Plus 17 More New Releases (from last week) to Watch on Blu-ray/DVD!
Welcome to this week in home video! And by “this week” I mean “last week” as we were offline last week. Click the title to buy a Blu-ray/DVD from Amazon and help support FSR in the process!
Pick of the Week
The Autopsy of Jane Doe [Scream Factory]
What is it? A father/son mortician team see their latest job descend them into a nightmare.
Why buy it? One of last year’s best horror films comes home, and genre fans shouldn’t hesitate in picking it up for the first of many watches. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch are terrific as the pair who see their family business take a hit when the corpse on their slab begins revealing a terrible litany of secrets. Director Andre Ovredal builds immense atmosphere with only a few characters and a single location, and the scares become merciless in their frequency and intensity. It’s a rare horror film where we care about the characters, and that attachment leads to increased tension and fear. Turn out the lights, turn up the volume, and settle in for a modern gem. *Note: This is a Wal-Mart exclusive release until late June when it becomes available everywhere including Amazon.*
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
3:10 to Yuma
What is it? A father with a bum leg takes heroic action in order to feed his family and impress his son.
Why buy it? James Mangold delivered one of the year’s best westerns with his Wolverine film Logan, but his previous entry into the genre is almost as good. 3:10 to Yuma is a remake that finds its own voice in the changes made and the casting of Christian Bale and Russell Crowe in the lead roles. It’s a beautifully shot journey of perceived heroism and hopeful redemption, and it stands tall as a great western. This new release ports over previous extras while bringing the film into the present with a sharp and pristine 4K transfer. It’s worth the upgrade for 4K users but also worth a blind buy for everyone else.
[4K UltraHD/Blu-ray extras: Commentary by James Mangold, featurettes, making of, deleted scenes]
The Age of Shadows
What is it? Korean rebels resist against their Japanese occupiers with intrigue, deception, and lots of violence.
Why buy it? This is gorgeous, dense, and thrilling spycraft set in 1920’s Korea and features story turns and meaty characters that share the screen with heavy drama and cracking action sequences. It’s borderline convoluted depending on how closely you manage to pay attention to the character and story details, but even if temporarily lose track of what’s happening you’re never left hanging thanks to its endlessly appealing cinematography. Kim Jee-woon (The Good the Bad the Weird) is still a kinetic mastermind too meaning the action sequences are typically stunners.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]
I Am Not Your Negro
What is it? An unfinished book becomes a documentary about an ongoing reality.
Why buy it? James Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House, finds new life in this new documentary that’s at times poetic and searing in its exploration and examination of race in modern day America. Baldwin’s text is given a voice – through both his own and Samuel L. Jackson’s – and set against archival footage which collectively tells the story of a country that still can’t get its shit together. This is the kind of doc that should be mandatory viewing for students as it presents a visceral reality that people too often ignore and avoid. Buy it, watch it, share it.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, Q&As, photo gallery]
What is it? A young genius faces the pressures of older kids, tough professors, military secrets, first love, and a mildly odd roommate.
Why buy it? Martha Coolidge’s mid ’80s classic remains one of the decade’s best comedies thanks equally to a ridiculously sharp and funny script and the presence of Val Kilmer at the absolute top of his game. His one-two punch of this and Top Secret! showcase a comedic talent that he wouldn’t truly revisit until the pure brilliance of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang two decades later, but all three represent comedy perfection. Coolidge’s film is filled with memorable moments and lines making it a highly quotable joy. Its Blu-ray debut only has a single feature, but it’s a brand new commentary from the director making this a must-own for fans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary with Martha Coolidge]
What is it? Who ordered the military coup in the United States of America?
Why see it? John Frankenheimer’s mid ’60s thriller posits a scenario that’s probably a bit closer to reality than we’d like to believe, and he brings a strong cast along for the ride including Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. Rod Serling’s script moves between Lancaster’s rogue general and the president’s secretive efforts to discover the truth of the impending coup, and moments of action are peppered into the suspense and drama. A subplot involving Ava Gardner feels slightly out of place and slows things down at times, but the main story builds with a steadily increasing momentum.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary by John Frankenheimer]
What is it? A man struggles to survive after being trapped in a tunnel cave-in.
Why buy it? Disaster movies typically have familiar beats as the protagonists clash in their efforts to survive, but this Korean film avoids that pitfall by stranding a single person amid the disaster. It moves between his situation and the world outside, one where common decency, politics, and reality compete to affect the rescue effort. The result is a thrilling mix of suspense, humor, and drama every bit as compelling as a bigger, grander disaster picture. It’s from the director of A Hard Day too, so you definitely want to give it a watch.
[DVD extras: None]
Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan
What is it? You won’t like Paul Bunyan when he’s angry.
Why see it? I haven’t actually seen this one yet, but check out this trailer. I’m not saying it looks good necessarily, but I legit love the premise that offers up both a Paul Bunyan origin story and a modern day horror tale. Cheesy, silly, goofy, and overloaded with questionable CG effects, it’s bound to in no way live up to the trailer’s joys, but dammit I’m still going to watch it.
[DVD extras: None?]
Beyond the Gates [Scream Factory]
What is it? A VCR game draws two brothers into a deadly world of supernatural shenanigans.
Why see it? The film mixes a nostalgia for those ’80s VCR games – honestly cool at the time for those of you too young to remember – with a gory Jumanji and then throws in a wicked Barbara Crampton for good measure. It’s a low-key film, particularly in its first half, but things get enjoyably nutty as it moves towards a conclusion. The budget definitely keeps things tamped down a bit, but the charm is unmistakable.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurette, deleted scenes]
What is it? A bitter, over the hill comedian finds his humanity while doing community service.
Why see it? Robert De Niro has been supplementing his filmography with direct-to-DVD movies for a few years now, and while this comedy technically had a short, limited run it’s still a lesser experience for viewers. There’s never been a movie about a stand-up comedian in which the stand-up was actually funny, and this is no different. Worse though the film’s never all that entertaining off-stage either. De Niro’s on auto-pilot, and his arc is a predictable one. The only bright spot here, and the only reason to watch it really, is the presence of Leslie Mann. It’s not a great role necessarily, but she makes the most of it.
[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, Q&A]
A Dog’s Purpose
What is it? A dog is reincarnated several times before realizing it exists solely to make Dennis Quaid smile.
Why skip it? Are dogs and puppies cute? Of course they are, and that may be reason enough for some of you to give this one a watch. For some of us though the themes and end message made implicit in the title are just garbage. It cycles though the dog’s lives with a whimsical tone highlighting how the mutts exist solely to help people, and while I get that in the lazy sense it’s pretty damn insulting at the end of the day. For dogs I mean. But hey, Josh Gad voices the dog so your kids will love it.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, outtakes, featurettes]
What is it? A gold prospector finds gold before discovering that’s the easy part.
Why see it? Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez are always worth watching even if both actors are better than the film they’re currently a part of, and that’s definitely the case here. It has its moments, typically in early scenes with heightened emotions, energy, and geographic flair, but it never quite manages to engage. McConaughey cares and he gives it his all, but we’re left unaffected by both his ambition and his eventual excess. The Wolf of Wall Street this is not.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scene, commentary by Stephen Gaghan, featurettes]
What is it? Four hunters are themselves hunted when they find themselves targeted by angry Bigfoots… or is it Bigfeets?
Why skip it? The Bigfoot horror sub-genre is a favorite of mine, but for every Abominable or Night of the Demon there are a dozen far lesser films. This one leans towards the lesser unfortunately despite a somewhat intriguing Bigfoot situation because the script and characters are endlessly obnoxious. The creatures themselves are fine, but the atmosphere, scares, and action are all neutered by characters who have us wishing for their demise early on.
[DVD extras: None?]
What is it? Downloadable skill-sets become more of a curse than a blessing.
Why see it? Anyone familiar with The Matrix will get the main plot point here as a group of young scientists develop a method of transferring skills and knowledge from person to database to brand new person. Don’t have time to learn parkour? Download it, and now you’re an expert! The bulk of the film is a traditional thriller with espionage and illicit interests, and it’s forgettable but passable entertainment. Sam Neill is the big draw here in a small role.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of]
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
What is it? A Hollywood bad boy is redeemed through community service at his hometown church.
Why skip it? This is by all accounts a nice, simple movie, but in its effort to tell a positive story it manages only to be wholly predictable, obvious, and dull. Brett Dalton (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) is fine, but dull, as a man who follows the exact arc we expect with absolutely zero opportunity for anything fresh or unexpected. The film caters directly to audiences who can’t handle the slightest offense or challenge to their views and beliefs, but if you’re not in that camp then it’s not worth your time. It’s great seeing D.B. Sweeney again I guess, but he’s hardly enough to recommend a watch.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurette, interviews]
What is it? A college professor enlists students to help unravel the mystery of the long-haired girl with a phone card.
Why skip it? Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake is a rare reboot that surpasses the original, and it remains one of the best horror films of the millennium. The sequel was a far lesser creation, and now this long-gestating third film sinks the franchise even further. The story presents some new revelations that just fall flat, and the scares are even weaker in their execution. The leads are no help as they lack much in the way of chemistry or charisma, and while Vincent D’Onofrio brings some of his grizzled charm in a supporting role it’s not nearly enough to justify a watch.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes]
What is it? A struggling couple move into a new apartment only to find themselves dealing with the previous tenant’s legacy.
Why see it? Asghar Farhadi (About Elly, A Separation) makes films that take events both normal and genre-oriented and turns the focus towards the human participants at the center of it all. His latest leans towards the latter as an attack on his wife leaves a husband set on revenge, but it’s more the shell of a thriller than a thriller itself. That’s by intent as Farhadi’s goal is to highlight both the couple and their community in their collective inability to communicate and deal with the situation. The thriller aspects are ultimately left wanting, but the drama and character work still make for a compelling film.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview]
Saturday Night Fever — Director’s Cut
What is it? Tony Manero is a restless punk by day and a legend on the disco dance floor by night.
Why see it? Pulp Fiction is the better film and the one that rejuvenated John Travolta’s film career, but this late ’70s disco drama is the one that first started it. “Disco drama” is a good way to explain it as the film is easily divided into two halves – Manero’s daily life sees him maneuvering the ups and downs of family life and his circle of friends – and the two halves aren’t equally memorable. The dramatic beats are forgettable compared to the dance floor shenanigans which inject the movie with immense vitality. It’s here where we see why the movie catapulted Travolta to stardom.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical and director’s cuts, commentary by John Badham, featurettes, deleted scene]
What is it? Stranded tourists discover just how dangerous sightseeing can be.
Why see it? There’s some solid genre fun to be had with this supernatural thriller thanks to a varied mix of strangers and an interesting threat. The individual characters get their own backstories, each with a common thread, and they come together in a familiar but effective way. There are some fun gory bits along the way too.
[DVD extras: None?]
Also Out This Week:
Black Rose, The Naked Cage [Scream Factory], The Red Turtle, The Shadow Effect, Virus [Scream Factory]
Related Topics: Home Video