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US Blu-ray and DVD Releases: Mean Girls, Andor, Drive Away Dolls, Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 2, Moon Knight, Hansel and Gretel and more

Mean Girls

After a pretty great week of releases last week, this final week of April doesn’t disappoint as we have a new DC Universe animated movie, a critically acclaimed comedy, and no less than four Marvel/Star Wars Steelbook releases to choose from. Check it out!

Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 2

The Movie: As I mentioned in my review of Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 1, in the DC Comics universe, Crisis on Infinite Earths was a huge mega-event in the 1980s that aimed to take all of DCs many multiversal Earths and condense them into one cohesive universe. Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by the legendary George Perez, it’s considered a classic of the Bronze Age of comics. Now, personally, it’s never been a series that resonated with me, and frankly, I always found it kind of confusing. The first film in this trilogy was a solid outing that focused on The Flash, who was bouncing around through periods in his own lifetime. This led to the discovery that there was an antimatter wave destroying the multiverse, and Flash had to team up with heroes from many alternate earths in order to stop it. This week sees the release of Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part 2 (following suit from the first movie and being released in a sharp 4K Ultra HD Steelbook edition.) This time around, the focus is on Supergirl (Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin from Krypton) and Psycho Pirate, a villain who is instrumental in the events of Crisis. The first half of the film, where we learn Psycho Pirate’s origin and see how Supergirl came to team up with The Monitor (a member of a race who simply observes all events in the universe) are really interesting and engaging. The second half of the film sees the continuing assault on multiple earths by the antimatter wave from the first film, and we see various heroes on different planets trying to save the worlds while also fighting off a new threat: shadow demons. For my money, the second half is less interesting, although it is still entertaining. I think I liked this second offering better than the first, and the cliffhanger ending will make sure that viewers come back for the third and final instalment.

The 4K Audio/VideoJustice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Two comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD). Once again, the film looks and sounds very nice in 4K. As you would want for an animated feature, blacks (and black outlines) are deep and solid and colors are well-saturated and vibrant. The surround soundtrack is also extremely effective, with a generous use of surround effects through the various speakers, as well as clean and clear dialogue, a must for animated films.

The Special Features: There are two making-of featurettes that run about 8 minutes each and a brief preview of the upcoming Part 3.

The Wrap-UpCrisis on Infinite Earths is such a big storyline that I’m not sure three movies is enough, yet somehow at the same time, I’m also not sure we needed three movies of Crisis. It’s an entertaining enough watching experience, but falls short of must-see viewing for me.

Mean Girls (2024) 

The Movie: The first of two Mean Girls releases this week, we’ll start with the release of the 2024 reboot. I remember when I first saw the trailer for this film in theaters, the friend I was with said, “Why are they remaking Mean Girls?” and I had to explain that after the success of the original film, it was made into a musical on Broadway (which also became a big hit), and now we have an adaptation of that musical back into film! That’s a lot to process, but suffice it to say that we have an all-new version of Mean Girls with a new cast (along with a few familiar faces, such as Tina Fey), and the important question here is: is it fetch? And I have to say, it is fetch! The new cast (which features Angourie Rice, Moana’s Auli’I Cravalho, Jaquel Spivey, and breakout star Renee Rapp) really do a nice job of playing the characters we know and love and remaining true to the original while delivering their own spin on them. It’s largely the same movie, somehow feeling fresh and yet familiar at the same time, and I don’t even mind the songs added to make it a musical. I was looking forward to the film to begin with, but it’s definitely a stronger effort than I was expecting.

The 4K Audio/Video: While Mean Girls might not be the kind of movie that 4K Ultra HD was designed for, it does fare quite well in the premium format. Colors pop off the screen, while image clarity is sharp and crisp. The print is obviously devoid of blemishes, contrasts are strong, and the whole look of the film is quite vibrant. The surround soundtrack largely focuses on music and dialogue, but both sound clear and full, while there are also some surround effects to bolster the on-screen activity. All in all, it’s a very strong A/V presentation.

The Special Features: You get three making-of featurettes that run about 25 minutes total and are largely promotional in nature. There’s also an extended scene, a gag reel, a music video, and a sing-along version of the film.

The Wrap-UpMean Girls is a lot of fun, no matter which version you watch, but the 2024 version does make for a nice double feature with the original film, which conveniently has also been released on 4K Ultra HD this week. See the next review for more on that!

Mean Girls (2004)


The Movie: I don’t always love when studios put out multiple releases that will appeal to the same people all on the same day (see the Disney Marvel/Star Wars reviews below!) but in this case, I appreciate the synergy that Paramount has created with its release strategy. In addition to the home video debut of the new Mean Girls, this week also sees the 4K Ultra HD debut of the original 2004 Mean Girls. The film that made a household name out of Lindsay Lohan (and also made a star out of Rachel McAdams), the original film is a modern comedy classic, a Clueless for the 2000s teen crowd. Lindsey Lohan was never better, and the film introduced a good number of quotable phrases into the pop culture lexicon; think “Stop trying to make Fetch happen,” and “On Wednesdays we wear pink,” to name a few. The film is biting and acerbic yet manages to have a real heart to it, and while I did enjoy the remake, I still love the original film the best. While it’s been available on Blu-ray and DVD for years, this release marks the first time it’s been available on 4K Ultra HD (and includes a digital copy, which is a nice bonus for people who have had it in their collection since back in 2004.)

The 4K Audio/VideoMean Girls is now – can you believe? – 20 years old. I find that that’s kind of the middle of the road when it comes to 4K upgrades. Sometimes films of that age can look completely transformed in 4K, and sometimes they look more like a standard Blu-ray presentation. This one looks like a slightly upgraded Blu-ray. Image clarity is sharp and clean, and colors are bright and vivid, but the film has an overly warm palette to it (that’s how it was shot) that does overpower the natural feel of the colors throughout most of the films. Again, that’s more of a filmmaking issue than a transfer issue, but it’s worth noting. The surround soundtrack is simply a port of the 5.1 surround track from the Blu-ray, and it’s a pretty standard comedy mix, focusing mostly on dialogue with the enhancements coming from the music in the soundtrack. There’s not a lot of surround activity to speak of.

The Special Features: There’s one new featurette that runs about 8 minutes and takes a retrospective look back at the original movie with the cast and crew of the new film. Other than that, you get a commentary track with director Mark Waters, Tina Fey, and SNL producer Lorne Michaels, as well as three featurettes that run about 45 minutes total, a collection of nine deleted scenes, and a few miscellaneous extra goodies.

The Wrap-UpMean Girls holds up extremely well after 20 years, and while the 4K release doesn’t offer up a huge upgrade over the Blu-ray, if it’s a gap in your collection, this is definitely the version I’d go with. It also pairs nicely with the new film for a terrific double feature movie night.

Andor: Season 1 (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)


The Show: I’ll admit, when the show first aired I was off the Andor train after watching the first two episodes. I just found them kind of dull and uninteresting. But then, as the show went on, I noticed more and more people on my social media feeds raving about how great it was. And I hate missing out on something cool, so I decided to jump back in and give it a few more episodes. And wow, what a difference a third episode can make. From the third episode on, I was completely hooked. More than any other show so far, Andor delves into the history of the Star Wars universe, showing us the seeds of the rebellion and also why the Empire was so bad that it needed to be rebelled against in the first place. And I really don’t want to spoil anything here at all, so I’m going to be purposefully vague for people who haven’t watched it yet, but there’s an episode that has to do with… let’s say, manufacturing, that is one of the most intense and scary moments I’ve ever seen in the Star Wars universe. Not scary in a horror movie kind of way, but scary in a living-under-the-thumb-of-an-evil-dictatorship kind of way. By the end of the 12-episode first season, I was not only a fan, but I’m convinced it’s easily the best Star Wars TV show yet. This week, Andor has been released on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray) in a beautiful Steelbook case that collects the entire first season. (It’s one of four such Star Wars & Marvel releases from Disney this week. Come on, Disney, you couldn’t have spread these out a bit more? There’s a lot of overlap between Star Wars and Marvel fans and I’m sure there are people trying to pick up all four of them this week!)

The 4K Audio/Video: Not surprisingly, Disney ensured that their shows like Andor (and other Star Wars and Marvel TV series) had impressive budgets, so Andor looked pretty great on streaming. It looks even better on 4K Ultra HD. The imagery is extremely sharp, clean and clear, and the special effects really shine in Ultra HD. Colors are at a premium and contrasts are strong, with deep, rich black levels. Obviously, the print is clean and devoid of any debris or blemishes. The surround soundtrack immerses your living room in the Star Wars universe, with active surround channels, a booming low end bass frequency, and rich, full music. All the while, the dialogue never gets lost in the mix, resulting in a terrific sound presentation overall.

The Special Features: There is a five-part documentary about the making of the show that runs about 40 minutes in total. It’s not an overwhelming amount of material, but I’ll take it. You also get three art cards that are quite nice. And while I get the reason why (because they want people to subscribe to Disney+) it bums me out that no digital copies are included on any of this week’s Disney releases.

The Wrap-UpAndor starts slow, I’ll be the first to admit. If you gave up after the first episode or two I wouldn’t blame you, but I would implore you to go back and revisit it. I went from giving up on it to it being my favorite Star Wars show yet. This new collectible Steelbook features gorgeous artwork, excellent video and audio quality, and some neat extra features. Highly recommended!

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Season 1 (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)


The Show: I know there were some mixed reviews and audience reactions to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the 6-episode Star Wars series that takes place between the end of Episode III and the beginning of Episode IV, but I’ll be honest: I loved it. First off, Ewan McGregor is one of my favorite actors, and seeing him portray Obi-Wan again is an utter joy. Secondly, having him go on a search for a kidnapped Princess Leia as a young girl is not only a terrific story, but it explains why he is “her only hope” in Episode IV. It’s a neat way to tie things together. Also, Vivien Lyra Blair, who plays Princess Leia as a precocious young girl, is outstanding and a joy to watch, completely believable as the child version of a character we all know so well. Now, it would have been anti-climactic to have an Obi-Wan series without Darth Vader, and the show doesn’t disappoint. While the main villains are the Sith-like Inquisitors, Vader’s presence is felt and he does make an impactful appearance (with Hayden Christiansen returning to the role, yay!) It really feels like Star Wars, and it also manages to feel like both the prequel series and the original films, which is a really nice touch for a show that takes place between the two trilogies. The complete miniseries has been collected this week in a Steelbook 4K Ultra HD release, and it easily features the most beautiful artwork of the four Disney Steelbooks out this week.

The 4K Audio/Video: Much like Andor above, the budget for Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t wanting. As a result, the A/V presentation here is equally high-quality as that seen on the Andor 4K, with outstanding picture quality and a really active and deep soundtrack. I don’t want to just repeat wat I said above, but everything I said for the Andor 4K release holds true here as well.

The Special Features: There are three making-of featurettes that run about 35 minutes total, plus an audio commentary on the final episode with director Deborah Chow. You do get three nice art cards as well, but again, no digital copies.

The Wrap-UpObi-Wan Kenobi is an exciting and emotional Star Wars outing. While Andor may have taken the crown for me as the best Star Wars show yet, I honestly think that Obi-Wan Kenobi is a close second. I’m extremely happy to have this terrific 4K Ultra HD Steelbook in my Star Wars home video collection. Also highly recommended!

Drive Away Dolls


The Movie: I’m not sure why Ethan Coen decided to fly solo for this latest movie (as opposed to working as The Coen Brothers with his brother Joel, like he has for the last four decades), but I’m not sure it was a great idea. To be fair, I’m not the biggest Coen Brothers fan in the world, so it wasn’t like I had super high expectations for Drive Away Dolls in the first place. The film follows Jamie and Marian, two twentysomething lesbians who want to get away from the doldrums (and/or strife) of their daily lives, so they take on a drive away, a car that someone needs to be delivered to another state. They pick up a car heading to Tallahassee, where Marian’s aunt lives. The problem is that the car was supposed to be driven by some gangster-type guys, who have something important hidden in the trunk. Cue a road trip movie that also features a couple of borderline bad guys chasing down our two protagonists, who have very different viewpoints on love and sex, and spend much of the drive discussing or getting involved in situations dealing with one or both of those subjects. I really didn’t have any expectations for the film when I sat down to watch it, but very quickly I realized it was going to be a movie I wouldn’t enjoy. First and foremost, it’s one of those scripts (co-written by Coen and the film’s editor, Tricia Cooke) in which every single character – from Jamie & Marian to the two gangsters chasing them to the guy who rents them the car – talks like they’re in a movie. It’s that rapid-fire stylized-turn-of-phrase way of talking that doesn’t sound like real people, but rather sounds like the words coming out of their mouths were put there by someone who is desperate to write a clever movie. Secondly, Margaret Qualley, an actress I normally enjoy quite a bit, is saddled with her character being from Texas, meaning she adopts a Texas accent, mannerisms, and euphemisms that make her one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen on screen in a long time. Thanks to cameos by Pedro Pascal and Matt Damon, the film becomes tolerable by the end – I did eventually warm up to it a little bit – but by that point, I was so annoyed with all of the film’s issues that it wasn’t enough to save it for me.

The Special Features: There are three very brief promotional featurettes that literally run less than eight minutes.

The Wrap-Up: I suspect that Drive Away Dolls is going to find an audience on home video, but to me it feels like an attempt to do a Quentin Tarantino film that lacks whatever it is that makes Tarantino films so memorable; it comes off like a pale imitation. Ultimately, this one just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Season 1 (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)


The Show: So not only did Disney release two Star Wars TV shows as Steelbook 4K Ultra HD releases this week (they’re also available as Blu-ray Steelbooks), but they also released two Marvel series on 4K Ultra HD Steelbook as well. The first of the two is The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Serving as a loose follow up to the Captain America films, this six-episode series sees Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (AKA The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes (AKA The Winter Soldier) teaming up to fight a new terrorist organization that’s out to destabilize the world by eliminating all national borders. The show mixes geopolitical issues and superhero action, and it does so extremely well. We get some returning characters from the Marvel movies (such as Baron Zemo, played by the always-excellent Daniel Bruhl) as well as several new characters, including Kurt Russell’s son Wyatt making a splash as a replacement Captain America, John Walker. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan have terrific chemistry together and the two characters naturally make a great odd-couple pairing, with very different methodologies of superheroing. The show isn’t perfect, but there are some episodes that are truly outstanding, and the miniseries as a whole is very good overall.

The 4K Audio/Video: Moving out of the Star Wars world (reviewed above) and moving into the Marvel world, it will surprise no one to find out that The Falcon and the Winter Soldier also featured a nice budget allocation, meaning the show looked great from the start. On 4K Ultra HD, that doesn’t change. Colors are maxed out here, and while the show is steeped in the more realistic side of the Marvel universe, we’re still dealing with superheroes, so there’s a lot of vibrant colors for the transfer to highlight. Image clarity is fantastic, with clean, clear, and crisp imagery throughout. The surround soundtrack ensures that dialogue remains clear amongst the plentiful action, but we also get a deep, rumbling bass channel and constantly active surround channels in the satellite speakers. It’s a terrific A/V presentation.

The Special Features: The hour-long making-of called Assembled (that was also available on Disney+) is included here, and it’s excellent. There’s also an additional five-minute featurette, a gag reel, and two deleted scenes. You also get three art cards, but alas, no digital copies.

The Wrap-Up: Disney has come out in recent months and said maybe the rushed out too many TV shows in the Star Wars and Marvel universes when they launched Disney+, but for my money, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is still an excellent viewing adventure. This 4K Ultra HD Steelbook will make a handsome addition to Marvel fans’ collections.

Moon Knight: Season 1 (4K Ultra HD Steelbook)


The Show: I haven’t done any comparison of metrics or ratings or online aggregates, but purely based on conversations I had with people and posts by people I know on social media at the time of its release, it seems like Moon Knight was one of the less popular Marvel TV outings of the past couple of years. I’m sure at least a few of you reading this are saying, “That’s crazy! I loved Moon Knight!” but my overwhelming experience at the time was that most people found it too weird, too confusing, or both. I never got around to watching it when it dropped originally, so I went into reviewing the new Season 1 4K Ultra HD Steelbook release (it’s also available as a Blu-ray Steelbook) with pretty tempered expectations. Well, I don’t know what people were talking about, because I absolutely loved Moon Knight! Completely blown away by it. The show starts with Steven Grant, a mild-mannered British gift shop employee, who keeps waking up in more and more extreme situations. It turns out he has an alter ego, American mercenary Marc Spector, who also happens to be the avatar of the Egyptian god Khonshu. Enter Ethan Hawke, who plays Arthur Harrow, one of those fascinating bad guys who truly wants to make the world a better place; unfortunately, the process for doing that may or may not include murdering children, among other problems. The show not only has some of the hands-down best action sequences in it (the episode one truck chase is simply incredible, for more reasons than just being a truck chase), but the writing, the characters, and the story are all truly engaging. Oscar Isaac should have gotten an Emmy nomination for his role; the way he switches between the meek Steven and the tough-as-nails Marc is absolutely incredible to watch. My guess is that the six episodes of the show we got is going to be all there is, but I’m ready for more Moon Knight, like, now!

The 4K Audio/Video: I think I’ve said everything I can say about the 4K Ultra HD quality on the Disney 4K Ultra HD Steelbooks released this week, but Moon Knight doesn’t disappoint. The contrasts are especially strong, with the stark white of Moon Knight’s costume highlighted against the variety of backdrops the character finds himself in. Colors are outstanding and image clarity is impeccable. The surround soundtrack also offers up an immersive experience, with lots of surround activity, full music, clear dialogue, and strong bass amplification. Once again, Disney’s home video A/V department doesn’t disappoint.

The Special Features: Similar to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, included is an hour-long making-of episode of Assembled (that was also available on Disney+) plus an additional six-minute featurette, a gag reel, and two deleted scenes. You also get three art cards, but again, no digital copies.

The Wrap-Up: I passed on Moon Knight because A) I have a hard time keeping up with TV shows in general, and B) I’d heard enough people say they didn’t like it that I wasn’t in a big hurry to sit through it. Don’t listen to the online chatter; check out Moon Knight for yourself and I think you’ll find it’s an absolute blast. Highly recommended!

Blue Giant


The Movie: So much of the anime that comes across my desk today is either in the sci-fi/fantasy genre or just some off the wall, trippy take on modern day life that it may as well be sci-fi or fantasy. Blue Giant, however, is an entry in the burgeoning genre of “musical anime,” which focuses on realistic characters immersed in a storyline that revolves around music. In Blue Giant (based on the manga by Shinichi Ishizuka), we meet teenaged Dai, a young saxophonist, and his friends, pianist Yukinori and percussionist Shunji. We watch the trio jam musically and ruminate on life conversationally. It’s not the most plot-heavy movie ever, but the plot is secondary to the characters and the music. And it’s with the music that the film really shines. Combining intricate animation to capture the players’ movements with a complex soundtrack by famed jazz musician Hiromi Uehara, the musical sequences in the film really come to life, and even I – a distinctly non-jazz fan – was impressed by them. The film will probably not appeal to all anime fans, but those looking for something different than the norm will be impressed by the movie’s unique flavor.

The Special Features: There’s only one extra feature, a Q&A with Hiromi Uehara.

The Wrap-UpBlue Giant isn’t your typical anime, but if it’s indicative of the “musical anime” genre, I’m interested to see more of it. Check it out if you’re an anime fan who’s a little tired of robotech mechs and spritely fairies.

Hansel and Gretel


The Movie: One of the most timeless and famous fables of all time is Hansel and Gretel, which has been adapted to film, television, and animation countless times. This week, we get a Blu-ray release of Hansel and Gretel, a (mostly) family friendly 1987 adaptation of the fable that stars David Warner and Cloris Leachman. I say ‘mostly’ because the film does have some sequences with the witch that might be scary for the younger viewers, although most kids will be fine with it. It’s a pretty faithful adaptation of the fable which expands on the story, but it also comes from Golum and Globus’s Cannon Productions, meaning it’s a pretty low-budget affair. I have no problem with low-budget movies per se, but there’s a particular style and aesthetic to Cannon films which are unique to the studio, and if you’re familiar with it, you’ll know what to expect. Overall, it’s a decent enough film, but it’s nothing all that special. It does make its Blu-ray debut this week, courtesy of MPI Home Video, so fans can add it to their collection on a format better than Blu-ray.

The Special Features: There are o extra features on the release.

The Wrap-Up: I’m not sure if fables still carry the same weight they used to in the age of things like the aforementioned Marvel and Disney universes – which I think are kind of the new fables – but Hansel and Gretel is still a story that every kid knows. Worth a watch if you have the right age kids to enjoy it.

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