“Rio 2” and “Under the Skin” Lead Week’s Blu-Ray Releases

“Rio 2” and “Under the Skin” Lead Week’s Blu-Ray Releases

One of the year’s biggest animated films and a major critical hit starring Scarlett Johansson lead this week’s Blu-Ray releases.

Rio 2This sequel finds birds Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) taking their brood into the Amazon, where another adventure awaits. Like the original Rio, this sequel is a little scattershot in the plot department, with a story that tends to meander, occasionally without direction. But also like the original, it’s funny, beautifully animated, and full of catchy songs. All in all, Rio 2 is a worthy, if unspectacular, family film.

Bonus features include deleted scenes, a couple making-of segments, and several music-related items, including sing-along videos. A still gallery and theatrical trailers can be found on the disc, as well. Rio 2 is available in both 2D and 3D formats.

Under the Skin – Scarlett Johansson stars in this provocative science-fiction story from director Jonathan Glazer (Birth). She plays an alien who seduces lonely men in Scotland. The film got mostly rave reviews from critics, who praised Johansson’s brave work. Under the Skin was nominated for four British Independent Film Awards in 2013.

The only bonus goodie is a making-of featurette.

Scanners – David Cronenberg’s 1981 horror classic comes to Blu-Ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection, a company that releases important and/or influential films in special collector’s editions. Scanners is the story of a man with telepathic abilities who finds himself kidnapped by a mysterious corporation with suspect intentions. It is most well-known for a then-groundbreaking visual effect in which someone’s head graphically explodes.

Criterion has assembled a typically excellent set of supplementary materials, starting with a new, restored 2K digital film transfer, supervised by the director. In other words, it’ll look magnificent. There’s also a new documentary on the movie’s effects, a new interview with actor Michael Ironside, a 2012 interview with actor Stephen Lack, and a 1981 CBC interview with Cronenberg, A trailer and radio spots are additionally included. Perhaps most enticing is that the set also comes with a restored version of Stereo, Cronenberg’s first film.

Deadly Eyes – If you like cheesy ’80s horror fare, Deadly Eyes is the film for you. This 1982 chiller tells the tale of mutant, overgrown rats that terrorize a city. To achieve the desired effect, the filmmakers dressed Dachshunds up in rat costumes. Deadly Eyes is by no means a good film, but it is definitely in that classification of movies that are so bad they become oddly entertaining.

This Scream Factory release has new interviews with the movie’s screenwriter, special effects artists, and actors. An entire segment is devoted to the use of dogs to portray the rats. A TV spot is here, too.

Will you be renting or purchasing any of this week’s releases? Let us know in the comments section.

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Mike McGranaghan is the film critic for The Aisle Seat. His film writing can also be found at Film Racket and Daily Grindhouse, and his reviews are heard weekly on the radio stations of Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation. He is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society, as well as the author of two books, "Straight-Up Blatant" and "My Year of Chevy."