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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Fast X, Asteroid City, 1923, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Enter the Dragon, Roman Holiday, Cinderella and more

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This week sees a box office blockbuster, an auteur returning with his newest movie, and a slew of classic catalog titles making their 4K Ultra HD debuts. Read on for the full slate of releases!

Fast X

The Movie: I will be completely transparent right off the bat here: I am a HUGE fan of the Fast & Furious franchise. Like, massive. I’ve heard all the jokes, seen all the memes, and I know some people think they’re silly. And I don’t care. I love them, and I embrace everything that makes them uniquely Fast & Furious. Family? Check, I’m all in. Stunts that push the boundaries of reality? Give me all of them. Vin Diesel’s mumbly dialogue? I’ll take it. Now, Furious 9 wasn’t my favorite in the series (although I still enjoyed it), so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this tenth entry. But I’m here to tell you that Fast X is absolutely fantastic. I loved every second of it. It’s got the requisite family theme, some really incredible (and, yes, over the top) stunts, and the biggest cast yet, and it’s just a whirlwind of fun. The best part? Jason Momoa is absolutely transcendent. At first glance, you assume he’s just playing the usual Jason Momoa character, but instead he plays it up and is clearly having a ball, giving us a ridiculous, flamboyant, fun performance that steals the show. Yes, the film ends on a cliffhanger, which is a little frustrating, but man, the post-credits scenes give us some really tantalizing teases for the next movie, which I can NOT wait for!
The 4K Audio/VideoFast X comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), and the 4K UHD presentation is – not surprisingly – outstanding. Picture quality is terrific, with HDR-boosted colors that really pop off the screen. Clarity is razor sharp and the whole thing really looks spectacular. There’s also a very dynamic surround soundtrack that fills the room with the sounds of cars, explosions, mayhem, and Vin Diesel’s signature grumbly voice. It’s a top-notch A/V presentation, and it’s a great way to really enjoy this film.
The Special Features: There are over an hour’s worth of bonus features on this release. There are eight different making-of featurettes focusing on everything from eh car stunts to the women of the franchise to Jason Momoa to, yes, family! I(n addition, you get a gag reel, two music videos, and an audio commentary with director Louis Leterrier. I’m very pleased with this extras collection!
The Wrap-Up: Look, if you’re not a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise, chances are good this film isn’t going to change your mind. But if you’re like me and you’ve embraces the franchise as the over-the-top fun it’s meant to be, then I think you’ll love this one. Family!

Asteroid City

The Movie: At this point in time, I’ve come to realize that either you like Wes Anderson movies or you don’t. And so, if you’re like me – I am NOT a fan – and you keep watching Wes Anderson movies and not enjoying them, then it’s a self-inflicted viewing wound. I have to watch Wes Anderson movies because I review them, but I also watch out of the hopes that he’ll make another Grand Budapest Hotel, a movie that I actually enjoy quite a bit, despite the inherent Andersony-ness of it. But instead, we get Asteroid City, which is typical Wes Anderson done to the Nth degree of Andersony-ness. He really is incapable at this point of breaking out of his signature style. So if you like everything framed in a box, continually swooping back and forth cameras, and characters who display almost no emotion, then this is the film for you. Asteroid City is presented as a story within a story, so we get the (completely unnecessary, in my opinion) framing device that presents Asteroid City as a stage play, and then we get the stage play presented as the movie. In it, a science club gathering/awards ceremony at the location of an asteroid crater is disrupted when an alien ship briefly appears. And a bunch of characters that it’s really hard to care about talk to each other about a bunch of things, most of which is pretty uninteresting. As with all Anderson movies, the cast is huge, with Tom Hanks, Scarlet Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Live Schreiber, Steve Carell, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, and – of course – Ed Norton all along for the ride. Like most Anderson films, the movie isn’t quite terrible, but man, I could go the rest of my life without watching another Wes Anderson movie and be completely fine.
The Special Features: You get a four-part making-of feature that details the film’s creation and cast, but it runs less than eight minutes total, so it’s basically just tiny promo bits. Disappointing.
The Wrap-Up: Wes Anderson fans, good news! He’s made another movie exactly like all of his other films! You’ll get the exact same thing you always get! For some people, that’s a good thing, but for everyone else… Asteroid City is going to be a hit or miss proposition.

1923: Season One

The Show: The Yellowstone juggernaut continues, with a second prequel series (the first was 1883, very creative names) that debuted on Paramount+ hitting Blu-ray and DVD this week. This show takes place in – obviously – 1923, and sees an earlier generation of the Dutton family going through the usual challenges of the early Dust Bowl era: dying animals, poverty, Native Americans, religious strife, familial drama, etc. Frankly, it all feels like part of the Yellowstone industrial complex. What sets it apart is the cast. Of course, the two leads, Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, get all the attention, and rightfully so. They are bona fide superstars, so getting to see them act together and on a TV show is a real treat. But the supporting cast is also terrific, including Marley Shelton, Jennifer Ehle, and especially the always-excellent James Badge Dale. This first-season collection includes all eight episodes of season one, and my understanding is that the show has already been announced to run for just two seasons, so this is effectively the first half of the saga.
The Special Features: This release includes four making-of featurettes and then short “Behind the Story” features for every episode. Not bad!
The Wrap-Up: I suspect that 1923 will appeal the most to people who have already watched all of Yellowstone and 1883, or at the very least, those viewers will probably pick up on more of the nuances and plot tie-ins than new viewers will. The show’s a little slow-moving for my tastes, but the cast really helps keep you interested in the goings-on on screen.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)

The MovieAs much as it pains me to admit that one of my favorite movies of all time is 38(!) years old this year, it’s true. Which means I’m old. BUT! I remain young at heart every time I watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which remains to this day my favorite comedy movie ever. It is literally perfect. There isn’t a single scene in this movie that doesn’t work, and I’ve watched it a million times and I will watch it a million more. Now, there’s probably been one home video release of Ferris Bueller for every year the film has existed, so there’s not much more to offer fans… until now, when the film makes its debut on 4K Ultra HD – special bonus, it comes in a sharp-looking Steelbook case! And I don’t care how many previous versions of the movie I own, if there’s a better version available, I’m going to want it, because it truly is one of the greatest movies ever made. I honestly don’t even know what to say about it anymore. I mean, it’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off! This is the very definition of a classic.
The 4K Audio/Video: 4K Ultra HD releases of older movie can often be a bit of a mixed bag. The format offers up improvements over Blu-ray, obviously, but it’s not like you can magically transform the source elements from a movie that’s almost 40 years old. However, Paramount has given Ferris Bueller’s Day Off a full restoration and the results show. Image clarity is razor sharp, colors pop nicely, and there’s enough film grain to retain the cinematic feel of the film. The Dolby Atmos surround soundtrack is a little front-channel heavy, but since the driving force of the film is the dialogue and the music, that makes sense. That said, both the dialogue and music sound terrific, but don’t expect too much from the rear surround channels.
The Special Features: While there have been other bonus features created for Ferris Bueller in the past, this release ports over many of the more notable ones, including an audio commentary with the late John Hughes, as well as five additional featurettes. All told, they run over an hour, so it’s hard to complain about that!
The Wrap-UpWhile the disc doesn’t include any new extra features, there are a handful of fun extras ported over from previous releases, so this is the best version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off available to date. So it’s the best version yet of one of the best movies ever, which is hard to beat. Obviously, this one comes… HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Enter the Dragon (4K Ultra HD)

The Movie: As part of Warner Bros.’ ongoing 100th Anniversary celebration, Bruce Lee’s most famous and popular film has been re-released, this time on 4K Ultra HD for the first time. While the film is a product of its time, there is no denying that this is one of the great martial arts films of all time. And besides, when is it ever a bad idea to revisit a Bruce Lee film? Enter the Dragon sees Lee go undercover in a martial arts competition to see if the island it takes place on is secretly an opium criminal enterprise. Along with a few other entrants who have ulterior motives, Lee soon finds himself fighting for his life. The film – which made Lee a superstar, sadly after his death – is filled with iconic imagery, such as Lee with claw-like slashes across his face and body as well as so many of his signature moves. And with a supporting cast that includes John Saxon and football star Jim Kelly, the film is easily the best in Lee’s too-short lived career. This release also includes the Theatrical Edition of the film as well as the International Version, which is approximately 3 minutes longer.
The 4K Audio/Video: WB has done a nice job of bringing Enter the Dragon to 4K Ultra HD, with a restoration and new transfer that brings the film to life better then ever before. Image clarity is at the mercy of the source material, but close-ups especially are incredibly clean and clear. The colors really stand out the most, however, giving the film a new life on 4K. The surround soundtrack gives the action a little extra oomph, utilizing the low-end bass channel nicely to make sure that every karate chop, kick, and punch land with power. It’s a really great effort for a classic film.
The Special Features: Sadly, despite the existence of loads of extra features related to this film (that have been on previous versions of the movie on home video), you only get an audio commentary and an introduction by Lee’s widow, Linda Lee Caldwell. This has been a terrible trend with Warner and these 100th Anniversary releases, and it’s a huge disappointment. There’s a multi-disc Blu-ray release of the film that came out a few years back, and if you have that one, you need to hold on to it because it’s got all the extras. Thanks, Warner.
The Wrap-UpEnter the Dragon is a legendary film, and this 4K Ultra HD is the best the film has looked and sounded on home video yet. It’s just a shame that Warner Bros. is completely dropping the ball on the extra features and not delivering us the true Collector’s Edition releases we want and deserve.

Roman Holiday (4K Ultra HD)

The Movie: Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck star in this delightful romantic comedy from 1953, which makes its 4K Ultra HD debut this week to celebrate the film’s 70th anniversary. Roman Holiday sees Hepburn as a European Princess on a tour of the continent who gets overwhelmed by her strictly regimented life and sets off incognito into Rome. When an anti-anxiety sedative knocks her out, she is found by American reporter Jo Bradly (Peck) who takes care of her and secretly figures out who she is. The next day, the pair travel around Rome together, giving the princess a day off while also unaware that her government’s security are trying desperately to find her. The movie was Hepburn’s film debut, which is amazing because she’s just so good in it, and Peck matches her scene for scene as the cocksure reporter who knows who she really is but doesn’t let on in hopes of getting a scoop. Of course, as he begins to develop feelings for her, the story starts to take a back seat as a priority. The film is delightful, funny, and charming, and it’s an example of the best kind of Hollywood classic.
The 4K Audio/VideoRoman Holiday looks and sounds pretty amazing on 4K Ultra HD considering the film is seven decades old. It’s black-and-white, so the improved color saturation that’s one of the hallmarks of 4K transfers isn’t applicable, but the contrasts are strong, blacks are deep and inky, and image clarity is clean and crisp. The print is also virtually free of any blemishes or debris, which is terrific. The soundtrack is a 2.0 Dolby Stereo mix, which rightly focuses on the dialogue and makes sure that everything is easily audible.
The Special Features: This is a nicely loaded release, with six featurettes about the making o the film, Audrey Hepburn, and paramount in the 50s, among other things. You also get a Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Martin on Roman Holiday feature, and those are always enjoyable. Finally, you get a collection of trailers and photo galleries. No complaints here.
The Wrap-Up: Roman Holiday is just a wonderful film, and Peck and Hepburn are terrific. This is a great release, and even though it’s been released a number of times before, this is the best version yet thanks to the 4K transfer and the extra features (take notes, Warner Bros., this is how you do it!) This is a must have for fans of classic cinema.

Cinderella (4K Ultra HD)

The MovieCinderella. It’s Disney, it’s a classic, it has singing mice. It’s got magic, and pumpkins, and glass slippers, and evil stepsisters, and Bibbidi-Bobbidy-Boo. What else do I need to say about it? Every once in a while, you have to review a movie and you realize that nothing really needs to be said about it. Cinderella is one of those movies. It’s Cinderella, for crying out loud! Well, at least I can say that this new 4K Ultra HD edition of the film is a terrific effort from the Mouse House, with terrific audiovisuals and a nice complement of extra features. And, okay, fine, I‘ll go ahead and say it… it’s a pretty great film, too. (There. Did that really need to be said?) Seriously, Cinderella is one of the crown jewels of the Disney catalog, so it’s no surprise that as they start to revisit classic titles on 4K ultra HD, Cinderella makes the cut early.
The 4K Audio/Video: The 4K Ultra HD allows us to see more of the imagery than we’ve ever seen before, and it looks better than ever before. For those of you who think that 4K is only really special for CGI/digital animation, you need only look at this transfer to see the amazing things it can do to hand-drawn animation. If you’re wondering if Cinderella is worth the upgrade to 4K if you already own it on DVD or Blu-ray, the answer is a resounding yes. If for nothing else than the gorgeous colors, it’s worth it, but you also get an improved soundtrack that really brings the film to life.
The Special Features: While no new features were created for this release, it carries over a lot of bonus features from previous releases, including the In Walt’s Words viewing experience, which allows you to watch the film while also seeing concept art, notes, and tons of archival materials to give you a look into the creation of the movie. Then there’s a half dozen making-of featurettes and a generous number of art and concept galleries. Finally, there’s a trivia game of sorts.
The Wrap-Up: Disney’s classic animated tale makes its 4K Ultra HD debut in a package filled with great extras and a fully restored and remastered picture and soundtrack. One of the original Disney princesses has never looked better, and the film is still a magical slice of classic Disney animation. This one is a must-have.

Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart 

The Movie: Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck ClubThe Center of the World) is a pioneer in the independent film scene, continuing to create independent films even while veering into mainstream territory with movies like Because of Winn Dixie and Maid in Manhattan. One of his earliest indie films was 1985’s Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, which now joins the Criterion Collection’s illustrious line-up of home video releases. The film takes place in San Francisco and focuses on 62-year-old widow Mrs. Tam, who’s in a bit of slump. A fortune teller has told her this is the year she’s going to die, her daughter is unmarried, and she wants to return to visit her homeland of China to pay tribute to her ancestors. She feels trapped and is unsure how to move forward, and the film follows these characters in a way that is moving and understanding. Dim Sum isn’t a heavily plot-driven movie; instead, it’s a look at real characters who feel well-sketched out and unique. Wang’s direction keeps the film moving without losing the heart of it, and it’s easy to see why it was added to Criterion’s catalog.
The Special Features: This isn’t one of the more loaded Criterion releases, but you do get a new interview with Wayne Wang, and archival interview with actress Linda Chew, and the usual Criterion essay booklet.
The Wrap-Up: Dim Sum is a smaller film that just asks you to take a journey with characters that you learn about as the film goes on, and sometimes that can be a very rewarding journey. If you’re looking for something a little mor introspective, check this one out.

Night of the Assassin

The Movie: This week’s requisite period martial arts film comes from Korea in the form of Night of the Assassin, which sees a lifelong assassin find out he has a deadly heart condition and setting aside his career in order to search for a cure. However, there’s a price on his head and a gang after the reward, so of course, he gets sucked back into deadly battles before he has a chance to settle down. The film features lots and lots of swordplay (which I love) and Shin Hyun-joon is quite formidable with a blade. I don’t know if he’s the most dynamic screen presence ever, but he can certainly hold his own in an action film of this ilk.
The Special Features: Sadly, there are none.
The Wrap-Up: I don’t know that the film delivers in terms of character or emotion, but if you’re looking for some great period action and lots of great sword-based brawls, Night of the Assassin will fit the bill for you.


The Movie: Well, this one caught me by surprise. Sean Patrick Flanery – and actor I’ve long been a fan of – stars in this demonic possession thriller… or at least that’s what the film wants you to think it is. Okay, so first the set-up: Flanery plays a convicted serial killer on death row who claims he’s a demon. Now, is he doing it to get out of being executed (because he can’t be executed if he’s insane) or is it a ruse? That’s what Dr. Martin is there to determine. But when Flanery’s Brady tells Dr. Martin that Martin will kill three people before the night is out, Martin begins to doubt the right thing to do. But then… then things turn. Then the film becomes a conversation about god and Christianity that culminates with a cameo from conservative luminary Glenn Beck. It turns out, Nefarious is produced and written by the people who brought us the many God’s Not Dead films; it’s a faith-based preach-feat masquerading as a horror movie. Too bad, because the set-up is really good; it’s everything that comes after that’s disappointing.
The Special Features: There are two making-of features, an audio commentary with the directors and producer, and a cast commentary with Flanery and Jordan Belfi, the two leads in the film.
The Wrap-UpNefarious isn’t bad because it’s a faith-based film per se; it’s bad because it starts off as one thing and then becomes another, and it bores you to tears while doing so. What could have been a stand-out in a genre littered with subpar films instead becomes just another subpar film.

Gary Owen: Stand-Up Spotlight & Anjelah Johnson-Reyes: Stand-Up Spotlight

The Movie: Mill Creek has two terrific new stand-up comedy DVDs this week with Gary Owen: Stand-Up Spotlight & Anjelah Johnson-Reyes: Stand-Up Spotlight, a pair of stand-up special DVDs that each include two stand-up specials from the titular comedian. Now, I’m more familiar with Anjelah Johnson-Reyes than I am with Gary Owen, but both of these discs offer up a of of laughs. Johnson-Reyes’s Spotlight includes the specials Homecoming Show and Mahalo & Goodnight. She covers the usual topics from her heritage to her mother to her husband to just being a woman, and she does so with her signature wit and impeccable timing. Both specials are a lot of fun. Gary Owen’s Spotlight includes the specials Breakin’ Out the Park and #DoinWhatIDo. I was surprised how much Owen (who’s white) tackles racial issues in his comedy, so he might not be for everyone, but he’s still quite funny. I don’t think he’s offensive to minorities, but I could see how some people might find him a little off-putting. Both discs can be found at bargain prices through online retailers, so they’re a nice way to get some affordable new stand-up in your collection.

The Special Features: Stand-up comedy discs almost never have special features on them, and these two discs are no different, but I’m okay with that.
The Wrap-Up: You can easily find these discs for under $10 and you get two full-length specials on each one, making them a great value for a good amount of laughs.

Sesame Street: Abby & Elmo’s’ Amazing Adventures

The Show: It’s always hard to “review” Sesame Street because, I mean, it’s Sesame Street. I can’t think of any other children’s educational programming that even comes close to having the impact or legacy that Sesame Street does. So I can’t so much “review” this new Sesame Street DVD as I can just fill you in on what it includes, because we all know that Sesame Street is amazing. This disc contains over two hours of material, mostly focusing on Elmo and Abby Cadabby, but also featuring other regular and familiar faces (like Cookie Monster!). Guest stars this time around include actress Ginnifer Goodwin, musician Jason Mraz, and real-life astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison. There are also some animated segments mixed in with the live-action segments. All in all, it’s good fun and education for the young ones.
The Special Features: With over two hours of episodic material, the fact that you get a bonus episode of Elmo and Friends is just icing on the cake.
The Wrap-UpSesame Street remains perennially popular with toddlers and children because it’s terrific. The mix of singing, comedy, animation, famous guest stars, and important life lessons makes this another terrific DVD release for parents to bring home.

Mavka: The Forest Song

The Movie: This animated movie from Ukraine treads on familiar ground, but it is actually better than I expected it to be. Borrowing from previous stories like The Little MermaidSnow WhiteCinderella, and several other Disney films, the story follows Mavka, a forest sprite, who lives deep in the forest where humans don’t go. But evil villainess Kalina wants a magical element from the region, so she sends in unwitting human Lucas in to find it. When Lucas and Mavka meet, however, sparks fly and the story of our star-crossed lovers begins. I didn’t know what to expect from a Ukrainian animation studio, but I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, the story is familiar, as are a lot of other elements; Mavka is surrounded by anthropomorphic animals and creatures, much like in many Disney movies. But the animation is surprisingly good CGI, with good character designs, colorful designs, and some really impressive landscape shots, as well as characters that feel real. Parents will likely enjoy the film if they watch along but I suspect kids will really like it.
The Special Features: Not too much, but you do get a making-of featurette, a music video, and trailers.
The Wrap-Up: I sit through a lot of foreign animation releases and most of them leave me underwhelmed, but Mavka: The Forest Song is surprisingly good. If you’re looking for something new (but not necessarily different) for your kids to watch, Mavka is worth checking out.

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