Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."

Advert

US Blu-ray and DVD Releases – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Lord of War, Born In East L.A. and more

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – It’s pretty impressive that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, and not because it doesn’t deserve it. It absolutely does. No, the impressive part is that this just isn’t the kind of movie the Academy typically rewards, even in animated form. More often than not, the award goes to a more family friendly, wholesome, or lesson-imparting Pixar tale, and not to a hyper-kinetic, stylized, humor-and-action-driven superhero adventure. For my money, this was absolutely the right pick for Best Animated Film, as it’s dazzling and funny and heartfelt and innovative, with an animation style unlike anything we’ve seen on the big screen before. And as a die-hard Spider-Man fan, well, I absolutely loved it. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD, as well as Blu-ray and DVD, but if you have the right equipment, the 4K is absolutely the way to go. The premium format really highlights the vibrant colors and impressive detail of the movie, and the soundtrack never sits still, keeping things active in all corners of your living room. This is a top-notch package all around.

House of Cards: The Final Season – There’s something missing from this final season of House of Cards and I just can’t put my finger on it… oh wait, there it is. Yep, it’s Kevin Spacey. Okay, I joke, but as most of you probably know, this series-ending season was made sans Spacey after his troubles with the law and the public eye. So how does the show fare without him? Pretty much the same as it was with him. I mean, of course, the dynamic he brought isn’t there, but the show marches on boldly without him and it represents well. It’s not like Robin Wright doesn’t know a thing or two about playing a lead role and carrying a TV show or movie. I think the show has run its course and is ending at the perfect time, and this is a fine final season.

Born in East L.A. – Cheech Marin writes, directs and stars in Born In East L.A., one of his earlier starring efforts without his partner in crime, Tommy Chong. This is one of those films I remember from my youth, but more in a general “always aware of it but never seen it” kind of way. Now, Shout Factory has released the film on Blu-ray for the first time, so I got a chance to finally check this one off the “movies I’ve seen” list. And sure, the film is a bit dated, but it’s also quite funny, and weirdly topical again, seeing as how their story follows an American who gets mistaken for an illegal immigrant and has to try to sneak back into the country. If that doesn’t play into the current political climate, I don’t know what does. Well played Shout Factory.

Lord Of War (4K Ultra HD) – Andrew Niccol’s films are like a bad drug for me. His debut film, Gattaca, is one of my favorite movies of all time. But every film of his since then, I feel like I’ve been pretty much chasing the high I got off Gattaca with less and less potent results. At this point, I’ve seen every film he’s made… except for Lord of War. Which, ironically, is the one I’ve heard the most good things about. Well, now Lionsgate has released the film on 4K Ultra HD, so I’ve finally had the chance to watch it. And I will say. It’s easily Niccol’s second best film after Gattaca. Nicolas Cage is quite good, and the story of an arms dealer and how he became one is smart, witty, and exciting. It fits right in alongside movies like War Dogs, American Made and The Wolf of Wall Street. The 4K presentation treats the film well, but I don’t know that it’s such a huge upgrade over the Blu-ray that you need to buy a second copy if you already own it. But if you don’t, this is definitely a worthwhile pickup.

Doctor Who: Tom Baker – The Complete Season Seven & Doctor Who: Resolution – There are two new Doctor Who releases for Whovians out this week from the BBC. The simpler one is Doctor Who: Resolution, which is a standalone adventure starring the newest Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. This is what would be the usual Christmas Special, but this year it’s more of a New Year’s Special. It’s a perfectly good program, but I wish the BBC didn’t insist on releasing them separately and instead solely packaged them as part of the season sets. Personally, for just a one hour episode (plus a couple of extras) I don’t know that it’s worth the full-price of a feature length DVD or Blu-ray. The second release is Doctor Who: Tom Baker – The Complete Season Seven. Now, when it comes to classic Doctor Who, I’ve always been more of a casual fan than a passionate one. I enjoy the series, of course, but I’m just not obsessed with it like many fans are. However, I was pretty excited to get this set, because Tom Baker was my first Doctor, the one that I watched when my parents and I used to watch the show on PBS back when I was a kid. So there’s a lot of nostalgia for me wrapped up in Doctor Who: Tom Baker – The Complete Season Seven, which gives us 29 of Mr. Baker’s episodes on Blu-ray over eight discs. As a bonus, there’s an absolute treasure trove of extra features, including featurettes, commentaries, interviews, and more. Yay! This is a terrific set and a must-have for Tom Baker or Doctor Who fans.

The Quake – When I first saw the trailer for The Quake, I didn’t realize it was a direct sequel to The Wave, an extremely solid disaster film that came out of Norway a few years back. But it turns out it actually follows the family from The Wave (about a rogue tidal wave) which I guess makes them the most unlucky family in the world, as this time they’re in Oslo when a humongous earthquake strikes the city. With strong special effects and some seriously intense action set pieces, The Quake is a lot of fun if you’re a disaster flick junkie like me. I think I even liked it better than the first film, but maybe that’s because it doesn’t take quite as long as the first film to get to the disaster action.

Also Available This Week on Home Video –

  • The Kid Brother – Anytime Criterion gives us a new Harold Lloyd film, I’m an extremely happy camper. Their newest release from the Lloyd catalog is The Kid Brother, one of Lloyd’s most beloved films (and — rumor has it — his personal favorite.) This is one of just the dozen or so feature-length films Lloyd made and he plays his signature “glasses character” (although this time he has a name, Harold Hickory.) The film’s story is slight, focusing on the usual search for love, wacky misunderstandings, and the like, but it’s not the plot that drives a Harold Lloyd film. Instead, it’s the endearing main character and the brilliant physical comedy. This new Blu-ray edition fo the film comes with a plethora of extra features, including commentary, featurettes, interviews, and much more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • Mystery Road: Series 1 – Judy Davis and Aaron Pedersen star in this Australian mystery series about a cop and an Indigenous detective who go in search of two missing boys. While the cover quote compares the show to True Detective, it’s more akin to something like Longmire, where the conflicts between white people and Native Americans were part of the show’s drama. Such is the case here, too, only it takes place in Australia and involves the aborigines. I never cared for that storyline in American TV shows, and I can’t say it’s much different in a show from another country. And while I like Judy Davis, she seems somewhat out of place here. It’s not a terrible show, but it wasn’t for me.
  • The Deadly Mantis – Shout Factory has quietly been releasing some great 1950s B-movie genre cult classics, and their latest is The Deadly Mantis. It’s a pretty typical atomic age thriller, with a cast of somewhat recognizable (but absent any real stars) actors up against a gigantic rampaging praying mantis. The film itself is perfectly fine, although it helps if you have an affinity for old cheesy monster flicks. But what makes this disc so great is that it also includes the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode wherein they riff on this film, so in a way it’s like getting a double feature; two films for the price of one. How fun is that?
  • Beyond Atlantis – There are B-movies and the there are B-movies, and this is definitely a B-movie, if you know what I mean. And if you don’t, well I’ll explain it to you. This is one of those low-low-low-low budget movies that’s both ridiculous and not quite so-bad-it’s-good. If anything, it’s so-bad-it’s-bad. But it does star Patrick Wayne (son of John Wayne) and some goofy natives with pearl eyes, so I guess that’s something. It’s cool to have the film on Blu-ray at least, so if there are any fans of the film out there, they should be thrilled about this release.
  • Becoming Astrid – This Danish film is based on the early life of Astrid Lindgren, who would eventually go on to create the Pippi Longstocking character and books. But this film isn’t about her writing or the character she created, rather it’s about her tumultuous teenage and young adult years. The film features romantic obsession, pregnancy, illness, children, and more. The film is mostly a drama, so it’s not quite a Pippi Longstocking film, but it’s neat to see the events that shaped the life of the person who created her.
  • The Roy Rogers Happy Trails Collection, Outlaws and the Con Men: 4 Film Collection, Fort Yuma Gold / Damned Hot Day of Fire Western Double Feature – Mill Creek, who specializes in budget movie releases and specialty collections, has several new releases out this week. First up is The Roy Rogers Happy Trails Collection, which collects 20 feature films and includes them on both DVD and digital. You get your usual co-stars like Trigger and Dale Evans, but you also get a few notable guest stars like Gene Autry. Some of the standout films include Trigger Jr., Young Bill Hickok, and The Trail of Robin Hood. Outlaws and the Con Men: 4 Film Collection is a more down and dirty film collection of westerns and pseudo-westerns, and it includes Django Shoots First and Django’s Cut Price Corpses (two of the lesser films in the series that inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained), Bad Man’s River (with Lee Van Cleef and Gina Lollabrigida) and Sting of the West (starring Jack Palance). None of the films are masterpieces, but there’s a certain fun B-movie aesthetic to them all. Finally, Fort Yuma Gold / Damned Hot Day of Fire Western Double Feature gives us two westerns on Blu-ray. Neither film boasts any really big stars but both are reportedly well-loved by Quentin Tarantino and rank among or near his Top 20 Westerns. I can see why, as both movies have a fun, adventurous spirit to them.
  • Ancient Secrets of the Bible: The Complete Series, If You’re Gone, To Be A Soldier, Footprints / Friends for Life Double Feature – Also from Mill Creek this week, we have a number of faith-based releases (probably to get ready for the upcoming Easter Holiday.) First up is Ancient Secrets of the Bible: The Complete Series. This three-disc set includes all 39 episodes of thew show that explored actual mysteries of the bible, like where the Ark of the Covenant might be in real life, and other questions that aren’t easily answered. I’ll say up front that I am not in the target demographic for faith-based releases, but I like that this show tries to take a more historical, real-world-based approach to these mysteries. (But the faith helps.) Next we have If You’re Gone, which follows a girl whose boyfriend disappears on the night of his graduations, and as the mystery of his disappearance slowly unravels, she has to lean on her faith to get her through it. There aren’t any name actors in the film, but there are so many faith-based films that are simply about romance or god that it’s nice to see one with a mystery genre approach. Next up, To Be A Soldier is another one that takes a different tack from the usual Christian film, telling the tale of two soldiers looking for a missing girl. There are some action elements, and the faith is present but not overwhelming. At a little over two hours, the film is a bit too long, but again, it’s nice to see a genre switch. Finally, Footprints / Friends for Life Double Feature gives us two Dove-approved movies on one Blu-ray for a low price. Both of them involve faith and dogs (sort of), which is a pretty good combination. Footprints tells the story of a damaged man and a damaged dog who find each other and help each other heal, while Friends for Life sees a widower discover four wolf pups, who then decides to raise them. Again, there are no famous actors in these films, but I think their target audience will like them, and the dogs/wolves make a nice addition.
  • Craig of the Creek: Itch to Explore, Pawparazzi, The Highway Rat – There are three new kids releases from various distributors this week. First up is Craig of the Creek: Itch to Explore, the first DVD release from Nickelodeon’s newest series. This is a really fun new show for kids, wherein the titular Craig and his friends basically turn the creek and woods behind their backyards into a playlet of imagination, and they end up on all kinds of adventures, while also working real-life elements like bicycles, tree forts, and the like into the stories. It’s a fun and cute show that younger kids will like, and I like the imaginative aspect of it. Next up is Pawparazzi, which delivers Jay Mohr and Kristy Swanson proving the adage that every actor eventually ends up in a dog movie. (Okay, that’s my adage, and it’s not old, but you get the point.) This one is more Beverly Hills Chihuahua than Lady and the Tramp, so you can probably get an idea of whether your kids will like it or not. Finally, The Highway Rat is based on the popular kids book by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, and it’s about a rat with a serious sweet tooth and the lengths he’ll go to to get said treats. It’s a cute story, and while the 25-minute running time might seem less-than-exciting, you can also find the DVD online for literally a few dollars brand new. So if you’re looking for a cute story for your little ones that love the book, this is a cheap and easy way to bring it to life for them.
  • Ritual, Out of Love – Okay, arthouse films aren’t typically my fare, and foreign arthouse films about “psychomagic” (whatever that is) are definitely outside of my wheelhouse, so I’m not going to really analyze these two films all that much. Ritual is an Italian psychological film about death, love, psychomagic, and motherhood (I think) and it features a small role by notable auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky, who apparently was a big influence in the genre. It’s not really my thing, but if you like nebulous films without a clear throughline, have at it. Meanwhile, Out of Love is a Dutch movie about a whirlwind romance between a man and a woman that threatens to spin out of control. It’s a much more linear film than Ritual, which makes it more accessible, in my opinion. Both of these will make a nice double bill for the foreign film/arthouse lovers.
  • Isiboshwa, Hostage, Rich Girl – IndiePix continues its new collection this week called the Retro Afrika Collection. This line is designed to bring to light little seen films of all genres from South Africa from the 70s to the 90s. This third batch of three films in the line are Isiboshwa (which sees a bunch of boys searching for treasure, fighting over said treasure, and then fighting FOR the treasure), Hostage (a crime drama involving drug dealers and kidnappers), and Rich Girl (a kidnapping drama/actioner). Now, these films are all presented in their original Zulu language with English subtitles. They’re all also fairly short, running about an hour to 90 minutes each. Like the last couple of batches of Retro Afrika films released, It’s an interesting watching experience. Personally, I think I enjoyed the line of films has gotten better with each wave, and the two crime dramas in this batch stand out the most. I’m not as sold on Isiboshwa, but I appreciate the variety of genres.

Next PostPrevious Post




Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Amazon Prime Free Trial