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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Sonic The Hedgehog, Little Women, Dolittle, The Night Clerk and more

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It’s starting to get light on review titles as the shipping houses are shutting down and we don’t have very many review copies of new movies. I will continue to post a column every week of what titles we do receive for review. Here are this weeks!

Sonic the Hedgehog – So, this movie won’t actually be out on physical home video until May 19th, however, it is now available via streaming services, and I was able to get a review in that way. Of course, Sonic the Hedgehog got a lot of attention early on because of the fact that pretty much everyone on the internet hated how Sonic looked in the first trailer, so much so that Paramount actually went back in and spent millions of dollars to fix him! Amazing! And even more amazing, it paid off. Sonic was one of the last big hits before movie theaters shut down, and I’m glad people supported it after making such a big deal about changing Sonic’s look. What’s even better is that Sonic the Hedgehog is a really fun film. Is it perfect? No. But Jim Carrey makes a great villain, James Marsden is making a good second career out of co-starring with CGI characters (and I approve!), and the film is the best kind of family movie that kids will love and adults can enjoy just as easily, especially those parents who played the Sonic the Hedgehog video game as kids. I’m glad Paramount made this film, and I’m glad they took the time to fix it so it would be the hit that it was.

Little Women – When Little Women opened in theaters at Christmas-time, my wife and daughter — both huge fans of the book and the ‘90s film adaptation — rushed out to see it, and they were both pretty disappointed in it. They didn’t care for the time-shifting narrative especially, and overall they were underwhelmed. Now, I am not such a die-hard fan of either the book (never read it) or the ‘90s movie (it’s fine), so I think I went into this film a little more open to the changes. That said, I think Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the beloved novel is… well, also perfectly fine. I think I’m just not a huge Little Women fan. The performances are all good and there’s a lot of actors I like in the cast (especially Florence Pugh), but I agree that the time shifts in the narrative are disjointed, and I still never found myself all that engaged. It’s a good film, but it’s nothing that got me excited.

Dolittle – Wow. I wasn’t expecting a lot from Dolittle, but even I was surprised by what a mess this film is. First and foremost, I love Robert Downey Jr., but it seems like the filmmakers here were like, “Ehh, just let Bob do whatever he wants; he mints money.” Well, I don’t know what he was thinking with his drunken-Welsh-esque accent, but it’s a complete mess, and it’s never not distracting. Honestly, he’s kind of the worst part of the movie, and this is the guy who basically built the Marvel universe upon his back. And then there’s the rest of the film. Sure, the animal CGI effects are pretty good, but the script is a nightmare, the jokes rarely work, and the characters (even the animal characters) all feel very stereotypical. The whole film just feels like they threw everything against the wall and edited together a shambling mess from the pieces that stuck. This one is a huge disappointment. Dolittle comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray and DVD, and the premium 4K format works very well for the film. The movie is very colorful, and that really shows here, while also offering excellent image clarity. The surround soundtrack isn’t particularly nuanced, but it does give your speakers some activity. It’s a solid presentation of a film you can just as easily skip.

The Night Clerk – Tye Sheridan and Ana de Armas (two actors who I love) star in this odd thriller about a young man on the autism spectrum who manages the front desk of a hotel on the lonely and quiet night shift, until one night when he witnesses a murder. While the police become more and more convinced he’s the suspect, he forms an odd bond with another hotel guest who may also be in danger. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this film. Sheridan is a terrific actor and he captures the autism spectrum well, only once in a great while slipping into more neurotypical behaviors that seem like they were more inherent in the script than a performance flaw. And Ana de Armas is spellbinding as always. But the story meanders a bit, and it’s never terribly suspenseful. It’s not a bad film, it’s just not a great film either. Worth a look if you’re hard up for something to watch, but not something you’ll remember very long after you watch it.

Also Available on Home Video This Week:

  • Midsomer Murders: Series 21 – This unendingly popular mystery show from across the pond proves why British television does some of the best mystery shows on TV. Now in its 21st(!) season, the show is a police procedural, but there’s a personal side to it as well, as the Barnaby family sometimes get involved in solving crimes. Season 21 is a mix of the familiar (The Barnaby family drama, mysteries in need of being solved, etc.) and the new, including a new character brought on this season, no less than Inspector Barnaby’s father! You get four feature-length episodes total here: The Point of Balance, The Miniature Murders, The Sting of Death, and With Bated Breath. At this point, I’ve kind of run out of things to say about this show. It’s a terrific British mystery series, and if you’ve never dived into before now, you’ve got 21 seasons to choose from, so get started!
  • WB Archives Spotlight – Warner Brothers’ print-on-demand service continues to deliver the goods (all of these titles can be found at https://www.wbshop.com/collections/warner-archive or any online retailers where you can buy home video.) First up this week we have a release that I’m super excited about, Tex Avery: Screwball Classic, Volume 1. This Blu-ray release features 19 classic cartoons from Tex Avery (one of the architects of the Looney Tunes universe) after he moved to MGM and created characters such as Droopy, Screwball Squirrel, Spike, Red, and The Wolf. Ina edition to the over two hours of terrific cartoons you get (and this is just Volume 1!), Warner Brothers has taken the time to restore and remaster them, meaning these cartoons that are 80 years old look almost like they’re brand new. It’s a fantastic effort and fans of classic Hollywood and animation should seek this one out ASAP. Next up, we have a movie that I was really excited to review, Victory (making its Blu-ray debut.) See, I’m a huge Sylvester Stallone fan and I’ve seen pretty much every movie he’s ever made, but Victory was one of the few gaps in my viewing history. Now I can say that I’ve seen this World War II/soccer/prison escape drama, and I loved it. With Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow and soccer legend Pele along for the ride and directed by the great John Huston, how this film remains extremely obscure is beyond me. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a fun film with some great action and sports-action scenes. Finally, we have A Little Romance, an interesting little character piece starring Laurence Olivier, Arthur Hill, Sally Kellerman, and a 13-year-old Diane Lane. The story is quirky, following two genius 13-year-olds in love and the elderly park-goer who helps their romance along. As directed by the great George Roy Hill and with some really excellent performances, it’s a fun little film. It’s not a masterpiece, but it is an enjoyable distraction, and it’s available on Blu-ray for the first time.

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