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 Equalizer 2
What is it? Robert McCall takes down bad guys in between his shifts as a Lyft driver.
Why see it? Rather than go bigger with the film or even simply rehashing the exact same beats, this sequel does something far more refreshing. It holds off the intrusion of plot for far longer than most studio films, especially of the action variety, would dare to do, and the result is a casually captivating experience. It feels through its first half like a character piece about one man’s struggle with retirement and loneliness, and it’s a beautiful thing. There are still bursts of violent action throughout, but the focus is the man. Its back half is a bit more traditional, but taken as a whole this is a terrific film balancing character and action equally. See it twice so Washington and Fuqua return for a second sequel sooner rather than later.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
Evil Dead 2 [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Visitors to a remote cabin come face to face with evil.
Why see it? Sam Raimi’s remake — yeah I said it — of his own original keeps the various horror elements but ramps up the slapstick humor and hijinks all the way to 11. It’s a revered classic in the horror/comedy genre for good reason as it pairs laughs with grisly goods and some ridiculously creative setups/sequences. The discs are loaded with special features, but none of them are new. Similarly, this is a great release if you don’t already own the film, but I’m not convinced the 4K upgrade does much to enhance the picture. The source material was already stretched to its best visual appeal in HD meaning there’s no real room for upgrade beyond that. Still, you should own the movie.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Featurettes, commentary]
What is it? A female rancher finds her authority challenged by the law and her heart.
Why see it? Samuel Fuller’s filmography is filled with fascinating genre efforts that give a strong and/or intriguing take in regard to character. This late 50s western fits that mold precisely as a familiar tale of the law facing off against dastardly cowpokes, but Fuller’s direction and dialogue alongside a electric turn by Barbara Stanwyck makes for a crazy good and gorgeous time at the movies. The romance works even as the tension grows with the situation that brought the two together. Criterion’s new Blu gives it a the home it deserves too.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K restoration, interviews, documentary]
Maniac [Blue Underground]
What is it? A man with issues takes them out on women.
Why see it? William Lustig’s infamous slasher classic is far from your typical genre thriller as the film is a bleak and depressing look at one man’s madness. Joe Spinell perfectly captures the sweaty, angry persona of a man incapable of blending in for long with the norms of society. The bigger appeal for some will probably be Tom Savini’s memorably gory practical effects. I’m not convinced it’s a film someone would re-watch that often, but if that describes you then this new release is the only way to go as Blue Underground’s 4K restoration makes the grime and blood even more palpable and the second Blu-ray comes loaded with special features. Between this and their recent Zombie release the label continues to deserve our appreciation and money.
[Blu-ray extras: New 4K restoration, commentaries, outtakes, interviews, featurettes, soundtrack CD]
Nathan for You – The Complete Series
What is it? A Canadian man sets out to help Americans.
Why see it? Nathan Fielder’s Comedy Central series is a masterwork of awkward comedy, and there’s joy to be had across all four seasons. He’s a giver — both to the people he’s trying to “help” and to viewers seeking unexpected laughs. Some awkward comedy can feel mean-spirited or overly scripted, but Fielder’s gift works to keep himself more in the crosshairs than his targets. They don’t always shine, but he’s harshest towards himself, and it’s difficult not to laugh at his misery.
[DVD extras: Commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Await Further Instructions
What is it? A family is trapped in their home on Christmas day as the TV tells them the world outside has them quarantined.
Why see it? This is a solid little premise setting up conflict from both within and without the house, and the hook works for the first act before crumbling beneath the weight of annoying characters and frustrating choices. It runs through its possibilities quickly leaving viewers thinking it would have worked far better as an episode of a Twilight Zone reboot rather than a feature-length film There’s just not enough here. Still, the setup is great and worth seeing through to the end.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]
The Blue Knight [Warner Archive]
What is it? A street cop’s final week before retirement sees life and death in conflict.
Why see it? Joseph Wambaugh’s book received the mini-series treatment and landed the legendary William Holden in the lead role. He does strong work too as a cop who intentionally stayed on the beat rather than seek promotion, and his connection with the people and the pulse of Los Angeles is clear as the 188 minutes roll by. The format allows time for character and rhythm to set the scene before plot comes steamrolling in, and the room to breathe works to its benefit.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
What is it? A mob enforcer goes on the run with a teenager.
Why see it? Ben Foster is a real force of nature, and while he was stuck for a while playing little assholes the past few years have seen him land some richer human characters — who are still assholes to a degree. He plays a tough guy here, convincingly, and his broken heart is every bit as palpable. It’s a bleak as hell film, though, so fair warning.
[4KUltraHD/Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
I Still See You
What is it? Ghostly memories have arrived.
Why see it? The premise here is pretty cool as ghosts — brief appearances by dead people stuck in a loop from their lives — appear and become the new normal. A mystery grows out of it as a young woman finds herself communicating and questioning them, but it never lives up to the setup. It doesn’t help that Bella Thorne really isn’t lead material as she struggles to show depth. (She’s terrific in a supporting role in last year’s The Babysitter.) Fans might enjoy that she takes two showers in the film’s first fifteen minutes, though.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, commentary]
The Last Command [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? It’s the last stand at the Alamo.
Why see it? There have been numerous movies about the heroic but doomed effort by a ragtag group of Americans to resist General Santa Anna’s onslaught in the 1830s, and this 1955 western doesn’t bring much new to the tale. It’s solid all the same and captures both scenes of action and the character drama, particularly regarding Jim Bowie’s relationships.
[Blu-ray extras: Commentary]
What is it? A woman takes an ax and gives her father forty whacks.
Why see it? The outcome of this familiar true story doesn’t stray too far from what you already know, but the film’s worth comes in the journey towards that tragic day. Chloe Sevigny’s Lizzie Borden finds comfort in Kristen Stewart’s maid character, and the pair do strong work with glances and expressions. It’s ultimately an attractive film with an unsurprising story highlighted by two great performances. See it for them.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
What is it? A woman goes rogue after her family is murdered and the corrupt justice system fails her.
Why see it? This attempt at a female-led, harder-edged Taken failed to find fans in theaters for various reasons, but it’s worth a watch for action/exploitation fans. It’s every bit as straightforward as its premise suggests with Jennifer Garner turning into a murderous action hero in her quest for revenge, but some solid action beats accompany the familiar story. The film accomplishes exactly what it sets out to be as an entertaining slice of exploitation fare.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, commentary]
What is it? A yeti community is shocked to discover that humans are real.
Why see it? This animated romp found more than enough fans when it hit theaters a few months ago, and it’s easy to see why. The premise is fantastic, and there’s fun with these characters and their story. It’s unlikely to become a new favorite for your kids, but it’s also not going to bore them. Channing Tatum headlines alongside the less exciting James Corden, and the film manages some laughs alongside its heartfelt tale of friendship and understanding.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Sing-along, short, music videos]
Wild Women [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A mission west requires the presence of a group of female convicts.
Why see it? As westerns go this one is pretty harmless and light on action. A mild comedy pervades it instead, but unfortunately far too much of it is aimed at the women for being loose, unattractive, trouble, and, well, women. It doesn’t wholly work as the laughs fail to go broad and instead feel more mean-spirited. There are enjoyable western beats outside of the comedy attempts, and at 74 minutes that means there may very well be enough here to entertain.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K scan, commentary]
Also out this week:
Along With the Gods – The Last 49 Days, Colette, De Niro & De Palma, Deadman Standing, Death House, Death Ship, A Dry White Season [Criterion Collection], Hang ’em High [Shout Select], Instinct – Season One, The Mangler [Scream Factory], Pet Shop, Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 [Scream Factory], Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation [Scream Factory], Un Traductor
Related Topics: Home Video