The Best New Blu-Ray Releases: Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, Blue Beetle, And More


Do you know what time it is? That's right — it's time for another Blu-ray round-up! In my ongoing quest to remind you that physical media is forever, I've gathered together a few new Blu-ray releases that you may or may not want to add to your shelves. "But what about streaming?" some of you ask. You know what? Take that attitude and get the heck out of here, please! We're talking about Blu-rays! In this edition, we have the latest "Mission: Impossible" movie, a DC/WB superhero flick, a horror sequel, and a Coen Brothers classic. So let's get to it, and keep spinning those discs. 

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

I love the "Mission: Impossible" franchise. I firmly believe it's the best modern action franchise — yes, better than "John Wick" and the "Fast and Furious" movies. So I was extremely hyped for the latest entry, "Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One." But something about the film never quite clicked with me. Don't get me wrong: the action remains stellar, Tom Cruise continues to defy death for our entertainment, and Rebecca Ferguson gets to kick ass while looking extremely hot. But the film's plot, which involves a bit of evil A.I. that has the power to do, well, seemingly anything, is muddled and messy, and often distracts from the excitement. Making this a two-part film (something that seems to be changing following less-than-great box office returns) doesn't help matters, either. Still, there are plenty of pulse-pounding, heart-quickening moments in "Dead Reckoning" to thrill. But this feels like a step down following the almost dizzying highs of "Mission: Impossible – Fallout." No matter — as long as Tommy Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie keep making these movies, I will salivate to watch them. 

Special features:

Commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton—McQuarrie and Hamilton take viewers through each compelling scene with in-depth commentary.
Abu Dhabi—Explore the exotic filming locations in the desert and at the international airport and discover how each thrilling sequence was shot.
Rome—Take a behind-the-scenes look at the thrilling car chase through Italy's historic capital, as Tom Cruise's driving skills are pushed to the limit while handcuffed to Hayley Atwell!
Venice—See the breathtaking city of Venice as it's never been shown on film. Plus, witness the cast's dedication and commitment to their training as they prepare to get "Mission Ready."
Freefall—An extended behind-the-scenes look at one of the biggest stunts in cinema history. Watch never-before-seen footage of the rigorous training as Tom launches a motorcycle off a cliff.
Speed Flying—Join Tom and the crew as they explain the various training techniques involved in pulling off the dangerous speed flying stunts in the film.
Train—See how the climactic train sequence was captured on film. From building an actual train from scratch to crashing it using practical effects, you don't want to miss this!
Deleted Shots Montage—Director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton share some of the breathtaking, never-before-seen footage that didn't make the final film.
Editorial Featurette: The Sevastopol—Director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton take viewers through the intense opening scene.

Blue Beetle

You almost kind of feel bad for "Blue Beetle." The latest DC superhero effort from Warner Bros. arrived at a time when the DC/WB world was in a weird place — the old Zack Snyder-influenced era has come to an end, but James Gunn's new, rebooted DC Universe has yet to go into effect. As a result, "Blue Beetle" seemingly hovers in a sort of limbo. As for the film itself, well, it's ... fine? It's not a disaster, nor is it particularly memorable. It simply exists as one more disposable superhero flick in an era full of disposable superhero flicks. The story follows Jaime Reyes (a very likable Xolo Maridueña), a recent college graduate who suddenly gains superpowers via an Iron Man-like suit, all thanks to a magic scarab (it's a bit convoluted). The superhero stuff is, to be blunt, kind of boring. But here's what's not boring: the moments that focus on Jaime and his extended family, all of whom are warm, memorable, amusing characters (particularly George Lopez, playing Jaime's no-nonsense uncle). But there's not enough of that familial element to elevate "Blue Beetle" above generic superhero nonsense, and Susan Sarandon is surprisingly awful playing the film's baddie. While Gunn has indicated that Blue Beetle may continue on more adventures in the future DC era, I have a feeling this is going to be a one-and-done scenario. 

Special features:

Generations: Blue Beetle – 4-part documentary
Told in distinct chapters, explore the journeys of actors and filmmakers bringing "Blue Beetle" to the big screen for the first time ever. Audiences will be immersed in the POV of filmmakers who showcase their experiences on set and in their creative studios making the story of this DC character a reality.
Nana Knows Best – featurette
Witness Nana's transformation from an adorable 'abuelita' into a machine gun-wielding revolutionary, and stop in for a few of her most fun moments on set throughout production.
Scarab Vision – 2-part featurette
Xolo Maridueña hosts this series of scene study walk throughs that showcases how the scarab works and the role it plays in some of Blue Beetle's most epic moments.

The Nun II

4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD arrive on November 14.

I'm quite fond of The Conjuring Universe, especially the main "Conjuring" movies that feature Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as expert ghost/demon hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren. But I was not a fan of "The Nun," which felt flat, and weirdly boring — something a movie about a demonic nun should never be. So I'm pleased to report that "The Nun II" is a vast improvement over the first film. The premise is basically the same — there's a demon that looks like a scary nun! — but director Michael Chaves manages to milk the concept for all its worth, giving us a spooky, violent movie where the titular Nun is bumping off members of the clergy in wonderfully gruesome ways. The only person who can stop this force of darkness is Taissa Farmiga's saintly Sister Irene, who tussled with this demon once before. No one will ever accuse "The Nun II" of being "elevated horror," but as a simple, effective spookshow, this one delivers. 

Special features:

Demons in Paradise – featurette 
Handcrafter Nightmares – featurette 

Fargo 4K

The Coen Brothers had been around for a while when "Fargo" arrived in 1996, but the quirky, darkly comedic crime film was a kind of watershed moment for their careers, briefly launching them into the mainstream. The result was a film that was both a commercial and critical hit, scoring multiple Oscar nominations in the process. While the Coens have gone on to make better films than "Fargo," this one still holds up. The story involves a kidnapping gone very wrong in Minneapolis, complete with laugh-out-loud funny "Minnesota nice" speak that gives the film its unique angle. Frances McDormand, in an Oscar-winning role, is dynamite as a very pregnant cop looking into the case, but the film really belongs to William H. Macy, who perhaps has never been better than he is here playing a spineless dweeb who (badly) orchestrates his own wife's abduction. Now the film has a gorgeous new 4K release from Shout! Factory, and while there are no new special features to be found here, the 4K upgrade is well worth it. 

Special features:


NEW 4K Restoration From The Original Camera Negative Supervised By Director Of Photography Roger A. Deakins
In Dolby Vision (HDR-10 Compatible)
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & Stereo

NEW 4K Restoration From The Original Camera Negative Supervised By Director Of Photography Roger A. Deakins
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 & Stereo
Audio Commentary With Roger A. Deakins
"Minnesota Nice" Featurette
Interview With The Coen Brothers And Actor Frances McDormand
American Cinematography Article
Original Trailer And TV Spot
Still Photo Gallery

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