part due to his actual drama. He should have at least two Oscars by now for either “Magnolia” or “Jerry Maguire” (nominated for both but lost) or Stone’s amazing adaptation of Ron Kovic’s book, the first film to earn Cruise an Oscar nod back in 1989. It’s an amazing performance and stands as one of the actor’s best.
“Born on the Fourth of the July” really is a quasi-sequel to Stone’s Oscar-winning “Platoon.” (That film won Best Picture while “Born” only took Best Director, losing Pic to “Driving Miss Daisy,” a true Oscar crime in a VERY good year. Cruise lost to Daniel Day-Lewis and the amazing Robert Richardson saw his cinematography lose to “Glory.”) Stone’s first Vietnam film told a very personal story about being in country whereas his follow-up, only three years later, told the story of coming home. It is still an amazingly powerful film.
Sadly, Universal’s Blu-ray release is pretty mediocre. The transfer is just OK and the special features are minimal. In fact, it’s just one featurette and a commentary that have been transferred from a previous release and commercials for other Univeral 100th Anniversary editions. It’s one of the best films in this fantastic wave of releases but one of the most lackluster Blu-rays.
Born on the Fourth of July was released on Blu-ray on July 3, 2012
Photo credit: Universal
Tom Cruise delivers a riveting and unforgettable portrayal of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone’s Academy Award winning masterpiece Born On The Fourth Of July. Based on a true story, the acclaimed film follows the young Kovic from a zealous teen who eagerly volunteers for the Vietnam War, to an embittered veteran paralyzed from the mid-chest down. Deeply in love with his country, Kovic returned to an environment vastly different from the one he left, and struggled before emerging as a brave new voice for the disenchanted.
o From The NBC News Archives - Backstory: Born On The Fourth Of July
o Feature Commentary With Director Oliver Stone
o 100 Years Of Universal: Academy Award Winners
o 100 Years Of Universal: The ’80s