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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Bloodshot, Guns Akimbo, The Gentlemen, To Catch a Thief, Fatal Attraction, King Creole and more

Bloodshot – It’s a shame that Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot was taken down by the mass theater shutdown caused by the Coronavirus, because it’s probably his best non-Fast & Furious film in a decade. Based on the Valiant comic book (of which I’m a big fan), Diesel plays a soldier who has died and is brought back to life via micro-robots in his bloodstream called nanites. This makes him a sort of unstoppable killing machine — but what happens when he’s not entirely in control of his actions? Now for the most part, Diesel does his Diesel-y thing here; lots of growly dialogue, flexing muscles, and gunplay a-plenty. But the sci-fi trappings of the story are cool, the special effects are pretty neat, and there are a couple of action sequences that kick some major ass. Add in the always-terrific Guy Pearce as the scientist in charge and Outlander’s Sam Heughan in a different role than we’re used to, and the result is a really fun action flick that I wish had gotten a chance to gain more of an audience.

The Gentlemen – Guy Ritchie returns to the genre that made him famous, the “geezer gangster” flick (as I’ve heard it called by other critics), only this time he brings along an all-star cast. Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Hugh Grant, and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery all suit up for this story of an American drug dealer in London who’s looking to get out of the business, which sets off a chain reaction of a variety of characters trying to steal the business out from under him. It’s a pretty standard Guy Ritchie romp, which means it’s occasionally hard to follow, occasionally funny, filled with likable actors, and ultimately not quite as good as you want it to be. I mean, it’s an easy enough way to kill a couple of hours, but it’s not the kind of film that blows you away. The Gentlemen is released on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray and DVD, and the 4K presentation is surprisingly good. The added color saturation gives the film a nice verve, and the razor sharp image clarity makes everything crisp and clean. While the film is largely dialogue-driven, the surround soundtrack does an ample job with what it has to work with. A very strong A/V presentation overall.

Paramount Presents: To Catch a Thief, Fatal Attraction, King Creole – Paramount has launched a new imprint called Paramount Presents, which brings to mind Shout Factory’s Shout Selects line. Here we have three new Blu-ray releases in nice new packaging, and they’re some of the most popular or critically acclaimed films in Paramount’s vaults. Each one is released on Blu-ray with archival extra features as well as a new extra feature for each. Now, I love anything that presents great films in a great format, so I’m happy to have these out there. Fatal Attraction is a classic sexy 80’s thriller starring one of my favorite actors, Michael Douglas; To Catch a Thief is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most fun romps, a cat burglar mystery with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly; and King Creole is one of Elvis Presley’s best starring features, with the singer playing a musician trying to stay on the right side of the law. But I do have some complaints about this new line. First and foremost, there are no digital copies included. This has been an annoying trend with Paramount and their catalog releases in the last year or two. Just because I want to have these on Blu-ray and get the new extra features doesn’t mean I wouldn’t also like a digital copy of each film. Secondly, why only on Blu-ray? With 4K Ultra HD a viable format now, why not release them in the premium new format? Am I going to have to upgrade again when “Paramount Presents 4K” becomes a thing? These complaints aside, these are great films that look and sound really good and feature some nice extra materials. I just wish Paramount would go the whole distance with releases like this.

Guns Akimbo – For anyone who’s been wondering what movies will look like once a generation of kids who grew up playing Fortnite starts making films, have I got good news for you! Guns Akimbo is a new hyperkinetic action film starring Daniel Radcliffe (continuing his quest to make as many un-Harry-Potter-like films as possible) and Samara Weaving (who was so good in Ready or Not and is somewhat wasted here). Radcliffe plays a self-declared-nobody computer coder who likes to troll people online, which backfires when he is forced to participate in Skizm, an illegal online game where people fight to death. To make matters worse, he has two semi-automatic guns drilled to his hands against his will. Cue mayhem, running, gunfights, and psychos. The film really does play out like Fortnite: The Movie. The editing is chaotic, the action over-the-top, and the characters are paper-thin, with the exception of Radcliffe’s Miles, who at least has a voice-over that delivers some clever observations. Ultimately, it’s not a bad film per se; it’s entertaining enough while you’re watching it. But you certainly won’t walk away from it feeling better about yourself for having watched it.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Gunsmoke: The Complete Series and Gunsmoke: The Final Season – There are not one but two Gunsmoke releases this week from CBS Home Video, but only one of them is the largest box set I’ve ever received. Gunsmoke: The Complete Series collects ALL 20 seasons into one massive box set; and I mean this thing is HUGE! It’s comprised of 143 discs, broken up into five thick four-season cases, all of which are housed in one giant slipcover. Frankly, it’s a beauty. You get every single episode of what was once the longest-running show in the history of television. And while Gunsmoke might not have the cultural significance now it once did, there’s a reason this show stayed on the air for 20 years. It managed a nice balance between action and gunplay and horses and western trappings and also characters and drama and stories you could get hooked into. With a cast that stayed largely the same and then new characters to give the show new lifeblood every couple of years, Gunsmoke really was a milestone in television history. Also available this week is Gunsmoke: The Final Season, which is a great release for those of you who have been purchasing the seasons as they’ve been released to finish your collection. Western fans, now’s your chance to own a piece of television history!
  • Humans: The Complete CollectionHumans is one of those shows that always lived just slightly under the radar at least in the US, but I won’t be surprised if it develops a cult following in the next few years. Taking place in a world much like ours, the world of Humans has one major difference: here, robotic humans called Synthetics are commonplace. These robots become like part of the family for some people, but other people still don’t trust them. That’s a very oversimplified explanation of the plot of this series, which is a character drama with some interesting social commentary mixed in. It also follows a number of different characters in the way that the best TV shows do. Now, the entire series has been collected into a nice, compact box set on Blu-ray, which features all three seasons on six discs. The seasons are short compared to American TV seasons, so this is a quick but rewarding binge-watch. The show stars Gemma Chan and a bunch of familiar-face actors who you might not know by name, but it also features guest stars that show up in multiple episodes such as William Hurt and The Matrix’s Carrie-Anne Moss. Compelling, fascinating, and well-acted, this is a show that’s worth tracking down, even if it’s a shame it didn’t last longer.
  • Ray Donovan: Season Seven – I really wish I liked Ray Donovan more than I do. I’m a big fan of Liev Schreiber, the lead actor in the show, and I think the concept of a show about a Hollywood-based “fixer” is interesting enough. I guess it’s not that I truly dislike the show, I just wish it was better. Schreiber is intense and charismatic in the lead role, but the show as a whole just has a “feel” that isn’t for me. It definitely fits into the style of most pay-channel drama shows; it’s edgy and intense, and sometimes I feel like that’s a little forced. Even seven seasons in, I’ve watched enough of the show to know that it’s well-made and well-acted, but the vibe just doesn’t gel for me. This is one of those shows that people definitely like, but it’s not quite my cup of tea. For fans of the show, this DVD release will complete their collection; unfortunately, the final episode ends on a cliffhanger. I won’t be surprised if maybe we get a Showtime movie that wraps up the series sometime in the future. I hope so, if for no other reason than two reward the fans who watched this show for seven years.

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