Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for February 15th, 2022!
This week’s home video selection includes Looper in 4K, some minor gems from decades past, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Looper [4K UHD]
What is it? An assassin is sent back in time to be killed by his younger self.
Why see it? The premise behind Rian Johnson’s slice of sci-fi/action is absolute genius — Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a mob assassin who kills people sent to him from future mob bosses, but when his latest victim arrives he’s shocked to discover it’s actually him from thirty years in the future. Bruce Willis plays the older Joe, and together they attempt to solve their very particular conundrum. Johnson delivers a slickly entertaining thriller here with fun action, thought-provoking concepts, and Emily Blunt, and his visual style is perfect for the 4K UHD upgrade as he shoots sharp, attractive cinema.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]
The Final Option [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An elite military team executes a high-profile rescue.
Why see it? The 80s were filled with military/action films, but while many go the route of big fun others aimed for a more specific niche. Ian Sharp’s 1982 feature is basically a high-energy advertisement for Britain’s elite SAS unit, but it’s no less entertaining or thrilling for it. We see the squad in action, and there’s a sharp attention to detail, training, and meticulous execution. Lewis Collins is good as the team’s leader, a family man who goes undercover to infiltrate a terrorist group, and the ensuing hostage situation delivers some solid suspense and action beats.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette]
The Three Musketeers [Warner Archive]
What is it? An adventurous telling of a classic tale.
Why see it? Alexandre Dumas’ tale is a classic for a reason, and it would take a lot of work to deliver a dud of an adaptation. This late 40s entry features a strong cast including Lana Turner, Gene Kelly, June Allyson, Angela Lansbury, Van Heflin, Vincent Price, and more, and it delivers solid swashbuckling action, terrific sets, and an attractive Technicolor adventure. It’s energetic and romantic and carries a real feel of old school Hollywood.
[Extras: Short film, cartoon]
What is it? A group of gods decide to start fighting for humanity.
Why see it? Marvel films are always hits at the box-office — it’s just the way of the marketing/franchise beast — but their quality rarely wavers from the perfectly okay. Chloe Zhao’s ensemble hero film fits the bill with its introduction of brand new characters into the MCU, “gods” tasked by their creators to protect the Earth from an alien species. There are some engaging character beats amid the expected action, but there’s just not room enough for so many new character introductions. A sequel will help, but as a standalone it’s a relatively solid one-off that expands the MCU’s mythos in some interesting ways.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A gang of outlaws return from the dead.
Why see it? We really don’t get enough horror/westerns, but while the premise and cover art here suggests a good time the actual movie is a woefully underfunded exercise in indie horror. The undead cowboys who appear in the present are merely dudes in western wear — no skeletons, zombies, or horror effects at all — meaning the film relies instead on amateur actors, the occasional blood squib, and lots of walking/talking. The end result is a genre effort you’re unsurprised to see take decades to reach Blu-ray.
[Extras: Commentary, documentaries]
What is it? A young couple face pushback from their parents.
Why see it? Matt Dillon headlines this period drama about a boy from the wrong the side of the tracks who falls in love with a high society girl, and when the two elope their parents put in motion a potentially deadly journey. There’s a hint of darkness to their pairing, but in general the film is content focusing on the young romance and the heightened melodrama brought to life by the supporting cast including Christopher Connelly, Hoyt Axton, Susan Tyrrell, and Yvonne DeCarlo.
[Extras: Documentary, featurette, alternate ending]
Murphy’s Law [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Charles Bronson makes his own variation on a familiar saying.
Why see it? Charles Bronson movies are always worth watching, and that’s especially the case when he’s paired with director J. Lee Thompson (10 to Midnight, The White Buffalo). Here Bronson plays a veteran cop who’s framed by killer and turned into a fugitive hellbent on proving his own innocence. So far so good, but the inclusion of Kathleen Wilhoite (her debut) is a tonal misfire. She spends so much time yapping insults, often repetitive as hell, and they rarely fit the beats. Still, Bronson.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
Pan’s Labyrinth [Umbrella Entertainment]
What is it? A young girl finds fantasy amid a war.
Why see it? Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical look at violence, cruelty, and the unknown remains an all-timer across the board. Terrific performances, masterful visual effects, and an imaginative blend of real-world terrors and magical encounters all combine for a film that delivers wonder even as it hits hard with emotional beats. The set-pieces are unforgettable as our young hero explores a world of monsters, fairies, and more. Umbrella’s new release adds the movie to its Beyond Genres collection, but while it’s a reliable pickup (despite the lack of new extras) its existence in more elaborate versions — in both a Criterion collection and as a 4K UHD release — makes it tough to call an essential one.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A cop becomes a secret agent.
Why see it? This Guy Hamilton feature was a favorite when I was younger, and much of its appeal remains even years on. Fred Ward in a rare lead role is always welcome, and we get some fun action to be sure, but at two hours it’s most definitely too long. And Joel Grey in yellow face? Not ideal. Still, as a product of the mid 80s it’s a reminder of the kind of movies the decade embraced. The fun is infectious at times despite the drag elsewhere, and while we never got to see “the adventure continue” we can always revisit this original.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
What is it? An elite agent must protect a unique human experiment.
Why see it? South Korean action never disappoints, and this recent effort blending big and small action beats with a science fiction element delivers solid thrills throughout. The plot elements take a slightly bigger piece of the pie than necessary, and in turn they add maybe a bit too much to the running time, but it’s an engaging story all the same. That said, it’s the occasional action sequence that grabs the hardest including some solid hand to hand fighting.
The Skulls Trilogy
What is it? Secret societies are never a good thing, especially at college.
Why see it? The original film delivers a solid little thriller with Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker, and while there’s nothing groundbreaking about it the film feels right at home as a product of the late 90s/early millenium. The two direct-to-dvd sequels, though, are a different story. Part II delivers another tale of secret societies, buried truths, and people willing to keep it all private, while the third aims for something similar with a PG-13 rating. At this price it’s worth a pickup for the first film with the two sequels as bonus features.
Also out this week:
Cosmic Dawn, The Howling [4K UHD Scream Factory], Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, Love Affair [Criterion Collection], Settlers, Slate, Spontaneous, They Say Nothing Stays the Same
Related Topics: Home Video