Pages Navigation Menu

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


US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Downton Abbey, Abominable, Feast of the Seven Fishes and more


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – I’m a pretty big Quentin Tarantino fan, and I loved the trailers for this film. Add to that a great cast headlined by Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, and I was pretty excited to watch it. The film was a big hit at the box office and almost everyone I know loved it, so the prospects were looking good. Which is why I find it so baffling that I hated the film as much as I did. Honestly, it might be Tarantino’s worst film. A good halfway through the film, I still had no idea what the point or the story of the movie was. That should really have been clear at some point before the end of the film. And basically, to my mind the film went like this: Pointless, boring, pointless, boring, pointless, boring, funny, OH MY GOD HORRIFICALLY VIOLENT, pointless, funny, the end. Over the course of almost three hours, that’s not a great track record. I’m sure most people who haven’t seen it yet will still track it down, and apparently, most of you will love it, but I’ll be darned if I can figure out why. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD as well as DVD and Blu-ray, and it’s a pretty great presentation. Razor-sharp imagery is prevalent, and the deep color saturation works well, although parts of the film are intentionally desaturated, so it doesn’t stand out as much as it might on some other new releases. The surround soundtrack mixes active rear channels with excellent sounding music (which is super important for a QT film), and the overall presentation is terrific.

Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture – We’re big Downton Abbey fans in my house, so of course it was disappointing when the show came to an end, although it was hard to argue with what a great run the show had. Still, I was super excited when they announced the movie, and I’m here to tell you that Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture is absolutely delightful. Of course, there’s a lot of characters and stories to fit into a two-hour running time, so it’s not the most complicated story in the world, but the basic gist is that the king and queen of England are going to visit Downton, so everything gets set into a whirlwind of activity. What follows is the usual charm, humor, drama, and class that you might expect from the show. If you’ve never seen the show, rest assured that there is a nice ten-minute recap of the show that tells you everything you need to know. I really enjoyed this film, and I was glad to see it become such a huge hit worldwide.

Abominable – I think part of the reason Abominable failed to ignite at the box office has more to do with external reasons (such as being the second yeti-related movie this year after Smallfoot) than it does with the quality of the film. Abominable, which is a family animated adventure that sees a group of young kids discover a yeti on their roof, and then head out on an adventure to return him to his family. From there, you get the usual mix of adventure, comedy, and life lessons, and it’s all pretty kid-friendly. Now, ultimately, there’s nothing special about Abominable, but that said, it is a cute and fun family film that both children and parents can enjoy.

Universal Horror Collection: Volume Three – 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 excellentUniversal Horror Collection: Volume 3, which gives us four classic horror films on Blu-ray for the first time: Tower of London, Man Made Monster, The Black Cat, and Horror Island. Whereas the first volume had the common thread all the films starred Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, the next two sets have been lacking any real theme, but that’s not really a necessity to make these sets great. Of the films included in this volume, Val Lewton’s The Black Cat is probably the best known, but you get movies with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr. and Basil Rathbone, so there are a lot of familiar faces. Each film gets its own disc, and the package is housed in a nice slipcover. I’m very much looking forward to Volume 4 and I hope this series continues for a long time.

Feast of the Seven Fishes – This fun Christmas comedy focuses on an Italian family at the holidays, when young Tony thinks he discovers love, only to find out that not everyone in his family thinks the girl he’s smitten with is up to his standards. The film benefits from some really good performances, notably from Skyler Gisondo, a young actor I really like. The movie is set in the 1980s, and at first I thought it was made in the ‘80s until I saw actors’ faces I recognized who couldn’t have been alive back then. They do a really good job of capturing the feel of the decade, all the way down to the cover art, which hearkens back to the comedies of the day. While there are some scenes that probably won’t make you yearn for those stressful holiday family gatherings of your youth, you’ll probably find something to relate to in this enjoyable film.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Fuller House: The Complete Fourth Season – Full disclosure: I was never a huge Full House fan. Don’t take that the wrong way; I liked the show just fine when it was on. But I was a casual watcher at best, never catching more than a few episodes a season. I didn’t watch it religiously or regularly, so I come atFuller House without the haze of nostalgia that many fans might have. Standing on its own merits, then, Fuller House is a perfectly acceptable family sitcom, but it’s nothing special. It’s fun to see the cast all grown up (and the guest appearances by some of the original adult cast members are nice as well), and the show does manage to keep the feel of the original series (this isn’t borderline R-rated comedy like Two Broke Girls or Two and a Half Men.) I’m impressed to see it in its fourth season already; it’s funny how some of these rebooted shows might have runs that rival the original shows.
  • Adopt a Highway – Ethan Hawke stars in this drama, but another familiar face is behind the camera. Logan Marshall-Green, an actor known for his roles in shows like The O.C. and the cool sci-fi film Upgrade, wrote and directed the film. The story follows Hawke’s Russell Millings, a broken man just out of prison after 21 years behind bars for a minor drug offense. He’s a shell of a man, until he finds an abandoned baby behind a dumpster and decides to try and take care of her himself. While this sounds like it has the makings of a comedy, it’s actually a drama, and there’s no doubt that Hawke’s performance is excellent. He disappears into this shell-shocked man, and he’s the best part of the film. While there are a few charming or affecting moments, the film as a whole doesn’t quite feel finished. It’s a solid watch, but it’s not as good as I think it wants to be.
  • Trick – Omar Epps stars in this slasher film set at Halloween (which makes me question why they chose to release it right before Christmas instead of in October.) The film starts off with a killer named Trick who is supposedly killed on Halloween. Of course, a few Halloweens later, bodies start piling up and it seems like maybe Trick is still alive. Or resurrected. Who knows, but he’s definitely killing people. Lots of people, in some fun ways. Trick is a pretty by-the-numbers slasher flick, but I like slasher flicks and this is one of the better ones I’ve seen in recent years. It’s not an instant classic, but if you’re looking for a fun (and bloody) way to kill 90 minutes, you could definitely do worse than this.
  • Doc Martin: Season 9 – In it’s ninth season, I still haven’t figured out if Doc Martin is a dramatic comedy or a comedic drama, but either way it’s a pretty good television, with an excellent lead performance by the expertly wry Martin Clunes. Now, I’m not always a fan of shows with overly gruff/unlikable main characters, and Doc Martin certainly qualifies as that, but I do find a lot to like about this show. Martin Clunes is really a top-notch actor, and the family drama and strong characters at the heart of it all are both engaging and complex, but never too much so. I don’t know if you’ll want to jump in with Season 9 if you’ve never watched it before, but it’s definitely a solid show.
  • Famine – Low-budget horror filmmaker Ryan Nicholson apparently has quite a cult fan following, which is a little surprising to me because films like Famine just don’t do that much for me. Sure, I like slasher flicks as much as the next guy, but this low-budget, low-IQ cheapie just doesn’t run to my tastes., I mean, when you have a character named Mr. Balszack and the film’s setting is a school called Sloppy Secondary, you kind of know what you’re getting yourself into. The acting is okay at best, the script isn’t great, and the gore is sometimes over-the-top. All of which is, I imagine, part of why people like Nicholson’s films so much, so if you’re into the whole so-bad-it’s-good aesthetic, well then I have good news for you: Famine is here.

Next PostPrevious Post


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Amazon Prime Free Trial