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US Blu-ray and DVD releases: Sorry To Bother Your, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Twilight, The Big Lebowski, Trick ‘r Treat and more

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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again – I feel like if you dislike the Mamma Mia movies, you maybe are just talking them a little too seriously. Are they memorable cinema? No. Are they fun musicals that take songs you like, weave them into a basic narrative, and fill the movie with stars you love? Absolutely. This second film adds in flashbacks that allow Lily Rose to join the cast, and that’s always a good thing. Basically, if you liked the first movie, you’ll like this one. I mean, how could you not? Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again has been released on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), and honestly it looks amazing. The film is already so bright and colorful, and that really shines on the premium format. The surround soundtrack is also top-notch, bringing the music to life in clear, bright fashion. This is a terrific presentation of a fun movie!

Sorry to Bother You – What an inspired, unconventional film! This movie by director Boots Riley supposedly takes place in an alternate Oakland, but it sure feels an awful lot like modern day America. Of course, that’s the point, as the film looks at the corporate culture and the place of minorities in it. With inspired performances by Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, and Danny Glover, the film isn’t afraid to pull any punches and it works as both satire and drama. This is one of those movies that people can watch and enjoy, but also take away a deeper meaning from. Bravo!

The Big Lebowski: 20th Anniversary Edition – I’ll be honest, I’ve never liked this movie. I like it even less considering all the fan-love it gets; people absolutely WORSHIP this film, and I can barely tolerate it. But, this new 20th Anniversary Edition isn’t for people like me; it’s for those die-hard fans who I just don’t understand, and it’s been released on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray. This new version includes all of the previously released extras plus a digital copy, and it’s also available in a limited edition package that comes in a bowling bag package. The 4K Ultra HD version offers up some improvements on video quality, but this is a 20-year-old movie and it’s not like you’re getting a complete overhaul, Colors are a little more vivid and imagery is a little more clear, but that’s about it. If you’re a fan, it’s probably still worth the upgrade, but I wouldn’t say you have to go out of your way for it.

Twilight (4K Ultra HD) and The Twilight Saga: 10th Anniversary – Speaking of anniversaries, it’s been ten years since the first Twilight movie came out, so now we get new editions of all five films. Well, sort of. Twilight itself has been released on 4K Ultra HD with some new special features that includes a ten-year retrospective documentary. The remaining four films have been rereleased on Blu-ray, but really what you’re getting there is new slipcovers and over art. Admittedly, they do look really sharp, and they include digital copies, so if you only own the original releases, this might be a good time to upgrade. The 4K Ultra HD presentation is similar to a lot of other catalogue titles: you get a slight upgrade in terms of visual quality. In this case, what works best is that the darker scenes are a little more visible, which is nice, and image clarity is improved. There’s not much difference in the surround soundtracks to my ear. Still, for fans of the franchise, these are nice releases.

Creepshow – What do you get when the King of horror and the man responsible for zombies’ place in the pop culture universe team up? Well, you get Creepshow, of course, the notorious 1980s horror anthology from Stephen King and George Romero. Despite this film being a constant presence on HBO back in the ‘80s, I had never actually seen it until now, with a new Blu-ray release from Scream Factory that comes loaded with extra features and packaged in a nice hardcover slipcase with a book. Based on the old EC comics that were so notorious in the ‘50s, the film stars Leslie Nielsen, Adrienne Barbeau, and Hal Holbrook, among others. And while I generally find horror anthologies lacking, the combination of King and Romero makes this a fun movie overall, although I could have done without the cockroach story, that’s for sure.

Trick ‘r Treat – This movie has become a modern day cult classic, and it’s nice to see Scream factory give it a Collector’s Edition. The film itself is a lot of fun, an anthology that gives us not one but four short horror tales, all of which are actually pretty creepy. Horror anthologies rarely work for me, but this one is an exception to that rule. This new version includes four new documentaries, plus a bunch of other new extra features, and even more original extra features on top of that In short, if you’re a fan of this film, this is the must-have version.

Get Shorty – I always loved this film, and it’s easy to see why. Based on an Elmore Leonard novel, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and with a stellar cast (John Travolta, Delroy Lindo, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, Danny Devito), the film just has all the ingredients to combine into a deliciously fun movie. A mash-up of Hollywood send-up and mob movie, the film just feels different from a lot of other movies. John Travolta is clearly having a blast in the lead role, and it infects the entire movie. Its just fun! This new Blu-ray edition from Shout Factory’s Shout Selects line comes chock full of extra features and sports some neat new cover art.

Also available this week on home video:

  • Black Sails: The Complete Collection – Starz’s hit pirate series makes its final appearance (for now) on home video, and ultimately I’m okay with that. With Michael Bay producing, the production values on this show are amazing, but I could never get all that into it despite a terrific cast. Starz was clearly trying to create a Game-of-Thrones-with-pirates show, but I think they never quite pulled it off. The cast is strong and the action sequences are outstanding, but I could just never get engaged. If you like the show, this is a must-have for your collection so you can have the complete series (with a boatload of extra features) in one nice package, but for me, I won’t really miss Black Sails.
  • Prehysteria! – This is one of those films that’s hard to get a grip on. It’s a kids/family movie that came out once I was old enough to have lost interest in those types of films (but before I had kids), so I’m coming to it in 2018 as an adult. Which, of course, is a very different experience than watching it as a kid in the mid-90s. That said, while the film definitely shows its age, it’s also pretty fun. Austin O’Brien (from The Last Action Hero) plays the lead role, but Brett Cullen (one of my favorite character actors) plays a supporting role, which I enjoyed. Plus, even as an adult, I can get behind the fantasy of being a kid and having my own dinosaurs. Fun!
  • Snake Outta Compton – You had me at hello, Snake Outta Compton. I mean, let’s be honest, if you make a movie and call it Snake Outta Compton, I’m obviously going to watch it. And there’s a good chance I’m going to enjoy it, too. So while this spoof movie that mashes up giant snake movies with, well, Straight Outta Compton, is far from perfect, it doesn’t take itself seriously to even be bothered by its flaws. The cast is largely unknown, the CGI snake is suspect, and the writing is mediocre, but who really cares? I still had fun with it!
  • Wrapped In Christmas/Snowed-Inn Christmas and A Very Merry Toy Store/Four Christmases and a Wedding – These two DVD double features bring us two Lifetime Christmas movies each. Now, it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, so I was excited to sit down and devour these four films. Yes, I’m being serious, not ironic, and no, I don’t care if you judge me for that. Fans of these movies know exactly what they’re getting and how much fun they are. These two sets feature performances by well-loved stars such as Bethany Joy Lenz, Brendan Fehr, Tatyana Ali, Kim Fields, Jasmine Guy, Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Markie Post, and many other familiar faces. Yay!
  • Vera: Sets 1-7 CollectionVera is a terrific series of cop/mystery dramas starring the excellent Brenda Blethyn in the lead role. While the show doesn’t really offer up anything new (gruff but effective police detective solves crimes), it does benefit from Blethyn’s performance and the show having a strong sense of identity. Inspired by Ann Cleeves’s bestselling mysteries, Vera is set in the Northumberland of the original books. It gives the show a different feel from a lot of the more urban set BBC dramas, and there is a consistent mood and tone throughout the series that is very refreshing to see. And it showcases the characteristics of a lot of the best qualities of similar shows: great acting, strong scripts, and compelling mysteries, and that adds up to some quality mystery television viewing. This chunky box set includes the entire series, all seven seasons worth, in a nicely decorated package that includes all of the original extra features.
  • Elena Ferrante on Film – I’m not too familiar with author Elena Ferrante (contrary to my initial impression, it is not the comely woman on the disc’s cover art), but with a new HBO limited series based on one of her novels coming up, this new set from Film Movement serves as a nice primer to what kinds of work she writes. This set includes two films based on her novels: The Days of Abandonment and Troubling Love. Both films appear on Blu-ray in North America for the first time, and both are dramas that focus on deeply personal issues. These aren’t exactly light films, but the stories are quite moving. This set also includes a 32-page booklet with letters and script notes from Ferrante herself, which is a nice bonus.
  • Blood and Black Lace – I’ve experienced very little in the way of the Giallo genre, but I know that Mario Bava is one of the men who helped usher into it popularity. So I was curious to check out Blood and Black Lace, one of his more well-known films, now reissued on Blu-ray courtesy of VCI Entertainment. And while the cover art’s exclamation of, “Guaranteed! The 8 Greatest Shocks ever filmed!” might be a bit of an overstatement, the film isn’t exactly light fare, either. While I can’t say I was blown away by the film, it’s certainly interesting and a nice primer for the Giallo genre.
  • 800 Words: Season 3, Part 1 – This charming Australian television drama doesn’t do anything groundbreaking, but that doesn’t stop it from being highly enjoyable. We’re now three seasons into the story of a newspaper columnist whose wife died unexpectedly in the first season, resulting in him packing up his teenage kids, leaving Sydney, and relocating to a picturesque small town in New Zealand. Honestly, we’ve seen this show a hundred times before, but that doesn’t stop it from being a winner. The cast is terrific, the quirky characters are endearing, and the show gets the tone right. Sometimes familiarity isn’t a bad thing, and this show is a perfect example of that.
  • Trauma – This Chilean thriller seems to be marketing itself on the extreme and hard-hitting nature of the film, which is pretty accurate in this case. The story follows a group of women vacationing in a remote countryside who come across a former victim of the government’s torture, who then decides to take out his anger on the women. On the surface, it isn’t that much different from a lot of other “cabin in the woods”-type films with victims up against a terrifying foe, but the real world echoes here give the film a darker and more disturbing tone, to be sure. Some of the violence is quite shocking as well. Not for the faint of heart.
  • An Elephant’s Journey – Well, in case you were wondering what Elizabeth Hurley is up to these days, here’s your answer: she’s starring in family films like An Elephant’s Journey. To be fair, she’s more of the supporting role, as the film is about a young boy who gets lost in the wilds of Africa and befriends a young elephant. That summation sounds kind of cheesy, but this is actually the kind of family film that I like kids to see. It’s pretty wholesome, it has some adventure to it, and it’s not just another “troubled teen girl becomes friends with a horse” movie. (I swear, I get at least one of those a month.) The cast is good here, the scenery is nice, and the elephant is endearing. A good watch for the family.

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