The Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: John Wick: Chapter 4, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Rain Man and More

Every Tuesday, discriminating viewers are confronted with a flurry of choices: new releases on disc and on demand, vintage and original movies on any number of streaming platforms, catalogue titles making a splash on Blu-ray or 4K. This twice-monthly column sifts through all of those choices to pluck out the movies most worth your time, no matter how you’re watching.


Rain Man: Barry Levinson’s brother bonding drama, new on 4K from MVD, was so overexposed, overplayed (by all means, TNT, run it again), and over-imitated (the Raymond impression was in every hack ‘80s comic’s toolbox) that it ultimately came to be seen as overrated—a fate that frequently befalls high-grossing Best Picture winners. But the fact of the matter is, it’s a smart, sensitive, nuanced picture, and it still plays; what’s more, it’s worth a look as a reminder that Tom Cruise has been subverting his cocky-hotshot-hotshit persona seemingly since its inception. Hoffman won the Oscar but Cruise turns in the better performance, creating an unlikable hustler forced into a situation where he has to learn patience, empathy, and understanding. (Includes audio commentaries, deleted scene, featurettes, and trailer.)  

ON 4K / DVD / VOD:

John Wick: Chapter 4: I’m a certified Wick-head, and even I blanched at the third sequel’s 169-minute running time (more than an hour longer than the original!). But upon viewing, it’s clear what they’re up to: this is the series’ The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, a maximalist enterprise in which extravagance itself—in its globe-trotting locations, its overstuffed supporting cast, its variety of fighting styles and weaponry—is part of the point. Maybe it’s too much, but it never fails to entertain. The only real flaw is the casting of Bill Skarsgård as the villain; it’s a thin and unconvincing performance, a case of a Big Bad failing to threaten, for even a moment, the notion that our hero will prevail. (Includes featurettes and trailers.)

The Super Mario Bros. Movie: I could dress this recommendation up in all sorts of florid language and overwrought nostalgia, but the fact of the matter is this: my six-year-old is a Mario fanatic, so I’ve now seen this movie… many, many times. And while it’s no masterpiece—the animation, jokes, and needle drops have that hyper-specific Illumination laziness—it’s also not a painful sit, the way that the Sing and Minion movies tend to be. It moves fast, gets the job done in 90 minutes, and the voice talents are mostly (lookin’ at you, Chris Pratt) inspired, with Jack Black’s Bowser and Seth Rogen’s Donkey Kong the standouts. (Includes featurettes and music video.)

ON 4K:

Lord of War: Nicolas Cage was still in his risk-taking studio-picture era (which also gave us such highlights as Matchstick Men, Adaptation, and The Weather Man) when he fronted this startlingly smart satire on warfare, gunrunning, and world politics, from Gattaca writer/director Andrew Niccol. Gattaca star Ethan Hawke is also on hand, as an adversary of sorts, part of an impressive supporting cast that includes the likes of Jared Leto, Ian Holm, and Bridget Moynahan. But this is Cage’s show, and he turns in one of his most energetically and entertainingly complicated performances as an international arms dealer with a justification for any occasion who finds himself in an uncommonly sticky moral dilemma. The 4K transfer (out in a new Best Buy exclusive Steelbook) is a stunner, especially in the bluntly effective opening sequence. (Includes audio commentary, deleted scenes, and featurette.)


Juggernaut: This crackerjack thriller from the great Richard Lester—back on Blu, after going out of print, from KL Studio Classics— is positioned neatly on the hinge between the disaster flicks of its mid-‘70s origin and the “Die Hard on a [mode of transportation]” films of the early ‘90s. A terrorist has planted seven bombs on a luxury cruise liner, and the clock is ticking to either disarm them or pay him a whole lotta cash; Richard Harris is in top form as the maverick specialist brought in to cut some blue wires, while Anthony Hopkins is delightfully disheveled as the lead cop on the case (whose wife and kids are, of course, on the boat). The screenplay is clever as hell, and Lester assembles the elements with his customary elegance and wit. (Includes audio commentary, theatrical trailer, and TV spot.) 

From Hollywood to Heaven: The Lost and Saved Films of the Ormond Family: Powerhouse Films continues their tradition of assembling elaborate box sets for fascinating artists you’ve never heard of with this tribute to the proudly independent husband-wife-son team of Ron, June, and Tim Ormond. They spent the ‘50s and ‘60s making proudly pulpy pictures like the early sexplotation title Don’t Touch Me, the prison escape thriller Girl from Tobacco Row, and the New Orleans-set burlesque and monster mash-up The Exotic Ones. But they had a radical religious awakening after surviving a plane crash, and spent the ‘70s making such evangelical films as The Burning Hell and The Believer’s Heaven—all unapologetically religious, yet still weirdly imbued with their ballyhoo instincts and grindhouse aesthetic. It’s a wild ride, for believers and heathens alike. (Bonus features too numerous to summarize; check them out here.)

Jason Bailey is a film critic and historian, and the author of five books. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Playlist, Vanity Fair, Vulture, Rolling Stone, Slate, and more. He is the co-host of the podcast "A Very Good Year."

Back to top