Pages Navigation Menu

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


US Blu-ray & DVD releases this week: Death Wish, Pacific Rim: Uprising, Night Of The Lepus, Supercon, Love, Simon and more


Pacific Rim: Uprising – I’ve heard all the complaints about Pacific Rim: Uprising. The plot is paper-thin. The sequel was unnecessary. It underperformed at the box office. The plot has holes you can drive a truck through. And to be honest, none of those opinions are wrong. That said, I still really enjoyed the film. Sure, it’s not as good as the original and the plot and story (and some dialogue) are pretty weak, but at the end of the day, you come to watch giant robots and giant monsters fighting, and when those scenes happen, this movie is an adrenalized rush of fun. Credit to John Boyega, who is so damned likable that he really makes up a lot of slack that the film has just by being such a welcome screen presence. Keep your expectations tempered and you can really have a lot of fun with this movie. Pacific Rim: Uprising is available on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray & DVD), and it’s the kind of film that the premium format is made for. The film looks and sounds terrific, with the super-saturated colors making the imagery leap off the screen. If you have a 4K player/TV, this one is definitely worth the upgrade.

Love, Simon – This charming teen dramedy based on the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda wasn’t a huge smash at the box office, but it did make a decent amount at the box office and I suspect it will continue to find an audience on home video. Nick Robinson is terrific in the titular role, and a solid supporting cast that includes Josh Duhamel, Alexandra Shipp (and, I guess, Jennifer Garner) ensure that the film hits all the right notes. The story is about a closeted gay teenager who hasn’t come out yet and doesn’t know the actual identity of the person he’s fallen in love with anonymously online, and of course, these are serious matters for a teenager. The film blends the right mix of drama and lighter moments, and I was quite impressed with it. Love, Simon is available on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray & DVD), and the film looks and sounds quite good, even if the upgrades are mostly in terms of brighter colors and clearer imagery.

Death Wish – I was pretty curious about Death Wish. Not so much because of Bruce Willis, but because it was directed by Eli Roth, who’s pretty much worked exclusively in the horror genre up until now. And not just horror, but extremely gory horror. So how would he handle a more mainstream story about a surgeon who becomes a vigilante after a violent attack on his wife and daughter? Well, he’s surprisingly restrained, actually. Which makes it kind of a shame when there’s a short torture scene in the middle of the film in which Roth just can’t resist the urge to revel in the gore. Aside from that, it’s a pretty measured action/revenge film. Willis is on autopilot, but Dean Norris is always a welcome addition to a cast and Vincent D’Onofrio continues his career resurgence in a welcome supporting role. It’s a decent way to kill a couple of hours, but it’s nothing special.

Unsane – I’ve never been a Steven Soderbergh fan. And while I didn’t believe him for a second when he supposedly “retired” a few years ago, I had my fingers crossed that he would actually stop making movies. Enter Unsane, his latest film. So much for retirement. This time around, he takes on – sort of, but not really – the haunted hospital genre. It’s not so much haunted as it is mysterious and causing problems for our lead character, who may or may not be having psychological issues involving a supposed stalker. As with most Soderbergh films, it’s not out and out bad; in fact, it’s perfectly watchable. But there’s really nothing all that interesting or memorable about it, save for a game lead performance by The Crown’s Claire Foy. Unsane is available on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray & DVD), and while the improved image clarity and slightly more atmospheric soundtrack are welcome, this isn’t the kind of movie that benefits all that much from the premium upgrade.

I Can Only Imagine – This based-on-a-true-story faith-based drama was a surprise hit at the box office earlier this year, and I’m sure it’s audience will continue to grow on home video. The film tells the rags-to-riches story (with a heaping dose of faith and prayer) of Christian music act MercyMe, and with a cast made up of mostly unknowns (save for Dennis Quaid in a supporting role), the film works pretty well for what it is. I’m not a fan of faith-based films in general as they’re just not quite my cup of tea, but the story here is interesting and if you can get passed the religion, it’s a solid story. I can see why audiences reacted to it.

Lionheart – Courtesy of MVD’s excellent Rewind Collection imprint, this new Blu-ray brings one of Jean Claude Van Damme’s peak era hits to Special Edition disc for the first time. While the film has shown up in a lot of low-priced collections over the years, this two-disc Blu-ray gives us the film plus a ton of extra features including commentary, interviews, featurettes, and much more. As for the film itself, it sounds kind of like every other Van Damme film made in the 80s and 90s. A soldier gets sucked into a world of illegal gladiatorial combat, and… well, I mean, that’s pretty much it. Lots of fighting and yelling follows. Sure, it’s not great filmmaking, but it’s a fun film that was also a nice nostalgia trip. And for Van Damme fans, this is one of the best collections of special features I’ve seen on one of his film’s yet.

Night of The Lepus – This cult classic film about marauding mutated rabbits (yep, you read that correctly) is more notorious than famous. It co-stars Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy, DeForest Kelley, and it also was featured in a scene in the original The Matrix (playing on a television in The Oracle’s apartment.) But now, creature feature fans can experience the film in its entirety thanks to Shout Factory’s Scream Factory imprint, which gives us the film on Blu-ray for the first time. The film – dated and low-budget as it is – is still a lot of fun, especially with Janet Leigh and Rory Calhoun in the cast as well. It’s not a great movie, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a serious piece of cinema, but if you like fun cult classics, this one fits the bill.

Midnight Sun – This is an interesting one. What sounds like a typical teen romance film has a little bit of a twist to it, as well as a notable co-star. The film sees Bella Thorne star as a girl who is essentially allergic to sunlight, meaning she’s basically nocturnal and only able to go out at night. Enter Patrick Schwarzenegger. Yes, THAT Patrick Schwarzenegger, Arnold’s son. He plays the love interest, who of course, is unaware of this debilitating condition. The film is pretty good, actually, although more so if you’re in the target teenaged audience. Thorne and Arnie Jr. have good chemistry and while he’s not going to win an Oscar just yet, Schwarzenegger actually has some chops to go with his famous name. I wouldn’t say that people who don’t like teen romance films should run out and buy this one, but if that’s a genre you’re interested in, this one’s worth watching.

Supercon – Ryan Kwanten, Maggie Grace, Mike Epps, John Malkovich, Russell Peters, and Clancy Brown all star (to varying degrees) in this new film that’s a sort of spiritual sequel to Galaxy Quest. The film follows a group of has-been celebrities who make their livings appearing at Comic Cons and signing autographs who suddenly find themselves blacklisted thanks to a big star who has them banned. Of course, no disparate group of misfits is going to take that lying down, which launches the driving action of the film. The movie has the benefit of being funny thanks to some solid writing and performances and also doing a bang-up job of spoofing the major comic book conventions, so fans of that world should really enjoy this one.

Jerry Lewis 10-Film Collection – This new collection from Paramount gives us a whopping ten Jerry Lewis films in one slimly-packaged set. While Lewis’s career never seemed to get past his heyday, I always liked Jerry Lewis, and it was fun to revisit some of these films, a couple of which are true comedy classics. This set gives us: The Stooge, The Delicate Delinquent, The Bellboy, Cinderfella, The Errand Boy, The Ladies Man, The Nutty Professor, The Disorderly Orderly, The Patsy, and The Family Jewels, making this the best and most complete Lewis collection I’ve seen yet. Sure, it’s not “complete” in terms of collecting all of his films, but it does collect several of his major works into one place, and it’s extremely affordable. I’ve seen it online for under $20, making this collection a steal for any Jerry Lewis fans out there.

Also available this week on home video:

  • Furious – This is one of those foreign action films (hailing from Russia) that is kind of awesome, kind of not. What I mean by that is that there are some really great action set-pieces in this film about a small group of Russian warriors battling to save their people from a horde of 100,000 invaders. So yes, there are some obvious comparisons to 300, and it’s clear that that film was an influence on Furious. But while the action sequences work well, the rest of the film flags a bit. Basically, you’re just waiting for the next action scene to come around. And those scenes do reward in spades, but I wish the in-between stuff was more engaging.
  • Sea Change – This film is about a teenage girl who goes to live with her mother on small-town island and becomes involved with half-human/half sea-creatures. So, kind of like Twilight-meets-mermaids (although not really mermaids.) Aired as a TV movie on Lifetime, the film was originally supposed to be a pilot for a TV series, but that doesn’t seem to have shaken out. It’s based on the YA novel by New York Times bestselling author, Aimee Friedman, and while I’ve never read it, I would imagine fans of the source material would like this film, as it’s relatively tame, filled with drama and romance and mystery, and kind of cool (even if a little cheesy in places.)
  • Alex & Me – This fun family film centers around a teenage girl who idolizes real-life soccer star Alex Morgan. When she finds herself overshadowed by her brother, embarrassed by her nemesis, and not making the soccer team, she finds herself floundering. Until, that is, her poster of Alex Morgan comes to life. Yep. But hey, I did say this was a family film, and in that respect, it’s quite fun. Alex Morgan isn’t a great actor, but she has a nice screen presence and she’s mostly there as a supporting role anyway. Kids – especially those into soccer – will find this film enjoyable.
  • The Best of Agatha Christie: Volume 3 & 4 – These two new Agatha Christie collections feature three stories/films in each set, which means you get a set of six TV movies/miniseries between the two sets. Volume 3 includes The Secret Adversary, Ordeal by Innocence, and The Hollow. Volume 4 gives us The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Dead Man’s Folly, The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, and A Caribbean Mystery. You get Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence, covering all of the highlights of Christie’s career. There isn’t a bad film in the bunch, and really, this is some of the greatest mystery fiction ever written. I really enjoyed going through some of the films I hadn’t seen yet (pretty much all of them), and these are terrific DVDs to pick up if you get inspired to dig into Agatha Christie a bit more after watching last year’s Murder on the Orient Express.
  • Double Lover – This French psychological thriller stars Marine Vacth and Jérémie Renier and seems at least a little influenced by Brian DePalma, which is a good thing in my book. The story sees a woman who falls in love with her therapist, and when they move in together, she discovers that he’s hiding a secret. To say more would be to ruin the surprises, but I’ve been saying for years that France is producing some of the best thrillers of recent times. This is more psychological than some of my favorite action-based thrillers of the past half-decade or so, but it’s still an engaging film that will keep you guessing.
  • Masterpiece: Man in an Orange Shirt – Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Julian Morris, Vanessa Redgrave, and Joanna Vanderham star in this multi-generational romance film about two pairs of forbidden lovers in two completely different times, World War II-era and modern day. There’s a distant connection between the two couples and even though they are two different stories, there’s a throughline and a connective tissue that ties them together, giving two individual stories one cohesive feel. It’s a moving film that addresses equal rights, but mostly it’s about love and overcoming hatred.
  • Turtle Tale (out 6/26) – When a film has been sitting on the shelf for three years, that’s not usually a good sign. But when you’re talking about a movie about talking turtles, does that really matter. This is one of those live action talking-animal films aimed squarely at kids, and they should be perfectly fine with it. It’s not great filmmaking, but there are some fun moments, it’s light on any real peril, and the live action characters keep it interesting. I’d keep it strictly to the younger viewers, as older kids might find it a bit silly, but it’s not bad for the youngsters.
  • Greaser’s Palace – Hey, a lost Robert Downey film! Well, okay, it’s not really lost. And if you’re looking for Robert Downey Jr, well– okay, actually, he’s here too. But this is a film from Robert Downey Sr., who was a cult filmmaker back in the day. This 1970s jam does actually feature Robert Downey Jr.’s screen debut (nepotism!), but he was just seven years old, so unless you’re a die-hard fan, don’t watch it just for him. This is an incredibly strange film, involving the old west, Jesus Christ, a zoot suit, and a guy named Seaweedhead. So, ummm, it’s veeeery 1970s and veeeery cult. If you like that kind of stuff, Kino Lorber offers you a Blu-ray edition to dive into. Fun! Sort of.
  • My Letter to The World – Cynthia Nixon narrates this documentary about Emily Dickinson, one of the most famous poets in American history. Rather than being a traditional talking-heads doc, the film utilizes footage from the dramatic biopic A Quiet Passion which starred… wait for it… Cynthia Nixon. So it makes for a neat kind of hybrid documentary with some dramatizations, but ones that are a cut above the usual ones you see in more cheaply produced documentaries. Not my favorite subject matter, but if you’re interested in literature or feminism, this is worth watching.

Next PostPrevious Post

Amazon Prime Free Trial