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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Hellboy, The Intruder, Do The Right Thing, The Doors, Critters Attack and more


Hellboy – If there’s one thing the world didn’t want or need, it was another Hellboy movie. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the franchise. In fact, I like the first two films by Guillermo del Toro quite a bit. But neither one was a breakout hit, and I didn’t hear anyone asking for a new film. I think people were happy just to get the two Hellboy films they had. And of course, not surprisingly, the new Hellboy movie tanked hard at the box office. The surprising part is, I didn’t think it was nearly as bad as everyone said it was. In fact, I kind of liked it. Oh, it’s a mess all right, with a wildly uneven tone and a weird reliance on gore that feels forced and unnecessary. And Hellboy himself is kind of an idiot. But somehow, despite all the flaws, I kind of dug the film. I don’t think it needed to be made at all, but I enjoyed it a decent amount. Hellboy comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray and DVD, and it looks and sounds spectacular. The vibrant colors and strong shadow delineation make the visual side of things easy to enjoy, while the soundtrack is extremely immersive and active. A very nice presentation.

The Intruder – Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, and Meagan Good star in The Intruder, a stalker/home invader-type thriller that is as paint-by-numbers as they come. Ealy and Good star as a young couple who buy a luxury home from Dennis Quaid, who’s having a hard time letting go. He starts showing up unannounced, and it isn’t long before he starts to take an unhealthy interest in the couple’s personal lives. Honestly, you’ve seen this film a thousand times before, the only thing that makes it stand out at all is Quaid’s performance, which elevates the film over the usual B-movie fare. It’s an easy enough watch, but it’s completely unoriginal and ultimately rather forgettable.

Do the Right Thing – Spike Lee’s seminal film comes to The Criterion Collection, in a gorgeously packaged Blu-ray two-disc set. Set on one of the hottest days of the year in Brooklyn, this 1989 film ushered in the ‘90s in style, marking Lee as a filmmaker to watch. And while his career has seen some ups and downs, there’s no denying that Do The Right Thing is a singular work. With a terrific cast devoid of any major movie stars (Danny Aiello, Rosie Perez, Ossie Davis, John Turturro, and Lee himself), the story unfolds in a way that you can feel the tension rising, and it’s incredibly effective. This new Criterion Collection release features a ton of extra features, including a commentary, making-of documentaries, a music video, an intro by Spike Lee, an essay booklet, and much more. This is an essential must-have for any film fan.

BoJack Horseman: Seasons One & Two – Netflix’s insanely popular new animated series makes its home video debut (on Blu-ray or DVD) for the twelve people out there who haven’t gotten a Netflix subscription yet. The show is a comedy, focusing on Bojack Horseman, an ex-sitcom star who is, well, a talking anthropomorphic horse. The show is filled with awkward humor, satire of Hollywood, and ruminations on depression and stardom, not all of which you’d expect in an animated series. But above all, the show is funny, and it knows how to milk a scene for maximum laughs. This set contains both seasons one and two as well as a treasure trove of extra features.

The Doors (4K Ultra HD) – Oliver Stone’s The Doors is personally noteworthy to me as it remains one of only two films I’ve ever walked out of in the theater. The film came out when I was a teenager and I thought I liked The Doors (the group), but it turns out I don’t, and the film just rubbed me the wrong way. Some two decades or so later, I decided to revisit it, and while it’s far from a favorite for me, I can say I hated it much less this time around. Val Kilmer’s performance remains outstanding, and while Stone’s filmmaking still doesn’t for a lot for me overall, I was able to stick with it to the end this time. The Doors makes its 4K Ultras HD debut with this release, and the upgrade is noteworthy. The surround soundtrack really shines, with the music sounding live and immediate and the surround channels constantly active. The picture quality also sees a nice upgrade, with extremely vibrant colors and sharper image clarity than I might have expected. Ultimately, while a flawed movie, this is a terrific package for fans.

Domino – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones fame and Guy Pearce (of Guy Pearce fame) star in this latest movie from Brian De Palma, a director I’m generally a big fan of. While at first the film feels like an odd choice for De Palma (the story focuses on a couple of cops, a CIA agent, a criminal, and a few terrorists whose paths all cross), it isn’t long before his signature style starts to shine through, with slow-zooming close-ups, Hitchcock homages, and interesting cinematography. Honestly, while it’s not a particularly deep or challenging film, I quite enjoyed it. Coster-Waldau gives a terrific performance (and he’s in almost every scene), the story takes some twists and turns I didn’t expect, and it kept me engaged from the start to the slightly abrupt ending. Definitely worth tracking down, especially if you’re a De Palma fan.

Critters Attack! – Yes, Warner Brothers. has resurrected the Critters franchise with an all-new direct-to-video movie. Written by Scott Lobdell (noted comic book writer and writer of the Happy Death Day movies) this new film stars Dee Wallace (in a tiny role) and a cast of unknowns as we follow a group of teens and kids who try to save the world (or at least their town) from the voracious little furballs. While I like that the film relies almost entirely on puppets and skips the CGI (just like the original four films), I wish it was better. It’s just kind of,… silly. Critters fans won’t hate it, but I don’t know that they’re going to fall head over heels in love with it, either.

Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie – Just weeks after the inaugural release of the original 1990s Power Rangers movie on Blu-ray, Shout Factory now brings us Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, a sequel of sorts that also played on the big screens. While not the hit that the original film was, this flick featured a new cast and Power Ranger Zords that were cars instead of animals. Like the original film, it’s cheesy and goofy and mostly for kids, but it also has charms that will appeal to adults, or at least adults who are fans of the Power Rangers franchise. This is the first time the film has been available on Blu-ray, so fans will be happy.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Manifest: The Complete First Season – One of the few TV shows in the past couple of years that’s generated some actual buzz, Manifest is the kind of show that I really like but I wish the format could be tweaked. The story follows a passenger jet that disappears mid-flight and then reappears five years later – but nobody on board has aged a day. That’s the hook, and to say more would spoil the surprises to come, of which there are many. If I have any problem with the show, it’s the format, by which I mean the fact that it’s a continuing series that will presumably have a second season coming soon. Like so many other high concept shows I can think of (Prison Break, Under the Dome, and Zoo all come to mind) I’m worried that the show is going to have a gangbusters first and/or second season, and then fall off a cliff fast because it’s hard to keep these kinds of stories going plausibly. Still, the first season is a heck of a ride, so I’ll go along with it for now.
  • Universal Horror Collection, Vol. 2 – Universal Studios has done a great job of packaging up the heavy hitters from their Universal Monsters franchise, such as the classic Dracula, Frankenstein, and Wolfman movies, but they’ve largely ignored some of their less famous outings. Smartly, they’ve licensed out some of their more cultish hits to Shout Factory for the excellent Universal Horror Collection: Volume 2, which gives us four classic horror films on Blu-ray for the first time: Murders in the Zoo, Mad Doctor of Market Street, The Strange Case of Dr. RX, and The Mad Ghoul. Whereas the first volume had the common thread all the films starred Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, this set is lacking any real theme, not that that’s a bad thing. Of the films, Murder in the Zoo and The Mad Ghoul are my favorites. Each film gets its own disc, and the packaged is housed in a nice slipcover. I’m very much looking forward to Volume 3.
  • Master Z: Ip Man Legacy – Maybe you’ve heard of the Ip Man trilogy, and maybe you haven’t, and either is fine, because Master Z: Ip Man Legacy is a spin-off that doesn’t really require any knowledge of the previous films. Which is great, because this is a really fun film. Between a terrific cast of superstars including Michelle Yeoh, Dave Bautista, Tony Jaa, and Max Zhang and the fact that it’s directed by Yuen Woo Ping, best known for choreographing the fights in The Matrix, the end result is a highly kinetic action film with a lot of friendly faces. You might not recognize Max Zhang among the others, but he’s a big star in Asia and recently impressed with his martial arts prowess in Sylvester Stallone’s recent Escape Plan 3: The Extractors (which ironically also starred Dave Bautista.) Check this one out to get your Asian action fix.
  • The Island – One of the more offbeat films I’ve come across in recent years, this Asian dramedy follows a pretty unassuming guy who doesn’t get bent out of shape when he hears a meteor is heading for earth; he’s much more interested in winning the lottery. So when he ends up shipwrecked on an island during a team-building activity… well, let’s say that the meteor and the lottery ticket both come into play. And of course, it isn’t long before things go a little bit Lord of the Flies. The film fits in both comedy and drama, and while it’s a bit too long (at two hours and 15 minutes) and occasionally wanders off track, it’s actually pretty entertaining.
  • The Swindlers – I’ve sat through so many Asian action films in my time reviewing home video, it’s nice to see the industry evolving in recent years, giving us not just fare like The Island above, but also exciting thrillers like The Swindlers. Think of something like Now You See Me (only without the magic) and you get an idea of what to expect, although this movie has more car chases and plot twists and higher stakes. I love the idea of a team trying to capture the world’s most ingenious con man, and that logline is just the beginning of the fun. The cover art boasts that the cast is packed with superstars, and while most of them were only a little familiar to me, they work well together and make this a really fun ensemble piece.
  • Endeavour: Season 6 – The Inspector Morse prequel series continues with Endeavour: Series 5, a period mystery piece that sees the show set in 1969 this season. With four feature-length episodes, this Masterpiece Mystery series delivers the sleuthing goods. I can’t say this is a show I follow religiously, but I do like to pop it in when it comes around on home video. Available on Blu-ray or DVD, it’s a lot of fun. This season sees the aftermath of the closing of Cowley Police Station, and the tackling of solving a major murder of a familiar character. As always, a charming show that spans a year in the life of our characters and works quite well.
  • Grantchester: Season 4 – Masterpiece Mystery: Grantchester is another PBS British mystery release this week. There’ve been shows about people from all different professions solving mysteries in the British procedural world, from cooks to doctors to authors to gardeners and everything in between. Now we have a small-town Vicar in 1950s England joining the sleuths club. Grantchester isn’t particularly innovative or original – in that it’s another British mystery show — but it does have its charms and will definitely appeal to people who love the BBCs particular style of mystery storytelling.
  • Classic Horror Spotlight – Shout Factory’s excellent Scream Factory imprint brings us a slew of classic horror releases making their Blu-ray debuts this week. First up is a dual release (on separate discs) of Quatermass II & Quatermass and the Pit, the second and third films, respectively, in the Quatermass trilogy. Sort of a precursor to The X-Files, this cult favorite and well-loved series (the first one is already available on Blu-ray) feature a British scientist investigating some strange and horrifying events. The films are dated but hold up extremely well, and it’s nice to have them all on Blu-ray now. Then we have the creature features Leopard Man and The Reptile, which feature, well, a leopard man and a Reptile creature, not surprisingly. Leopard Man is pretty by-the-numbers, but The Reptile is a bit of an oddball and is actually kind of creepy (yet also cheesy) in its own way. Finally, Lust for a Vampire is a Hammer film that mixes vampires, black magic, and an all-girls school that delivers exactly what you’d expect from a Hammer film. While none of these movies are out-and-out masterpieces, classic horror fans should be thrilled with all the new offerings from Scream Factory.
  • Doctor Who – The BBC has a whole slate of classic Doctor Who adventures making their debut on home video this week. The first one is actually a re-release, The Three Doctors: Special Edition, which takes a classic adventure starring William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, and Jon Pertwee together in one adventure, which is a whole lot of fun. While the original release was a bare bones affair, this new edition comes loaded with all of the extra features we’ve gotten used to from the BBC. The remaining releases include Planet of the Spiders (Jon Pertwee), The Time Meddler (William Hartnell), The Sun Makers (Tom Baker), and The Krotons (Patrick Troughton). It’s part of a massive release schedule that has the BBC releasing over 60 Doctor Who serials over the next six months to help fill in the gaps in people’s collections. While I’ve always been more of a casual Doctor Who fan, I love to revisit the classic stories, especially to see stories I’ve never experienced before. Add to that the fact that each disc is loaded with extra features, and these discs have everything a Doctor Who fan could ask for.
  • Kids’ Spotlight – We’ve got a handful of new kids releases this week. First up is Puppy Swap: Love Unleashed, which is basically an update of The Parent Trap, only instead of identical children, we have identical Pomeranians trying to get their owners back together. While the leads in the film are unknown to me, Corin Nemec and Margot Kidder show up in supporting roles, which was nice to see. The film itself is perfectly fine family fare; I’d even go so far as to call it “cute.” Next up is the latest Sesame Street release, Sesame Street: Dance Party! This latest compilation gives us over two hours of episodes and vignettes, and includes some pretty happening guest stars, including Jason Derulo, Janelle Monae, and Ne-Yo. I like to see the Street keeping things current and still being some of the best programming out there for preschoolers. Next up is Butterbean’s Cafe, the newest show from Nickelodeon Jr. In this show, we meet a fairy named Butterbean who runs her own bakery, and, well, cute and funny things happen from there. The show is aimed squarely at pre-schoolers, mixing lessons about friendship and kindness with a cooking and baking backdrop. This inaugural DVD contains seven episodes from season one. Finally, we have The Jungle Bunch, which might look familiar to you, and if it does it’s because it’s basically an update of a Jungle Bunch animated movie that came out in 2012 (and there was a sequel, as well.) I believe both films went direct-to-video, so it didn’t have a huge audience, but this new version gives us another spin on the group-of-animals out of their element story, a la the Madagascar films or The Secret Life of Pets films. Good for the younger kids, but not much here for grown-ups.
  • Indie Spotlight – We’ve got a few notable indie releases this week. The first two come from Oscilloscope Laboratories, who never fail to put out interesting and thought-provoking releases. Relaxer is an offbeat drama about a man in 1999 trying to beat the mythical final level of Pac-Man before the clocks switch over to Y2K, without ever leaving his couch. This means the film isn’t necessarily a whirlwind of settings and locations, but is a different kind of drama that I’m sure will get people thinking about existential dread, competitiveness, and more. Next up we have Combat Obscura, which is quite fascinating. As stated on the cover art, “At the age of 18, Miles Lagoze enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was deployed to Afghanistan where he served as Combat Camera, his unit’s official videographer, Upon discharging, Lagoze took all the footage and he assembled the very documentary the Corps does not want you to see.” That sounds pretty incendiary, and parts of it are, including marines breaking some major rules and a pretty brutal on-camera death. But the film is mostly just footage thrown together without context (there’s no narration or anything) leaving it feeling more like a B-roll footage collection than a full-fledged film. Still, it’s hard to deny that there’s some really visceral stuff to be seen here. Finally, Rock, Paper, Scissors stars Michael Madsen and Tatum O’Neal, and it’s directed by Tom Holland (not the Spider-Man actor, but rather the guy who directed the original Child’s Play movie.) The story involves a killer who’s been released from a mental institution, supposedly cured. But there are people who want things from him, like the sheriff who jailed him and a woman who wants to interview him, and things may start to unravel pretty quickly. It’s an okay film; I’ve seen worse for sure, but it’s nothing special either.
  • PBS Spotlight – Okay, there are a lot of PBS releases to dive into in this two-week period. First up, we have two releases celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Chasing the Moon is a three-part, six-hour series that takes a broader look at the moon landing and the space program, while Back to the Moon focuses on the current generation of scientists and why they’ve become interested in the moon once again. Both are very interesting programs and they make a nice set of bookends, focusing on the history and the future of space travel and moon exploration. The next few releases take a political turn, with three new Frontline specials. Trump’s Trade War, a Frontline special exploring Donald Trump’s trade war with China and the ramifications it’s having on our country and our economy. Supreme Revenge is another Frontline special that uses Brett Kavanaugh’s swearing-in to the Supreme Court as a starting point to look at the history of the last few decades of the Supreme Court and how partisan it’s become. The Abortion Divide is, well, pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a Frontline episode that dives deep into the incredibly highly charged debate on abortion in the US. The last batch of releases focuses on more general topics, mostly nature or history-related. The Last Survivors is a sobering documentary about some of the last survivors of the Holocaust, who were children during World War II. The program not only features interviews with them about their experiences but also focuses on their fears for the future with the reemergence of anti-Semitism in the world. It’s not a program that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, but it is an important one. Inside the Megafire is a surprisingly in-depth look at the 2018 California wildfires. It manages to squeeze survivor stories, fire science, forestry practices, and more into a gripping one-hour program. Very interesting stuff. First Horse Warriors, meanwhile, travels to Kazakhstan of all places, to explore the first warriors who used horses to gain an advantage over their opponents. Using archaeology and science, the show digs up some interesting historical information. Rivers of Life clocks in at three hours, with three programs that focus on the world’s most famous rivers: The Nile, The Amazon, and The Mississippi. We learn about the people, animals, and plant life that live along the rivers, and this is the kind of programming PBS does the best. Filled with luscious visuals and fascinating subject matter, this is one of the best releases this week. Finally, Rhythm of the Dance revives the River dance phenomenon with a 90-minute music and dancing performance of Irish step-dancing. Now, I’m not so much into the dancing, but it’s hard not to be impressed by both the production itself and the talent involved. Fans of this kind of music and dance will be pleased.

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