As much as we love to watch our all-time favorite movies with rose-colored glasses, it’s important to acknowledge the culture has shifted. Many of the classics like Saturday Night Fever and Sixteen Candles haven’t exactly aged well despite their groovy tunes and fun-loving spirit.
While these films may have passed the smell test at the time of their release, watching them now can seem so cruel, off-putting and downright criminal.
But should we forget them?
The 1985 John Hughes classic Weird Science is a problematic film, no doubt. But it’s not as troublesome as its story lets on. The plot concerns two nerdy teen boys (Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith) who set out to build and program the ideal woman, Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), using their computer.
At first glance, this sounds terrible, and a lot of thought behind the boys’ creation is. You will see them feeding the computer images from porn magazines to create the shape they want. But then they take a step back and start feeding the computer pictures of Einstein, so Lisa can be super smart and have agency.
As a result, Lisa is a badass who doesn’t take crap from anyone. Things may get a bit icky when you think of this older woman locking lips with some 15-year-olds, but it never leads to anywhere more than that. She’s there to point the boys in the right direction and help them grow.
Considering Hughes wrote this movie in supposedly two days, you would expect it to be much more prickly. That’s not to say it doesn’t get offensive, because it totally does. One of the boys’ older brothers (played by a young Bill Paxton, complete with a horrible flat-top) likes to throw around homophobic slurs, while another scene features Hall putting on a black voice in a blues bar. But the good news is that Paxton’s character gets punished for his wrongdoing.
So, it could have been much worse, but you can still spot Weird Science’s gray hairs. Through what could have been a nasty lens of objectifying women, there is a somewhat robust female perspective included. It has its ’80s charm (the wardrobes, hair and tunes), but it also has its sharp cheddar and tsk-tsks. Weird Science is worth keeping around just so the future can talk about how far we’ve come and where we could still improve.
Extras: The newly restored collector’s edition release comes with a 4K scab of the original film negative, meaning this is the best the film has looked and likely will ever look. It has a picture presentation so sharp that if it weren’t for ’80s wardrobes and tunes, you’d believe if it were only a decade old. There’s also a seamlessly branched exclusive extended version of the film that’s three minutes longer (featuring two additional scenes). You can also watch those additional scenes separately if you feel that it doesn’t really add anything to the final product. (I don’t think so.)
The look of actual release is what really makes this film worth owning. You can buy the SteelBook edition or the regular release with one of the most immaculate slipcovers I have ever seen. It has a particular texture that makes it pop, along with its newly designed cover art by Tracie Ching.
Special features-wise, there’s an all-new interview with casting director Jackie Brown, who naturally discusses the casting process of the film. There are also several other new interviews with other filmmakers who speak about their individual departments and what the film has meant to them, including actor John Kapelos, editor Chris Lebenzon and composer Ira Newborn.
Previously released features include an archival documentary featuring interviews with the cast and crew, theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots, image galleries and a detailed booklet that you can find inside the Blu-ray case.
Long Shot (3.5 stars) This romantic comedy should have been a huge hit. I’m a little surprised the word of mouth didn’t blow the roof off of theaters. It’s consistently hilarious, incredibly sweet and highly entertaining. I don’t think Seth Rogen has been cooler than this.
Long Shot is about a journalist (Rogen) named Fred Flarsky who works at an alt-weekly. After ruffling some feathers and a publication buyout, Fred is looking for a new place to put his writing skills to work. This is when he crosses paths with his old babysitter, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who just so happens to be secretary of state. She’s about to make a presidential run and needs a good writer to punch up her speeches, and that’s where Fred comes in and the sparks begin to fly.
With the infectious chemistry between its two leads and the killer-good gags, Long Shot is one of the most rewatchable films of the year. I definitely plan to wear out my Blu-ray copy. It just plants a goofy smile on your face.
Rated R, 125 minutes.
Extras: The Blu-ray release includes a making-of featurette and 10 other featurettes that focus on the laughs, politics and fun brought from the cast and crew.
Alita: Battle Angel (2 stars) There is no denying Alita: Battle Angel is a spectacle. Everything pretty much comes from pure computer creation, a lot like the new Lion King movie. So, on a technical level, it’s impressive. From a storytelling and scriptwriting angle, it’s something to toss in the chum bucket. Alita has some of the most eye-rolling characterizations and dialogue I have seen in a movie in quite some time. While I was never bored, I definitely don’t plan to pop this movie back in anytime soon.
In the world of Alita, the world has fallen. Artificial intelligence has practically wiped out humanity. People scavenge the planet for scraps to sell for cash and rollerblade around town like it’s the ’90s again. Actually, the word is obsessed with this game that is a lot like Rollerball. Christoph Waltz’s magical doctor and Mr. Fix-It character discovers a functioning robot (Rosa Salazar) in the dumping grounds and rebuilds her. After she awakes, she slowly discovers that she have been someone of great importance.
James Cameron’s name on this got my ears to perk up. But like many of his screenplays, it’s hard to cut around the cheese. Visual filmmaker Robert Rodriguez does his best to pick up the slack, but the stunning visuals and Mahershala Ali’s character (which is practically his audition for Blade) are not enough to save this ship from sinking.
Extras: The Blu-ray release includes quite a few specials that discuss the hard work that went into creating the world. All the film’s best parts tap into the wonder of the world. Other featurettes focus on bringing the manga to the big screen and the evolution of its titular character.
Also available this week on Blu-ray and DVD: Domino (2019), El Chicano, Glory (1989) on 4K, The Intruder, Pure Country (1992, a Warner Archive Collection release), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951, a Warner Archive Collection release), The Thin Man (1934, a Warner Archive Collection release) and UglyDolls.