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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Strays, The Haunted Mansion, ALF, The Mist, The Wicker Man, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and more

The Mist

We’ve got a wide-ranging slate of titles hitting shelves this week, including some recent box office hits, some cool catalogue titles, and one massive TV box set. Check out the full details below!

Haunted Mansion

The Movie: I can’t blame Disney for trying to make movies out of their most famous attractions; after all, Pirates of the Caribbean spawned a billion-dollar franchise. But with the Haunted Mansion having already failed to ignite the box office twenty years ago, I was a little surprised they decided to revisit it. This newest incarnation stars Rosario Dawson, Lakeith Stanfield, Danny Devito, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Jared Leto, and Jamie Lee Curtis as we meet the new inhabitants of the Haunted Mansion through the lens of Gabbie and Travis, a mother and her young son looking for a fresh start in life. When paranormal happenings start, however, they call in a group of eccentric experts to try and solve the problem, that’s when the fun really begins. Now, I’m not saying Haunted Mansion is a masterpiece by any stretch, but it is a highly entertaining effort that manages to be funny and still the right level of spooky for younger audience members to watch it and get a thrill without having nightmares for days afterward. The cast is outstanding, and the film even manages to get in some relatively deep character moments that give the film an emotional heft. It’s a surprisingly good time.
The Special Features: There is a making-of featurette, a feature that showcases where characters from the ride appear in the movie, a collection of deleted scenes, and a blooper reel.
The Wrap-Up: Unfortunately, like its predecessor, Haunted Mansion didn’t make a big splash at the box office. The main difference this time around is that – unlike the mediocre Eddie Murphy outing – this new version is quite good. Worth a watch, even if we probably won’t see a sequel.


The Movie: Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx together on screen sounds pretty much like it could be a guaranteed hit film. But Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx together on screen… as dogs? Well, that’s harder to predict. Strays sees the actors lend their voices to a pair of mismatched dogs who team up to help get lost Reggie (Ferrell) back home to his owner. What Reggie doesn’t realize is that his owner (Will Forte) doesn’t want him back and lost him on purpose. But Reggie is a completely naïve and lovable mutt, while Foxx’s Bug is much more street smart. The result is a pets-trying-to-find-home buddy comedy crossed with a lowest-common-denominator teen comedy. The film is not for kids, despite the presence of animal main characters, as it is filled with jokes about every kind of questionable subject matter you can think of, and more F-bombs in the first ten minutes than most movies squeeze into their entire running time. It’s not a particularly great film, and you’ll definitely feel your IQ dropping a few points as you watch it, but by the same token, it will make you chuckle throughout and it’s an easy watch.
The Special Features: Not tooted, you get six short making-of featurettes looking at different aspects of the filmmaking, like the voice overs and working with the animals.
The Wrap-UpStrays is one of those movies that’s like a snack-sized bag of potato chips: it goes down easy, but it’s empty calories that don’t really fill you up. You can throw it on, laugh at a little bit, and never get bored with it, but afterwards you’ll be looking for something with a little bit more substance.

ALF: The Complete Series – Deluxe Edition

The Show: I’m not gonna lie, ALF was absolutely one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. It’s funny to me what a pop culture sensation ALF was when the show debuted, only to be canceled four seasons later. However, ALF has never really faded from the public consciousness, and now Shout Factory has brought us what is by far the best and most complete box set of the show yet – along with a few bonus shows. ALF: The Complete Series is called the deluxe edition because there has previously been another box set of the show, but apparently those episodes were the syndicated versions, meaning there were slight alterations to the episodes for time purposes. This set brings us the original broadcast episodes in their entirety, which is a huge upgrade. You also get every episode of the ALF animated series (which I also adored as a kid) and the ALF Tales animated series. Then, to really top things off, Project: ALF– a follow-up TV movie from 1996 — is also included, which is a decent wrap-up to the series that has been lost in the archives for many years (although it was released as a stand-alone DVD earlier this year.) One note: the box set is on DVD and not Blu-ray, which is a little rare for Shout Factory, but seeing as how the show was filmed on videotape, a Blu-ray release really wouldn’t have offered up any kind of upgrade, so it makes sense. For the ALF fans out there – and I know there are a lot of you – this is a must-have for your collection.
The Special Features: There are two new extra features, a retrospective documentary with the show’s creators, Paul Fusco and Tom Patchett, and then you get a handful of audio commentaries on certain episodes with Patchett and ALF himself. Fun!
The Wrap-Up: I’ve always found it surprising that ALF hasn’t been resurrected in some way or another in recent years, but going back and being able to revisit the show is as close as we’ll get to something new for now. Maybe this box set will spark some new interest in ALF and we’ll see him make a big comeback!

The Mist (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)

The Movie: One of the greatest Stephen King adaptations of all time comes to 4K Ultra HD, this time via a Best Buy-exclusive Steelbook limited edition release. I’ll admit, for years I loved The Mist but hated the ending. I won’t spoil it here, but if you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about. However, in recent years, I’ve come to appreciate the ending, which makes an already amazing film even more incredible. The premise is simple: a small town finds itself enveloped in a strange mist, and several people hole up in a grocery store. And then… things start coming from the mist. I won’t say more, nor do I need to, but suffice it to say that what could be a simple horror movie also involves seep themes about group think and mob mentality. It’s also a really great horror movie! Thomas Jane and Marcia Gay Harden are terrific, and Laurie Holden and Jeffrey Demunn (who would later star in director Frank Darabont’s The Walking Dead TV show) are terrific as well. If you don’t already own the movie (and even if you do, because the Steelbook is super cool), now is definitely the time.
The 4K Audio/VideoThe Mist looks and sounds terrific in 4K. It’s a purposefully tempered film in terms of colors, but saturation is deep and rich. Meanwhile, you also get impeccably sharp imagery, and deep, rich black levels. The print, of course, is devoid of any blemishes or debris. The surround soundtrack has a lot to work with and it doesn’t waste any opportunities to fill your living room with seriously creepy surround activity. There’s also a nice low end bass channel that gives many of the scenes an effective rumble that you’ll feel in your chest… and your soul. This is the kind of movie I love to watch in 4K.
The Special Features: This is a pretty packed disc, with a Frank Darabont audio commentary kicking things off. There are also deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a conversation between Darabont and Stephen King, a 40-minute making-of feature, four additional making-of featurettes, a series of short webisodes, and trailers for the film. Very cool!
The Wrap-Up: I can’t recommend The Mist highly enough. It’s a horror masterpiece with a message, and even though the ending is incredibly intense, it’s worth getting through because the movie is just that good.

The Wicker Man (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)

The Movie: Not to be confused with the Nicolas Cage remake, this new release of the 1973 horror cult classic is also a Best Buy-exclusive Steelbook limited edition release. I’ve always found the original The Wicker Man a hard movie to describe. On the surface, it’s simple: a policeman goes to a small island community to investigate a girl’s disappearance. He discovers that the islanders have become pagans and tries to conduct his investigation as the town’s weirder and weirder customs continue on around him. Edward Woodward of TV’s The Equalizer is excellent in the lead role, and the movie is filled with a sense of unease throughout. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a unique movie.
The 4K Audio/Video: Lionsgate has done a nice job of bringing The Wicker Man to 4K Ultra HD, with a restoration and new transfer that brings the film to life better than ever before. Image clarity is at the mercy of the source material, but close-ups especially are nicely clean and clear. The colors really stand out the most, however, giving the film a new life on 4K, especially in the outdoor scenes. The soundtrack isn’t an especially overdone affair, but you get clean and clear dialogue with no crackle or hiss, and the music comes through clean and clear. Overall, it’s a very strong effort for a classic film.
The Special Features: This one is also loaded, with no less than 10 making of and interview featurettes, plus the film’s trailer.
The Wrap-Up: I have to admit that, while I do enjoy The Wicker Man it’s not one of my favorites. However, it definitely has its fans, and this new release is an excellent version of the film that fans and collectors will be happy to have in their collections!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The Movie: The one that started it all… and that’s probably all that I really need to say about Snow White. I prefer not to give history lessons in my reviews, so all I can do is tell you how I feel about the film, and in this case, this is a movie that I both enjoy and appreciate. That’s an important distinction in my mind; while there are some classic movies I can appreciate for their historical value, sometimes that doesn’t translate to actually liking the film. In the case of Snow White, I think the movie holds up amazingly well after eight decades and I can enjoy the film for purely storytelling reasons as well as to marvel at the technological and artistic achievements of this classic piece of cinematic history. This week, we see the release of the film on 4K Ultra HD, bringing the movie to yet another generation of new fans.
The 4K Audio/Video: Considering that Snow White was the very first Disney animated film and it’s over 85 years old, the film looks incredible. 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 Snow White 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: Pretty much all of the extra features from previous releases are here, so you get an audio commentary, over a dozen making-of featurettes of various lengths, two deleted scenes, and more!
The Wrap-UpSnow White is a terrific, endearing (and enduring) film. I’m happy to see it take on new A/V life with this 4K Ultra HD release. It’s definitely earned a place in the Disney fan’s collection.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match

The Movie: I’ll give Warner Bros. credit, they know how to keep a franchise going. With the Mortal Kombat live-action film from a couple of years ago being a bit of a disaster (in my opinion) I can’t say I’m surprised at the lack of a sequel. But since then we’ve had three separate feature-length animated movies hit home video with the Mortal Kombat Legends line. The first two films were directly related to each other, but this third outing changes things up and gives us an origin story for Jonny Cage, one of the series’ most popular characters. This prequel is set in the 1980s, following Johnny Cage in Hollywood as he tries to make it as an actor but keeps finding himself fighting crooked conspirators. It’s not unlike what I imagine and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City animated movie would be like. It’s heavily influenced by the ‘80s in terms of the look and feel of the animation, the settings, the fashions, the music, and the whole vibe of the film.
The 4K Audio/VideoMortal Kombat Legends comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray, and the 4K format treats it well. The colors are quite vibrant and the blacks are deep and rich. The surround soundtrack is terrific, with a nice use of the satellite speakers. It’s a strong A/V presentation that brings the film to life nicely.
The Special Features: You get a trailer and a featurette, as well as an audio commentary with producers and the writer.
The Wrap-Up: I wasn’t overly impressed with the first two Mortal Kombat animated offerings, but I had a lot of fun with Cage Match. And with Joel McHale, Jennifer Grey, and Kelly Hu providing voices, it’s got a great cast that help bring the story to life. This is the best Mortal Kombat we’ve seen in a while.

Mob Land

The Movie: John Travolta stars in Mob Land, a direct-to-video actioner with a great supporting cast. Deep in the south, a young man and his uncle (Shiloh Fernandez and Kevin Dillon) rob a drug-making facility, only to draw the ire of the mafia. Stephen Dorff plays a mob enforcer out to get the two brothers, while Travolta plays the small-town sheriff trying to bring peace and order about. As a die-hard action movie junkie, I find that about 99% of the direct-to-video variety are, well, pretty terrible, weighed down by terrible scripts or low budgets that prevent any actual action from occurring. As directed by first-time director Nicholas Maggio – who clearly idolizes Quentin Tarantino – Mob Land actually managed to hole my interest. It’s not going to win any awards, but compared to most of the unwatchable dreck this genre offers nowadays, it stands out as a functional, enjoyable film with strong performances by likable actors.
The Special Features: You get one featurette and an audio commentary with the director and cinematographer as well as Shiloh Fernandez.
The Wrap-UpMob Land gives me hope that the direct-to-video action movie market may not quite be the irredeemable wasteland I have begun to think of it as. The film probably won’t make your Top 10 of 2023 list, but it’s worth checking out.

The Three Musketeers and The Iron Mask

The Movies: The Cohen Film Collection home video line specializes in classic films and foreign films mostly, so this newest release from the studio is one that classic Hollywood fans will be mighty impressed with. This Blu-ray double feature includes two Douglas Fairbanks (senior) films: The Three Musketeers from 1921 and The Iron Mask from 1929. Both silent movie adaptations of classic literary novels, these two black-and-white films both feature classic characters such D’artagnan, Milady De Winter, and Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. I’ll admit that while I do like some classic silent films, I don’t go out of my way for them, but these are both solid movies that show why Fairbanks was such a respected actor (as his son would become years later as well.) Both films have been painstakingly restored frame-by-frame and rescanned in 2K, meaning they look much better than 100-year-old movies have any right to. It’s a fantastic effort that fans will be thrilled to see.
The Special Features: Cohen Media Group doesn’t typically include extra features on their classic title releases and this one is no different.
The Wrap-Up: Neither The Three Musketeers nor its follow-up, The Iron Mask, are particularly lengthy films, so the inclusion of both in one affordably-priced Blu-ray release gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Classic stories, classic films, and a classic leading man are hard to resist.

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