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!
Pick of the Week
What is it? A young Muslim is radicalized against his better judgment.
Why see it? The Dardenne Brothers make emotionally dense films with their best (in my estimation) being 2011’s The Kid with a Bike. Their latest once again puts a young person front and center, but this time the loneliness and frustration of youth are compacted with religious extremism. It makes for a potent cocktail that’s as powerful as it is suspenseful, and it just might tear your heart open in the process.
Gladiator – 20th Anniversary Edition [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A man, a general, a husband, a father… you know the drill.
Why see it? Ridley Scott’s epic tale of a gladiator out for revenge remains one of the director’s best films — yeah, I said it — and it’s one where the extended cut creates a denser, more emotionally resonant experience. Both cuts are fantastic, and both are included here both on Blu-ray and in 4K UltraHD. This whole package has been available previously, earlier this year even, but the steelbook adds a slick new detail. Like the slasher below, nothing new here means it’s not quite a must own, but I’m dropping it under “the best” anyway because the 4K element is still new enough.
[Extras: Introduction, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Romance on the High Seas [Warner Archive]
What is it? A case of intentional mistaken identity turns a vacation into a good time.
Why see it? The music in this late 40s romp may not be all that memorable — it’s fine — but the characters and comedy are pretty spot on making for a rollicking good time. Doris Day makes her lead debut here too, and while her singing is great it’s her plucky, funny, energetic performance that helps propel this tale of romance, confusion, and misdirection. Michael Curtiz directs, and co-stars including Janis Paige, Don DeFore, and the fantastic Oscar Levant help fill out the ranks. It’s a good time.
[Extras: Musical short, cartoon]
Friday the 13th – 40th Anniversary Limited Edition
What is it? Naughty camp counselors start dying.
Why see it? Sean Cunningham’s slasher classic gets a steelbook release with some slick cover art and all the extras previously available in the last Blu-ray of the film. It’s a terrific package, and as a fan of the film I’d call it a must own, but as it adds nothing beyond the steelbook it’s landing here under “the rest.” Fans should pick it up, though, especially if you haven’t grabbed the earlier release. The film is fun, the commentary is informative, and the extras are entertaining.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
l’important c’est d’Aimer
What is it? An aging actor struggles with her relationships and roles.
Why see it? Romy Schneider headlines this grim romantic triangle alongside Fabio Testi and Jacques Dutronc, and it’s probably what you’d expect from director Andrzej Zulawski. There’s a sad griminess to much of it, from the realities these people find themselves in to the emotions they feel for each other, and it can make for a tough watch at times. That’s particularly the case as we can’t quite buy into the romance being peddled by these characters. Still, strong acting helps.
[Extras: Interview, booklet]
Pretty in Pink [Paramount Presents]
What is it? A poor girl loves a rich boy!
Why see it? John Hughes’ story about a teen from the wrong side of the tracks falling for a popular and wealthy counterpart is better served in Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) — yeah, I said it — but there’s still plenty of charm in this box-office hit from the year prior. Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy are the lead couple to be, and they find support from James Spader, Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, and Harry Dead Stanton. It’s a good movie with a misfire of an ending, but fans will want to pick up this newly restored release.
[Extras: New 4K transfer, featurette, original ending]
Sniper: Assassin’s End
What is it? The eighth film in a long-running action franchise you probably didn’t know about.
Why see it? Tom Berenger headlined the first three films but has taken a back seat to his character’s son for the sequels. He has a supporting role here and still manages some action, but it’s a younger man’s game now. To that end the action is pretty okay, good enough for a direct to video sequel anyway, and the arrival of a new adversary nicknamed Lady Death (Sayaka Akimoto) is a definite plus. If you’ve stuck with the franchise this far you’ll be happy with the latest entry.
A Soldier’s Revenge
What is it? An ex-soldier seeks revenge.
Why see it? This direct to video action/western is a mixed bag of sorts starting with an unnecessarily long running time for the type and quality of the story being told. The action is crafted well enough, although CG gun blasts are a let down, and the supporting players are entertaining too with the likes of Jake Busey, Annalynne McCord, and Val Kilmer popping up for various stays. The film suffers, though, with a terribly bland lead — both character and performance — who saps the movie’s energy at every turn.
Universal Horror Collection: Volume 5 [Scream Factory]
What is it? Four films from the Universal vaults.
Why see it? The Monster and the Girl (1941), Captive Wild Woman (1943), Jungle Woman (1944), and Jungle Captive (1945) aren’t exactly top notch examples of Universal’s long history of horror films, but there’s fun to be had here. They’re stand alone films, although the middle two are related, they share some fun, sci-fi themes making them ideal for grouping together like this. Scream’s given them love and affection with new transfers and some informative commentary tracks, so even as lower tier Universal titles this is still a strong release.
[Extras: New 2K transfers on three of the titles, commentaries]
Also out this week:
Braveheart – 4K Steelbook, The Cameraman [Criterion Collection], Chaos [Dark Force Entertainment], The Giant Spider Invasion [Dark Force Entertainment], The Hills Run Red [Scream Factory], Impractical Jokers: The Movie, Isadora [KL Studio Classics], Kill Mode, LEGO DC: Shazam!, Mary Queen of Scots [KL Studio Classics], Primal Scream [Dark Force Entertainment], The Quarry, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea [Scorpion Releasing], Saint Frances, Sautet / Schneider, Three Christs