Since movie theaters mostly seem either closed or stuck showing older films for the foreseeable future, many fans look to home entertainment more than ever. If the kids are quarantined at home also, purchases, rather than rentals, start to look better and better for the inevitable repeat viewings. But with so many, it’s hard to know where to begin or what to afford. In this ongoing series, Superhero Hype takes a look at some of the better deals Amazon.com has running as of publication time. Please note that all deals are subject to change or sell out at any time based on supply and demand.
Star Trek boldly goes everywhere these days. Whether into animation, or the far future, or merely the ongoing life of Picard, the brand remains extended. But it’s tough to top the original crew of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Sulu, and Uhura. Some speak of a so-called even-numbered rule for their six feature films, but even the supposed “bad” ones are pretty good. Who doesn’t want to see William Shatner try to debate God, or the Voyager space probe nearly destroy Earth in a tantrum?
Michael Bay’s five movie cycle of utter devastation doesn’t hew particularly faithfully to the Generation 1 cartoons or IDW comics. But that’s okay: Transformers long ago embraced a multiverse in which all continuities are canon. And for a generation of kids who grew up in the first decade of the 21st century, these are their Transformers. Big, elaborate, militarized robots who sometimes suffer PTSD, occasionally don’t transform, and learn English from broad stereotypes they found on the Internet. By the time Stanley Tucci shows up as drunk Merlin, it’s best to just just go with it. The series continuity may be dubious from movie to movie, but Bay shoots the robot-on-robot action with the epic flair it deserves. And for less than $40, the buyer basically gets all five films for the price of two.
Yes, five Scorpion King movies exist — more than in the Mummy franchise that spawned the concept. The first launched the Hollywood career of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The sequels tried to do likewise for brawlers like Kimbo Slice, Randy Couture, and Dave Bautista. With varying degrees of success, obviously. These swords, sand, and sorcery flicks never looked to win any Oscars, but at least all involved really knew how to fight. At just under $27, one’s wallet needn’t feel any kind of pinch.
Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures (Raiders of the Lost Ark / Temple of Doom / Last Crusade / Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) [Blu-ray]
Fans often decide for themselves that one or other of the Indiana Jones films doesn’t exist. All four, however, are glorious cinematic tributes to the pulp movies of the eras they depict. From adventure serials to Busby Berkeley musical numbers, Humphrey Bogart-style anti-heroics, World War II action and atomic age sci-fi, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg folded in everything they loved as kids. It belongs in your home — not in a museum!
With a fourth Matrix movie on the way, it’s time to bone up on all the plot convolutions of the existing mythology. Like, if Neo and Agent Smith balance an equation, how come Neo will return and Smith won’t? Just remember there is no spoon. Not everything from this seminal cyberpunk series aged well — the dependence on land lines to access the Internet, for example. But now that the directors are named Lana and Lilly, it’s fascinating to revisit the allegory. It’s simulation as metaphor for discovering one’s true self and no longer hiding. The first film was one of the very first DVDs, and back in 2000 cost more by itself than all three films plus the canonical Animatrix shorts now.
Due to a variety of legal agreements and red tape, Marvel Studios looks unlikely to give the big green guy his own solo movie for a while now. But for a mere $13, his last adventure can come home to own in ultra-high definition. Critics initially weren’t as kind to Edward Norton’s outing as Bruce Banner as to some previous versions. Director Louis Leterrier’s emphasis on action didn’t leave as much time for the tragic Jekyll/Hyde moments Bill Bixby and Eric Bana had embodied. But everything here paved the way for Mark Ruffalo’s less tragic, more funny Hulk down the line.
Before Marvel could make a movie about a raccoon and a talking tree into a hit, studios were skeptical of most superheroes. A half-vampire “daywalker” turned them around, as Wesley Snipes elevated the second-tier Marvel antihero to an A-list player. Along the way, the Blade series made Guillermo del Toro a mainstream director, and gave Ryan Reynolds a test run as a profane, smart-mouthed mercenary years before Deadpool. $10 for all three films does not suck.
Although a recent reboot failed to take, the original three Men in Black are still great entertainment. Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and sometimes Josh Brolin, protect the law-abiding aliens here on Earth while fighting the bad ones. The niftiest hook in Barry Sonnenfeld’s whimsical sci-fi adventures is the notion that every weird-looking person on the street might secretly be an extraterrestrial in disguise. And he uses the natural persona of Smith and Jones — prickly and laid back, respectively — to generate authentic-feeling character conflict. Nod ya’ head!
Fans frequently talk about how they’d like to see the Fast and Furious movies go into space. Yet Vin Diesel already played a fast Furyan in outer space. Murderer Richard B. Riddick eludes capture, fights aliens, wins and loses the throne of a major space empire, then fights aliens some more. Diesel treats the character as a passion project and apparently still plans a fourth installment. In the meantime, all three director’s cuts of the films, plus a Peter Chung animated short, run around $30.
Delivering on the promise of his Captain America: Civil War cameo, Spider-Man dove into the Marvel universe with this rookie adventure. As a high-schooler, he works with Tony Stark and looks for love in the wrong places. Then he takes on a gadget-building, bewinged Michael Keaton. (A dangerous thing in a comic-book movie.) Sony actually reduces the prices of their 4Ks after a while. So this beloved entry in the Marvel Infinity saga now costs significantly less than most of the rest.