Plus 9 More New Releases to Watch This Week on Blu-ray/DVD!
Welcome to this week in home video where we take a look at new releases for the week of May 16th! Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
Streets of Fire [Shout Select]
What is it? An anti-hero steps up when a leather-clad gang abduct the local pop sensation.
Why see it? Every Walter Hill film is worth seeing – some more than once (Southern Comfort), and some *just* once (Bullet to the Head) – but his eye for energy and visuals makes each one worth a watch at least. This mid ’80s “rock & roll fable” happily falls under the former camp as it offers up a fun, exciting, and charismatic little tale of good guys and girls, bad guys and girls, and the audibly addictive music. Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Willem Dafoe, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Bill Paxton, and more bring the story to life while rocking tunes (both original and classic) thrill the ears. It’s an odd film in some ways with wavering period details, a loose sense of humor, and some genuinely thrilling music performances, and it’s constantly engaging as the action/drama unfolds. The film’s become something of a cult hit over the years, and while many of us have been waiting not-so patiently for an HD release I’m curious if younger audiences will take to its unique charms. Shout Factory brings the long overdue movie to Blu-ray with a sharp new picture and a new set of interviews detailing the production.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 2K restoration, making of, featurettes, music videos]
Good Morning [Criterion]
What is it? Two young brothers face the world’s mundane struggles with a smile and a fart.
Why see it? This is my first Yasujiro Ozu film, but it won’t be my last (and if anyone has suggestions on what to watch next I’d love to hear them). It’s a light comedy in tone as the boys and their parents face superficial problems and misunderstandings, but there’s a wise eye and ear to their relationships and interactions with both each other and the various frustrations of life. Technology is often the inciting factor here as the small village becomes exposed to televisions and washing machines, for better and worse, but while the kids can wash it all away with a vow of silence or intestinal issues the adults deal more in gossip, verbal sniping, and not-so thinly veiled disappointment. Through it all though Ozu maintains a sweetly nostalgic tone that gently skewers consumers while smothering them with love. Criterion’s new Blu brings this Technicolor gem to smile-inducing, eye-popping life, and it should be a must-own for anyone with a TV and a heartbeat.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K restoration, Ozu’s 1932 silent film I Was Born But…, interview, video essay, segment of short film, booklet]
Willard [Scream Factory]
What is it? A rat named Ben causes trouble.
Why see it? The sequel (below) is far better known, but this original is the far better film. Bruce Davison plays the title character, a timid guy who grows increasingly tired of being pushed around by his boss, his mother, and everyone else. He befriends some rats and develops the ability to communicate and instruct the rodents’ actions, and while he’s set up as the film’s protagonist the film takes him in some interesting and dark directions. Ernest Borgnine is along for the ride as a jerk due some comeuppance, but Davison powers the film with his portrayal of a lonely, disturbed young man whose efforts towards vengeance and self satisfaction lead down deadly roads. It’s an animal attack movie to some degree, but it’s actually every bit a psychological thriller about a man’s descent into madness. Davison also offers some solid insight via a new interview and commentary track.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interview]
Ben [Scream Factory]
What is it? A rat named Ben causes more trouble.
Why see it? Better known than the film that came before it, this is a goofy little rat thriller that completely fails to match its predecessor’s tension, terror, and madness. Interactions between man and rat are silly in their attempts at earning suspense and drama, and the lead, a sick child (Lee Montgomery) who befriends the rodent, spends a bit too much time singing songs. One of them becomes the Academy Award-nominated Michael Jackson song later in the film. The third act increases the scale of encounters, but we care nothing about the humans here. The disc includes a a new interview and commentary with the now-adult Montgomery, and they offer a bit more entertainment than the film can muster.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, interview]
The Climber [Arrow Video]
What is it? A low-level gangster climbs the ranks one bloody rung at a time.
Why see it? Andy Warhol muse Joe Dallesandro makes the move from arty horror to Italian crime pictures, and the result is a pretty solid gangland romp. Bad women and worse men wreak havoc against the law and each other, and the action beats offer up some violent fun between dramatic dialogue and bedroom shenanigans. Dallesandro has a dull charisma about him, enough to pull viewers along through Warhol’s genre efforts, but he’s not strong enough to anchor a film that requires our interest in its anti-hero. Arrow’s new Blu offers up a sharp picture and an entertaining interview with the lead actor.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: New 4K restoration, interview, booklet, reversible sleeve]
What is it? A man’s wife and child are left for dead by kidnappers who renege once he’s paid for their safe return.
Why see it? This is a tale of a man pushed to extremes in an effort to find his family, and while it’s every bit a lesser Breakdown it remains a competently-made little thriller once the thrills kick in. (Before then we’re left wondering why the white couple’s kid has a thick accent despite no mention or hint of adoption. My guess is the boy’s a local actor.) The various story turns see our hero facing off against bad guys, cops, and terrible luck, and questionable portrayals of race aside – there are no good islanders here – the film delivers some solid thrills and suspense beats. Give it a shot.
[DVD extras: Commentary, featurette]
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
What is it? The war against the undead comes to a conclusion of sorts while we await the inevitable reboot.
Why see it? Don’t, is the short answer, but if you’ve seen and at least somewhat enjoyed the five previous films starring Milla Jovovich as the ass-kicker of the undead then you should give this final one a spin just to say you’ve completed something in your life. It’s not good though. The budget is partly to blame as action sequences and visual effects feel small and poorly hidden in nighttime scenes, but the script is once again the main culprit. Everything ties together far too tightly for a six-film story line that never feels like it left the immediate vicinity outside Raccoon City. It’s a darkly-lit and goofy affair.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Video commentary with Paul Anderson & Milla Jovovich, featurettes]
The Space Between Us
What is it? A boy born on Mars comes to Earth in search of his father and some good lovin’.
Why see it? There’s a predictability to this YA-friendly adventure that lessens the experience of watching, but it’s still worth your time for the sake of Carla Gugino, Britt Robertson, and Gary Oldman. None of them are stretching their acting muscles here, and yes, Robertson does play another precocious teenager, but they still engage. The boy’s experiences on Earth are joyous beats of discovery as he experiences certain foods, rain, and dogs for the first time, and all of it feels familiar. It’s not a bad film by any means, and the lack of a “bad guy” subplot is always refreshing, but there’s very little here worth remembering.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, commentary]
Vision Quest [Warner Archive]
What is it? A high school wrestler understandably falls for an older woman.
Why see it? Harold Becker’s ’80s classic is best known perhaps for an early appearance by Madonna before she was Madonna! She performs a few songs in a bar frequented by the characters, and the rest of the soundtrack is equally representative of the decade. Matthew Modine plays the young wrestler who targets both good times with the lady and an underdog match against a legendary peer, while Linda Fiorentino sizzles as the twentysomething with her eye on the hairless wonder. It’s a solid little movie, and while I would have preferred the kid learn a mixed lesson of success and failure rather than the outcome he finds it remains a fun ’80s blast.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Wonder Woman – Commemorative Edition
What is it? An Amazon princess becomes a superhero after meeting a man.
Why see it? This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Wonder Woman character, and while we’re anxiously awaiting the new feature film DC has wisely re-released this animated movie. Keri Russell voices the Amazonian hero while Nathan Fillion wisecracks his way as Steve Trevor. It’s fun and loaded with innuendo and jiggling boobs, and while the villainous aspects go the supernatural/godlike creature route the dialogue and character keep things grounded and entertaining.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]
Also out this week:
Between Us, Game of Death [Shout Select], Ice – Season One, Return of the Dragon [Shout Select], XXX: Return of Xander Cage
Related Topics: Home Video