Sequels can be a tough nut. Age of Ultron is of course the follow-up to 2012’s The Avengers, but along the way, there were four other Marvel Universe movies that apparently need to be acknowledged here, coupled with the laborious task of tying in TV series and setting up movies yet to come. Throw in too many characters and some extraneous subplots, and the result is a sequel more exhausting than entertaining.
As 2015 draws to a close and gift-giving holidays loom, you can take comfort in knowing that Blu-ray is still the king of physical media, and plenty of studios continue to go above and beyond to release extra-special editions of movies, music, and beloved TV series sure to make a lasting impression. Here are 10 for your consideration.
After the gasoline (and almost everything else) has dried up, only the baddest of badasses have managed to survive in the barren future of Mad Max: Fury Road. And surviving is enough for Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy stepping into Mel Gibson’s well-worn leather), a former cop with but one stubborn shred of decency remaining. He’s a handsome enough actor, but he finds himself behind another Bane-like mask for much of his screen time: Captured, used as an unwilling blood donor, and thrust into the center of a deadly pursuit by three rival warlords, he unexpectedly finds himself protecting a cargo more precious than “juice,” with a long and furious road ahead.
Remember reading that Oscar winner and True Blood star Anna Paquin was going to reprise her role as the mutant Rogue in the most recent X-Men movie, Days of Future Past? And then the movie came out and she was in exactly two shots with nary a word of dialogue, and even that moment came a scant four-and-a-half minutes before the end? Well, there was in fact more planned for her, and the new “Rogue Cut” reinstates her scenes as part of a rethought, expanded version of the movie. To be frank, it’s largely the same story you’re probably used to. Rogue’s return has minimal impact on the plot, but there are lots of other little changes along the way too, successfully enhancing the overall drama.
As popular as 007’s grittier, more credible exploits have been of late, fans raised on the character’s more extreme tendencies have wondered what those movies might be like if he had continued his cheeky, over-the-top evolution. And for them, there’s Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. Here a small but well-funded super-secret organization, independent of government, is populated by consummate gentleman (and lady) spies, quietly risking their lives to save others and maintain peace. Headquartered in a posh Savile Row tailor shop, they have access to impossible high-tech gadgets, bold training, and virtually unlimited resources.
If not the first movie to expose the true inner workings of organized crime—in contrast to Coppola’s seminal, romanticized The Godfather—GoodFellas is arguably the most influential, and the most enduring. It is also one of Martin Scorsese’s most popular films, a near-perfect intersection of source material and cinematic execution. Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family recounted bona-fide gangster Henry Hill’s rise from two-bit mob gopher to prolific felon, as well as his ultimate downfall, and the many escapades in between. Adapted with ample violence and profanity, GoodFellas (renamed to avoid confusion with contemporary TV series Wiseguy) is also incredibly funny, often darkly so, for a more deeply entertaining tale.
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a swell, resourceful dad… and pilot… and engineer… and farmer. In short, he’s the perfect candidate for a dangerous mission to other worlds to help save mankind. The future that he and his family inhabit is bleak, cynical, and full of toxins that are rapidly making life on Earth unsustainable. The only glimmer of hope requires Coop to leave behind everyone and everything he knows to lead a crew across time and space in search of a new home. Back on Earth, our brightest minds are struggling to do their part, and these home and away teams will intersect in a most unexpected way.
Genius teen Hiro Hamada has already lost his parents, but when tragedy strikes again, he uses his scientific know-how to turn mild-mannered, inflatable nurse-bot Baymax into a karate-kicking, armor-plated crime-fighter. But is Hiro out for justice...or vengeance? Either way, the duo can’t win this fight without help, and so they join forces with a group of friends to form their own high-tech super-squad, finding plenty of excitement along the way, as well as some important lessons about what it means to be a hero. Inspired by a relatively obscure Marvel Comic, the Oscar-winning Big Hero 6 is an epic origin saga full of heart and humor.
Here’s a truth-pill for all of you single folk out there: Sometimes marriage can really suck. Don’t take my word for it, though; instead, spend some time with the Dunnes, Nick and Amy (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike). After a nigh-fairytale meeting and courtship, their seemingly idyllic life together develops cracks. The deterioration is expedited over the years by family troubles that lead to money troubles, and contempt and infidelity follow. For Amy, marriage is a daily humiliation. For Nick, it’s a trap, one from which he yearns to escape.
Doing its part to make sure you never have to be without object-based audio, Dolby is dropping its newest format, Dolby Atmos Mobile. Like Dolby Atmos for the home and for the cinema, this portable version aims to render a more detailed, more lifelike soundfield from specially mixed/encoded software. Unlike the previous versions, Dolby Atmos Mobile does not require a specially wired theater, or newfangled or additional loudspeakers. Instead, it’s designed to work with any headphones. The technology relies on Head-Related Transfer Functions, taking advantage of the fixed positions of the stereo drivers left and right as they expand the soundtrack’s spatial information. For this reason, a wired or Bluetooth speaker cannot reproduce the Atmos Mobile effect.