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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Wednesday, Ancient Empires, Baby Assassins 2 and Yuni


While April is actually a pretty jam-packed month filled with high profile releases, apparently the studios were scared off by the Easter Sunday/April Fool’s Day Monday double whammy and chose to leave April 2nd a wasteland of new releases. So this week’s bounty is almost non-existent. But here are a few new titles you can dig into.

Wednesday: Season One

The Show: You know a Netflix show is a hit when they release it on home video. There’s only been a handful of Netflix exclusives that have made it to home video before, and now Wednesday joins those esteemed ranks. When Wednesday premiered on Netflix last year, everyone on my social feeds was talking about it. Except me. NOT because I don’t like it, but simply because I didn’t watch it. I figured I’d get around to it eventually (which is pretty much my way of watching TV shows; I rarely watch anything when it initially comes out.) And now that the Blu-ray collection has showed up for me to review, it was finally time to dive into the series that had everyone raving about it. And it turns out… well, everyone was right. Wednesday: Season One is utterly fantastic. Based on The Addams Family (which has been a perennially popular franchise, encompassing comic strips, a TV series, and a movie franchise), the show turns the focus on Wednesday Addams, a constantly-in-trouble child who is sent to private school at Nevermore Academy, home to werewolves, vampires, sirens, and the like. When a murder occurs on school grounds, Wednesday turns her latent detective skills to figure out who did what, who she can trust, and who is more than they seem. However, the show never loses the quirky humor, black comedy, and Tim Burton-esque aesthetic that keeps it from feeling anything like a regular procedural. (In fact, Burton directed the first four episodes.) Jenna Ortega is outstanding in the lead role, and casting Christina Ricci as one of the school administrators both pays tribute to her own iconic performance as Wednesday and allows her to return to the Addams world, which is a welcome addition. Simply put, Wednesday lives up to the hype.

The Special Features: I don’t know why Netflix doesn’t take advantage of these home video releases to include some extra features, but they usually don’t and Wednesday is no exception to that rule. Too bad.

The Wrap-Up: It’s not like I expected not to like Wednesday, but a lot of times people blow up a new show or movie on Netflix (or any other streamer) and I find it isn’t as great as everyone makes it out to be. In this case, I found the show to be a fun, mysterious, original, and enjoyable outing, and now it’s available for anyone to enjoy whether they have a Netflix subscription or not.

Ancient Empires

The Show: I’m not always the biggest fan of the History Channel’s original docuseries. While I appreciate the quality of their productions and the research into providing accurate historical information, their penchant for dramatic reenactments (often semi-cheesy ones) doesn’t always land with me. In the case of Ancient Empires, a three-episode miniseries from said History Channel, I found this one worked better than some of their other ones. Maybe it’s because Ancient Empires focuses on a time period that is so visually interesting, or maybe it’s because it gives us a way to visualize events that are so alien to us in modern times, but whatever the reason, I found this a very effective program. Split up over three 90-minute episodes, Ancient Empires gives us biographic docudramas about three titans of the ancient world: Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Cleopatra. Each ruler gets their own episode, and each episode looks at the leaders critically; rather than simply telling us about their accomplishments, the show also looks at whether or not these legends did themselves more harm than good via their own actions. Budgetarily speaking, you’re not getting epic films here, but the reenactments look pretty good overall and do add some flavor to keep the material from being dry or boring.

The Special Features: The History Channel doesn’t usually include bonus features on their DVD releases, and this disc keeps that trend going.

The Wrap-UpAncient Empires is a nicely focused three-episode event that tackles three of the biggest historical figures of all time. I like that the History Channel chose to make this more of an event than just a ten-episode season focusing on lesser-known figures. There’s so much to learn about these three near-mythical rulers that this show feels like a solid deep dive.

Baby Assassins 2

The Movie: I really, really, REALLY wish they would change the name of this franchise. In 2022, Baby Assassins — an Asian action film — was released on home video in the US. While the title conjured up some sort of Boss-Baby-Meets-Ninja-Assassin mash-up, it was actually a surprisingly good action flick. It saw two teenage girls graduate high school, during which time they were trained as assassins. They were then forced to room together and get real jobs to establish their cover identities. Unfortunately, things quickly go wrong and the two — who can barely tolerate each other — have to go on the run and trust each other to survive. This time around, we get Baby Assassins 2, which still has a terrible title, but picks up a couple of years later, where Mahiro (Saori Izawa) and Chisato (Akari Takaishi) have been working as contract killers. But when they fail to pay their union dues, they are suspended from their agency. This happens to come at the same time as a pair of rival hitmen decide to take them out, leading to action-packed mayhem. Once again, it’s a twist on the classic buddy cop formula, only with assassins instead of cops and teenage girls instead of male action stars. It’s fast-paced and action-packed, and if you liked the first film, this one will be equally enjoyable.

The Special Features: As is typical with many Well Go USA titles, this one does not include any extra features.

The Wrap-Up: Much as I don’t like the name of this franchise, I’m glads to see it continue. The films aren’t high art, but they’re frenetic and not-too-serious actioners that are a great way to kill an hour and a half on a late night.


The Movie: This week’s requisite foreign film DVD release comes from Indonesia, and it was actually the country’s official entry in the Best International Feature for the 2022 Academy Awards. Yuni is a societal drama, with the film following the titular character, who upon nearing high school graduation begins receiving marriage proposals from men who are nearly strangers. Yuni wants to follow her own dreams and pursuits, but her society expects her to marry, and there’s a superstition about turning down more than one proposal meaning you’ll never get married. It’s a social commentary on the life of Islamic women, and it does a good job of showing a young woman who is at odds with her culture and her individuality. Where the film shines is with the performance of Arawinda Kirana as Yuni, who – through a combination of a script that treats Yuni as a real warts-and-all person and Kirana’s excellent performance – is a terrific protagonist; easy to root for and yet never feeling like a caricature or anything other than a real person. Some of the cultural norms will feel alien to western viewers, but the film is an effective drama nonetheless.

The Special Features: Unfortunately, there are no extra features on this release.

The Wrap-UpYuni isn’t a Friday night friends-and-popcorn movie, but viewers who like more challenging fare, arthouse movies, and foreign dramas will find a lot to like.

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