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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Fantastic Beasts, Firestarter, Boomerang, Scooby Doo and more

Well, it’s a pretty small week this week, with just a few titles out. You can look for a few TV shows that will keep you busy over the weekend, but Summer sometimes sees a slowdown since the movie studios assume everyone’s out barbecuing all the time. Read on to see what’s available!

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

The third film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, this one sees Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald recast due to his legal troubles, with the character this time played by stalwart Mads Mikkelsen. Like the first two films, The Secrets of Dumbledore follows Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) and his cohorts as they try to thwart a threat to the world; in this case Gellert Grindelwald, who wants to wage war against the muggles. The film features the usual mix of creature-based action, wizard world politics, family secrets and the like. It gets a bit bogged down in all of the political machinations and the “secret” identities of some of the main characters, and those are the moments where the film slows down. The action sequences are fun and exciting, though, so while the film is a bit of a mixed bag, there are parts that are pretty enjoyable. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), and it looks utterly terrific in 4K. These big budget movies tend to shine in 4K, with beautiful colors, sharp imagery, and a surround soundtrack that really utilizes all the speakers to bring the entire world of Fantastic Beasts to life. It’s a terrific presentation of a solid film.


Firestarter

Based on one of Stephen King’s earlier novels, I’m not sure if Firestarter qualifies as a remake of the 1980s film starring Drew Barrymore or not, but it’s the same basic set-up as that movie, as well as the novel. Zac Efron plays Andy McGee, whose daughter Charlie is imbued with telekinetic powers that allows her to generate intense fire. Andy (and his late wife) also has telekinetic powers, and the two are on the run from the NSA, who of course are the standard we-want-to-control-their-powers bad guys straight out of central casting. While I was hoping for a fun new thriller from Blumhouse Productions, Firestarter is kind of a dud. The screenplay makes the main characters hard to root for, Zac Efron’s personality is kind of wasted here, and the film just never feels exciting or all that interesting. The climax is a pretty cool ten minutes or so, but you have to sit through a lot of boring stuff to get there.


Boomerang

Back when Eddie Murphy was still a box office powerhouse, Boomerang came along and offered up a different side of him after his smash successes with the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. In this rom com from 1992, Murphy plays a womanizing businessman who may or may not have met his match in his new boss, who is just as much of a… manizer? (Is that word? I dunno. But you get the point.) The film was a hit back in the day and while I’m guessing most people haven’t thought about it that much in the 30 years since, now it makes its debut on Blu-ray (previously only available on DVD). This release is accompanied by a digital copy, which is one of the nice highlights of the disc. And while the film definitely shows its age a bit, I was impressed that it still holds up as an enjoyable comedy anchored by some great talent. Starring alongside Murphy are Robin Givens, Halle Berry, David Alan Grier, Martin Lawrence, Grace Jones, Eartha Kitt, Chris Rock, and Melvin Van Peebles, so that cast alone offers up a lot of bang for your buck.


Scooby-Doo and Guess Who: The Complete Second Season

As a lifelong Scooby Doo fan, I’m always happy to watch a new entry in the franchise. And I’m happy to report that Scooby Doo and Guess Who is a lot of fun, as it hearkens back to The New Scooby Doo Movies from back in the day. In this new series, Scooby and the gang solve a new mystery in each episode, but in this case, they’re joined by a special guest in each outing. Over the course of 25 episodes we get to see animated versions of everyone from Kacey Musgraves, Morgan Freeman, Alton Brown, Tim Gunn, and even the late Alex Trek (obviously recorded before he passed away), among others. With the guests voicing themselves, the show is a lot of fun; the mysteries are the standard fare, but the characters are well-loved and the guest stars are clearly having a good time being animated. I’m glad to see Scooby continue on and it’s great that Warner Brothers is trying new things and letting the franchise go in new directions while at the same time staying true to its roots. This one’s a win!


The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: The Complete Seasons One and Two

Because the show aired over half a century ago, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet is not exactly a huge part of the pop culture conversation today, so it’s easy to forget what a huge part of early American television the series was. Starting in 1952 and running for a whopping 14 seasons (with over 400 episodes!), the show was a prototypical family comedy with parents Ozzie and Harriet raising their two young sons, David and Ricky. The twist here was that the family on screen was played by the real life Nelson family. America got to watch the boys grow up, and Ricky Nelson became one of the first teen heartthrobs of the television generation. While there have been a smattering of home video releases over the years, most of them were just random collections of episodes with no semblance of order to them. Now, MPI Video has finally answered fans’ requests with The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: The Complete Season One and The Complete Season Two. Each of these two releases (which are available as separate sets) includes all 39 episodes from their respective seasons, the first time there has ever been a complete season collection available. And while the shows have some various minor video issues here and there, I was surprised by the high audiovisual quality of most of the episodes, especially for a show that premiered 70 years ago. The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet is a fun and wholesome family comedy that is a nice snapshot of a different time in America’s history, and I’m glad to see MPI Video finally giving this touchstone of American pop culture the release it deserves.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:
  • Breathe In – Guy Pearce takes the lead role in Breathe In, alongside the excellent Amy Ryan and Felicity Jones. In this 2013 film (newly released on Blu-ray from Cohen Media Group), Pearce plays a failed musician, now a music teacher, and parent who is “happily” married. On the surface, things are fine, but no one involved is actually fulfilled or happy. When he has an affair with an exchange student (a terrific Felicity Jones), events are put into play that may have serious consequences for all involved. While it sounds like it could be a thriller, the film is more of a drama than anything, but it’s a worthwhile one. It tackles some tough subject matter and doesn’t go for easy answers, so you have to be in the right mood to watch it, but it’s worth it if for nothing else than the performances by the three talented leads.
  • Aliens, Clowns and Geeks – Writer/Director Richard Elfman is most well known for his 1980 cult classic Forbidden Zone, a well-loved sci-fi comedy. Well, it turns out he’s still chugging away, and his latest film is 2021’s Aliens, Clowns and Geeks, which stars Bodhi Elfman as a washed-up actor who discovers a certain body part (that rhymes with “shmanus”) is the key to the universe, something that both a race of clowns and a warring race of aliens are both after. So, yes, this is a film that is okay being ridiculous, and that’s part of its charm. I can’t say I loved the movie, but there are parts that are kind of fun. Elfman is joined by a few noteworthy actors, including French Stewart, George Wendt, and Verne Troyer (in his final role). The film’s music is by Danny Elfman (brother of director Richard) and Ego Plum, so that adds some real character to the proceedings. This obviously isn’t a movie for everyone, but if you like low-brow genre humor (or are a fan of Forbidden Zone), it’s probably worth tracking down.
  • The Cellar – Elisha Cuthbert stars in this new horror thriller, which sees Cushbert now old enough to play the mother of a teenager in peril, rather than playing the teenager in peril herself. (If you were a fan of TV’s 24, then you know what I’m talking about.) In the film, Cushbert’s family moves into a new house, only for her teenage daughter to disappear in the cellar, after some other vaguely creepy supernatural things have occurred. So we’re already dealing with a plot (family moving into a new house that is haunted) that is extremely familiar, and then things get worse from there. With the exception of Cuthbert, who gives it her all, there’s no one else giving any interesting performances, the script is riddled with problems, and the film just sort of trudges along to its conclusion. It’s a case of been there, done that, but it’s also done in a way we’ve already seen, so there’s just nothing to latch onto here. File under “disappointing.”

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