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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Air, Meg 2: The Trench, The Boys, The Crown, 3 Days in Malay, The Tiger Cage Collection and more


There are a lot of new catalog titles out this week, but there’s still room for a few tried and true new releases, including a giant shark movie. And who doesn’t love giant shark movies?!? Read on for the full list!

Meg 2: The Trench 

The Movie: I’ve been reading the Meg novels since the early 2000s, and as a result I’ve been a fan of the franchise way longer then it’s even been a movie series. While the films have veered quite wildly from the novels, I really enjoyed the first one as a fun giant shark outing with one of my favorite movie stars along for the ride, Jason Statham. So I was pretty excited for The Meg 2: The Trench, because anytime I can get more high-quality shark movies, I’m game. Unfortunately, The Meg 2 was a pretty big disappointment for me. Now, it’s not a disaster or anything; I’ve seen way worse films than this. The biggest problem this time around was that the focus was all over the place. In this film, we visit the Marianas Trench below the subthermal layer that kept all the megs down below in the first place. When that gets breached, we not only get a handful of Megs released to the surface world, but also a bunch of dinosaur-like amphibious creatures as well. As a result, we get a lot of time with our main characters fighting terrorists, exploring an underwater facility, and fighting mini-dinosaurs, rather than taking on giant sharks. All of which could be okay, but the movie’s world (and the script) just aren’t strong enough to carry all of these other events when what we really want is more shark action. It’s an enjoyable film overall, but it’s got a lot of flaws.
The 4K Audio/VideoThe Meg 2 looks and sounds pretty sharp in 4K Ultra HD. As with most newer movies that have decent budgets, the film looks exceptionally clean and clear, with extremely sharp imagery and impeccable colors that are deep and vibrant. The surround soundtrack captures both the feel of an underwater world and the action above the surface (boats, jet skis, gunshots, etc.) with verve, giving your speakers sounds in all channels and emphasizing discrete surround effects quite nicely. It’s a terrific A/V presentation overall.
The Wrap-Up: Don’t let my lukewarm response to The Meg 2: The Trench dissuade you from watching it. It’s the kind of film where you know what you’re going into, so no one should be expecting a masterpiece, and therefore you can still enjoy it. But it’s not as good as the first one, and while it is entertaining, I was really hoping for a movie that built on the original yet retained the same quality. This one sinks a little for me.


The Movie: I love movies that explore the behind-the-scenes of huge, worldwide things that we take for granted. So Air, for example, which dramatizes how Michael Jordan and Nike became inextricable linked and launched a shoe empire that would dominate the world, was right up my alley. Starring Matt Damon (in an excellent performance) and Ben Affleck alongside Viola Davis, Chris Messina, and Jason Bateman, the film follows the real-life Sonny Vaccaro as he tries to convince Nike founder Phil Knight to take a flyer on this kid named Michael Jordan. We then follow how Vaccaro got Jordan to Nike by dealing with his powerful mother, how the shoes were developed, and other events that led to Air Jordans becoming the most famous shoe in the world. While I wouldn’t describe Air as a thriller, but it is an extremely engrossing drama that keeps you guessing as to how Vaccaro and his team pulled off what they did. Frankly, I loved the film, and the cast is terrific. It also wisely chooses not to make Michael Jordan an on-screen character; you catch glimpses of him, but he’s never the focal point beyond people talking about him, which I suspect is a lot like how it happened in real life.

The Wrap-Up: Ben Affleck co-stars in the film but he also directed it, continuing a string of movies that have proven that he’s one of the more capable directors in Hollywood these days. Whether you’re a sneakerhead or not, Air is an engrossing film with a great cast that is well worth your time.

The Boys: Season 3 

The Show: Of all the comic books I would have thought you could make a TV series out of, The Boys would be one of the absolute last. After all, Garth Ennis’ unique spin on superheroes is one of the most depraved and twisted comics of the last 20 years. So the idea that Amazon Prime of all places would decide to make it into a series was almost unfathomable. But here we are, with Season Three out on Blu-ray and DVD this week. I know that the show is insanely popular and I do enjoy it quite a bit; while it definitely doesn’t hit the highs (or, I guess, the lows) of the comic book, this sure isn’t a show for the faint of heart! Showing us a world where superheroes are controlled by corporate interests and a small group of specialists works to keep things under control and safe for the public (err… sort of), the show is irreverent, dark, funny, offbeat, and often action-packed. It’s a lot of fun, but you definitely have to tap into the more R-rated side of your personality. If you don’t have Amazon Prime or just want to have the physical media copy of the show in your collection, this new release is for you.

The Wrap-Up: While we wait for another season of The Boys, Amazon Prime has debuted a new spin-off show called Gen V, but if you just want to stick with the flagship show, The Boys: Season Three is now on home video for your viewing pleasure.

The Crown: Season 5 

The Show: The popular television series The Crown is once again back on home video for those who missed it on air or who just want to relive the drama. Over the seasons, the show has advanced the cast to reflect the aging of the real-world characters as well as the introduction of new ones. So in this fifth Season, Imelda Staunton absolutely impresses as Queen Victoria, Jonathan Price quietly reigns as Prince Philip, Dominic West shows a new side as Prince Charles, and Elizabeth Debicki shines as Princess Diana. In the past, The Crown has been one of those productions where everything clicks on multiple levels — especially the performances — but it hadn’t necessarily clicked with me. Despite lavish production values, sharp writing, and flawless acting, the show has always focused on a subject matter I really don’t care all that much about (historical drama/biopics have never been my favorite genre). That said, I was really impressed by the fifth season. Maybe it’s because it takes place in the 90s, in a time period I lived through and portraying events that I remember, but for whatever reason, this season connected with me more than any of the previous ones.

The Wrap-Up: I can appreciate that I may not be the target audience for this series, but I was pleased that The Crown: Season Five resonated with me in a way none of the previous seasons did. Fans of the show should be prepared for another collection of episodes of exactly what they love.

The Tiger Cage Collection

The Movie: I’ve long been a martial arts movie fan, but I still get excited when a particularly exciting-looking Asian action flick crosses my desk. Such was the case when I opened up mail recently to find the Tiger Cage Collection in it. So many martial arts films are period pieces set in ancient China — which isn’t really my jam — that when I get films I haven’t seen set in modern times, it gets me pumped. Now, as with many Asian action franchises, the three films in this series aren’t actually closely linked. Each of Tiger CageTiger Cage II, and Tiger Cage III, however, do share themes of police versus drug lords/criminals and are more thematically linked then they are a true franchise. The first film is a pretty straightforward cops versus bad guys thriller starring Donnie Yen. The second movie sees Yen return (as a different character) and it takes on a much more comedic tone than the first film as it sets things up as a sort of buddy cop film with Yen and a female character wanted by the mob. The third film is a whole new cast and story, with police chasing corporate criminals who are always one step ahead. I enjoyed all three films, but the second one is easily my favorite while the third film is the weakest. All three were directed by industry legend Yuen Woo-Ping, best known for choreographing the fight sequences in The Matrix, meaning the action scenes are the real stars of the films.

The Wrap-UpThe Tiger Cage Collection offers up three pretty awesome Asian action films and is loaded with extra features, giving you a ton of bang for your buck. The films are fun, and this is another typical high-quality genre release from Shout Factory.

3 Days in Malay

The Movie: Louis Mandylor directs and stars in this gritty wartime drama that never quite succeeds at its lofty goals. The film tells the story of a small unit of men during World War II who are tasked with trying to defend an airfield against a Japanese assault that ends up toiling on for three days. War movies are hard to pull off under the best of circumstances, but low-budget war movies are even harder to do well. It can be done, of course, but it requires a great script and a sure hand behind the camera, neither of which this movie really has. The movie focuses on the soldiers rather than the action, but none of the characters are actually interesting enough to get that invested in, and the action sequences all feel a little repetitive. It’s certainly not the worst war movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s a low-budget affair and there’s no denying that that shows on screen.

The Wrap-Up3 Days in Malay is a valiant effort but it just never quite gels. If you’re a war movie buff and you need a fix, this will probably hold you over until the next big war movie comes along, but other than that, it’s pretty standard direct-to-video fare.

The Engineer

The Movie: I’m a little surprised that the release of this movie on home video wasn’t delayed, considering that it deals with suicide bombers in Israel in the 1990s. In the wake of the current situation in Israel and the surrounding areas, I was half expecting this film to get pulled from release, but it looks like it’s still available as scheduled. Emile Hirsch takes the lead role as the leader of a team looking for the mastermind behind suicide bombings in Israel; a man known as The Engineer. Another team is also looking for The Engineer, and it’s only a matter of time before the two teams meet up and join forces to find the bad guy. All of which could lead to an exciting thriller but instead turns into a slog as the film just never really manages to elicit any tension or excitement from the proceedings. And then we get to the end which is both abrupt and confusing, and the whole thing is a bit of a mess, unfortunately. I like Emile Hirsch and his performance here is perfectly fine, but this is not the kind of movie that’s going to lead him back to higher-profile roles.

The Wrap-Up: I hate to sound down on direct-to-vide movies as there are a lot of really good ones to be found out there, but this week isn’t when that’s happening. The Engineer is another film that lacks the budget or talent to make it essential viewing.

Alien Outlaw, Dark Power, and Lorna the Exorcist 

The Movies: Kino Lorber specializes in bringing a wide range of titles to the home video market: classic films, foreign movies, cult classics, catalogue favorites, and more. Now, they’ve launched a new imprint called Kino Cult – which, not surprisingly, focuses on cult classics — and they have three inaugural Blu-ray titles to launch with: Alien OutlawDark Power, and Lorna the Exorcist. Now, these are all what I would call exploitation B-movies: low-budget genre films with a healthy dose of buxom actresses to keep things appealing to their target audience. Alien Outlaw and Dark Power are both directed by Phil Smoot, and both include roles by western legend Lash Larue in some of his final movie appearances. Alien Outlaw is a pretty typical alien invasion/rubber suit B-movie, while Dark Power is a zombie film with zombies versus college co-eds. Lorna the Exorcist, meanwhile, is a sexual horror movie from controversial and beloved exploitation master Jess Franco, who was a powerhouse in the 1970s. All three films have been remastered for release on Blu-ray, and since they’ve rarely been seen on home video before, that extra quality is a nice bonus for fans of cult movies. Now, are any of them particularly amazing movies? I mean, not really, but you don’t generally watch low-budget B-movies like this expecting cinematic masterpieces. They are, however, fun B-movie outings with no small amount of exploitation and titillation, meaning they achieve exactly what they set out to.

The Wrap-Up: I think Alien Outlaw might actually be the worst of the three films, but somehow I think it was also my favorite. Whichever flavor you prefer – sci-fi, horror, or psychosexual thriller – Kino Cult has got you covered.

Waist Deep/Drop Squad 

The Movie: Mill Creek specializes in budget releases of catalog and cult favorites, and this week we get a Blu-ray double feature of two action movies from the 1990s and 2000s. Waist Deep is probably the better-known of the two: directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall, the 2006 film stars Tyrese Gibson as an ex-con whose car gets hijacked with his son inside, which leads him to dive back into the gang world to get help to find his missing child. Meanwhile, 1994’s Drop Squad stars Vondie Curtis-Hall (not directing this earlier effort), Ving Rhames, and Eriq La Salle in the story of a militant group of African Americans who set out to “deprogram” fellow African-Americans who they deem as having sold out their race. Not surprisingly, it isn’t long before things go too far. Neither film is a must-see, but neither one is a bust, either, and both have enough recognizable faces in the casts to make them worth watching. Plus, since you can get two movies for the price of one low-priced Blu-ray, it’s hard not to see the value here.

The Wrap-Up: For me, Waist Deep is the better of the two films, but this Blu-ray double feature does give you a couple of solid action outings for one low price, so I’m not complaining.

The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: The Official Seasons 13 and 14

The MovieThe Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet may not be the household name in television series that it once was, but the show was a cultural powerhouse at one point in American history. 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 had 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. Over the last couple of years, MPI Video has been releasing every season of the show in its entirety, dropping two complete seasons at a time. So this month we are treated to the final two releases with The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: The Complete Seasons 13 and 14, each released as their own complete season set. Both of these sets include 26 complete episodes from their respective seasons, and it’s amazing how much the show grew and developed from the first season to the last. Whereas Ricky and Dave were young boys in the first season, now they’re young men, in college and dating, and even getting married in the final year. Much of the show’s comedy and conflict comes from those romantic entanglements, as well as from from Ozzie and Harriet dealing with their sons being adults and even with empty nester syndrome. Yet somehow the show manages to retain much of its charm, which isn’t always the case when young actors and the characters they play grow up.

The Wrap-UpThe 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. These two volumes complete the collection, meaning you can now have the entire series in one place for the first time ever.

The Presidential Legacy Collection 

The Movie: Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper (as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin), this new DVD collection from The History Channel pairs two docudrama miniseries events together: Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Each two-part series combines dramatic reenactments, experts discussing the men, archival footage and photos, and more to paint fully immersive pictures of the two Roosevelt lives and presidencies. I’ve always found these types of History Channel programs to be a bit of a mixed bag; on the one hand, they are very informative and educational. On the other hand, sometimes the dramatic reenactments can be a little on the cheesy side. Both of these are some of the better docudramas I’ve seen, and both of the Roosevelts – especially FDR, in my opinion – were fascinating men whose stories should be told. Here, you get both of them in one nice package.

The Wrap-Up: While I might prefer straight-up biopics, there’s no denying that these types of miniseries are probably more accurate and offer up less dramatizing. Either way, if you’d like to learn more about two of America’s most famous presidents, this is a great way to do it.

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