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
The Terror – The Complete First Season
What is it? An Arctic expedition finds horror amid the ice.
Why see it? Dan Simmons is one hell of a writer, and his tale of a doomed Arctic journey is a beautifully chilling tale of fear, desperation, and building terror. Its adaptation for AMC is a top-notch success as it brings its story, characters, and atmosphere to nightmarish life. Gorgeous production design works to build a world and slowly increase the pressure on those within, and the cast — Jared Harris, Ciaran Hinds, Tobias Menzies — succeeds in giving that increasing fear an outlet. There are sequences of violence, but the season is a study in slowly ratcheting up the dread and tension to the breaking point. Give it a spin, and then seek out Simmons’ work on the page.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? Our hero’s lady friend is stuck in a fridge for two hours.
Why see it? This is just as big of a blast as you could hope for, and if you enjoy the first film you’ll most likely love the follow-up. Its meta approach to superhero cinema continues with big laughs, bloody action, and plenty of references to keep your eyes and brains busy. Returning characters are still fun, but newcomers bring even more bang for your buck as Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, and Zazie Beetz make terrific entrances into the Marvel-ish universe. The film’s already re-watchable, but the disc is loaded with extras including a fantastic commentary and a longer cut promising several more hours of goofiness, action, and surprising heart.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical and extended cuts, gag reel, deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
Deep Rising [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? An ocean-set heist goes sideways when nature and a sea monster get involved.
Why see it? Stephen Sommers may not be the most respected of filmmakers, but he knows how to deliver big genre fun when he wants to. This creature feature is a blast as blue collar workers, mercenaries, thieves, and more fight for survival with guns, a positive attitude, and Waverunners. It’s a fun flick, and Kino’s new Blu gives it the attention it deserves complete with a Sommers commentary and several interviews. So yeah, treat yourself.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, interviews, featurette]
Gloria [Twilight Time]
What is it? A mobster’s moll risks her life for an annoying and scared little boy.
Why see it? Sharon Stone starred in a remake and Luc Besson’s The Professional is an unofficial (and awesome) reboot, but John Cassavetes’ 1980 classic remains a mesmerizing gem. Gena Rowlands stars as the tough broad who finds her softer side when the mob targets a young boy who escaped his family’s murder, and she’s absolutely fantastic — warm, tough, funny, and capable. The whole movie is great, but the scene where she first takes action is just killer.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
Jack Ryan: 5-Film Collection [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Jack Ryan’s face and age may fluctuate through the years, but his heroic antics remain pretty steady.
Why see it? All five Jack Ryan films come to 4K in the box set, and while the films vary in quality — the first three are fantastic, the last two are also included — it’s great having them all in one set. Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine have brought Ryan to life over the years, and as the series premieres on Amazon it’s fun seeing earlier versions of the character. The Hunt for Red October remains the best individual film, but my heart belongs to Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger (both starring Ford). The 4K scans bring each of them to life with the most visible and exciting transfers belonging to the first three as they’re most noticeable and the most thrilling in the first place.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Commentaries, featurettes, interviews, deleted scenes]
Masters of Sex – The Complete Series
What is it? The true-ish story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson.
Why see it? The story here, about the two researchers who together developed a massive project reporting on America’s sex habits, is interesting in its own right as a look into the morality (and lack thereof) of the country’s varied inhabitants. The show holds a mirror up to viewers in often fascinating ways. Its greatest strength, though, is in the performances of its two leads as both Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan captivate throughout. The series follows the two through their personal travails as well as the journey their research takes before reaching the world, and it never overstays its welcome.
[Blu-ray extras: Featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes]
Strike Back – Season Five
What is it? The best action show on TV returns.
Why see it? This Cinemax series (UK in origin) isn’t as well known as it should be, but it’s never too late to jump on the tiny fan bandwagon. Season five starts fresh with a new cast even as it keeps a similar dynamic with its two leads — one character is proper military, the other is a far more casual soldier. There’s banter, intrigue, and Skinemax-friendly sex scenes, but the core of the series continues to be kick-ass action sequences executed with style, impact, and precision. There’s an authenticity to the team’s behavior and formations during firefights that lends an extra weight to the sequences. It’s an exciting, thrilling, and fun ride.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Ash vs Evil Dead – The Complete Third Season
What is it? One man’s fight against evil continues (and ends).
Why see it? Bruce Campbell remains the biggest draw in this Starz series as the guy is just an immense talent packed into a cult favorite. That’s ultimately a good description for the series too as there’s a lot to love here in pieces even as the whole doesn’t quite grab me. The positives take priority, though, so in addition to Campbell the show’s visual effects department is the next star. It’s bloody, gory, and endlessly creative when it comes to the creatures our heroes are battling, and it’s more than enough to make up for the parts that don’t quite work. Fans of Sam Raimi’s films will absolutely love the series, and for them this final season should be a definite pick-up.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries]
What is it? Two prisoners on a submarine finally find their sea legs.
Why see it? The supposed draw here is another pairing of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some real appeal in that, but fans are best served watching Universal Soldier again instead if that’s what they’re after. The two are mostly on separate paths here, but they still have their individual charms. The submarine setting feels mostly like an excuse to keep things in a small, dimly lit location, and the fights feel fairly standard. Your enjoyment will depend wholly on your appreciation of the two leads.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? A cop faces off against a genetically enhanced super-villain.
Why see it? Jackie Chan’s latest leaves a lot to be desired, especially when compared to his other Australia-set action romp (First Strike), but there some fun to be found in the action set-pieces as Chan and friends engage in bloody shootouts, brawls, and a chase or two. It’s ultimately something of a kitchen sink kind of movie with all manner of things thrown in to see what sticks. It features a vibrant production design and entertaining action, and it’s never dull, but it’s not a Chan film you’ll want to revisit anytime soon.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Blindspot – The Complete Third Season
What is it? A woman wakes up with more tattoos.
Why see it? This NBC series started strong with an irresistible premise — a woman found in a duffel bag in Times Square with strange tattoos all over her body and no memory of who she is or how she got there — and it went in some fun and engaging directions. It’s revealed itself to be a story with a limitation, though, and now we’re into the stretched-out stage of its series run. Still, even as its wheels start spinning there’s some worthwhile action beats and minor twists to enjoy. Jaime Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton are both solid leads too.
[DVD extras: Featurette, gag reel, deleted scenes]
Blue Bloods – The Eighth Season
What is it? The Reagan family has crime-fighting in their blood.
Why see it? Eight seasons?! Madness. It’s hard to argue with this cast — Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan — and they all do good work bringing the procedural thrills CBS is known for. Selleck in particular has always been a reliable TV actor, but while he’s great here I still prefer the more wink-prone Magnum, PI to his more serious character here. The family dynamic is a big part of the show’s success, and while the week in week out stories are the expected crimes, police work, and court cases returning it to family works in its favor.
[DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
What is it? A therapist finds himself embroiled in a patient’s violent life.
Why see it? This is a such a 90s movie, from the cast to the over the top sex scenes, but as ridiculous as it gets — and boy howdy does it get silly — it’s rarely less than entertaining. Bruce Willis headlines as an oh so serious psychologist with his own trauma who’s forced into something worse when his best friend is murdered. Add in Willis’ wang, Scott Bakula, and the least convincing attempt at character appearance in recent memory and you have a big, dumb, skin-filled blast. Kino’s new Blu-ray includes both the theatrical and director’s cuts as well as two audio commentaries offering far more information than you’d expect to discover about the movie.
[Blu-ray extras: Theatrical and extended cuts, commentaries]
NCIS – The Fifteenth Season
What is it? More crimes are solved!
Why see it? Fifteen seasons?! Madness. Mark Harmon’s team leader is briefly out of commission here as he spends time in the jungle, but the cases keep coming leaving the various investigators and lab workers to solve crimes and catch the bad guys (and gals). CBS has perfected the safe procedural, and just as they did with CSI the network turned this hit into a franchise spawning spinoffs set across the country. It’s not a surprising show (aside from its longevity), but it’s satisfying in its own way.
[DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries]
The Ninth Passenger
What is it? A yacht on a pleasure cruise finds trouble on the open ocean and worse on a nearby island.
Why see it? It’s rare for a film to take as much time building to its true purpose as this indie thriller does, and out of respect for that I won’t be spoiling where it goes. The setup is intriguing enough as some young folks looking to join the mile out club head to see on the boat with no real plan, and corporate intrigue, jealousy, and incompetence follow. They wind up having to disembark on a remote island, and then things take a turn. It’s a solidly competent little thriller that manages one or two surprises on a budget.
[DVD extras: None]
Rapid Fire [Twilight Time]
What is it? A college student is drawn into a world of violence.
Why see it? Brandon Lee only got the chance to show his stuff on film for a short while, but his first starring role made a quick mark on the action scene. It’s a solid action picture with a sense of humor, and Lee shows real charisma in between the ass-kickings. He’s joined by the eternally great Powers Boothe as a cop who needs his reluctant help, and together with director Dwight H. Little (Marked for Death, 1990) they deliver a fun time for fight fans.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurettes]
What is it? A K-9 unit goes undercover at a dog show.
Why see it? In the realm of movies featuring people and their talking pets this is the one blended with Turner & Hooch. Well, with K-9 anyway. The humor’s as basic as you’d expect as the target audience is kids with low standards, and it’s ultimately exactly what the director of Beverly Hills Chihuahua would do do with more talking dogs and Will Arnett for his lead human. It’s a harmless movie, but it’s definitely one you’ll want to save for the kiddies.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? It’s the end of the world as they know it.
Why see it? Writer/director Josh Mendoza‘s feature debut treads some very familiar ground, but while What Still Remains lacks a certain freshness it delivers a well-acted drama all the same. The story never really surprises or thrills, although it’s arguably not trying for either effect, and instead is content as a coming of age drama about staying true to yourself and avoiding conformity for the simple sake of it. The result is less of a post-apocalyptic thriller and more of a character drama answering the implied question of the title. We still remain.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
Also out this week:
Action Point, First Reformed, God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness, Gotham – The Complete Fourth Season, Heaven Can Wait [Criterion Collection], The Hot Rock [Twilight Time], The Last Hunt [Warner Archive], Smithereens [Criterion Collection], Straightjacket [Scream Factory], The Tingler [Scream Factory], The Virgin Soldiers [Twilight Time]
Related Topics: Home Video