Plus 9 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!
Welcome to this week in home video! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
What is it? An FBI agent and the mobster he’s placed in witness protection form a wacky friendship.
Why see it? Directed by Herbert Ross (Steel Magnolias), written by Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle), and starring two comedy legends in Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, this is a film of simple joys and easy-going pleasures. The filmmakers deliver a quick-moving comedy with humorous situations and funny one-liners, and the cast breathes life into characters more familiar to drama/suspense films. Martin lands comfortably in his role as the heavily-accented mobster, and Moranis reminds us why we miss his presence in movies so damn much. Joan Cusack adds some laughs too, and while the film goes maybe a bot too broad at times in its comedy the talents involved make it work.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Barton Fink [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A successful East coast playwright is wooed to Hollywood to work in the pictures, and he just may live to regret it.
Why see it? The Coen brothers’ fourth feature is a blackly comic and occasionally surreal look at the experience of working in Hollywood, and while they’d tackle the subject again a quarter century later in Hail, Caesar! this remains the more adventurous and ultimately satisfying of the two. It’s very funny thanks to both its sharp dialogue and killer performances from lead John Turturro and supporting players John Goodman, Michael Lerner, and more. Goodman’s third act hallway scene is just as thrilling and chilling as it was in 1991, and the film’s themes regarding inspiration, self value, and the creation of art are every bit as biting.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, deleted scenes]
What is it? A small film crew heads to a remote rental house to shoot a film, but not everyone is on the same page.
Why see it? There are some familiar faces here including Tom Savini and Joe Pilato, and along with John Harrison they convince as a crew whose efforts to make a horror movie go slightly off the rails. The plot takes some familiar turns — familiar now, but fresh then — but it remains compelling in its ingenuity. This low budget and far ahead of its time thriller from 1980 was rescued from obscurity in 2005 by Synapse Films, and now the folks at AGFA have enhanced its new lease on life even further with a new 4K scan. (Check out my more in-depth look at the film and Blu-ray here.)
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: 4K remaster, documentary, short films, commentary]
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 [4K Ultra HD]
What is it? Everyone’s favorite galactic guardians see their newfound fame attract the attention of someone very close to one of them.
Why see it? James Gunn’s sci-fi/comic blockbusters still feel slightly removed from the Marvel universe (although expect that to change with Thor: Ragnarok), but that doesn’t impede the entertainment value overflowing from the frames. This sequel is a bigger, better follow up that delivers big laughs and action while also looking inward for its narrative focus. Adding Kurt Russell in a major role is its biggest stroke of genius though, and he delivers in a role requiring heart, humor, and power. The needle drops are numerous, but like Atomic Blonde they add to the environment and atmosphere as oppose to distract from it. The film looks fantastic and sharp no matter how you watch it, but its newness and quality CG make it a showstopper in 4K.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Music video, deleted scenes, gag reel, making of, commentary]
Ash vs the Evil Dead – Season 2
What is it? Ash’s fight to save the world and defeat the undead continues.
Why see it? I still lean more Evil Dead 2013 than The Evil Dead 1981 — I prefer the pure horror to the slapstick — but it’s near impossible to go wrong with Bruce Campbell period, let alone in his most famous role as the chainsaw-wielding Ash. He’s just an endlessly charismatic and appealing performer, and season two sees him continuing to cut loose and cut flesh. The carnage remains both plentiful and sometimes marred by obvious CG, and the comedy frequently undercuts the more serious turns, but it’s a fun, mindless romp all the same and appeals to fans of Sam Raimi’s original trilogy.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries]
Daredevil – The Complete Second Season
What is it? Justice is blind, and so is this lawyer.
Why see it? Netflix’s first series entry into the world of Marvel found success in its first season by being “new” and featuring a charismatic villain brought to life by Vincent D’Onofrio. Season two manages half of that with the presence of The Punisher (Jon Bernthal), but other aspects do grow tiresome at times. There’s a lot of punching for example. A lot. Of punching. Charlie Cox is still fun in the lead, and Elodie Yung is terrific, but they’re balanced out by the eternally obnoxious Foggy Nelson. I know, some of you love the guy, but no. There’s no doubt the show would benefit from shorter seasons, but all of that said it’s still a simple, often entertaining entry in Marvel’s TV canon.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Jessica Jones – The Complete First Season
What is it? A private eye with superhuman abilities struggles with an abusive ex.
Why see it? This Krysten Ritter-headlined series is the most critically-acclaimed of Netflix’s Marvel shows, and on the one hand it deserves that praise for moving beyond the typical storylines and dealing with some real world issues, albeit in metaphorical terms. For me though the show stumbles in the area where Daredevil succeeds… its villain. David Tennant is fine, but “mind control” is a device of lazy writers. It removes agency and responsibility from characters, and that in turn removes dramatic stakes and effectiveness. I know I’m in the minority here, but this main narrative left me completely detached from the events and characters.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? A skilled pilot endures a dangerous mission only to return to a world changed in drastic ways.
Why see it? There’s a nifty little sci-fi tale at the heart of this film involving an alternate Earth, and the story explores some interesting ideas regarding resources and the callousness in which society mines them. Dan Stevens is solid in the lead too delivering a strong performance in moments both calm and deadly. The film’s biggest hurdle though is in its decision to film large chunks in first-person POV. The cynical reason is that it saved them having to pay Stevens as he’s not required beyond voice talent, but even as a narrative device it adds next to nothing and instead feels like it’s aiming for a video game aesthetic for some reason. Still, it’s a fun enough genre diversion.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, commentary]
Lucifer – The Complete Second Season
What is it? Lucifer grows bored of hell and moves to Los Angeles where he starts solving crimes. Obviously.
Why see it? The devil is a fascinating character outside of the bible as his (and sometimes her) appearance in the modern world typically promises a wealth of fun interactions and commentary on humanity. (Glen Duncan’s same-titled novel is a terrific example.) This Fox show is a goofy take on that theme — did I mention Lucifer teams with a hot detective lady to solve crimes? — but it never fails to deliver on its premise and promise of silly shenanigans. As diversions go you could do far, far worse.
[DVD extras: Featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes]
Supergirl – The Complete Second Season
What is it? You’ll believe a girl can fly.
Why see it? Marvel’s slowly catching up, but DC’s female superhero game is currently far stronger. This fledgling series isn’t on par with the big screen’s Wonder Woman, but it has its own smaller charms. They’re somewhat minimal for outsiders though, ie those of us who aren’t heavy into the comics world. Similar to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, it maybe leans a bit too silly at times for the dramatic beats it’s also trying to hit — as compared to something like Lucifer above that never really aims for anything too serious — but for fans the balance may be perfectly fine.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]
Also out this week:
Blast, The Love of a Woman [Arrow Academy], The Mourning Forest, La Poison [Criterion], Sid & Nancy [Criterion], The Walking Dead – The Complete Seventh Season, Whale Rider [Shout Select]
Related Topics: Home Video