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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection, Pretty in Pink, Lost In America, Universal Horror Collection: Volume 5, A Soldier’s Revenge, and more

Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection

It’s another small week thanks to Coronavirus-related review copy delays, but there are som BIG releases this week, kicking off with a couple of great box sets and an ’80s classic!

Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection – Speaking of going the distance, Columbia drops a massive box set this week that will please cinema fans immensely: The Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection, a multi-disc beauty that includes new 4K Ultra HD versions of six classic films from the Columbia vaults, all making their 4K debuts. The films included are: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Strangelove, Gandhi, A League of Their Own, and Jerry Maguire. The set includes a brand new 4K Ultra HD disc for each film (two for Lawrence of Arabia!), but also includes each film on Blu-ray, ensuring that all of the original extra features are included in this set. There is one small hiccup: there was a problem at manufacturing, and some of the Lawrence extras were inadvertently left out. Sony has asked us to communicate an update to readers, which you can read at the bottom* of this column. As for the rest of the collection, each film has been restored and remastered in the Ultra HD format, and while of course, some films are from the 1930s or 1960s and some are much more recent, coming from the ‘90s, by and large each film has been wonderfully revitalized in the new format. Lawrence of Arabia, already a visually groundbreaking film, looks better than I’ve ever seen it, and I’ve seen the film on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. Jerry Maguire and A League of Their Own both sparkle with bright new colors and razor-sharp clarity. Mr. Smith and Dr. Strangelove are both in black and white, but showcase brilliant contrasts and excellent shadow delineation. Technically speaking, you can’t beat the job Sony has done with these transfers. I’ve seen people online complain about the movies selection for this set, but some of the choices were drawn from a poll Sony took of movie watchers, and personally I like it a lot. It’s a nice mix of stone-cold cinema classics and newer classics that deserve a place in the movie pantheon. This is a terrific set overall, and the fact that it’s labeled as “Volume 1” gives me hope that we’ll see another excellent set like continuing this series in the near future. Oh yeah, and it’d make a heck of a great Father’s Day gift!

Pretty in Pink – Paramount continues its new imprint called Paramount Presents, which brings to mind Shout Factory’s Shout Selects line. In just over a month, we’ve had five new Blu-ray releases from Paramount’s vaults and this week we have the sixth entry in the series, Pretty in Pink. One of the great John Hughes-scripted movies of the 1980s, Pretty in Pink cemented the “Brat Pack” as box office stars and remains one of the great comedies of the decade. This new version of the film is released on Blu-ray with archival extra features as well as a new extra feature featuring an interview with director Howard Deutch. As with last month’s releases, however, I feel I have to point out that there is no digital copy 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 the film on Blu-ray and get the new extra features doesn’t mean I wouldn’t also like a digital copy of it. As with before, the film looks and sounds really good and features some nice extra materials. I just wish Paramount would go the whole distance with releases like this.

Universal Horror Collection: Volume 5 – 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 cult-ish hits to Shout Factory for the excellent Universal Horror Collection, which returns with its fifth volume this week. This time around, there’s definitely a theme, as we get the following movies: The Monster and The Girl (which sees a mobster’s brain put into a gorilla); Captive Wild Woman (which sees an ape transformed into a beautiful woman); its sequel, Jungle Woman; and Jungle Captive, (which sees a scientist re-animating dead animals and people). So yeah, you definitely get your fill of mad scientists, crazy creatures, killer apes, and beautiful women in this set! Are these films great? No, they’re B-movie from a bygone era. But there is a certain sense of fun to them and they have short running times, making them a fun cheesy/guilty pleasure watch. As with previous sets, each film gets its own disc, and the package is housed in a nice slipcover. I’m really enjoying this series of Blu-ray releases from Shout Factory and I hope it continues for a long time.

A Soldier’s Revenge – Okay, admittedly I’m not the biggest western fan in the world, but I’ve seen some recent efforts that I’ve found quite enjoyable. I’m not sure what’s going on with A Soldier’s Revenge though. The film takes a page from the Standard Western Movie playbook, with a former soldier who hunts renegades finding himself helping two kids find their missing mother. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but nothing too overly derivative, either. But from there, it goes south. First of all, the film is well over two hours long, which is WAY too much for a film with so little to say. This movie should have been an hour and a half, max. The cast is solidly mediocre, and even though Val Kilmer shows up briefly, that doesn’t help much. The pacing is glacially slow and the script is way at best. There could have been a good, taut western in here somewhere if it wasn’t so overblown, but as it is, it just moves way too slow to be interesting.

Disney Zombies 2 – Disney picks up the latest series in their high-school-set musicals trend with a sequel to Disney Zombies, Disney Zombies 2. Once again, we find ourselves in a school where there are both regular kids and zombie kids, but this time they’ve added werewolves. Disney is checking off all the boxes here, folks! Here’s the good news: if you enjoyed the first film (which I did!), there’s no reason you won’t enjoy this one just as much. It brings back the bright and colorful song-and-dance numbers and that Disney sense of cheesy fun that is both endearing and slightly nerdy at the same time. I’ve always really enjoyed these Disney musicals; I love the High School Musical trilogy and also the Rock Camp movies, so this franchise, with its family-friendly twist on a horror genre mainstay, is a lot of fun for me.

Lost in America – A number of big-name music and acting stars contribute to this documentary about homeless teenagers in America. Jon Bob Jovie, Jewel, Tiffany Haddish, Rosario Dawson, and Halle Berry all pop up to share their thoughts on the epidemic, which affects over 4 million teens in America alone. But this is no standard doc, filled with social scientists droning on and on. Instead, filmmaker Rotimi Rainwater has clearly been raised on a steady diet of Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore, making himself both narrator and character in the film. This might turn some people off, but to me, it makes this a much more interesting movie than it could have been, and having some of my favorite performers pop up (especially Jewel — who famously was a homeless teenager) makes it all the better. A profound and affecting watch.

Think Like a Dog – Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox star in Think Like a Dog, a new family comedy that, well, puts dogs (and kids) front and center, not surprisingly. The story follows a young boy who — thanks to a scientific experiment gone awry — gains the ability to telepathically communicate with his dog. Enter The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar, who plays a tech tycoon after the young boy’s technology. It’s all pretty silly, but it’s fun I the way good kids movies are supposed to be. It’s all pretty tame, but there are some funny moments here and there and a few scenes of “action” that will keep younger viewers engaged, while the presence of Fox and Duhamel and the parents and Nayyar as the villain will keep parents at least mildly entertained. Wholesome family fun!

* Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Continued – For the Columbia Classics 4K Set, Sony has asked us to let readers know that, “the correct special features disc will be available to consumers who purchase the set, whether as a pre-order or as part of a future order, pending the eventual availability of sets that already have the correct disc included. Consumers should receive communication from their retailer about this corrected disc soon, but may contact the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Customer Care team with any questions at or 1-800-860-2878.”

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