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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Pet Sematary, Little, Gotham, After, Silent Hill, Mothra and more

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Pet Semetary – Although the original Pet Sematary seems to have an inordinately high number of people who have fond memories of it, I never liked it at all. I always found it, well, rather stupid. Like, when a dead guy comes back from the dead to warn you not to go to the cemetery in the woods, YOU DON’T GO TO THE CEMETERY IN THE WOODS! But I get why a remake was in the works, and while I wasn’t particularly excited to watch it, I’m sure there are people who will enjoy it. What it does is take the original film and update it with 2019 trappings; creepy metal-squeaking sounds that work as music, dark cinematography, jumpy and jarring images, and a sense of weirdness absent in the original film. It all adds up to a serviceable horror movie that really didn’t do much for me overall. Pet Semetary comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD) and it’s a good audiovisual presentation. Shadow delineation means the action in the many dark scenes isn’t obscured, and while the color palette is muted, the premium format gives it a little more depth. An arresting surround soundtrack adds to the atmosphere, as well.

Little – I had high hopes for Little, based on what I considered to be a really strong trailer. And while the film is relatively fun, it is one of those cases where all of the funniest jokes are in the trailer. The film is your basic body swap comedy, with Regina Hall playing a high-powered company owner who treats people like crap and wakes up as her 11-year-old self. The story is fairly predictable from there, and there are some funny moments, but there are also long gaps without any real laughs. The cast is game, and young Marsai Martin is absolutely fantastic playing a grown woman in an 11-year-old’s body. It’s an okay film, but I wish it lived up to the laughs of the trailer.

Gotham: The Complete Series & Season 5 – Throughout its run, I always called Gotham “the best worst show on TV.” In theory, the show’s concept is fantastic: a prequel to the Batman mythos, the storyline focuses on a young Lieutenant Jim Gordon (eventually to become Commissioner Gordon) in the time after Batman’s parents were murdered, as he tries to bring justice to a lawless city. The series incorporated future villains like The Penguin (one of the show’s breakout characters), Catwoman, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze and The Scarecrow, as well as the continuing development of The Joker over several seasons. We also got to see young Bruce Wayne on his transition to becoming Batman. But the show has a LOT of flaws; it was often cheesy, overwrought, weird, and uneven. Still, it was addictive watching sometimes. This new complete series box set is available on Blu-ray or DVD and contains all five seasons on 26 discs. Also available this week is Gotham: The Complete Fifth Season, in case you’ve already got the other four and don’t need the entire series all over again, although it is nice to have it all in one package.

After – This sultry teen romance drama is based on a book that started off on the social media writing platform Wattpad, and apparently collected over a billion reads before it was published by a traditional publisher. It’s basically become a publishing sensation, so of course, a movie was inevitable. The studio behind it was surely hoping for the next Twilight franchise, but the film tanked at the box office. And I think part of the reason for that is because it just doesn’t cover the same demographics that Twilight did. While Twilight managed to capture both teen girls and their moms, this film seems to lack enough of an adult component to suck in anyone other than the teen girl audience. It’s not terrible per se, but it’s shallow and slick and not much else.

Silent Hill: Collector’s Edition – I have to give Scream Factory credit, because they create Blu-ray editions of horror movies that are unrivalled by any other studio. And what they really do a good job of is picking movies that there are some fans out there for. Even if they’re not big hits (sometimes especially if they’re not big hits), Scream Factory steps in to make sure those fans still get the Collector’s Edition home video release they deserve. Such is the case with Silent Hill, the visually striking but utter garbage adaptation of the popular video game. Starring Sean Bean, Silent Hill is really kind of bad, with an incoherent story, even though it looks quite amazing. But Scream Factory has loaded this disc with hours of extra features, ensuring that what Silent Hill fans there are out there will have a smile on their face as they dive into the goodies to be found.

Mothra: Steelbook Edition and Lonesome Dove: Steelbook Edition – Mill Creek typically specializes in low-cost re-releases of medium-sized hit films, and low-cost collections of B-movies, but every once in a while they like to step up their game a bit. Such is the case with their two new Steelbook releases, Mothra and Lonesome Dove. While the two films don’t have much in common as movies, the releases are both excellent and well-packaged and feature the projects on Blu-ray and not DVD. Mothra, of course, is the Godzilla spin-off that was responsible for creating a lot of the Godzilla mythos and character culture (such as the Fairy Twins.) Sure, it’s cheesy, but it comes with some nice extra features, the Steelbook looks great, and it’s terrific to have it on Blu-ray. Lonesome Dove, of course, is the incredibly popular miniseries that (I believe) makes its Blu-ray debut here, all wrapped up in a nice-looking Steelbook case. Both are priced very attractively and look and feel great, making them an easy purchase for fans.

Also Available on Home Video This Week:

  • Broad City: The Complete Series – Originally a web series and then a Comedy Central Show, Broad City: stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (who also created it) as they try to muscle in on the territory pioneered by shows like Workaholics or Girls. Basically, if you like pot smoking and lowest-common-denominator humor, you’ll like this show. Me, not so much. The Complete Series box set includes all five seasons on 11 discs, and it’s packed with bonus features such as outtakes, deleted scenes, and all the episodes of Hack into Broad City and Behind Broad city. There’s also an exclusive disc with an extra 30 minutes of extra features. It’s a great package for fans, even if I’m not one.
  • Forever Knight: The Complete Series – Mill Creek once again pays service to the fans with Forever Knight: The Complete Series. This terrific box set collects all three seasons (70 episodes total) of the cult hit TV series Forever Knight, which stars Geraint Wyn Davies as a police detective who also happens to be a vampire. This syndicated show never seemed to get a fair shake on TV (I know it always aired around midnight where I lived), but it developed a devoted fan following over its three years on the air. This new box set collects the entire series in one place for the first time, making it the most complete series set yet. It’s a shame they couldn’t find a way to include the original Nick Knight TV movie starring Rick Springfield that inspired the series, but it’s still a nice box set of a fun show with a low price point.
  • Doctor Who: The Animation Collection – The BBC has used animation a few times over the years with Doctor Who in interesting ways. Most notably, they used animation to finish some of the classic series that had installments lost to time and couldn’t be released on home video without missing chapters Using original audio, they animated the missing video so that some of the original series storylines weren’t lost forever. Now, they’ve collected all of their animated Doctor Who adventures into one nice DVD collection. The included adventures are: The Power of the Daleks (with Second Doctor Patrick Troughton), Dreamland and Infinite Quest (with Tenth Doctor David Tenant) , and Scream of the Shalka, (with Richard E. Grant). While some of the animation is rough or stiff, it’s still a fun release for die-hard Doctor Who fans. My only complaint is that it’s been released only on DVD and not Blu-ray, although I hope one will come down the line.
  • This Island Earth – The classic science fiction film from the 1950s finally gets its first US Blu-ray debut, courtesy of Shout Factory, who have delivered a terrific product here. Not only does the film look spectacular on Blu-ray, but it also comes loaded with extra features. More, in fact, than I’ve seen on a classic release in a long time that wasn’t a major box office milestone. This B-movie sci-fi flick gets the royal treatment here, which is what fans deserve. The movie itself is the best kind of cheesy, all spaceships on strings and rubber costumes, but it’s a terrific watch and a throwback to a different era of moviemaking.
  • Mojin: The Worm Valley – The quote on the front cover of Mojin: The Worm Valley loudly proclaims “Monster movie fun!” and honestly, I don’t know that I can add much to that. Ostensibly a sequel to Mojin: The Lost Legend, you don’t have to have seen the first movie to follow what’s going on in this one. Basically, an adventurer sets out on a mission to find a legendary tomb that happens to be on an island filled with fantastical creatures. It’s not a deep film, but in typical Asian action fashion, it’s fast-paced, has some great action sequences, and some decent special effects. It’s a fun way to kill a couple of hours, if not much more.
  • Swing Kids – This is not a remake of the 90s movie starring Christian Bale and Robert Sean Leonard, but rather a new Korean film about prisoners of war during the Korean War who plan a dance show to take their minds off their unfortunate situation. The film has a lot going for it: great dance sequences, good music, and strong performances. It’s also got some nicely funny movies, but don’t be lulled into thinking you’re watching a full -on musical comedy. There are some dark moments in this film and some scenes that hit really hard. It is, ultimately, a war film of sorts. Worth a watch, but it might not be for everyone.
  • IMAX: Space Station (4K Ultra HD) & NASA: A Journey Through Space – Mill Creek offers up new versions of two catalog space-based titles, just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. IMAX: Space Station is a terrific IMAX film about the international space station that’s narrated by Tom Cruise. Here, it makes its 4K Ultra HD debut, offering up pristine video quality and surround sound. Meanwhile, NASA: A Journey Through Space is an 11-part TV series that gives us a history of the space agency, making its debut on Blu-ray. Both are excellent programs, especially for fans of the space program, and these new editions are both well-done and budget-priced. Nice!
  • Mill Creek Spotlight – Wrapping up things this week, we have yet more releases from Mill Creek, who wanted to make sure I had my work cut out for me this week! First up is The Stranger Beside Me, an interesting TV movie about Ted Bundy starring Billy Campbell as the notorious serial killer and Barbara Hershey as Ann Rule, his real life friend who wrote a book about him. It’s probably not the end word on Ted Bundy, but it’s an engaging enough watch with some good star power that makes it easy to watch. I’m also glad that they chose to release it on Blu-ray and not just DVD. Next up, we have the Blu-ray debuts of two movies from the mind of B-movie impresario Andy Sidaris, Savage Beach and Picasso Trigger. Sidaris has developed a huge cult following by spending his career making movies with scantily clad female secret agent-types getting into crazy adventures in exotic locales. Mill Creek has been releasing them on Blu-ray for the first time, having previously released four of Sidaris’s films. I think Savage Beach is the more enjoyable of these two, but honestly, they’re hard films not to have fun with. Run stars Stephen Baldwin, Josiah Taylor, and Taylor Murphy. This faith-based film sees an anti-human-trafficking activist’s wife get kidnapped by human traffickers as revenge, and he has to rely on help from unusual places, including god, to get her back. It’s not typically my kind of movie and it’s a little on the cheesy side, but faith-based viewers might like the darker take it has than many Christian films, which tend to often be romances and such. Finally, we have two collections of low-budget TV movies and films. Shark Bait: 6-Movie Collection includes six shark movies (and a bonus alligator movie), and it features really the most outlandish ones you can imagine, such as Santa Jaws, Ghost Shark, and Zombie Shark. The films aren’t great, obviously, but if you watch these shark sci-horror movies regularly, you know exactly what you’re in for, and it’s a lot of fun. The other collection is It Hits the Fan: 4 Movie Collection, which is billed as “4 Apocalyptic Disaster Movies!” In reality, it’s like two apocalyptic disaster movies, a cyborg action flick, and a ghost movie. You get Tornado Warning, Judgement Day, Chrome Angels, and Ghouls. These are the B-movie-est of B-movies, so be forewarned; you’ll need some wine to go with all this cheese.

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