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 September 15th, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes Star Trek in 4K, a couple titles from last week’s extremely light release schedule, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Cold War Creatures: Four Films from Sam Katzman [Arrow Video]
What is it? Four films from the legendary B-movie producer.
Why see it? Arrow Films continues to resurrect little seen films from lesser known genre directors in the form of lovingly crafted box sets, and their latest is this four-film release from producer Sam Katzman. The focus is on his output from the 50s with two films on the dangers of nuclear radiation, one about an alien monster, and one about an undead curse. None of them really qualify as a lost gem, but all four deliver some old-school, low budget entertainment. They have their charms despite their reputations — The Werewolf finds a tragic end note, Zombies of Mora Tau‘s underwater zombie action feels like it might have inspired a later classic or two, and The Giant Claw is just, well, look at that picture above. How could you not love that face? The set’s real strength is in a bevy of extras exploring Katzman’s career, the genre at the time, and the four films at hand.
[Extras: Booklets, poster, cards, eaturettes, commentaries, documentary]
What is it? A long-overdue solo movie.
Why see it? Marvel movies very rarely achieve greatness, and this latest entry is not among those few, but it’s still a highly entertaining watch. Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha finally gets the solo film she’s long deserved, and while it’s a prequel — thanks Thanos! — it plays with a lightness and sense of fun that a later entry wouldn’t have allowed. Florence Pugh is a fantastic addition as her sister and the two share great chemistry. The film manages laughs, some engaging action, and offers Pugh’s character a lead-in for future Marvel movies. It’s good stuff.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes]
What is it? An ensemble debut from the director of Birds of Prey.
Why see it? While her work for DC with Birds of Prey revealed a filmmaker comfortable blending big action and big laughs, Cathy Yan’s debut feature managed the same on a smaller scale. The film explores the rise of capitalism in Communist China through individual stories and characters that weave together into a larger whole. It’s smart and funny, but when themes land they do so with a heavy hit. Still, it’s fun stuff that feels universal in its themes and conclusions.
[Extras: Short film]
The Shawshank Redemption [4K UltraHD]
What is it? An innocent man in prison is determined to be free.
Why see it? Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novella remains something of a masterpiece. The performances, script, direction, and emotional effect are all aces, and even on repeat watches the film’s small nuances and big emotional swings land beautifully. It’s not the kind of film you think about when it comes to 4K upgrades, but it benefits all the same as the film’s rich textures and intentionally oppressive atmosphere find new life. The extras are carried over from previous Blu-ray/DVD releases, but the image improvements make the upgrade worthwhile.
[Extras: Commentary, documentaries, featurettes]
Star Trek: The Original 4-Movie Collection [4K UltraHD]
What is it? The two best Star Trek films plus two more!
Why see it? While this set would ideally have been a complete collection of all six original Star Trek films in 4K, it at least keeps its focus on the first four — which arguably includes the two best. The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home remain all-timers for the franchise, one with its darkness and moral complexity and the other with wit, warmth, and humor. All four films benefit from the 4K upgrade with colors and sharp details that pop. And all four films come loaded with extra features too. If you’re a fan you already own these movies, but if you have 4K it’s worth upgrading.
[Extras: New 4K remasters, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, interviews]
The Boss Baby: Family Business
What is it? More baby genius shenanigans.
Why see it? I missed the first film, and if you do the same prepare to walk into this one with little to no backstory provided. (I had to ask my nephew…) As it stands the film delivers some jokes that land for adults, some fun ninja action, and a fast-moving story. It winds up somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to today’s animated for for kids as it’s not uproarious or affecting. It is what it is.
[Extras: Short film, featurettes, music video]
Crazy Nights [Full Moon Features]
What is it? A mondo from Joe D’Amato.
Why see it? Mondo films are a particular kind of film — faux documentaries about “wild” things, people, and/or places — that I’ve never understood the audience for. All of them are dull as dirt in long stretches and then manage at best a handful of highlights. This entry can’t even manage a single highlight, really, unless you’re a fan of bland softcore films that suddenly go X-rated in the back half. If that’s you, then this boring travelogue following a woman’s journey through “crazy” parties and sex shows should be on your radar.
What is it? A big shark terrorizes some folks.
Why see it? As a long-time fan of animal attack horror — with the aquatic variety being especially my jam — a new killer shark film is ideally right up my alley. It has to be pretty bad for me to dislike it, and unfortunately, this newest entry nearly fits the bill. Acting and writing is perfectly adequate, but the set-pieces are utterly neutered by atrocious CG effects. They are cartoon-like nonsense, and while that might work for some in a Sharknado situation, it’s death for a film played as seriously as this one.
Also out this week:
Death Ring [Code Red], The Devil in Maddalena, Escape from Area 51, The Gateway, Rear Window [4K UltraHD], The Return of Swamp Thing, Theater of Blood [KL Studio Classics], The Thing [4K UltraHD], The Tomb of Ligeia [KL Studio Classics], Vertigo [4K UltraHD], You Should Have Left, Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Related Topics: Home Video