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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Bill & Ted Face The Music, SNL, The Last Starfighter, Peninsula, Mallrats, Flash Gordon and more

Bill & Ted Face The Music – I’m not usually a big fan of sequels that are made decades after the original films. Of course, I am a big fan of both the original Bill & Ted’s movies, so I was at least a little excited to watch Bill & Ted Face the Music. So how is it? Well, it’s actually pretty solid. It clearly doesn’t hold a candle to the first two films, and there are times when it tries a little too hard, but overall it’s still pretty fun. This time around, Bill & Ted are trying to find the song that’s supposed to unite the world before the world is destroyed. We meet Bill and Ted’s daughters, Billie and Thea, and we get some fun time travel hijinks. There are some nice nods to the earlier films, and I chuckled a decent amount, but it’s not as funny or fresh as the originals (not that I honestly expected it to be.) I liked some parts a lot (the trips into the future are quite a bit of fun) and there were some things I liked less (I wish the daughter characters were more interesting and less clones of their dads), but it’s an easy way to kill a couple of hours and it’s a fun movie universe to revisit.

Train to Busan Presents Peninsula – The first Train to Busan movie is one of the best zombie movies of the last two decades. You would think that a zombie movie set on a train would be repetitive or silly, but instead, it’s an action-packed thrill ride that never lets up. This sequel, set four years later, is an okay movie, but honestly, it’s a pretty disappointing outing compared to the first film. First of all, it’s a much darker film, both in terms of lighting and tone. And in an attempt to give us a sort of Mad-Max-meets-zombies climax, we get a huge car chase sequence… that is almost entirely computer-generated. It’s incredibly distracting because the effects aren’t quite good enough to pull it off, so everything feels a little herky-jerky and artificial. There are some cool sequences in the film and it’s not a bad movie per se, but it just doesn’t come close to the masterpiece that the original film was. Train to Busan Presents Peninsula is released on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), and the premium format treats it well. As the film has so many dark or nighttime scenes, shadow delineation is excellent, which makes it easier to see the action. It’s not a colorful movie at all so the increased color saturation doesn’t help as much here, but the imagery is razor-sharp. The surround soundtrack does an excellent job of immersing you in the constant action, utilizing the rear and satellite speakers well. It’s a very strong presentation of the film that helps make it even more visceral.

Bugs Bunny: 80th Anniversary Collection – This terrific new collection from Warner Brothers brings the world’s most famous rabbit to the digital age in style. This three-disc Blu-ray collection includes 60 Bugs Bunny theatrical shorts, including some of his most famous outings — think The Barber of Seville or What’s Opera, Doc?. Each short has been restored and remastered, and they look utterly fantastic in high definition. Even better, Warner Brothers has also included a digital copy with the collection, meaning all 60 shorts can be added to your digital collection. On top of that, the box set comes with a limited edition Diamond Bugs Bunny Funko Pop figure. I love Funko Pops, and any time I can get one as a part of a home video set, it makes them even better. There are also some cool extra features such as a documentary about Bugs and ten Looney Tunes Cartoons episodes (that’s the new show from Warner, be aware). Bugs Bunny is a household name for a reason, and this set is a great reminder of why.

Saturday Night Live: The Early Years – Back in the early days of DVD, there was an attempt from NBC to package up all of the original Saturday Night Live episodes, but it only lasted a couple of seasons and was then abandoned. Well, Time Life has wisely realized that there definitely is an audience for these shows and has released Saturday Night Live: The Early Years. Available now exclusively at, this 12-disc sets includes 33 episodes total from the first five seasons (30 episodes are hand-curated while there are three more episodes included as an extra feature on a bonus DVD). While it’s not the entirety of the first five seasons (although there is a deluxe box set available that includes every episode), I think this is the best way to go. Let’s be honest, not every moment on SNL is comedy gold. By giving us the best 30 episodes from the first five seasons, we get a really high-quality collection of episodes: all killer, no filler, as they say. I’m a little surprised that there aren’t really any extra features, aside from the aforementioned bonus episodes and a 28-page booklet, but the real attraction is the classic cast, the guest hosts (Carrie Fisher! George Carlin! Steve Martin! Richard Pryor!), and the classic, iconic sketch characters we all know and love. This is a very cool set and also a terrific gift for the holiday season. RECOMMENDED!

The Last Starfighter: Arrow Video Special Edition – Those of you who read my column regularly know what a huge fan of Arrow Video I am. They are basically the Criterion Collection of cult and genre films, and this week they have several new Collector’s Edition releases that I am beyond excited about. The first one is The Last Starfighter, the classic 80’s sci-fi film about an arcade game champion on earth who gets recruited into an intergalactic space war. Starring Lance Guest and Dan O’Herlihy, The Last Starfighter is one of those 80s films that will forever live on in the hearts and minds of kids from that decade. It’s a terrific film with a great concept, and I love rewatching it every few years. This new edition features restored and remastered A/V elements, gorgeous new packaging (including a full-color booklet), and a host of extra features. There are three commentaries, seven featurettes, a four-part documentary, and more. It’s really a dream package for any fan of the movie, which I definitely am. This one’s a sci-fi slam dunk! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Mallrats: Arrow Video Special Edition – The second Arrow release this week is Mallrats, Kevin Smith’s second film (after his debut hit, Clerks.) I am proud to say that I was sitting in theaters on opening night for Mallrats, which is something I suspect not many people can say, considering it was a box office flop. But Kevin Smith fans know it’s an integral chapter of the View Askewniverse, and it’s a great comedy in its own right. Starring Jason Lee and Jeremy London (as well as a ton of other great cast members), the film isn’t high concept or plot-driven, but it does have the Jaws ride at Universal studios, Stan Lee, Jay and Silent Bob, and chocolate covered pretzels. I love this movie! Once again, this new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray has been remastered and includes both theatrical and extended cuts of the film, as well as a slew of extra features including multiple featurettes, deleted scenes, and a second disc that includes the TV cut, which has been overdubbed to remove the profanity, and that’s a whole new kind of comedy! As a bonus, you get a terrific full-color booklet and a recreation of Jay & Silent Bob’s blueprints from the schemes within the film. This one is — simply put — a must-have for Kevin Smith fans. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Flash Gordon: Arrow Video Special Edition – Finally from Arrow this week, we have Flash Gordon, the classic 1980s sci-fi adventure starring the original pulp hero. Now, some people consider this film cheesy, but I actually think it’s pretty amazing. The visual look and feel of the film is outstanding and highly creative, and I just love watching it. Sam Jones stars as Flash Gordon, a human from earth who gets sucked into a war on the planet Mongo. It’s high adventure in the best pulpy way, and it’s just an incredibly fun film. This new two-disc edition of the film comes to Blu-ray with restored picture quality, two audio commentaries, half a dozen featurettes, a cast reunion special, a rare TV episode from the 1982 TV series, and more. Then there’s a second disc which includes 2017’s acclaimed documentary Life After Flash, which explores Sam Jones’ life and career in the decades since Flash Gordon. It’s hours and hours of great bonus material on top of an already fantastic film; what more could you ask for? RECOMMENDED!

Iron Mask – Remember that time that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan teamed up for a period action epic? No? Well, now you do, because this week we’ve got Iron Mask, a new film that I don’t even know where to start with. It’s a fantasy adventure that’s technically a sequel to a film from 2014 called Forbidden Kingdom, which starred Jason Flemyng, who returns in the lead role. Chan and Schwarzenegger have supporting roles, although I was happy to see they weren’t just glorified cameos getting front cover status to sell DVDs. But the story is all over the place and only occasionally coherent, and it feels like this movie was made by multiple directors working from different scripts. There is some fun to be had and some interesting visuals, plus Charles Dance and the late Rutger Hauer have small roles, but it’s one of those movies that’s almost more enjoyable as a curiosity than as an actual narrative film. That said, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some entertainment value to be had.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Blindspot: The Fifth and Final Season – A big hit for NBC, the show that served as a sort of a spiritual brethren to The Blacklist has finally come to an end. The show started with a woman dropped in Times Square naked and covered and tattoos (including the name of an FBI agent in ink), who then tries to solve the mystery of her identity and the mysterious tattoos. Over the course of five seasons, it morphed and shifted, and this final season attempts to bring all of the various storylines to a close. This was a fun show with a story that kept viewers guessing and I think most fans will be satisfied with how it all wraps up. Blindspot: The Fifth and Final Season is not a traditional retail release, being released via Warner’s print-on-demand Warner Archive service. You can buy it at or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.
  • Delta Rae: Coming Home to Carolina – This music release features the genre-defying Delta Rae, a group that is described as “alt-pop gospel-tinged country-rock, sensual blue-eyed soul, and harmony-laden Americana.” I don’t know all about that, but they make pretty cool music that feels a little bit like The Lumineers crossed with Lady Antebellum. I had never even heard of Delta Rae before this release crossed my desk, if I’m being honest, but I dig the group’s vibe. This concert from their 2019 tour was apparently filmed with fourteen 4K Ultra Hi-Def cameras, resulting in a dynamic concert experience that looks fantastic on Blu-ray. This 3-disc set includes the entire concert performance on both Blu-ray and DVD, as well as an audio CD of the performance, which is how I think every concert should be released on home video. Even though I was unfamiliar with them, Delta Rae seems to have a solid fan base and I think those fans will love this release.
  • Indie Spotlight – Wrapping up this week, we have a handful of indie releases to cover. First up is The Killing Floor, starring Alfre Woodard. This 1984 film originally was a TV movie, a part of PBS’ American Playhouse series but eventually played at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals and won the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award. It’s a powerful film that feels theatrical and not made-for-TV, and it tells the true story of the first interracial labor union in Chicago and the events that led to the race riots in 1919. These kinds of stories are important but that doesn’t always equal a good film; The Killing Floor is gripping, moving, tough, intense, and daring. Now, the film makes its Blu-ray debut, and while it’s not a household name kind of film, its definitely worth revisiting, especially on the Blu-ray format. Next up we have three foreign films, starting with The Untold Story, a dark Chinese thriller from 1993 making its Blu-ray debut. This is a hard film to describe, because there are a lot of twists and turns and I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it say there’s a killer, a restaurant, a mystery, pork buns, black comedy, and some grisly imagery. It’s kind of a tough watch in places, but it’s also gleefully over-the-top at times, so I feel like it will attract a certain kind of viewer. Just know this isn’t your run-of-the-mil police procedural; not by a long shot. A Girl Missing is another Asian film (from Japan), but while the title implies another thriller, this is actually more of a drama masquerading as a thriller. The film deals with a home nurse whose nephew kidnaps one of the family members, and the aftermath and fallout of those events. It’s a measured film, quiet at times, and it takes a while to click. There’s a time-jumping device in the narrative that feels a little distracting at times. Ultimately not my cup of tea, but I think some viewers will like it. Wrapping up the triumvirate of foreign releases this week, we have Hero on the Front, this time a war film from Portugal. The film tells the story of a lone Portuguese soldier during World War I who gets separated from his unit and must make his way through enemy lines back to safety. Unfortunately, he meets a large number of enemy combatants and getting home isn’t easy. I haven’t seen a lot of films from Portugal but if this is any indication, they have a solid film scene, as the movie has some great action sequences and mixes in some nice character moments.

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