Welcome to this week in home video!
Pick of the Week
What is it? A man heads to space in search of his father.
Why see it? The core story here involves a man coming to terms with his father’s legacy — an American hero who abandoned his family and is now suspected of endangering the entire planet — and it plays well as that drama. Brad Pitt takes center stage as the man in pursuit of his past, and his somber voice-overs keep viewers aligned with his shifting thoughts and feelings. Don’t confuse any of that with being dull, though, as director James Gray delivers a breathtaking film with gorgeous visuals and some surprisingly thrilling action beats. It’s sci-fi for adults, and it’s fantastic.
What is it? A mother struggles to go on after her teenage daughter disappears.
Why see it? After years spent playing the lead’s wife, girlfriend, mistress, etc. the fantastically talented Sienna Miller gets her own lead role and reminds us all why she’s one of the best. She’s a wild woman, and when her daughter disappears her rage against the world makes it hard for those around her to find sympathy. It’s a journey as years pass, leads come and go, and the woman tries to right her flailing life. The drama is fine, but the film belongs to Miller and is a must-see for her alone.
Paradise [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A couple in distress takes in a young boy.
Why see it? This early 90s drama is dated and seems destined to appeal only to adults looking for pure drama, but the three leads go a long way toward delivering an affecting tale about loneliness and love. Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson take in a young Elijah Wood, and what starts as a struggle grows to find three people turn their distress into a family, even if it is for a limited time. It’s straightforward but effective, and those three lead performances will stick with you.
Silver Bullet [Scream Factory]
What is it? Two siblings find themselves at war with a werewolf!
Why see it? Stephen King’s “Cycle of the Werewolf” got a terrifically entertaining adaptation in the mid 80s that while beloved by some still doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s an absolute blast as Corey Haim and Megan Follows battle a creepy priest turned werewolf with the help of their cool uncle (Gary Busey!). Fun creature effects, suspense, and action combine with a goofy sense of humor, and it’s just all around entertaining. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray adds new extras to an already packed list of special features.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews]
Universal Horror – Collection Volume 3 [Scream Factory]
What is it? Four more tales of terror from the Universal vault.
Why see it? Tower of London (1939), Man Made Monster (1941), The Black Cat (1941), and Horror Island (1941) make up this third volume of Universal horrors from the good old days, and while they’re a mixed bag it’s great seeing them collected in a new HD home. The first of the four is the real highlight with Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and others delivering a mean tale of power and corruption in medieval times, but there’s fun to be had with the others too.
[Extras: Commentaries, new 2K scan on Tower of London]
Where’s My Roy Cohn?
What is it? A documentary exploring the life and sins of a real life villain.
Why see it? Roy Cohn’s back in the news years after his death both because of this doc and because his protege is currently the US president. Trump’s presidency seems inexplicable to all but the most cynical, but the truths explored here provide an explanation. Cohn was a lawyer well versed in human behavior, and he was a master of using connections to exploit people’s weaknesses. It’s a dangerous combination, and his results speak for themselves. The doc offers a detailed glimpse into his actions and life, and it’s a fascinating watch.
[Extras: Commentary, Q&A]
White Squall [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A lesson in sailing becomes an adventure in survival.
Why see it? Ridley Scott’s late career is more focused on epics, but once upon a time he made far smaller films. This is no Black Rain, but with Jeff Bridges at the literal helm it delivers a thrilling, compelling adventure pitting a teen crew against a pissed off Mother Nature. The cinematography captures the sailing action well, and the film engages throughout as these punks are forced to become better people.
What is it? Three friends find a yeti and try to return it to the wild.
Why see it? The newest animated feature from Dreamworks is essentially a playful riff on E.T. as kids embrace wonder in their efforts to help a fantastical new friend, and it’s an entertaining enough movie. The story stays pretty active as their adventure continues, and the humor is sweet as well, so while the adults might not be as enamored as the little ones it’s worth a pick up for them.
[Extras: Short films, deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A woman breaks the law to recover her son.
Why see it? Dolph Lundgren’s direct to video career has resulted in more duds than winners, and this latest is par for the course. It’s ostensibly an “action” film, but the budget has left it unable to deliver even a single thrill. From the gun play to the car action it’s just a dull series of $5 scenes, and not even a second-billed Lundgren can lift it up. The scene where he and Chuck Liddell try to run just feels sad as they’re clearly too old for this shit.
Downton Abbey – The Motion Picture
What is it? The Queen visits the inspiration for Upstairs Downstairs.
Why see it? No one really asked for a Downton Abbey movie, not even the show’s fans if we’re being honest, but the end result is exactly what you’d expect. That’s not a knock either as the show is an amusing distraction featuring fun performances and dialogue. The film follows suit and has a good time with the house preparing for such a high level visitor. It never quite feels bigger than the show, but that’s okay.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
Heartbreak Hotel [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The king is kidnapped and has a wild ride.
Why see it? Chris Columbus’ second directorial effort (after Adventures in Babysitting) is something of a let down for a filmmaker who is at his best with sweet, funny, goofy films, but while this one has a silly premise at its heart the beats never quite work. We just don’t ever buy into the illusion, and that in turn hurts the emotion and humor.
Mad Love [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Two crazy kids go on an adventure.
Why see it? Drew Barrymore and Chris O’Donnell take to the road in this teen romance that probably still appeals to teens who think they’re in love. For the rest of us, though, neither the romance nor the drama really land. Their performances are solid as both are good actors, but that becomes the strongest reason to give it a spin.
Rambo: Last Blood
What is it? John Rambo finds one last war to fight.
Why see it? Some were quick to hate on this film as Rambo’s targets this time around are Mexican cartels, but that’s a dumb criticism (just as it was for Sicario: Day of the Soldado and Peppermint). He’s previously slaughtered Vietnamese, Russian, and Burmese people without complaint, right? Anyway, the movie is a morose action picture that takes its time building to a bloody finale, and while it works well enough its strength comes in just how grim it’s willing to get. This is no poppy, jingoistic action film.
What is it? A killer returns every Halloween to kill.
Why see it? I mean, don’t? The opening intrigues with a murder spree that breaks out at a college party, but every single beat that follows is both dumb and aggravating. The killer is treated like a fucking magician, the cops are the biggest idiots, and none of it is fun. It’s unfortunate as it’s made by the folks who did the My Bloody Valentine remake, but this one lacks any of that film’s spirit.
[Extras: Making of]
Also out this week:
The Boat Is Full, Gags the Clown, Murders in the Rue Morgue [Scream Factory], A Sunday in the Country, To the Devil a Daughter [Scream Factory]