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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Split Second, Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Young Sheldon, Bull, A Dog’s Courage, and more

Split Second

Superman: Man of Tomorrow – Overall, I really liked this latest Superman animated movie from the DC Animated Universe, but I do have some mixed feelings about it. While it’s not quite an origin story, it is a “young Clark Kent becoming Superman” story which has sort of an origin-ish feel to it. Which makes me wonder… why? We’ve seen Superman’s origins a million times, and even his journey to becoming Superman was well documented in ten seasons of Smallville. Why not give us a more modern story? That said, I really enjoyed this film, and I really REALLY liked the new animation style, which hearkened back to the cel-shaded video games that were all the rage in the early 2000s. So many of DC’s animated movies over the past decade have felt very homogenous from a visual standpoint, so I totally dug on this new and different visual feel. That shines even more with the 4K Ultra HD format, which is how I reviewed the film (it’s also available on Blu-ray and DVD), the enhanced colors really pop, and the black outlines that are so prevalent in the new animated style give the film almost a 3D feel to it. This is a fun movie that brings Lobo into the DC movie/video universe in a really fun way, and I think most Superman fans will enjoy it.

Young Sheldon: The Complete Third Season – I get that there’s long been a love/hate thing for many people with The Big Bang Theory, but I always enjoyed it. It was a fun way for me to laugh for 22 minutes every week. That said, I saw absolutely zero reason for the creation of Young Sheldon, and now that I’ve watched it, I still see absolutely zero reason for its continued existence. Say what you want about The Big Bang Theory, it’s a hell of a lot funnier than this show is. The cast is game, but the writing is sophomoric, and Sheldon Cooper by himself just isn’t interesting enough to carry a show, even if he is a kid. I dunno, I guess this one is a hit, and a lot of people watch it, but it’s just not for me.

Split Second: MVD Rewind Collection – I love the MVD Rewind Collection. They take cult classic films (sometimes, REALLY cult films) and give them special edition Blu-ray releases that rival Criterion and Arrow Video in terms of bonus content. And their latest release is Split Second, a great sci-fi thriller from 1992 starring Rutger Hauer (in full scenery-chewing mode) and Kim Cattrall. The story sees a rebellious cop chasing a serial killer, but of course, there’s a twist: the killer might not be entirely human. It’s a B-movie to be sure, but it’s the kind of B-movie that wants to be an A-movie, and that adds to the fun. The film is fast-paced and features some great suspense and good action scenes, and Hauer and Cattrall are both terrific. Then you’ve got the Blu-ray itself, which includes a ton of extra features, including an audio commentary, five new featurettes, archival featurettes, deleted scenes, a Japanese cut of the film, and much more. It’s a truly great release for fans of the film, and if you’re not already a fan of the film, seek it out because it’s a lot of fun.

Bull: Season Four – It’s not my week for CBS TV releases, I guess. In addition to Young Sheldon, we also get Bull: Season Four. I’ll be honest, I’ve sort of come to hate Michael Wetherly after seeing him in NCIS over the years. His character in that show is one of my least favorite characters in the history of television. With the new hit show Bull, this time he plays a variation on that character but since he’s in charge of the team of trial analysts he heads up, he’s somehow even more obnoxious. Admittedly, I can see what people like about the show; it’s fast-paced and formulaic but still has its own feel to it, but I can’t get into it. I know this show is a ratings hit, but it’s just not my thing.

A Dog’s Courage – Admittedly, I’m not an expert on anime, but I’ve reviewed a fair amount of anime movies, and my impression is that most anime films deal with either human beings or sci-fi trappings such as monsters, ghosts, and aliens. Most anime films rarely venture into animal-based stories, instead leaving that to the American studios to tackle. Well, this new film (which is actually Korean, not Japanese), wades firmly into Disney territory and says, “Hey, we can make really good animal movies, too!” A Dog’s Courage is your typical sort of “animal adventure” movie, in which a newly-stray dog becomes part of a family of strays and goes on an adventure on his way to finding a new home, but there are some departures from the normal formula along the way. The film does a great job of making the dogs into real characters and not just caricatures or cardboard cutouts. The film clocks in at an hour and 42 minutes, so it could have been about ten minutes shorter for my money, but by and large it’s quite enjoyable and it’s neat to see a fresh new take on a time-honored genre.

The Best of Cher – Cher is a household name who has reinvented herself numerous times, so the only surprise about the new 9-disc Best of Cher DVD release is that it took so long to come out. From Time Life, who have done a great job of immortalizing other pop culture icons like Carol Burnett and Jackie Gleason, comes The Best of Cher, an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink collection of some of the highlights of her career, largely drawn from her eponymous TV show. The set is broken into two volumes; the first volume consists of five discs which give us 10 episodes of her show Cher, which was her follow up to The Sonny and Cher Show. Volume 2 focuses on her network specials and her live shows, giving us Cher…Special (1978), Cher…and Other Fantasies (1979) Live from the Mirage (1991) and Live at the MGM Grand (1999), as well as the full-length documentary Dear Mom, Love Cher. Now, of course, as is usual with Time Life releases, the set is also loaded with extra features, including interviews with Cher, her guest appearances on various talk shows (including one as recent as 2018), an exclusive new featurette, and much more. While this is far from a complete retrospective of Cher’s extraordinary career (her movies are absent, obviously), it’s still a really great package for anyone who is a fan of the original multimedia diva/goddess.

Also Available on Home Video This Week:

  • Brutal Massacre: A Comedy – A who’s who of B-movie horror alumni populate the cast of Brutal Massacre: A Comedy, which is a large part of the film’s appeal. Among the stars are David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Gunnar Hanson (Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead), Brian O’Halloran (Clerks, admittedly not a horror film), and Ellen Sandweiss (The Evil Dead), among others. The film originally came out in 2007 and is directed by Steven Mena, who is best known for the Malevolence films, which are pretty brutal horror flicks. This film is a different beast, though, a mockumentary about filming a horror movie in which things go wrong pretty quickly. It’s a fun movie that takes some jabs at the horror genre and is nicely self-aware, and it is cool to see some familiar faces in the cast. While it’s been out for a while, this new Blu-ray from MVD marks the film’s debut on Blu, so fans will want to snatch it up, especially as it comes packed with extra features.
  • Max Reload and the Nether Blasters – Another terrific MVD this week, we have another genre film that fans will really enjoy, but this time the genre is video games. Max Reload and the Nether Blasters sees a local video store clerk find a “lost” video game, but when he plays it, he accidentally unleashes an evil force upon the world. Well, of course, it’s up to Max and his friends to stop it. What follows is a fairly standard rag-tag-heroes-against-evil stormy but it’s packed with video game references and some genre guest stars (Martin Kove, Greg Grunberg, Kevin Smith, and Will Wheaton as the narrator) that make it a lot of fun. It’s not a GREAT movie; it’s a low-budget affair and there are some flaws, but its heart is in the right place and video game fans will find a lot to like. As with most MVD releases this week, this one comes packed with numerous making-of featurettes, adding even more bang for your buck.
  • Seachange: Paradise Reclaimed – I’ve become quite a fan of Australian television over the last few years, thanks to shows like A Place to Call Home and Playing for Keeps. My wife and I love these Australian drama shows, so I’ll give any of them a try. Seachange: Paradise Reclaimed is a TV series sequel; kind of a reboot but not really a reboot, I guess. The original Seachange series debuted in the late 90s and followed a big city lawyer taking her children to a small coastal town and setting up shop there. This new series picks up 20 years later and sees Laura return to Pearl Bay. Her kids are now grown and of course, there’s a whole new dramatic thrust to the show. Now, I’d never seen the original series before, but this 3-disc set wisely includes four episodes of the original show as a bonus feature, so it was easy to catch up. And while the new series might not be my next great addiction, it’s still an enjoyable drama that fans of shows like Gilmore Girls will definitely enjoy.
  • Blood Quantum – This Canadian film is an interesting take on zombie flicks. In a world where a zombie plague has run rampant, an indigenous tribe finds that they are immune to the epidemic. Cue people fleeing to the tribe’s lands, but after centuries of mistreatment, how will the tribe handle people on the run from the undead? Will they welcome them? Turn them away? And where will it all go from there? Well, I’m certainly not going to tell you. I will say that I found this film quite enjoyable; admittedly, I love zombie movies, but I’ve also seen a lot of awful ones. This one is clearly influenced by George Romero’s movies, and while the first chunk of the film during the initial outbreak is incredibly tense and then things slow down a bit, I still found it engaging through to the end. Zombie fans — especially those who might be a little burned out on the numerous bad zombie flicks — will enjoy this new twist on the genre.
  • Five Corners: MVD Marquee Collection – MVD’s Marquee Collection is their slightly more “upscale” imprint if you will. Whereas their Rewind Collection focuses mostly on cult classics, the Marquee Collection presents films that are typically more dramatic, more acclaimed, or more well-known. Well, Five Corners may not be that well known (honestly, I’d never even heard off it before), but when you have a heavy drama starring Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins, and John Turturro, it’s easy to see why it made the Marquee Collection cut. The film comes from the director of The Sting and the writer of Moonstruck, but it’s a much different film from either of those. Turturro plays a rapist who’s released from jail and then tries to woo one of the women he attacked (played by Jodie Foster), so you can see this isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs. The performances by all three leads are quite good, but the film isn’t the kind of thing I usually go for. It’s well-made, but it’s uncomfortable and it’s not hard to see why it didn’t make a splash at the box office. Still, fans of the cast might want to check out a film they haven’t seen before that’s been largely forgotten.
  • Inside the Rain: Special Edition – MVD has been knocking it out of the park this week with extras-laden Blu-ray releases, and then there’s Inside The Rain: Special Edition. Now, considering the sole extra feature is the film’s trailer, I can’t quite see how they can justify calling this a “special edition,” but I’ll give them a pass for now because the rest of their releases offer up so many extras. Inside the Rain is a dramedy that features Rosie Perez and Eric Roberts, but they’re not the real stars of the film. That credit goes to Aaron Fisher and Ellen Toland, who have nice chemistry on screen together as a pair of new friends try to battle a bipolar college student’s expulsion. They’re the highlight of the film, which suffers from a lead character who’s so grating as to sometimes become unlikable, and a script which isn’t afraid of cliches. It’s an okay film anchored by two terrific performances.
  • Evil Boy – This Russian horror film doesn’t really tread on any new ground (it’s squarely in “young family with creepy/haunted kid” territory), but that doesn’t stop it from finding some good thrills and chills in it’s 90-minute running time. The film follows a couple that’s young son has died, who years later adopt a feral child. As the child becomes more and more like their dead son, the parents start to notice some disturbing things. Like I said, it’s not a new story, but it’s told effectively, features some strong performances, and it has a creeping atmosphere that’s laced with dread, just like good horror movies usually do. If you don’t mind subtitles and you’re a horror fan, I’d suggest you track this one down.
  • Bloodfight + Ironheart (Bolo Yeung Double Feature) – You don’t see a lot of movies that try this hard to capture the Bloodsport/Jean-Claude Van Damme crowd, but both films in this double feature do exactly that, from the names of the movies to the fonts of the movie’s title to their stories to their action. To be fair, Bloodfight is sort of a sequel/spin-off of sorts to Bloodsport, set ion the same cinematic universe, but with the focus on Chang (played by Bolo Yeung, who starred in Bloodsport and stars in both of these movies as well.) Ironheart, however, is a more straightforward man-out-to-avenge-his-murdered-best-friend story, which could have just as easily starred Van Damme himself. Yeung isn’t a great actor but he’s got the martial arts part down, meaning you get some low-budget action flicks that are short on plot but heavy on ass-kicking, and sometimes, isn’t that exactly what you want? Plus, you get two films for the price of one, so it’s hard to argue with this one if you’re an action junkie looking for their next fix.
  • The B-52s: Live at US Festival – Like, I assume, many people, I’m not a die-hard B-52s fan, but I like most of their hit songs. Love Shack, Roam, Rock Lobster… I can really dig a B-52s song when it comes on the radio. For those of you who ARE die-hard fans, however, Shot Factory has a new DVD release that will get your grooves pumping. This 1982 concert features 13 songs (but is missing some of their biggest hits, which came out in the ‘90s) and gives you about an hour of live music. There are also interviews with the band included as extra features, which I always appreciate on concert videos. B-52s fans, this one is for you!

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