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Out This Week (In The US): Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Species, Legends of Tomorrow, The Dirty Black Bag and more

It’s a small week with a BIG release. The latest Marvel juggernaut (well, before Thor: Love and Thunder) hits home video today, and there’s a few interesting catalog and TV offerings available as well. Dig in!

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

Marvel continues its string of massive blockbuster hits with the first sequel to Doctor Strange. Now, I’ll be honest, I was a little unsure of how I was going to feel about this one going in, because it’s directed by Sam Raimi. And as much as I love the Evil Dead films, I’m not really a big fan of most of his other films (and yes, that includes the original Spider-Man trilogy.) So I was worried that the film would be more typical Raimi mediocrity, but I’m happy to report that — while the film definitely has some strong Raimi vibes running throughout it — I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The multiverse aspect is fun and exciting, and not overdone to the point of getting obnoxious. The film has more of a horror vibe than anything Marvel has done previously, but if that can’t work in a Doctor Strange movie, where else would it? I know it won’t be to everyone’s tastes — and I would definitely caution parents to screen it first before letting younger viewers watch it — but I think most people will find something to like. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD) and — no surprise — it looks and sounds utterly fantastic. Marvel doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to special effects and visuals and the 4K format lets you see every little thing in crisp detail and with explosively vibrant colors. The surround soundtrack will put your speakers into overdrive with discrete sounds in all channels. Both the film and the A/V presentation are a real treat for the senses!

Species (4K Ultra HD)

While it went on to launch a series of direct-to-video sequels that kept the franchise alive long past its expiration date, there’s no doubt that the original Species film remains the best. The film has a pretty solid pedigree: it was directed by Goldeneye’s Roger Donaldson, featured creature designs by Alien’s H.R. Giger, and it starred an ensemble cast that included Forest Whitaker, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina, Marg Helgenberger, and Michael Madsen. Rewatching the film for the first time in several years, I have to say it holds up quite well. Not so much in terms of special effects, which have dated a little, but in terms of pretty good acting, direction and script across the board. It’s a solid and fun sci-fi thriller that is enjoyable to sit through. This new 4K Ultra HD release from Scream Factory includes both a 4K Disc and a Blu-ray, which means we also get all of the excellent special features from the Collector’s Edition release a few years back. The 4K Ultra HD can’t overcome the age of the film or its visual limitations, but it does give it a nice upgrade. Colors are more vibrant than I’ve seen on home video for this title before, and the image clarity is nice and sharp. The surround soundtrack isn’t overly amped up but you still do get a nice amount of directionality in the speaker channels. It’s really a great release for any fan of Species.

DC Legends of Tomorrow: The Seventh and Final Season

Of all the DC Universe shows on the CW, I feel like Legends of Tomorrow is the one you hear about the least. But here we are, seven seasons in, and the show is just now coming to a close, so that’s a very respectable run. I think it has a really die-hard fan base of viewers who like the show’s over-the-top storylines and wacky time-traveling aesthetic. Season Seven wraps up the show’s journey with evil versions of some normally not-evil characters, as well as a few stops in the 1920s. There’s also plenty of time travel taking our various intrepid explorers all over the timeline, which always leads to some fun outings. One standout this season sees the group interacting with the cast of a ‘90s reality-TV show, which is a lot of fun. It’s hard to say you should jump into this show if you’ve never watched it before, but fans of the series will want to add this final Blu-ray collection (also available on DVD) to their collection.

That Dirty Black Bag: Season 1

AMC continues to try to find their way in the wake of The Walking Dead ramping down, and their newest effort is That Dirty Black Bag. The show is a western, and it focuses on a bounty hunter (who collects heads in the titular bag), a sheriff, and the citizens of a town called Greenvale. There’s a story arc that runs through the eight episodes that make up Season One, so it’s very narratively driven. It’s also quite violent and gory, so be aware of that going in. There is some humor to the show, which I like, but I do feel like AMC continues to try and make shows that push the envelope, and do nothing but push the envelope. I feel like the creators at AMC need to relax a little bit. Not every show has to be EXTREME all the time, AMC! I feel like this show could easily have been toned down a bit and it probably would have attracted a wider audience. As it is, I’m sure there are people who will like it, but I wasn’t overly in love with it.

Also Available This Week on Home Video:
  • Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands – You may remember Sonia Braga as a relatively successful actress who had her heyday in the ‘80s and ‘90s in films like Kiss of the Spider Woman and Moon Over Parador. But her mainstream film debut was in this 1976 film from Brazil that went on to become a record-breaking smash sensation film in its native country and brought Braga to the attention of Hollywood. The film sees the titular character married to a ne’er-do-well who dies. Relieved, she remarries to a much more boring man, only to find she misses the chaos of her old life. And then… he comes back as a ghost. The film definitely feels of its time; the first half is pretty slow, the second half picks up quite a bit. Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s also where the nudity mostly kicks in, so be aware this is a film that isn’t shy about showing some skin. I found it an interesting movie that wasn’t unenjoyable to watch, but I think today’s audiences might find it a little less magical than audiences in 1976 did. This new release marks the film’s debut on Blu-ray, and it includes remastered picture, an audio commentary with the director, and a 16-page booklet, making it a nice release for fans.
  • God Told Me To (4K Ultra HD) – Blue Underground continues to release top-notch versions of total cult classic horror movies with the new 4K Ultra HD release of God Told Me To. Written and directed by Larry Cohen, a longtime horror maestro best known for films like It’s Alive and Q The Winged Serpent, the film follows a New York Detective trying to solve a series of murders where random citizens are claiming that “god told me to” commit the crime. Which seems like a simple premise, but somehow the film becomes a confused mess pretty early on. I can see why it has its fans; it’s definitely not like any other other films I can think of. But if you’re looking for a coherent, cohesive narrative, you might find yourself disappointed. This new 4K Ultra HD release does see the film in the premium format. It’s a low-budget affair that’s almost 50 years old, so mostly what you get are a cleaner print, slightly sharper imagery, and more lifelike colors, plus a solid but unspectacular surround soundtrack that isn’t particularly widely dispersed. But the extra features include an audio commentary with Cohen, four interview featurettes, a second commentary track and more. So if you are a fan of the film, this is definitely for you.
  • Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell – From Visual Vengeance, who has come roaring into the horror home video arena in recent months, comes this 1995 Japanese horror comedy that is very clearly styled after the Evil Dead films. The film has never had an official release in the U.S., so fans who like tracking down largely unseen cinema will be excited to take in this low-budget splatterfest. The main character is a bodybuilder, and he uses his equipment like weights and the like to battle the ghost/demon that’s been summoned to the house that acts as the setting for most of the film. It’s silly and cheesy and low-budget and uber-gory, and like I said, it wears its Evil Dead fandom on its sleeve. I think if you are a fan of a certain kind of horror cinema, you’ll enjoy it. But if you’re looking for an actual well-made movie, you will likely find yourself chuckling a few times but not overly enthralled. This new Blu-ray release comes packed with extra features, including two commentary tracks and a couple of featurettes, as well as some nice physical goodies such as stickers, a mini poster, and a faux-video store rental card. Fun!

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