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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: The Twilight Zone, The Trip, Jungleland, The Craft: Legacy, Lupin III: The First, and more


The Twilight Zone: Season Two – The CBS All Access original reboot of The Twilight Zone (now the fourth iteration of the venerated series, I believe) proves that great ideas never die. Hosted by Jordan Peele, the show is an hour-long sci-fi/suspense/drama/thriller that carries on the traditions of the original series but updates it for modern audiences. This second season consists of 10 new episodes, and we get a mix of different flavors of sci-fi, paranoia, tension, and uncertainty. CBS has once again pulled out all the stops by making sure each episode includes well-loved cast members: look for everyone from George Takei, Morena Baccarin, and Damon Wayans, Jr. to Topher Grace, David Krumholtz, and Ethan Embry. It’s a fun new take on one of the most beloved shows of all time, and while the original will still always be my favorite, this is a highly enjoyable series to dive into.

The Craft: Legacy – Some 30 years after the original cult classic The Craft (a very ‘90s film about four high school girls who get into witchcraft/dark magic), we finally get a sequel. Sort of. It’s less a sequel than an update, but there may be a familiar face or two from the first film that pops up in a neat appearance. The story once again follows four high school girls who form a coven of witches, and — of course — things don’t always go smoothly once you mix teenagers and black magic. The main girls are played by largely unknown actors, save the excellent Cailee Spaeny of Pacific Rim: Uprising and A Bad Night at the El Royale. However, David Duchovny and Michelle Monaghan show up to add a little star power to the proceedings. There’s a lot more social commentary in this film, but a lot less tension than in the original, with the tone of the film occasionally a bit uneven. It’s an easy enough watch with snappy editing and a fast pace, but ultimately it’s a little bit disposable.

The Trip: Four-Course Meal – It seems safe to assume that Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have filmed their final entry in the semi-reality-based (but not really) The Trip series, although you never know for sure. The franchise started in 2010 with The Trip, continued in 2014 with The Trip to Italy, then 2017 with The Trip to Spain, and finally in 2020 gave us The Trip to Greece. In the films, Coogan and Brydon play versions of themselves, traveling, eating, sharing life and laughter and frustration with each other. They spend a lot of time in restaurants (it’s sort of the launching point for the story), but eventually we get out of the restaurants and venture out into the countries more. The films are semi-scripted with a lot of ad-libbing, but it’s the interplay between Coogan and Brydon that make the films work so well. This four-disc set collects all four films into one nice set, although it’s only available on DVD, and I would have preferred the option to get the films on Blu-ray as well. Still, the films are a lot of fun, and this is a nice, affordable way to get them all in one shot.

Jungleland – Charlie Hunnam and Jack O’Connell star in this gritty boxing drama about two brothers trying to use the sport to escape from their squalid lives. In fact, it’s not really a boxing drama, but more of a dark drama/road trip film, with boxing being the ultimate goal of the characters. It’s a tough film, not a Cinderella Man story, and it involves things like organized crime and human trafficking. The Fighter, this ain’t. And while I found it a bit heavy for my tastes, there’s no denying the impressive performances by both Hunnam and O’Connell, as well as Jessica Barden, who shines in her role as a human who may be being trafficked. Worth a watch if you want to take a walk on the darker side of things for a bit.

Minding the Gap – The Criterion Collection has a strong new release this week with Minding the Gap, a little seen coming-of-age documentary set in the world of skateboarding teenagers. I’m not always a huge fan of documentaries, but young filmmaker Bing Lu charts the journey of himself and his two friends over the course of a few years as they transition into young adulthood. But this isn’t just a collection of flip-tricks and ollies, nor is it a snarky trash heap like Mid 90s. Instead, it’s a surprisingly deep film that looks at what drives these young men to escape from real life into skateboarding, where they come from, what they’re avoiding, and where they’re going. It’s a surprisingly moving film and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. As with most Criterion films, you get some good extra features, including a commentary track with the film’s three subjects, which feels kind of like an all-new movie. Pretty cool.

Lupin III The First – Perhaps the most confusing film title I’ve come across in recent years (Is he the third? The First? How can it be the first if its the third?), Lupin III the First is a new CGI anime movie starring the popular character Lupin the Third, known as a gentleman thief. In this film, Lupin decides to steal a professor’s diary that may hold the key to finding a lost civilization, but a group of bad guys is out to stop him. The resulting chaos makes up the adventure of the film, and it’s a lot of fun. I haven’t seen very much in the world of Lupin the Third, but if it’s all like this, I’m definitely interested in tracking down more. Not only is the animation excellent, but the film is just fun. It’s got a kind of Indiana Jones meets Tin Tin meets James Bond meets cat burglar feel to it, and there’s no shortage of action and adventure to be found throughout. And don’t let the confusing title throw you off; you can jump right into this film without having watched anything previously and you’ll understand it just fine. A fun new discovery!

Also Available This Week on Home Video:

  • Ultraman Taro (Regular & Steelbook) – Mill Creek has done a terrific job with their Ultraman complete franchise release series so far, and these latest two releases are no exception. Technically, this is two versions of the same release, one in a standard multi-disc case and one in a beautiful Steelbook case. But what you get here is the complete series of Ultraman Taro. This was the sixth series in the Ultraman franchise, debuting in 1973, and it ran for 53 episodes. In the show, a young boxer is gravely injured and becomes joined with an Ultra Hero to be come the superhero known as Ultraman Taro. By now, you probably know what you get with this series that was a major inspiration on things like Power Rangers: colorful costumes, occasionally cheesy action scenes, and whole lot of fun. As usual, you also get an awful lot of bang for your buck in this set, and if you’ve been grabbing the Mill Creek Ultraman Blu-ray series so far, you’re not gonna want to stop now.
  • Molly of Denali: Molly’s Awesome Alaskan Adventures – It’s funny to me that it’s getting to the point that most of the kids shows that are coming out nowadays I have next to no knowledge of, now that my kids are old enough to have graduated to PG-13 fare. So for example, I’d heard of Molly of Denali but never watched it before, so this new 2-Disc collection from PBS was a nice treat. The show is an educational adventure show, not dissimilar to Dora the Explorer, but more focused on history, nature, and science than just word and Spanish. It’s also not NEARLY as annoying as Dora the Explorer always was. This collection gives you almost seven hours worth of episodes over two discs, meaning your little ones will be able to watch a lot of Molly before having to repeat it. With a low price point, it’s hard to argue with that much content!
  • Indie Spotlight: We have a few independent films hitting home video this week, starting with Jonathan Scott’s Power Trip. Yes, THAT Jonathan Scott, one half of the Property Brothers. In this new documentary, Scott takes on the power industry, taking us through how power is generated and sold, and sharing the benefits of solar energy. Scott travels the country and speaks with experts (including a few experts and politicians such as Al Gore and Bernie Sanders), and his affable personality makes it an easy watch. He’s no joke, though; Scott takes the subject seriously and it’s clear he’s passionate about promoting cleaner, cheaper energy for everyone. I was impressed. Next up is Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, a sort of semi-reality, quasi-documentary, fictional drama… but not. The film is set in a dive bar in Las Vegas on its last night before closing, which also happens to be the night of the 2016 presidential election, an obviously momentous night. The film feels real and immediate, yet intimate and meandering. I suspect some people will absolutely love that it’s not plot-driven and takes its time getting anywhere, while other people will love the film’s characters and their beatific soliloquies on life and society. I think I landed somewhere in the middle, but it’s an interesting film with some bright spots on an unhurried path. Finally, we have Beautiful Darling, another documentary, this one about Candy Darling, a transgendered female who was made famous by Andy Warhol (and supposedly Lou Reed’s song Walk on the Wild Side). Her life was short and her light shined briefly, but she was thrust into the avant grade mainstream for a short period of time and this film details her life during the chaos. It’s an interesting enough documentary that benefits from a sub-90-minute running time that keeps the pacing snappy.
  • Warner Archive Spotlight – We have six new Blu-ray releases this week from the Warner Archive, Warner Brothers’ print-on-demand home video service ( This batch is comprised entirely of romantic comedies from the 1940s and 50s. The most well known of the batch is The Shop Around the Corner (which was eventually remade as You’ve Got Mail), which stars James Stewart and Margaret Sullivan as rival shopkeepers who don’t like each other, even while they fall in love as pen pals. It’s a delightful film, with both Stewart and Sullivan in fine form. Also a well-loved film is It Happened on 5th Avenue, which sees a group of homeless folks squatting in a millionaire’s mansion while he’s away on vacation and who begin to enjoy the high life lifestyle. It’s a classic story and a fun film, even though most of the stars are unknown to today’s audiences. Next up we have Holiday Affair, starring Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh. This one is more dramatic than the others, with a love triangle and a sense of loss that undercuts the film. But, it makes for a nice holiday film and it does have some nice, lighthearted moments, plus it’s nice to see Mitchum in a lighter role than usual. Moving on, we have The Harvey Girls, a musical comedy starring Judy Garland and Ray Bolger. It’s not a particularly great film — and the concept of mail-order brides seems so foreign as to be alien in this day and age — but it’s bright and lively, and you get supporting roles by Angela Lansbury and Cyd Charisse, so that’s pretty cool. Next is Young Man With a Horn, a high-wattage star vehicle featuring Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, and Doris Day in a love triangle. This film is a bit of an outlier for this group because it’s pretty much a straight drama. But as directed by Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, and with excellent performances by Douglas, Day, and Bacall, it packs a wallop! Finally this week, we have Mister Roberts, another star-powered vehicle starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, and William Powell and directed by John Ford. This one is a comedy set on a Navy ship in the waning days of World War II. It’s populated with quirky characters and wacky hijinks, and the trio of Cagney, Fonda, and Powell (not really actors known for comedies) is a welcome one. It’s a little bit long (running just over two hours), but overall I had a lot of fun with this one.
  • Mill Creek Spotlight – Wrapping up the week, we have a number of new releases from Mill Creek this week. Mill Creek specializes in low-price catalog and cult releases and rereleases, and this week we get a fun group of Blu-ray releases of comedies that are either out of print or never-before-released on Blu-ray. Each one comes with the VHS-style cover art on a slipcover, even though each film is on Blu-ray. First up is Blind Fury, a 1989 action film starring Rutger Hauer as a blind veteran who is also trained in swordplay (because why not?) who sets out to rescue the son of a fellow soldier. It’s a very ‘80s action film, and I mean that in the best possible way. With dated fashions hairstyles and music, it’s a flashback to when action movies could be kind of awful and kind of awesome at the same time. Fun! Next up is 1990’s The Freshman, one of Marlon Brando’s final film performances, where he shares the screen with Matthew Broderick. It’s a bit of an odd film with Broderick playing a film school student and Brando almost doing a parody of himself in The Godfather, and the scheme involving endangered animals is a Biot put of left field. It’s not a great film, but Brando is Brando and this was back when Matthew Broderick still had fun in movies, so it was dun to revisit it for the first time in many years. Following that, we have Like Father Like Son, a body-switching comedy starring Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron from 1987, before Cameron became an evangelical superhero. I loved this movie as a kid, and while it doesn’t hold up all that well, it was worth watching for the nostalgia blast alone! And speaking of nostalgia, we also have Crossroads from 1986. This Ralph Macchio vehicle (in one of his first big post-Karate Kid roles) is surprisingly good. Macchio plays a classically trained guitar player obsessed with the blues. When he tracks down a legend from the bygone era of blues music, he breaks the elderly man out of his nursing home and goes on a road trip with him down to Georgia, where the man claims he made a deal with the devil. I kid you not! It’s like a musical episode of Supernatural with the Karate Kid as a guest star. It’s a better film than I expected it to be, and it holds up relatively well. Color me surprised! Moving into more modern years, we have 2006’s Accepted, a funny college comedy starring Justin Long, Blake Lively, and Jonah Hill. This is a pretty funny flick about a slacker teenager who can’t get into college, so he starts his own. It’s clearly still in that post-American Pie comedy mode (although not as raunchy), but it’s a pretty funny movie and has a great cast. I liked revisiting this one. Finally, we have Your Highness, the 2011 flop starring James Franco, Danny McBride, and Natalie Portman. It’s a medieval-set broad comedy, and I’d probably like it more if it didn’t feature McBride in one of the lead roles, because I absolutely can’t stand him. If you don’t mind his presence, you might get a kick out of this silly film.

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