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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Supernatural, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Mission Impossible, Tom & Jerry, Explorers, The Final Countdown, Minari and more

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After several weeks with small release slates, this week sees a ton of new titles hit the shelves. We’ve got new films, catalog rereleases, 4K Ultra HD upgrades, and more!

Star Trek: Lower Decks – Season 1 – I’ve been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember, and one of the things I’ve always loved about Trek at its best is how humorous it can be. So when Paramount announced a comedic animated series set in the Next Generation universe, let’s just say I was pretty darned excited. Under the guidance of Mike McMahon, one of the showrunners on Rick & Morty (which I’m actually not a fan of, sorry!), the show gives us a look at the lives of four “lower decks” officers on the USS Cerritos, a pretty low-ranking ship in Starfleet. Over the course of ten episodes, we watch as the uptight Ensign Boimler, the rebellious Ensign Mariner, the geeky cyborg Ensign Rutherford, and the overly enthusiastic Ensign Tendi find themselves in all sorts of trouble. But what’s great about the show is that while it’s a comedy, it’s never short on Trek-style exploration and action. It actually stays very true to the Trek aesthetic, it just has a lot of fun while doing so. And the comedy is loving, not spiteful; meaning the show often makes fun of Trek tropes, but in a way that is never mean-spirited. The show doesn’t just poke jabs of Trek, it has fun with the very idea of Trek. I love it and I can’t wait for Season 2! RECOMMENDED!

Supernatural: The 15th and Final Season – One of my all-time favorite TV shows has come to an end. I’ve been a Supernatural fan since the very first episode aired (I watched it LIVE on TV!), and my fandom has never waned. Frankly, I’m stunned the show remained as good as it did; most series can’t go five seasons without a serious decline in quality, much less fifteen. However, I’ll say that as sad as I am to see the show go, it felt like a good time to come to an end. Of course, there’s no way to discuss the final episode without spoilers, but suffice it to say that I think most fans will be reaching for a hanky. As always, this terrific Blu-ray collection from Warner Brothers includes every episode of the final season and a number of extra features, including deleted scenes, a half dozen featurettes, a retrospective episode, and a gag reel. A must-have for any fan. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Tom & Jerry – One of the Warner Brothers films that hit theaters and HBO Max on the same day, the new live-action Tom & Jerry film is now available on home video. I wonder how big of a hit this would have been in a regular year. After all, Tom & Jerry have been around for over 70 years, but at the same time, they’re not exactly on the cutting edge of current entertainment trends. Still, this animation/live action hybrid film stars Chloe Grace Moretz and Michael Pena, and it sees Jerry living in a posh New York hotel when Tom is brought in to eradicate the “mouse problem.” What follows is a nice mix of traditional Tom & Jerry battles and physical comedy and some bigger, more elaborate set pieces that take the action outdoors and into the city. Is it a masterpiece a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit? No. But is it a fun film that kids and parents can both enjoy? Absolutely.

Mission: Impossible 25th Anniversary Limited Edition – I totally understand Paramount releasing a 25th Anniversary Edition of Mission: Impossible to coincide with the release of the new M:I film that should be hitting theaters soon. After all, it launched an incredibly successful franchise, and it’s also a pretty darn awesome film to boot. As much as it has its flaws, I still absolutely love the first Mission: Impossible film. But this is kind of an odd release. You get the film on Blu-ray (not 4K Ultra HD, although it is available on 4K in a separate release) and it doesn’t really have much in the way of new extra features (although it does include a digital copy and an IMF logo sticker), so it really is just kind of a repackaging of an existing film we already have on home video in two dozen other releases. Personally, I’d go for one of the box sets of the entire series over this one-off film re-release, but if you for some reason just want to re-experience the first film and a much younger Tom Cruise, this is a perfectly good way to do it.

Explorers: Collector’s EditionExplorers was a 1985 Sci-fi/family adventure movie that was never a breakout hit, but became a well-loved movie that has a pretty solid fan following. Starring a very young Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, the film tells the story of three friends who build a spaceship in their garage (there’s a rationale behind how this happens) and launch themselves into space. It was part of a spate of delightful family films in the mid-80s that saw kids go on fantastic adventures, such as Flight of the Navigator, Spacecamp, D.A.R.Y.L, and Cloak and Dagger. Now, Shout Factory has brought us a terrific new Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of the film that features some incredible extra features. There’s an hour-long documentary that’s utterly fantastic, half an hour of deleted scenes, and both the theatrical and home video cuts of the film. If you love the movies I listed above but have never seen Explorers, this is absolutely the best way to experience the film today.

The Final Countdown (4K Ultra HD)The Final Countdown, that beloved ‘80s cult classic about an aircraft carrier that accidentally travels through time back to World War II (and has a chance to impact a major battle) has no shortage of versions on home video. However, this newest version marks the first time it’s been released on the 4K Ultra HD format. Now, the film came out in 1980, so the 4K upgrade does not magically transform it into an audiovisual wonder. However, comparing it to the Blu-ray that came out ten years ago or so, the film definitely looks and sounds better. Details are more crisp and clear, and colors are more lifelike and vibrant. Things don’t pop off the screen like in the latest big-budget Marvel movie, but this is definitely the best the film has looked on home video. The surround soundtrack, while still a little limited, is more open and expansive than it’s been before as well. In addition, you get a 3-D lenticular cover, a booklet, and a nice plethora of extra features, as well as a bonus audio CD containing the films soundtrack. All in all, Blue Underground has put together a heck of a package for fans of the film. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

MinariMinari is one of those films that you probably never heard of until the Academy Awards nominations hit, and then you were like, “What the heck is Minari?” Well, it’s a film about the immigrant experience, in this case, Korean American immigrants. The Walking Dead’s Steven Yuen plays Jacob, a Korean immigrant who moves his family out to a farm so he can fulfill his dream of escaping his menial job and getting a new start. But things don’t go all that smoothly and when his wife’s mother — who’s a spitfire in her own right — comes to stay with them, it adds another layer to an already complex situation. Yuh-Jung Youn — largely unknown in the US but a huge star in her native Korea — won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Soon-ja, the unconventional mother-in-law (and it’s well-deserved) but the whole cast is terrific. Really, although the film is strong on its own merits, it’s anchored by the exceptional acting. This might not be the kind of movie for everyone, but those who watch it will find it very rewarding.

Nightmare Alley – I love when the Criterion Collection digs deep into the archives. Their latest release is 1947’s Nightmare Alley, a film noir drama starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell. Power plays Stanton Carlisle, a carnival grifter who ups his game by seducing Joan Blondell’s Mademoiselle Zeena and learns the art of being a “mentalist,” or effectively a fake psychic. But Carlisle isn’t satisfied being just a carny, instead using his newfound talents to propel himself to new heights of fame and fortune. Of course, greed becomes the driving factor in his life and things start to crumble around him. It’s a dark film, and Power gives a turn different from his usual role as a matinee idol, and he’s riveting. It also paints a picture that both romanticizes and vilifies the carnival lifestyle, which adds another element to the film. Now, the movie has been restored and remastered as is the norm for Criterion, but the extras package isn’t as robust as you might be used to from Criterion. That makes sense as it’s a film from 1947 that was out of print for years due to a legal dispute between the firm’s director and the studio. You do get an audio commentary and a few interviews, though, so it’s still a nice package all around.

Also Available on Home Video This Week:
 
  • Ultraman Leo: The Complete Series – Mill Creek has done a terrific job with their Ultraman complete franchise release series so far, and this latest release is no exception. Available in a standard box set or a gorgeous Steelbook edition (the inner contents are the same, only the packaging is different), this latest Ultraman set gives us all 51 episodes of the 1974 series Ultraman Leo, which was the final entry in the first wave of the franchise. In the show, UtraSeven is injured by an evil alien but is found by young Ultra Warrior who he then has to train to defend the earth. I liked the mentor/mentee and training aspect of the show, resulting in some pretty fun episodes. 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 a whole lot of fun. As usual, you also get an awful lot of bang for your buck in this set (51 half-hour episodes plus digital copies and of course that awesome Steelbook case!), and if you’ve been grabbing the Mill Creek Ultraman Blu-ray series so far, you’re not gonna want to stop now. 
  • The Snoopy Collection – This new Blu-ray collection includes four three timeless Peanuts feature-length movies: A Boy Named Charlie BrownRace For Your Life, Charlie BrownSnoopy Come Home; and Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!). This is the first time all four of these movies have been collected on Blu-ray in one place, and for my money, it’s a pretty awesome set. I mean, Race For Your Life Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home are seminal parts of my childhood, and I remember watching them as an adult with my own kids not that long ago. To me, they’re still completely magical (and Snoopy Come Home still makes me cry like a baby.) I’m happy to see that all four films are also included as digital copies, so you can add the adventures of Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gallery to your digital collection as well. 
  • CSI: New York – The Complete Series – While the original CSI show was always the best in my opinion, CSI: New York was a close second. It was the one that managed to seem less like a carbon copy of the original show (just set in a different city) and have an identity more of its own. Which makes sense; set in the heart of New York City, it naturally had a darker, grittier feel than CSI with all of its Las Vegas trappings and lighter tone. It’s hard to believe it’s been off the air for almost a decade already; that really took me by surprise when I looked it up. Now, the entire series is available in one huge box set, comprised of 55 discs collecting all nine seasons in one place. The discs are housed in three plastic mega-cases, which are then bundled in a nice slipcover, meaning it’s huge yet compact at the same time. Filled with all of the extra features from the original releases, you get a lot of extra bang for your buck, including multiple audio commentaries, dozens of featurettes, numerous deleted scenes, and much more. It’s the complete package for fans of the show.
  • Beverly Hills 90210: The Ultimate Collection – Regardless of your level of fandom for Beverly Hills 90210, this is one of the most impressive box sets I’ve seen in a long time. 74 discs and 10 years worth of episodes, plus five seasons of a second series and a number of extra features… all collected into a MASSIVE box set? Wow! Beverly Hills 90210 may have been a lot of things: melodramatic, soap opera-y, unbelievable… but it’s also a snapshot of the 1990s, which was a very formative decade in my life. I have no small amount of love for this show, and this box set is just one of the coolest things a 90210 fan could ask for. As an added bonus, it also includes the five-season 90210 reboot from 2008-2013. I actually thought the reboot was pretty solid, especially since it featured a number of guest turns from original cast members. Regardless of how you feel about the reboot, this is still the most comprehensive 90210 box set yet. There are also a lot of great extra features, including a retrospective documentary, a cast reunion, and a ton of featurettes. Ironically, as home entertainment prices keep coming down, you can get this entire box set for less than a handful of the individual seasons would have cost you back in the day. This is an excellent collection from CBS/Paramount. 
  • John Wayne Essential 14-Movie Collection – Just in time for Father’s Day, Paramount brings us a new John Wayne collection (on DVD only, no Blu-ray upgrade here.) As with most star-centric collections like this, it doesn’t feature every John Wayne movie you’d want to see, but I have to say this is one of the better ones of these I’ve seen lately. Usually you get one or two marquee movies and a bunch of early-career filler when you see a star-centric box set, but this one includes a number of heavy hitters, including True GritRio LoboThe Sons of Katie ElderMcClintockThe ShootistEl DoradoHondo, and Donovan’s Reef. Then you also get HatariThe High and the MightyIn Harm’s WayIsland in the Sky, and Big Jake. So no Stagecoach or The Searchers, but honestly, this is a pretty great collection of films. I wish they had been remastered for a Blu-ray release, but that’s a pretty minor complaint overall. I love several movies in this set (especially True GritEl Dorado, and The Shootist), but there really isn’t a bad one in the bunch, and with a pretty low price-point for a 14-disc box set, this one is a winner all the way, Pilgrim. 
  • My Fair Lady (4K Ultra HD) – I love me some Audrey Hepburn, and I especially love Audrey Hepburn in 4K Ultra HD, but I am not a particularly big fan of My Fair Lady, which gets the 4K Ultra HD premium treatment this week. Even though the film won eight Academy Awards, I’ve just never taken to it. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a musical (I’m not a big fan of those) or maybe the fact that it’s just shy of three hours long (not a big fan of that, either), but it’s one of those films I could never develop a real affinity for. (I’m betting it’s the fact that it’s three-hour long AND a musical!) However, the film has now been released in 4K Ultra HD, and regardless of how I feel about the film, it’s never looked or sounded better. The technicolor hues leap off the screen while image clarity looks razor sharp. Meanwhile the surround soundtrack — while not overly nuanced in terms of discrete sound utilization — makes the music sound more lush and full than ever before. It’s a terrific technical presentation of a film I don’t love, but if you’re a fan, you’ll really impressed by this new A/V facelift. 
  • Deliver Us From Evil – A huge box office hit in its native South Korea, Deliver Us From Evil is a relentless action thriller that involves human trafficking, revenge, and no shortage of bloody fight scenes. In the film, Hwang Jung-Min stars as an assassin who goes into Thailand to rescue a former girlfriend’s daughter from human slavers. Things get messy when another killer — and a much nastier one at that — comes in search of Hwang for revenge. What follows is the requisite fast-paced action that makes these movies so popular. Think Taken but with way less of the Hollywood sheen to it. The film benefits from some terrific fight choreography and action cinematography, even if it could use a little levity to break up the relentless tone of the film. Still, fans of Asian action cinema will probably dig this one. 
  • Mill Creek Spotlight – Mill Creek brings us three new catalog releases this week, a four-movie Blu-ray collection and two budget-priced Blu-ray rereleases. First up is Scars of War: 4 Vietnam Stories, which gives us one well-known Vietnam film and three never-heard-of-it films. Casualties of War is Brian De Palma’s Vietnam War film starring Michael J. Fox as a young soldier disgusted by the atrocities committed by his platoon, led by Sean Penn. It’s a tough watch but an engaging one, and Penn and Fox are both in top form. Then you get 1971’s Summertree (starring Michael Douglas), 1984’s Birdy (starring Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage), and 1985’s Alamo Bay (Starring Ed Harris). Interestingly, Casualties of War is the only film in the group that is actually set in Vietnam. The other three films all focus on either Vietnam vets who are back in the US and having a hard time adjusting (BirdyAlamo Bay) or the protest movement at home (Summertree). Still, for the 15 bucks or so this set will cost, getting four movies on Blu-ray ain’t bad. Then we have two Blu-ray catalog re-releases. First up is MacGruber, Will Forte’s surprisingly tone-deaf 2010 MacGyver parody. I know there are people out there who really like this film, I’m just not sure I understand why. It’s all the worst parts of lowest-common-denominator humor thrown into a film that could have been such a clever parody. Great concept, terrible execution. Finally, we have a new Blu-ray version of Hellfighters, a late-period John Wayne film that ironically enough isn’t included in the 14-Movie Collection I reviewed above. This is a fun one, with Wayne playing a firefighter taking on huge fires at an oil rig. It’s got some good action/fire sequences, and this is a film I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. Worth the few bucks to pick it up. 

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