May proves to be a month of big screen icons as several groundbreaking audience favorites from the '80s and '90s receive 4K restorations. Career-defining performances are delivered in two iconic road movies. Firstly, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis shine as they run from the law in Ridley Scott's adventure drama, while director Barry Levinson pairs Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise as brothers who embark on a life-changing, cross-country road trip.
Meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone hangs on tight in an action thriller from Renny Harlin set in the Rocky Mountains, and Mimi Leder helms an impressive ensemble cast in an epic disaster film that also pulls at the heartstrings. Finally, one of the first superheroes to hit the big screen soars to new heights of film presentation with a new five-film collector's box set.
Hot off the success of her feature The Peacemaker (1997), director Mimi Leder took the disaster film genre to the next level with Deep Impact. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the action drama depicts the chilling countdown to doomsday as a 7-mile wide comet makes its way towards the Earth – which would result in an Extinction Level Event after making impact.
For Deep Impact, Leder took inspiration from Stanley Kramer's 1959 film On the Beach, creating a uniquely intimate, and more scientifically accurate audience experience in comparison to other disaster films of the era. Thoughtfully melding explosive action set pieces and cutting-edge visual effects with nuanced human stories of survival, redemption, forgiveness, and self-sacrifice, the film features memorable performances from an outstanding ensemble cast that includes Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, James Cromwell, and Oscar winners Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Duvall, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman.
Deep Impact hits the 4K UHD format with a special 25th Anniversary release from Paramount Home Media Distribution. With a beautifully filmic 4K transfer sourced from the original camera negative, the release is presented with both HDR and Dolby Vision while Oscar-winning composer James Horner's powerful score has never sounded better thanks to the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track. Supplemental pieces include the featurettes, Preparing for The End, Making an Impact, Creating the Perfect Traffic Jam, Parting Thoughts, plus photo galleries, trailers, and finally, a retrospective audio commentary track with director Leder and visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar. Deep Impact was the final film shot by renowned cinematographer Dietrich Lohmann and the film is dedicated to his memory.
Get it: May 2 on 4K UHD Blu-Ray – also on digital.
Superman: 5-Film Collection
It's hard to imagine a time when the comic book genre was a rarity on the big screen, but when Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie flew into theaters in 1978, it took audiences to a new world. For comic book fans, the film brought one of their most beloved comic book superheroes to the movies for the first time. Starring Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Donner's film was a box office juggernaut. It was also a hit with critics, and went on to receive three Oscar nominations and win a Special Achievement Oscar for its revolutionary Visual Effects.
A sequel with Donner directing was already in motion while the first film was in production, but he was infamously replaced by director Richard Lester resulting in most of the sequel being completely re-shot. The Lester-directed sequel, Superman II (1980), was a rousing success with critics and audiences alike. Fan curiosity, however, paved the way for Donner to revisit his version of the sequel. In 2006, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released on DVD with all of Donner's original footage. The film was immediately embraced by fans of the franchise. Christopher Reeves' dignified portrayal as the Man of Steel is at the heart of the films. He and Kidder went on to star in each subsequent film; 1983's Superman III, with Lester returning as director, and 1987's Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, directed by Sidney J. Furie.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is presenting the Superman I-IV: Five Film Collection with brand new 4K restorations of each film, including both versions of Superman II. Fans will delight in the new transfers which feature stunning HDR color grades. Each film is complemented with a new Dolby Atmos audio track elevating John Williams' iconic Superman theme. There is no shortage of supplemental material, including filmmaker commentaries, deleted scenes, trailers, vintage featurettes, vintage Superman cartoons from Fleischer Studios, and much more.
Get it: May 9 on 4K UHD Blu-Ray – also available on digital.
Barry Levinson's Rain Man, heavily praised for its direction and lead performances, was the highest grossing film from 1988. Tom Cruise plays gray market car dealer Charlie Babbitt, who learns that his estranged father has died and left his $3 million fortune to the mental institution where his autistic-savant brother, Ray (Dustin Hoffman), lives. Motivated to obtain half of that money, Charlie checks Ray out of his facility's care to bring him to Los Angeles. When Ray refuses to fly in an aircraft (unless it's a Qantas flight), the two begin a life-changing road trip from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, leading to a deeper understanding of one another and themselves.
Rain Man film was nominated for eight Oscars, and went on to win four: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original screenplay, and Best Actor for Hoffman. The film is also noteworthy for being highly influential in deepening the public's understanding of autism and leading to an increase in autism research funding.
Celebrating its 35th Anniversary, this new release of Rain Man comes courtesy of the MVD Marquee Collection featuring a new 4K UHD transfer that was sourced from the film's original camera negative, featuring both HDR and Dolby Vision, and approved by Levinson. The film's audio is presented with a well-rounded DTS-HD 5.1 audio track. Supplements include two featurettes, The Journey of Rain Man and Lifting the Fog: A Look at the Mysteries of Autism, along with a trailer and a deleted scene. There are also three audio commentaries; one with Levinson, another with screenwriter Barry Morrow, and another with screenwriter Ron Bass.
Get it: May 30 on 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Thelma & Louise
Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott shifted gears for 1991's revolutionary Thelma & Louise. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis star as the two titular characters, best friends who make a break from their mundane lives and hit the road in a turquoise 1966 Ford Thunderbird to go on a fishing trip. However, their trip becomes a run from the law when Louise (Sarandon) shoots and kills a man who tries to rape Thelma (Davis) at a bar. Louise decides to flee to Mexico, and Thelma decides that she's going to join her. On the way, Thelma falls for J.D., a handsome and charming drifter, played by a young Brad Pitt in his breakout role. Harvey Keitel is also in the film, playing a sympathetic detective who tries to convince the women to surrender before their fates are sealed.
Thelma & Louise is a road movie that has the tone of a buddy comedy with elements of a crime drama. With its two richly developed and fully realized female lead characters, the film's influence on popular culture and feminist storytelling cannot be understated. Thelma & Louise received six Oscar nominations, including Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Actress for each of its leads. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. In 2016, Thelma & Louise was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
This release of Thelma & Louise comes courtesy of The Criterion Collection, featuring a new 4K restoration with Dolby Vision HDR supervised by Scott. And a DTS-HD 5.1 surround audio track compliments the film beautifully. The release is loaded with an extensive array of supplements, including two audio feature commentaries, featuring Scott, screenwriter Khouri, Sarandon, and Davis. There are also new interviews with Scott and Khouri, a new retrospective documentary, deleted scenes, storyboards, music videos, trailers, 1965's Boy and Bicycle — Scott's very first short film, and more.
Get it: May 30 on 4K UHD Blu-Ray.
Hang on! Sylvester Stallone's high-altitude action thriller Cliffhanger is celebrating its 30th Anniversary. From its exhilarating opening, director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight) scales the heights of nail-biting suspense. Stallone, who also co-wrote the film, plays Gabe Walker, a highly experienced climber who mounts a rescue to save a team of stranded climbers. But Walker has been lured into a trap, becoming embroiled in a lethal game of hide-and-seek as the climbers turn out to be a group of international terrorists.
Co-starring John Lithgow and Michael Rooker, and packed with plenty of tension and thrills, Cliffhanger was an audience favorite. The film was nominated for three Oscars: Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. The film is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the costliest aerial stunt ever performed. Stuntman Simon Crane performed the aerial transfer scene, where he ziplined between two planes at an altitude of 15,000 feet.
This limited 30th Anniversary Steelbook Edition of Cliffhanger comes courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Using a previously released 4K UHD transfer, this release welcomes the addition of Dolby Vision to the visuals along with a Dolby Atmos audio track. Extras include a feature audio commentary track with Stallone and Harlin, A Personal Introduction from Director Renny Harlin, Stallone on the Edge: Making Cliffhanger, 17 never-before-seen deleted scenes, trailers, and more.
Get it: May 30 on 4K UHD Blu-Ray – also available on digital.
By Adam J. Yeend
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