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US Blu-ray and DVD releases: Predator Collection, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Adrift, Ghost Stories, Tucker, Deep Rising and more


Tucker: The Man And His Dream

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – It’s rare that a documentary comes along that is both critically and commercially successful. It’s even rarer when one comes along that’s as good as Won’t You Be My Neighbor? This moving and heartfelt documentary tells the story of Mister Rogers, but not just how he became a beloved children’s television icon. No, this film is about how a man used his influence with kids to teach important life lessons about equality, acceptance, and just plainly being good human beings. A mix of footage from episodes that many of its have long forgotten and interviews with people who were there to see Fred Rogers in action, the film never drags or loses its way, and it makes you realize that Mister Rogers was the real deal, and not just a guy collecting a paycheck. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Adrift – I like survival stories, and I like Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin, so this survival story featuring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin lost at sea seemed like the type of film I’d enjoy. And while it’s a perfectly fine film — solid script, good performances, strong cinematography — unfortunately it bogs down under its own simplicity. There’s only so much you can get out of two people lost at sea, even when you pepper that with flashbacks that tell the tale of their romance. Simply put, the film drags. I wanted to get invested and find myself on the edge of my seat, but the romance parts of the film are pretty standard romantic movie fare and the survival stuff just isn’t all that exciting. It’s not a bad film, just disappointing.

Predator: 3-Movie Collection (4K Ultra HD) – Okay, I am a die-hard Predator fan; always have been and always will be. The original film is one of my all time favorite movies; Predator 2 — while it has its flaws — remains a guilty pleasure; and Predators is a highly underrated sci-fi action thriller. I’ve seen all three of these movies more times than I can count, so I was excited to see them FINALLY collected into one set that includes all three films — and in the premium 4K Ultra HD format no less (each film is included on Blu-ray as well.) The good news is that this set includes all of the original extra features from each movie (which isn’t a huge amount, but there are some goodies). The bad news is that, due to the films’ ages, the 4K conversion process isn’t a huge improvement. The best-looking one is Predators, which is, of course, the most recent. Predator and Predator 2 benefit from some better color saturation and a little extra image crispness, but they’re not exactly an A/V revolution. That said, I’m still thrilled to have this great collection; I think Fox did a great job with it overall.

Young Sheldon – I get that there’s a love/hate thing going on with The Big Bang Theory, but I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s not a show I can’t live without or anything, but it’s a fun way for me to laugh for 22 minutes every week. That said, I saw absolutely zero reason for the creation f Young Sheldon, and now that I’ve watched it, I see absolutely zero reason for its continued existence. Say what you want about The Big Bang Theory, it’s a hell of a lot funnier than this show is. The cast is game, but the writing is sophomoric, and Sheldon Cooper by himself just isn’t interesting enough to carry a show, even if he is a kid. I dunno, I guess this one was a hit, but I wish it wasn’t. It’s not very good

Paterno – Al Pacino stars as Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach who got caught up in the imbroglio when it was discovered that a former Penn State coach named Jerry Sandusky had been sexually abusing kids for years. This HBO movie directed by the great Barry Levinson attempts to take us behind the curtain of two camps: Paterno and his family and co-workers, and young journalist Sarah Ganim, who broke the story and won a Pulitzer for her work. Pacino gives a fine performance, more understated than usual but still decidedly Pacino-esque. The film is shot in a cinema verite style that lets us feel like we’re there for the proceedings, and it’s a pretty engaging watch, even if it doesn’t pull any punches and at times can be a tough watch due to the subject material. Still, it’s very good overall, I just wish it had been released on Blu-ray instead of only on DVD.

Ghost Stories – This horror movie sees three intertwined tales connected by a framing device, and it’s pretty creepy stuff. The cast is largely unknown in the US, save for Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Fargo), but the film has strong production values and plays out like a real movie, not a cheap anthology or a low-budget cash-in. The biggest flaw is that the stories just don’t wrap up that well. It’s like the filmmakers had all these great ideas and concepts, but they didn’t know how to finish any of them. That doesn’t mean it’s not still an enjoyable film with some truly creepy moments, but I wish the payoff had been better.

Tucker: The Man And His Dream – I was a bit obsessed with this movie when I was a kid, mostly because it was produced by George Lucas, and as a Star Wars obsessive, I was rabid over anything that had Lucas’s name even remotely attached to it. (I had no concept of the fact that it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola!) I remember being a little disappointed in the movie when I saw it 30 years ago, but having not seen it since, I wanted to revisit it. And while I like the film, I was once again a little disappointed by it, even if just a little. Jeff Bridges’ performance seems a little too over the top (especially when you see footage of the real Preston Tucker in some of the bonus footage) and the film might be just a little too long. That said, it is still a largely enjoyable movie, with a great cast and an interesting story at its core.

Deep Rising – Kino Lorber has released a proper Blu-ray edition of this cult classic monster movie, and I am thrilled. After years of being released on compilation discs from budget-priced companies, it’s great to see this film get the treatment it deserves. Starring Treat Williams and Famke Janssen (as well as a whole cast of “Hey! I know that guy!” faces), this film has aged way better than it should have. But you give me a flick with a group of mercenaries and petty thieves up against a giant sea monster on a cruise ship, and I’m there. What I loved rediscovering about this film is how funny it is, how great Williams and Janssen are in it, and how it’s got some really great monster set pieces. Yes, the CGI effects are dated, but that doesn’t take away from how fun the film is. And this release includes a ton of extra features, none of which have been included on the previous budget releases. This is definitely one to track down!

Supernatural: The Complete Thirteenth Season – I’ve been going on for years and years about how great Supernatural is and how it’s probably my favorite show on TV. At this point, chances are good you probably either watch it or you don’t. So I don’t have much new to say here. I will say, however, that this season boasts the inclusion of ScoobyNatural, which is an episode that sees Sam and Dean crossover with Scooby Doo and his friends. Yep, the animated Scooby Doo. And it’s that kind of episode that makes this show so great. Along with the usual mythology and world ending stuff, you also get to see our heroes in the world of Scooby Doo. And how awesome is that? Season 13 continues this show’s epic run of greatness, and you get a host of extra features to extend your viewing pleasure.

Also available this week on home video:

  • Bull: Season Two – I’ll be honest, I’ve sort of come to hate Michael Wetherly after seeing him in NCIS over the years. His character in that show is one of my least favorite characters in the history of television. Unfortunately, this time he plays a variation on that character but since he’s in charge of the team of trial analysts he heads up, he’s somehow even more obnoxious. I know the show was a ratings hit, but I just really don’t like it.
  • Hawaii Five-O: The Eighth Season – Even in its eighth season, Hawaii Five-O remains an hour-long chunk of satisfying procedural television, thanks to its solid action sequences, and the interplay between Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. The show has lots of humor, solid mysteries, and doesn’t shy away from an expensive action sequence when it’s needed. The Hawaiian scenery adds to the show’s visual charms, and I understand the ladies don’t mind looking at Alex O’Loughlin all that much, either (At least my wife doesn’t seem to.) Season Eight of Hawaii Five-O sees some new cast members join, which might be jarring to some viewers at first, but after a few episodes, they fit right in. Another good season of a show I enjoy.
  • The Goldbergs: The Complete Fifth Season – Set squarely in the ’80s and with a comedy dynasty cast that includes George Segal and Wendi McLendon-Covey (one of the most underrated comedy actresses today), The Goldbergs is a lot of fun. It’s a funny, goofy sitcom that anyone can enjoy, but for those of us who grew up in the ’80s, there’s an extra slice of funny watching all of the things we know and love reappear in the TV screen. This isn’t one of those shows that’s particularly deep or sentimental, but it will make you laugh — out loud and often.
  • Adventure Time: The Final Seasons – I’ve never been an Adventure Time fan. I just don’t get it, and I could never really see what people like about it. So, while I haven’t watched it since the last DVD came out, I pretty much knew what to expect. This DVD collection contains seasons 8, 9, and 10, which wraps up the show in all its glory. A lot of big events happen — none of which I’ll spoil here — but for the most part a lot of them went over my head since I don’t follow the show. You get something like 50 episodes, plus a bunch of extra features, so if you’re a fan of the show and you’ve been collecting it on DVD, I don’t see how you can skip it now.
  • Beast – This new psychological thriller about a girl who falls for a guy who may or may not be a killer works better on some levels than others, but for the most part it’s a pretty gripping film. It has some down moments, but I was largely engaged by it. Much of the reason for that is the lead actors, Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn. While both are largely unknown, that should change after this film. Buckley carries literally every scene of the film, and Flynn has charisma that the camera eats up. While I liked the film more than I loved it, I’m excited to see what the future holds for these two young actors.
  • Sid Caesar: The Works – Think of this set as a Greatest Hits collection, but instead of songs, it’s sketches and comedy. Sid Caesar was a true pioneer in the early days of television, and many of his staff of writers and performers — including Imogene Coca, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen — went on to become comedy legends in their own right. This five-disc box set offers up over 14 hours of Sid Caesar’s greatest television hits, including sketches from Your Show Of Shows, Caesar’s Hour and The Admiral Broadway Review; a feature film, a reunion special, tons of interviews, and much more. There are also a few retrospective specials, such as tribunes from 1983 and 2014, which give the whole set a nice rounded historical perspective. I hadn’t been exposed to much of Caesar’s works, and this set is like a history lesson, but a really funny one.
  • The US Festival: 1982 The US Generation – This documentary about The US Festival might look like a concert film, but be aware that it is very much a documentary. There are some great performance clips in it — from the likes of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Police, Fleetwood Mac, Carlos Santana, The B-52s, and The Cars — but this is not a concert video that’s just live performance after live performance. Instead, it’s a film about how this music festival (funded by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak) came to be, which I actually found much more interesting than a concert by a bunch of artists I’m semi-interested in. It’s quite an engaging and interesting watch.
  • The Good Karma Hospital: Series 2 – This show has been described as the “love child of Call the Midwife and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” and, well… that’s exactly what it is. Except in this case instead of being a hotel, the setting is a medical center in India, where we follow slightly misplaced Dr. Ruby Walker, who’s come straight from a more upper-crust UK setting. The show does what the best TV shows do, delivering a strong mix of unique and interesting characters, a mix of laughter and drama, and good writing to carry the stories through. With a cast of exceptional actors (most of whom are TV regulars in the UK, but less known here in the US), this show is quite enjoyable.
  • Godard Mon Amour – This film from director Michel Hazanavicius (who brought us the brilliant The Artist) is ostensibly about Jean-Luc Godard, but it’s also about his wife and her relationship with the famed director (The film is based on her memoir, after all.) The movie follows a particular year in Godard’s life, a time when he married 19-year-old actress Anne Wiazemsky (when he was 37) and also during an uprising of French students and workers in May 1968 that shut down the Cannes Film Festival. I don’t know much about Godard or his life, but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this film. It doesn’t seem interested in being an actual biopic, and frankly, I’m not sure what kind of film it was aiming to be. But the end result just didn’t do much for me.
  • Trench 11 – Rossif Sutherland (yes, of the Hollywood Sutherlands) continues his bid into acting success with this low-budget horror film set during World War I. In it, a group of American soldiers infiltrates a German bunker, only to fall pray to a parasitic experiment which sees them start to turn on each other. The film is okay at best, and even that’s being generous. The script and acting aren’t great, the lighting is poor so you can’t see what’s going on half the time, and the production values are unimpressive. Maybe for horror junkies looking for a fix, but everyone else can skip this one.
  • Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Sixth Season – Watching old comedy is always interesting. While I’m not old enough to have watched Laugh-In when it originally aired, I grew up watching it on Nick at Night repeats as a child. Laugh-In was basically one of the first sketch comedy shows, and it was filled with an amazing roster of talent, although most of the big names were thinning out by the sixth season. So, was the comedy, sadly. While there are still some laughs to be found, this was the least I enjoyed watching a series of this show yet. Still, at this point, if you collected the first five seasons, it seems silly to stop now.
  • We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited – While I am a Johnny Cash fan, I’ll admit that I don’t know the ins and outs of his career. Like, say, for example, I didn’t know he recorded a concept album that was meant to raise awareness about the plight of the Native American, nor did I know that it was met with some controversy. This short (53 minutes) documentary revisits the album and the hubbub surrounding it, and gives a glimpse into its creation for people like me who didn’t even know it existed. Pretty cool.
  • Truth or Dare – Yes, the second horror movie called Truth or Dare about a killer game of Truth or Dare has hit home video this year. I don’t know if this film was meant to cash in on the Lucy Hale theatrical hit or just one of those coincidences like two asteroid movies in the same year or two animated bug movies in the same year. Either way, it’s a straight to video horror flick that doesn’t really do anything new or different, so… yeah.

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