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US Blu-ray and DVD releases: Searching, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, The Happytime Murders, Operation Finale, Westworld and more

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout – The best thing about the continuing Mission Impossible franchise is not just that each film is action-packed, exciting, and high quality, but that there’s a sense of continuity that started with the third film that continues even now through the sixth film. While they’re all subplots, Ethan Hunt’s relationships and how they play into his missions has become one of the best parts of the franchise, and Rebecca Ferguson’s addition to the cast has only improved the series by leaps and bounds. So in this latest film, you have all the usual crazy stunts and high-octane action sequences, but you also have characters you care about and an overarching storyline that makes the film more than just another mindless shoot-em-up. I hope they keep on coming! Mission Impossible: Fallout is available on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray and DVD, and its absolutely sparkles in the premium format. The colors are bold and striking, image clarity is pristine, and the surround soundtrack is incredibly immersive. A great presentation of a great movie.

The Happytime Murders – So, this movie is funny because it has puppets in it and they’re swearing and having graphic sex. Get it? That’s funny. Because they’re puppets. GET IT?!? Ugh. The Happytime Murders is one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s literally just an excuse for Melissa McCarthy to once again play the exact same character she always does, only this time she gets to make lowest-common-denominator sex jokes with Sesame Street-style puppets while they all swear up a storm. BUT IT’S FUNNY, GET IT?!? Honestly, the “jokes” in this film are so basic and uncreative and unclear that I didn’t laugh a single time. It’s exactly the movie you’d expect from the trailer, and that’s not a good thing, believe me. Avoid this one, unless you thought Sausage Party was high art.

Searching – This thriller starring John Cho received some pretty strong critical acclaim when it was released and for good reason: it’s fantastic. At the core, it’s the story of a man searching to find out more about his missing daughter (and perhaps even locate her) via computer; therefore, the entire film is told via video calls, chat windows, internet searches, news footage, internet sites, etc. It’s not the first film to do so (Friend Request and Open Windows come to mind) but it’s by far the best; this film has a real sense of drama and suspense to it, a compelling story, good acting, and it’s completely engrossing from start to finish. An excellent effort in what could be a gimmicky format but works supremely well.

Operation Finale – Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley star in this action/drama about the hunt for Adolf Eichmann ten years after the end of World War II. Based on true events, the film features strong production values and terrific performances, but it suffers from just not being all that exciting. I get that it’s not supposed to be a hard action movie, but there are parts where it lags, partially due to its slightly bloated two-hour running time. It’s not a bad film per se, but it could definitely have been better.

The Marine 6: Close Quarters – I like these The Marine movies. Sure, this is the sixth one, and five of the six have gone straight to home video, but since WWE’s Mike “The Miz” Mizanin came on board, they’ve become among the better offerings in the direct-to-video action genre. As with the last few films in the series, this one is produced by WWE Entertainment and stars numerous WWE stars including Becky Lynch and Shawn Michaels. Now, none of them are particularly great actors, but this isn’t really the kind of movie that requires great acting chops. This one sees the Miz going up against a gang that’s kidnapped the daughter of a juror, and it’s pretty darn good. The action sequences are solid and the film moves at a quick pace. Plus, there’s a major twist that will change the direction of the franchise, which took me by surprise! Worth it for fans of WWE or just solid action flicks.

Christopher Robin – Disney doesn’t misfire often, so even though Christopher Robin wasn’t a hit at the box office, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a charming, fun family film. The story sees a grown-up, overworked Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor, who’s fantastic as always) visited by Pooh and the rest of the 100-Acre-Wood gang as they try and remind him to have some fun once in a while. Think Hook, but in the Winnie the Pooh universe and not, you know, kind of terrible. It’s not a particularly deep or meaningful film, but it is entertaining and both kids and parents should find a lot t enjoy.

Westworld: Season 2 – Two seasons into Westworld, and the overriding opinion still seems to be that it’s a good show but so dense that it’s hard to follow. I’m happy to report that that isn’t entirely the case. Yes, it’s a complex, layered show, and yes, it requires some thought while watching, but it’s also a fairly straightforward narrative that isn’t confusing just for the sake of being confusing, but rather just deep and complicated. The original Michael Crichton film from the ‘70s is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I really wanted to like this show, and I’m very pleased to say that I do.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey & Streets of Fire: Steelbook Collector’s Editions – Shout Factory has released new Steelbook Limited Edition releases of two beloved cult classic films. The first one is Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, which has always been my favorite of the two and a film I just really, really love. The second film is Streets of Fire, which is one of those movies that was a staple of the video stores I would frequent as a child. Of course, since it’s directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hours), who’s become one of my favorite directors over the years, this rock n roll epic action film is an incredible amount of fun. While Michael Pare doesn’t light the screen up with his charisma, seeing performances by a very young Diane Lane, Willem Dafoe, and Bill Paxton is a lot of fun. Both films come in gorgeous steelbook cases with all-new cover art and both come with a bevvy of extra features (all previously released.) Each one is limited to 10,000 copies, so get em before they’re gone!
  • Gosford Park – Arrow films continues their bid to become the next Criterion Collection, and this new Blu-ray edition of Gosford Park makes a strong case for why they’re succeeding. Wrapped in a Criterion-esque case with lovely new artwork, the film comes loaded with so many extra features, it’s hard to count them all. Directed by Robert Altman and written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes (and there’s a definite Downton Abbey feel to this film), the movie is a critically acclaimed gem, a murder mystery told in that inimitable Altman style. The cast is astounding (Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, Emily Watson, Stephen Fry… the list goes on and on) and the film is terrific. Even if you already own it, it’s worth revisiting in this spectacular home video release.
  • Zombie – Blue Underground releases a new Collector’s Edition of the most famous zombie movie you’ve never heard of: Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. Okay, admittedly, die-hard horror and zombie enthusiasts have surely heard of this film, but the casual Walking Dead/Night of the Living Dead viewers probably haven’t. The film is extremely popular, released in Europe as a sort of pseudo-sequel to Dawn of the Dead. What it’s most famous for, though, is an eyeball scene which is both terrifying and hilarious. This new edition comes as a three-disc set, loaded with extra features (two commentaries, eight making-of featurettes, even an intro from Guillermo del Toro) and a lenticular 3D cover, PLUS a soundtrack CD with a bonus track! This is the real deal for Zombie fans!
  • The Crown: Season 2 – This popular television series is back on home video for those who missed it on air or who just want to relive the drama. Claire Foy is fantastic as young Queen Victoria II. Supported by former Doctor Who Matt Smith, this is one of those productions where everything clicks on multiple levels — especially the performances — but it doesn’t click with me. With lavish production values, sharp writing, and flawless acting, this show takes a subject matter I really don’t care all that much about (historical drama/biopics have never been my favorite genre) and turns it into a TV show I really don’t care much about. I just find it terribly boring, despite the quality of the production.
  • National Lampoon’s Class Reunion – Consider this the “lost” National Lampoon film. Honestly, it wouldn’t be much more than a footnote if it weren’t for one notable fact: the film was written by the late, great, John Hughes. Yes, the John Hughes who brought us The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink, among other films. Released in 1982, the film came out post-Animal House, but it just never went anywhere, even if there are some laughs to be found in this comedy that is meant to be much more of a direct spoof of high school comedies than its own film. There’s no denying that John Hughes had talent even when working on a lower-grade project like this, but it certainly doesn’t reach the highs of his later and more popular output. Still, a neat little forgotten gem.
  • Elizabeth Harvest – So… this is an interesting film. And it’s also a film I can’t tell you too much about without spoiling the story, but suffice it to say there’s a young woman, an older husband who might be a mad scientist, a locked door, a suspicious staff, and lots of curiosity. The end result is an interesting one; the film goes to some unexpected places and also treads some familiar ground. The cast is good and the film is well-made, but it’s hard to fall in love with the film overall. I’d say I liked it, but I didn’t love it, but it’s intriguing enough to say it’s worth a watch if you want something a little different and offbeat.
  • Longmire: Season 6 – I didn’t watch Longmire when it originally aired because it looked like too much of a Justified rip-off, but it does sort of manage to establish its own identity, even if it’s clearly influenced by Justified. The show kind of seems like the adventures of Raylan Givens after he retires and moves out to Montana. I guess the show had its audience as it lasted six seasons, but I could just never get into it. If you’re a fan, you’ll be happy to finish out your collection with this final season set, but if I’m being honest, I won’t miss it much.
  • Ride – A very modern spin on thrillers, Ride takes the fear of what happens when you pick up the wrong passenger in your Uber and plays it out over a brief 75 minutes or so. The film stars Jessie T. Usher, Will Brill and Bella Thorne, and while it does feature a lot of action in a car, the film manages to be relatively engaging. Honestly, the short running time helps. Because I don’t think it’s a strong enough film to support an hour and 40 minutes, but at a little over an hour, it moves along quickly enough that you can just sit back and — excuse the pun — enjoy the ride.
  • Bright Lights, Big City – Michael J. Fox stars in this classic ‘80s tale of excess and success in the big city, and it’s really a great film, especially with supporting roles by Kiefer Sutherland and Phoebe Cates. Now, sure, the film has been released on home video before, but this new Blu-ray from MVD’s Marquee Collection (which gives us spruced up versions of cult classics and beloved films) features two commentary tracks, two featurettes, and more, all on Blu-ray and with new cover art. It’s not exactly a must-have, but it is a nice package for sure!
  • Can’t Hardly Wait – Mill Creek brings us the 20th Reunion Edition of Can’t Hardly Wait, a ‘90s high school comedy that I’ve been a huge fan of since it came out. The cast is terrific (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Seth Green, Jenna Elfman, Peter Facinelli, so many more great young talents) and the movie is funny from start to finish. This new Blu-ray is available pretty cheaply, which is great, especially since it’s really just a repackaging of the existing movie and extras. Yes, it does include a commentary and featurettes, but I don’t think there’s anything on this version that hasn’t been available before. Still, if you don’t already have the movie, this is a great time to add it to your collection affordably.
  • Outrage Coda – Asian film legend Beat Takeshi stars in this gritty action thriller, which is apparently the final chapter in the Outrage trilogy. Now, having not seen the first two films, I thought maybe I’d be at a disadvantage, but I could follow the story well enough, and the action scenes carry the film enough to make it an engaging watch. I’ve always found Beat Takeshi to be a bit off-putting, and it’s not like he’s warm and fuzzy here, but I think it’s just a persona he brings to his films. Fans of Asian action and crimes thrillers will enjoy this one.
  • All the Creatures Were Stirring – I’ll admit, I really love a good Christmas horror movie; I just find it a really fun genre for some reason. And while All The Creatures Were Stirring isn’t the best one I’ve seen, it’s surprisingly good. Written and directed by husband and wife team David Ian McKendry (Zombies March) and Rebekah McKendry (Tales of Halloween), the film is an anthology that gives us five short films in the framework of a play, including a new take on A Christmas Carol. The biggest star in the film is Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians), but the cast does a good job with limited resources and the film is a fun watch overall.
  • The 2018 World Series & 2018 World Series Collector’s Edition: Boston Red Sox – Are you a Boston Red Sox fan? Then you’ll definitely want to pick up one or both of these 2018 World Series releases. There are two versions of this available: one for the casual fan, and one for the die-hard fan. 2018 World Series Champions: Boston Red Sox is a one-disc highlights film which gives you the movie-length version of the Red Sox journey back to the championship. Then there’s also Boston Red Sox: 2018 World Series Collector’s Edition, which is an eight-disc box set includes every single game of the World Series in its entirety. There’s also an entire bonus disc filled with goodies from extra interviews to audio clips and much more. Either one of these is a must-have for die-hard fans!
  • Benji: Off the Leash & Benji’s Very Own Christmas – Mill Creek brings us two new Benji releases making their Blu-ray debuts. Benji: Off the Leash is one of the later films in the series, and it sees Benji effectively trying to take down a puppy mill. Benji’s Very Own Christmas is — obviously — a Christmas movie that sees the cute dog meeting who else but Santa Clause! Both films are a lot of fun for the family, and you have to be impressed with Mill Creek’s presentation, which sees each film remastered in high def, and released in widescreen, plus each one comes with a commentary track by the director! And on top of all that, both of them are extremely affordably priced! Fun for the whole family!
  • Breaking Big – This extremely interesting show from PBS takes a look at some of the most successful people in a variety of different fields (acting, music, politics, etc.) and analyzes how they became as successful as they are. Through interviews and more, we hear the stories of their lives and their paths to success. I really like the assortment of people they selected for this first season, too; it’s not just actors but a wide berth of people from many different arenas, such as Daily Show host Trevor Noah, chef and restaurateur Eddie Huang, Walking Dead star Danai Gurira, country music star Jason Aldean, TV host and former NFL player Michael Strahan, Senator Kristen Gillibrand, and many others. Great stuff!
  • Luciferina – This somewhat bat-guano crazy horror film from Argentina, we follow a young nun-in-training who — through a convoluted turn of events — ends up fighting Satan in the jungle. This is far from a possession film or a slasher film; in fact, it’s all of the above mixed with psychosexual thriller. I can’t say it was really my kind of film, but I think there’s definitely an audience out there for it. And that audience probably enjoys really over-the-top horror films.
  • The Boy DownstairsGirls’s Zosia Mamet stars in this low-fi drama as a young woman who moves into a new apartment, only to discover that her ex-boyfriend lives right downstairs. They try to be friends, but, well… drama, you know. And while that’s certainly a plausibly realistic plot, I can’t say this movie did anything for me. It moved slowly, the action was solid but unspectacular, and none of the characters really drew me in. Indie drama fans might enjoy it, but it wasn’t my thing.
  • Golden History of Hollywood – This box set includes three separate non-fiction releases focusing on classic Hollywood. The first one is Hollywood’s 50 Greatest Screen Legends, a really cool collection of short biographies (about 25 minutes apiece) about all of classic Hollywood’s most notable luminaries. Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, James Cagney, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, James Stewart… you name it, they’re in here. As a huge fan of classic Hollywood, I really enjoyed diving into this set. Then you get Hollywood’s Best & Brightest, a collection of 30 short biographical programs featuring a veritable who’s who of some of the biggest legends and superstars in Hollywood. Each program gives an overview of the highlights of big, big Hollywood stars like Warren Beatty, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Julie Andrews, Kim Basinger, Faye Dunaway, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Goldie Hawn, Angela Lansbury, Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand, Kathleen Turner and Raquel Welch, among others. Finally, And The Award Goes To… focuses on the Oscars, largely the 1972-2002 years, which makes the set feel a little limited. Honestly, this is the weakest entry of the three, but for the low price of the box set, it’s hard to complain.
  • Sissi: Forever My Love – Starring Romy Schneider, this collection of five films from the 1950s and on are a family film franchise about a European princess and her life in the 19th century. The first three films made up the official Sissi trilogy (Sissi, Sissi: The Young Empress, and Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress). And then there was Forever My Love, which was sort of a distillation of the trilogy into a single film. Apparently, these movies were quite popular back in the day, and I have to say that they are pretty enjoyable overall, especially considering their age and the fact that they’re pretty family friendly. This movie version was included in a previously released Sissi box set, but this marks its first stand-alone release.
  • Sheryl Crow: Live at the Capitol Theater – This terrific three-disc set includes 2 CDs of music and one Blu-ray featuring a video of the same live performance as the CDs. Often time, MVD puts out fantastic releases for artists I’m just not into, so it was nice to get a collection like this of someone who I actually enjoy. The show includes pretty much all of Crow’s biggest hits as well as deep cuts and fan favorites. The Blu-ray adds a nice dimension to the performance and reveals what a great live show Crow puts on. This one is a winner.

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