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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Sing 2, Marry Me, Ordinary People, Dexter: New Blood, Magnum P.I., Rick & Morty and more

This week we’ve got a bona fide animated box office smash, the relaunch of a television favorite, a streaming hit, and some beloved newer and older TV series sets. It’s a packed week!

Sing 2

If you had told me that Sing 2 — a sequel to a largely forgettable animated hit that came out five years ago — was going to be a bigger box office smash than most other movies last year, I would have assumed you were crazy. However, despite that five year gap (which can sometimes spell disaster as there are audience members who were kids when the first one came out that are indifferent teenagers now), the film was a smash hit, grossing almost $400 million worldwide. Now, I thought the first film was perfectly fine; not bad but not great. It had good music and was fast paced, so I found it easy to watch. I’m happy to report (sort of?) that the sequel is largely the same. It has hardly any substance, but it has a big name cast (Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johanssen, Taron Egerton, and a ton of other familiar names) and lots of recognizable songs. Bonus points for getting Bono, one of my all time favorite musicians, to voice a character and sing a new song. If you have kids, they’ll like the film; if you liked the first film, you’ll probably like this one too. But ultimately, it’s pretty disposable.

Marry Me

This new rom-com starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson was a big hit on streaming for NBC’s Peacock streaming service, and now it hits home video. Interestingly, the film is based on a comic book that is pretty obscure and that I actually read and enjoyed several years ago. The vibe and look of the film is pretty far removed from the source material, but the basic storyline stays the same: a superstar pop musician impulsively decides to marry an audience member, and then they have to see if they can fall in love. That’s a simplification, but this isn’t the world’s most plot-heavy movie. Basically it’s a story about an incredibly famous pop star dating an Average Joe Everyguy and the chaos that surrounds them as they try and get to know each other. It’s not cinematic genius, but it’s fun and heartfelt and sweet, and I have a hard time believing you can watch this movie and not like it, unless you’ve never seen a rom-com before and have no idea what to expect. It doesn’t further the genre but it doesn’t need to; it’s just a fun way to kill a couple of hours.

Dexter: New Blood

After eight years, Dexter, the most popular TV show about a serial killer ever, has returned. Showtime’s Dexter: New Blood was a big hit for the pay channel, and this week it hits home video for non-subscribers and/or die-hard fans. Now, I’ll avoid spoilers from the end of the original series here, with the exception of the fact that Dexter is — obviously — still alive. (Hard to get around that one.) The show picks up a decade after the end of the original series, with Dexter living in upstate New York, and having successfully quelled his murderous urges for that time. Suffice it to say, things don’t stay that way or we wouldn’t have a show. While the first episode starts a little slowly, the rest of the episodes quickly pick up steam and it isn’t long before it’s completely engrossing. What I like about the show is that it picks up with a new storyline and isn’t a slave to the past, but there are some familiar faces from the original series as well, so it’s not completely disconnected. It’s a nice balance, and I think fans of the show will like it a lot. Dexter: New Blood comes to Blu-ray and DVD and is also available in a limited edition Blu-ray SteelBook edition, which I hardily recommend; it looks absolutely gorgeous. I’m not always a fan of TV show relaunches after years away but this one is pretty darn good.

Ordinary People

Robert Redford’s directorial debut was a smash hit, critically acclaimed film that went on to win a number of Academy Awards. Not bad for an actor’s first time behind the camera. (And kind of not fair. Come on, Robert Redford, you’re already one of your generation’s finest actors, you have to be a great director, too?) The film took home four Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture, and a Best Supporting Actor statue for a young Timothy Hutton. Now, 40 years later, the film gets a new Blu-ray release (that includes a digital copy), and it’s a great way for people to rediscover the film. The story is about a family that’s suffering after the death of one of their adult sons; their other son is in therapy and has attempted suicide. And really, the film isn’t heavy on plot. It’s simply about these damaged people trying to cope and survive in the face of tragedy, and while it’s not an easy watch, it’s a really good film. With amazing performances across the board by Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Tim Hutton, and Judd Hirsch (among many other talented performers), the movie still holds up today as a powerful viewing experience.

Rick & Morty: Seasons 1-5

Well, here we go again. The only TV show ever to be responsible for both a McDonald’s special sauce and then an angry fan reaction to said McDonald’s special sauce is back on home video. Unfortunately, even after five season, Rick & Morty remains just not my thing. I know people love it, and the show has a very strong fan following, but I just don’t dig it. Every time a new season comes out, I give it a try, and every time, I’m just completely unmoved by it. Sure, there are one or two funny jokes in each episode, but I find the characters unlikable and the humor largely ridiculous — and not in a good way. Maybe I’m just getting old, who knows. But, none of that matters, because people love this show and it’s as popular as ever, regardless of what I think about it. Which leads us to this his new Blu-ray collection that features all five seasons so far in one nicely-packaged box set that includes every episode plus bonus features across five discs. It’s a nice release for fans, even if I can’t count myself among them.

Magnum P.I.: The Complete Series

Tom Selleck has had a long and storied and storied career in Hollywood, but has he ever been cooler than when he played Thomas Magnum? Simply put: no. And really, how many people are cooler than Tom Selleck? Not many. Can you tell I’m a Magnum P.I. fan? I love this show, and to me it still holds up extremely well, even though it’s firmly rooted in the 80s. Sure, by the final season there were a few weak episodes here and there (and the hair and fashions aren’t exactly screaming for a comeback), but this is still extremely enjoyable television. Magnum P.I. was one of the most popular shows of the 80’s, and for my money, it’s still one of the top five TV series of that decade. Now, while the show was released as a complete series from Universal a few years back, that was a DVD-only release. This week, catalog impresario Mill Creek bring us Magnum: P.I.: The Complete Series on Blu-ray for the first time. Now, that said, they didn’t do any major remastering efforts; but the high def picture quality here is a definite upgrade over the standard definition DVD releases. It’s not perfect picture quality, but it looks better than any other home video Magnum release. As a bonus, most of the original DVD extra features are included, including the crossover episodes with shows like The Rockford Files. Magnum P.I. may seem like just another 80’s show to some of today’s younger audiences, but for those of us who grew up during that time, we know exactly how cool Magnum is.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:
  • Pursuit – John Cusack and Emile Hirsch star in this new direct-to-video action film that leaves quite a lot to be desired. Hirsch stars as a hacker whose wife disappeared several years ago who is on the hunt for her and going up against a mob boss who gets captured by the police. With his mysterious father (Cusack) trying to protect him from afar, Hirsch gets embroiled in a convoluted mash-up of various factions which leads to lots of violence. And I wish that the somewhat overdone violence was the biggest problem with the film, but it’s really the awful script and poor acting that does it in, although the brutality doesn’t do it any favors. From characters to writing to action, there’s just not much to like about this film at all.
  • On the 3rd Day – The new Argentinian horror film On The 3rd Day is a bit of a mixed bag that I suspect some people will really enjoy and the people may find disappointing. The story follows Cecilia, who takes her young son and flees her abusive husband, only to end up in a car accident. She awakens three days later to find her son missing and no memory of the past three days. As she pieces together what happened, it leads to more and more troubling information. That’s about all I can say without giving away any spoilers, but it’s an interesting film that leans hard into horror territory as it goes. On the plus side, the mystery is interesting (although seasoned horror fans may figure out what’s really going on a little sooner than the film wants) and the performance by lead actress Mariana Anghileri is terrific. The film also has great cinematography and sound design, making it one of the better-crafted horror films I’ve seen recently. On the other hand, the film is a bit of a slow burn, and I can see how some people might check out on it before it gets more interesting about halfway through. All in all, it’s a solid horror effort that will definitely find its fan base on home video.
  • Drive In Retro Classics Science Fiction Triple Feature – Wrapping up the week, we have a new triple feature DVD release from Corinth Films, who is using this release to launch a new line of “specially packaged genre classics.” I’m not sure I would use the word “classic” to describe Rocketship X-MThe Hideous Sun Demon, or The Brain From Planet Arous, but I get what the studio is going for. These three films are all sci-fi B-movies from the 1950s, the kind that teenagers probably watched in double features at the drive in (although how much they were actually watching the films is anyone’s guess!) Rocketship X-M stars Lloyd Bridges and sees a crew of astronauts landing on Mars and discovering an ancient civilization that might not be extinct. The Hideous Sun Demon sees a scientist exposed to radiation that turns him into a lizard creature when exposed to sunlight. Finally, The Brain From Planet Arous stars John Agar, Joyce Meadows & Robert Fuller, and sees an alien with psychic powers trying to take over the earth. The films are all pretty cheesy, typical sci-fi from the 50s, so they’re not really great or bad, they’re just sort of what they are. Rocketship X-M was my favorite of the bunch, personally. However, if you love the B-movies of yesteryear, this triple feature gives you three movies for the price of one.

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