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 March 23rd, 2021!
This week’s home video selection includes some WWII classics from the UK, some new 4K upgrades, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Ice Cold in Alex
What is it? A British soldier is trapped behind enemy lines.
Why see it? The great J. Lee Thompson directs this late 50s survival thriller starring John Mills as a captain left behind in a Libyan city that’s fallen under enemy control. He’s forced into traveling through dangerous territory in the hopes of escape, and along with a ragtag group of survivors it becomes a life and death journey. There’s a humanity on display here, both in his stated goal — a cold beer in a safe city — and in the heroic actions taken by those around him, and all of it works to make this a solidly entertaining and affecting thriller.
The Dam Busters
What is it? Military personnel struggle to create a particular bomb.
Why see it? There’s a reason Peter Jackson wanted to do a big budget remake of this British classic, and it’s due entirely to his love for the film’s blend of character and spectacle. The Brits are at an impasse and one man believes he can create a bomb capable of destroying a monstrous dam — by skipping across the water — and the film explores his efforts up through its eventual execution. It’s an exciting look at ambition and confidence in the face of adversity with some strong character work behind it.
[Extras: Documentaries, featurettes]
Doc [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The true story of the OK Corral.
Why see it? The story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the shootout at the OK Corral has hit the screen numerous times before, but Frank Perry’s riff on the topic goes to some unique places. For one thing, the heroes of the tale aren’t exactly as you’re expecting. For another, Stacy Keach is every bit as charismatic as Holliday as Val Kilmer is in Tombstone. No small feat! Harris Yulin gets more to chew on than usual too, and the action manages to land with heavy thrills.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
What is it? Civilians step up during World War II.
Why see it? Christopher Nolan remade this late 50s war epic and delivered something both thrilling and affecting, but the original remains equally as great. John Mills and Richard Attenborough headline a tale about personal choices and national responsibility, and there are some dramatic journeys along the way . Director Leslie Norman captures moments both intimate and epic, and the film delivers an inspiring tale of humanity doing good in the face of evil.
[Extras: Documentary, interview]
Gattaca [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A thriller about identity, genetics, and deceit.
Why see it? Andrew Niccol’s filmography leans towards science fiction and morality, and his late 90s thriller fits the bill nicely with the story of a world where our DNA separates those with potential from the rest. Ethan Hawke plays a man cheating the system in the hopes of going up into space, but a murder interferes with his plans and puts a countdown clock on his dreams. It’s a suspenseful ride that only feels slightly removed from our own near future, and Niccol’s sci-fi world looks stunning in 4K.
[Extras: Featurettes, documentary, deleted scenes, outtake]
What is it? A man’s premature death leads him to discover what’s truly important in life.
Why see it? Pixar films are beloved on an annual basis, but I’d be lying if I said I loved some of their recent output — Inside Out included because Sadness can go to hell. Soul is a different story, though, as it’s a beautiful, affecting, and warm look at the importance of recognizing the things of value within ourselves. The score is fantastic, the visuals are nothing less than gorgeous and playful, and the message is endlessly true. This is a fantastic film.
[Extras: Commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A new take on an old classic.
Why see it? Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher is the basis for this new film, and while the filmmakers make it their own Poe’s touch remains throughout. It’s a slowburn tale about madness and depression, and while it’s an indie affair the attention to production design and atmosphere shows a filmmaker with both talent and concern for the story he’s telling. The familiarity ends up being its biggest issue, but genre fans unconcerned with that aspect will want to seek it out.
[Extras: Commentary, featurette, short films]
Crossed Swords [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A retelling of The Prince and the Pauper, but with swords!
Why see it? Mark Twain’s classic tale has been brought to the screen multiple times before, and this late 70s entry finds both fun and action in the premise. Oliver Reed as a heroic rogue helps, and Richard Fleischer’s direction keeps things lively. Add in some supporting roles brought to life by George C. Scott, Ernest Borgnine, Raquel Welch, Rex Harrison, Sybil Danning, and more, and you have a fun 70s adventure film.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary, interview, theatrical and international cuts]
Shoot Out [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An aging gunfighter seeks revenge.
Why see it? Gregory Peck is always worth watching, and here he plays a gunfighter left for dead and left to serve time in prison by an unseemly accomplice. His release sees him hungry for revenge, but his journey brings him in contact with a young girl who might just help him turn his life around. It’s a solid western that never strays outside the expected lines.
Showdown [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two old friends on opposite sides of the law reunite.
Why see it? Rock Hudson and Dean Martin make for an engaging pair as old friends who found differing paths in life. Hudson went clean as a small town sheriff, and Martin has teamed up with some unruly train robbers. Their choices bring them back to face off with each other, and it’s all complicated further by their love for the same woman. There are some engaging interactions here, and it all builds to a set-piece unfolding during a spreading wildfire. It’s a good one.
Also out this week:
Cosmoball, Event Horizon [Scream Factory], Godzilla [4K UltraHD], The Kaiser of California, News of the World, The Undoing, World of Wong Kar Wai [Criterion Collection]