Plus 14 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? A pair of mermaids grow legs, fall in love, and sing songs while deciding who to eat.
Why see it? Magical realism meets the world of musicals in a film that delivers surprises that alternate from the amusing to the grotesque with plenty of time spent dangerously circling the erogenous zones. It’s a beautifully-shot tale too with the production design capturing the spirit of ’80s Poland and offering up gorgeous, picturesque shots and scenes. The film’s energy is tightly controlled to roll across the screen in waves as we cycle between terror, comedy, and just plain nuttiness, and there’s no shortage of things here to engage our senses. The film is ultimately an adult fairy tale that would make the Brothers Grimm blush, but there’s no doubt they’d be secretly proud as well. Criterion’s Blu features an engaging look at the film’s production along with other extras.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, deleted scenes, short films, booklet]
What is it? Before he became the boss, he had to learn to drive.
Why see it? A new Edgar Wright movie will always be a movie worth seeing as even his “lesser” efforts (Scott Pilgrim vs the World) delight with energy, creativity, and visual wit. His latest is his biggest success yet despite — or probably due to — its weak screenplay. Happily it’s still an endlessly inventive experience as Wright pairs the onscreen action with his soundtrack and delivers a joyful blast of audio/visual delights whether characters are engaging in a car chase, shootout, or conversation. The car action is particular is terrific with or without the audio enhancements. The disc is filled to the gills with extras exploring the production and the fun of working with Wright.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A soul trio finds new challenges even as they find success.
Why see it? Bill Condon’s double Oscar winner brings the popular stage musical to the screen with its music, power, and — wait for it — soul, intact. It’s a beautifully produced endeavor anchored with memorable performances by Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce Knowles, and Eddie Murphy. Hudson won big for the film, but it’s Murphy who reminds how good he can be with the right material. The songs are catchy, the story is affecting, and it’s still a rarity as a big modern Hollywood musical. This new release features both the theatrical and extended versions, and it features the digibook style complete with photos and song lyrics.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Photobook with song lyrics, deleted scenes, audition footage]
What is it? Jim Henson sticks his hand up the gift of the magi and finds a fistful of Christmas magic.
Why see it? O, Henry’s classic short story about love, sacrifice, and irony gets a felt and fur-covered update here as Jim Henson’s Muppets help bring it all to life with laughs, song, and the Riverbottom Nightmare Band. If this isn’t part of your household’s annual Christmas tradition than you should really consider adding it — whether you have kids or not — as it’s just a delightfully sweet tale of family and friends. The songs may be weird, but they’re also catchy as hell, and the whole thing leaves you feeling good about the world in ways the world itself often can’t.
[DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes]
What is it? A doctor arrives in a small town to find superstition and the supernatural ruining his day.
Why see it? Mario Bava’s tale of science’s failure in the face of the unknown and the murderous is an atmospheric and stylish feature — I did mention it was a Bava film, right? — that sets up an engaging mystery at its core. Small town mentalities, secrets, and some eye-catching visuals all hold the attention as the nightmare unfolds making for a memorable descent into madness and mayhem. Kino’s new Blu features two stellar extras in a Tim Lucas commentary and a documentary featuring Lamberto Bava.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restoration, documentary, commentary, interview]
What is it? A serial killer in desperate need of an editor terrifies the city of Poughkeepsie.
Why see it? The debut horror feature from the Dowdle brothers (and their second feature overall) takes the faux-doc approach in telling its tale, and the result is split down the middle. Half the film consists of the killer’s tapes, and they are at times creepy, terrifying, and disturbing, but the other half is made up of talking head interviews — police, witnesses, reporters — and every last one of them is screaming “I’m an actor!” It’s a solid chiller despite the weak interview segments, but the bigger plus here is the film’s existence on Blu-ray at all. The film’s been in distribution hell since its Tribeca premiere in 2007, and its legend has only grown because of it. The disc is light on extras, but the interview with John and Drew Dowdle (No Escape) is entertaining and enlightening.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]
What is it? A highly-trained squad of mercenaries realizes too late they’re not highly-trained enough.
Why see it? Wesley Snipes is the big draw here — along with action movie favorite Anne Heche, of course — but some gun play aside he only gets a single, unimpressive fight scene. The rest of the film is equally unexciting as they spend too much time wandering similar-looking hallways and wondering aloud as to what’s happening. It’s just dull all around, and it’s another drop into obscurity for director John Stockwell (Blue Crush, Turistas). He makes the best of a flat, uninspired script, but the story and budget don’t allow for much worth watching. Skip it and watch Passenger 57 instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
What is it? A wounded Union soldier is taken in by boarding school populated by horny Southern belles.
Why see it? Sofia Coppola’s latest feature is a remake of the atmospheric Don Siegel film from the 70s starring Clint Eastwood, and it’s a pretty straightforward redo in most respects. It lacks that film’s sweaty air, though, and instead exists as something more akin to a doomed costume drama. The film’s story unfolds as expected regardless of whether or not you’ve seen the original, and you’re given little to get excited about. Still, the cast is stellar with Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning headlining the ladies while Colin Farrell takes one for the guys.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? There’s hell to pay when a cop neglects to read a supernatural suspect its Miranda rights.
Why see it? Frank Grillo, Maria Bello, and Cody Horn all make for compelling reasons to watch, and director/co-writer Will Canon previously delivered the fantastic Brotherhood too, but their combined powers aren’t enough to keep this one from feeling obvious and underwhelming. It splits the story in two — the found footage angle of people in a haunted house, and the cop investigating the resulting murders — but while the latter works well enough the former is a drag. It never finds a satisfying hook on its way toward the end, but the third act does land some minor suspense beats, but there are far better ghost stories out there.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? Punks go west and find violence awaiting them.
Why see it? Penelope Spheeris’ oddball action movie feels early on like an inspiration for the recent Green Room, but it’s entirely its own thing. What starts as an ode to an unrewarding way of life turns suddenly towards violence and revenge, but while its beats are serious the film itself never feels it. The action and story are still fun, though, as culture clashes and a supernatural awareness of what the West has lost all come into play. Shout’s new Blu-ray delivers big on the supplement front with brand new interviews with Spheeris and stars Jon Cryer, Daniel Roebuck, and Catherine Mary Stewart.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, featurette]
What is it? If you bet that 2017 would be the year Will Ferrell starred in a pretty funny movie again, then you’re a winner.
Why see it? Isn’t it enough that Will Ferrell has a funny flick again? You have to go back to 2010’s The Other Guys for a live-action movie of his that delivers the laughs, so it’s good seeing him and Amy Poehler headlining a good comedy again. I say “good” because the story itself is fairly pedestrian, and it’s instead the lines and deliveries that bring the funny amid the meh. Jason Mantzoukas gets the MVP award here, but Nick Kroll, Rob Huebel, and others add to the minor fun.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
What is it? Cage goes in the water. They go in the cage. Sharks in the water. They go in the sharks.
Why see it? First off, yes, there was an Open Water 2. It’s wet garbage, though, so don’t worry about having missed it. Second, yes this third film in the “franchise” is also no good. Neither sequel manages even a fluid ounce of the first film’s harrowing tension, and while this one has a vaguely similar setup to this year’s other shark movie — 47 Meters Down — it lacks that film’s charisma and fun set-pieces. There’s nothing here to make this one stand apart from the crowded sea of shark attack movies. Skip it and watch The Reef instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes]
What is it? A group of monks wonder what’s in the box.
Why see it? Part road movie (albeit on foot) and part muddy fight picture, this is a solid piece of period action exploring one’s faith in the institution here on Earth. Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) headlines, but the film’s most charismatic actor and character is Jon Bernthal’s mute handyman. An air of mystery builds around him before exploding into a pretty stellar fight sequence late in the film. His journey is ultimately the more affecting and interesting one, and it speaks that much better to the film’s themes.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? Two friends looking for gold find a wild adventure instead.
Why see it? Mario Bava takes a detour from dark (yet boldly colorful) horror movies to have fun in the “American West,” and the result is a fun romp poking gentle fun at some of the genre’s conventions. It’s no spoof and the laughs aren’t necessarily all that big, but it’s an entertaining ride through familiar beats taken just a little bit differently. The action’s a bit more traditional, but it’s solidly crafted and executed. Kino’s new restoration pops, and while it’s not loaded with supplements it features a commentary by Tim Lucas that’s as fascinating and insightful as usual.
[Blu-ray extras: New 2K restoration, commentary]
What is it? A teenage girl finds out what’s in the box.
Why see it? There’s a single moment in this otherwise dull, repetitive, and poorly-crafted horror movie guaranteed to bring a smile to your face as it unfolds onscreen. Unfortunately it’s all the way at the end meaning you need to suffer through a bland and predictable eighty plus minutes before reaching the laugh. It’s the kind of film that leaves you no one to root for aside from nice and/or entertaining supporting characters who are destined to die. Skip it and watch Jennifer’s Body instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Also out this week:
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World [Criterion Collection], Meat, Othello [Criterion Collection], Reign – The Complete Fourth Season, T-Men