The luminous Ingrid Bergman and a brittle Cary Grant – mostly playing against type here – are just sensational opposite one another in Ben Hecht’s original screenplay, which pairs Bergman’s daughter of a Nazi spy with Grant’s government agent. He can’t help but fall in love with her, even while adhering to the rules and hooking her up with a former acquaintance – a Nazi collaborator living in Rio who’s up to something. What that something is requires Bergman’s Alicia to infiltrate the industrialist’s (Claude Rains) mansion, one where secret meetings with his associates are held behind closed doors and his mother dances about, knowing – and suspecting – more than she’s letting on.
From the cinematography – which includes several indelible shots, including a full 360 of the couple when they are reunited at the end – to the performances, “Notorious” has been, and remains, an exhilarating viewing experience. The often abrasive relationship between Bergman and Grant will likely come as a surprise to first-time viewers, and Grant’s overall portrayal is especially striking – as Peter Bogdanovich explains in an interview contained on the disc, the actor was seldom as “unlikeable” as he was in this film. Bergman, on the other end, is gorgeous, at the height of her on-screen appeal and deftly mixes sexiness with her character’s “experience.” Alicia wants to be “saved,” yet Devlin, out of both duty and spite, allows her to be roped into an espionage assignment that nearly claims her life. It all culminates in one of Hitchcock’s most nail-biting, and satisfying, ending sequences.
“Notorious” was previously a Criterion title on DVD and, later, an MGM Blu-Ray release with a different roster of supplements. Criterion’s new Blu-Ray is sourced from a fresh 4K restoration (1.37) that’s much more consistent in its appearance and detail than MGM’s effort, while extras – as is often the case with the label’s releases – pair older supplements with newly produced interviews. Among the latter are conversations with historian David Bordwell (providing an astute half-hour analysis of the film), Hitch biographer Donald Spoto and cinematographer John Bailey, while a 15-minute segment by Daniel Raim highlights Hitchcock’s storyboarding and pre-production processes. Among archival extras are commentaries from both laserdisc (Rudy Behlmer) and DVD (Marian Keane); the Lux Radio Theatre adaptation with Bergman and Joseph Cotten; and the welcome inclusion of an hour-long 2009 French documentary on the film, offering interviews with the likes of Bogdanovich, Bergman’s daughter Isabella Rossellini, historians and others. The mono sound is clearly conveyed with Roy Webb’s music providing the picture with an effective dramatic underscore that doesn’t call attention to itself.
Aisle Seat Pick of the Week
WATERWORLD 3-Disc Limited Edition Blu-Ray (***, 136 [theatrical], 176 [TV Version], 178 mins. [“Ulysses” Uncensored TV Version], 1995, PG-13; Arrow): Star Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds’ much-derided and yet surprisingly entertaining 1995 sci-fi epic finally receives the deluxe Blu-Ray treatment courtesy of a dynamic, three-disc Arrow Limited Edition.
Basically condemned before its release as an expensive turkey destined to fail, this straightforward Western-on-Water is something like an aquatic Shane with Mad Max overtones, starring Kevin Costner as “The Mariner” – a man with gills in a post-apocalyptic world where the polar ice caps have melted, causing what’s left of humanity to live on the open ocean, fighting for survival and the increasingly faint hopes of ever seeing dry land. The Mariner eventually comes to the aid of a floating atoll on its last legs, helping one of its inhabitants (the fetching Jeanne Tripplehorn) and a little girl (Tina Majorino) who’s adorned by a mysterious tattoo that may reveal the location of ground. The jet-skiing bad guys, meanwhile, are led by an over-the-top Dennis Hopper, donning an eyepatch as a crazed loon in command of the Exxon Valdez (yes!), one of a few clever touches in Peter Rader and David Twohy’s script.
In the cinematic world of the early/mid ‘90s, when Hollywood was still adapting to the technology of CGI, “Waterworld”’s practical production was a well-documented nightmare. The uncertain, shifting conditions of shooting on the water in Hawaii led to a production that spiraled out of control amongst numerous other problems – yet much to everyone’s surprise, the finished product was, and still is, pretty fun. Reynolds’ action scenes are crisply staged and the human drama, while familiar, is engaging enough, anchored by Costner and Tripplehorn, with little Majorino delivering a sympathetic turn as the child who might hold the key to humanity’s future. On the musical side, James Newton Howard was brought in to replace Mark Isham when Costner took the film over from Reynolds, and his rousing, swashbuckling soundtrack is one of the film’s chief assets.
“Waterworld” stayed float in theaters and didn’t turn into the “Ishtar”-esque turkey most pundits had expected, even though the best version of the film wasn’t seen on-screen. For that, fans had to catch the film when it premiered a few years later on television.
First broadcast on ABC, the two-part (later combined into one single 177-minute edit for DVD) version of “Waterworld” features a great deal of added character development as well as an interesting coda to the picture’s ending. Along with a number of alternate takes (detailed here), many fans ultimately embraced this cut – which Universal released on DVD over a decade ago – as a more fleshed-out epic compared to the 136-minute theatrical version. Going one step further, enterprising fans eventually compiled the added TV material into a so-called “Ulysses Cut” that restored the profanity and slight trims from the PG-13 theatrical release, thereby creating a “definitive” edit of the longer version.
Arrow’s superb Blu-Ray box-set compiles all three of these versions onto separate platters – yes, even the “Ulysses” cut has been restored here and released officially for the first time. All three transfers (1.85) were assembled from Arrow’s exclusive 4K restoration of the original 35mm camera negative, with the added sequences (some still with unfinished FX) derived from an “extensive search” at Universal for their source elements. The result is a beautiful transfer on the theatrical version with only some minor encoding issues cropping up here and there, mostly in the longer edits. Both 5.1 and 2.0 DTS MA soundtracks are present but the 5.1 is much more impressively layered and presented with discrete channel information.
Arrow’s supplements are highlighted by “Maelstrom: The Odyssey of Waterworld,” a feature-length doc that includes new interviews with producer Charles Gordon, director Kevin Reynolds, original writer Peter Rader, cinematographer Dean Semler and other crew members. This is a lengthy and watchable retrospective that dispels some of the press-generated rumors that cropped up during production, though on the whole, this isn’t nearly as meaty as one would expect given the movie’s reputation as a result. Ample time is devoted to detailing the technical aspects of the shoot, but cast members aren’t on-hand outside of archival interviews, and the 102-minute running time is extended by an excess of film clips. There is some talk about Mark Isham’s original score late in the game, which was removed in favor of James Newton Howard’s more robust “swashbuckling” effort, but surprisingly little conversation about the restored material that comprises the longer edits of the picture.
Also included are “Dances With Waves,” an archival EPK featurette; Glenn Kenny’s look at ecological-apocalypse films, “Global Warnings”; still galleries and a full run of trailers. It’s all capped in the Limited Edition by a 60-page book sporting booklet notes and six collector’s postcards.
Also new from Arrow this month is a Blu-Ray edition of WILLIE DYNAMITE (102 mins., 1973, R),renowned for being one of the “best blaxploitation movies” of all-time. Certainly it’s one of the most entertaining I’ve seen – the story of a NYC pimp who faces trouble from all sides as he flashes an occasional moral compass. A Zanuck/Brown production for Universal, this Gilbert Moses-directed vehicle is a cut above the usual AIP fare but benefits most of all from Roscoe Orman’s commanding turn as the lead – of course, growing up everyone knew him as Gordon from Sesame Street, but he’s positively “emotionally charged” in this energetic and entertaining affair. Arrow’s Blu-Ray includes a 1080p (1.85) AVC encode transferred from original film elements, uncompressed mono sound, a commentary with genre critic Sergio Mims and the trailer.
NEMESIS Blu-Ray (96 mins., 1992, R; MVD Rewind Collection): B-movie auteur Albert Pyun helmed this “Terminator”/”Robocop” variant starring Olivier Gruner as a cyborg cop in a future Los Angeles where his former lover (Marjorie Monaghan) is accused of smuggling data to terrorists who are targeting government officials. An appealing supporting cast of both veterans (Brion James, Tim Thomerson, Jackie Earle Haley) and up-and-comers (Thomas Jane among those) lends some appeal to this by-the-book early ‘90s video store staple, here resurrected in a fine Special Edition from MVD. The BD/DVD combo pack includes 1080p presentations of the film in either 2.35 or 1.78, along with 5.1/2.0 stereo soundtracks; 2018 interviews with Pyun and producer Eric Karson; Making Of materials and Pyun’s on-camera intros (DVD only); trailers and still galleries; and a standard-def transfer of Pyun’s “Nemesis 2.0” Director’s Cut, complete with his commentary.
DOUBLE DRAGON Blu-Ray (96 mins., 1994, PG-13; MVD Rewind Collection): Another sterling MVD Special Edition Blu-Ray is out this month, this time for the film version of “Double Dragon” – the Tradewest video game that was turned into an agreeably silly affair starring Mark Dacasos and a pre-“Party of Five” Scott Wolf as brothers Jimmy and Billy Lee, who stumble upon half of a mystical talisman wanted by the vile Koga Shuko (Robert Patrick). A blonde (why?) Alyssa Milano also appears in this Imperial production, which Gramercy distributed to underwhelming box-office in the fall of ’94, falling somewhere inbetween the manic wackiness of “Mortal Kombat” and the dumb Van Damme take on “Street Fighter.” MVD’s new Blu-Ray of the film — its debut in North America — includes a terrific documentary on the film’s production featuring Wolf, Dacasos, writers Peter Gould and Michael Davis plus producer Don Murphy. An additional segment on Murphy is included along with archival featurettes, the pilot for the 1993 animated series, TV spots, trailers, a mini-poster and more. The 5.1 and 2.0 stereo tracks are fine and the 1080p (1.78) transfer is a bit smooth but still satisfactory.
Shout! New Releases
Steve Martin and Michael Caine’s irresistible teaming in DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (***, 110 mins., 1988, PG) led to the film becoming a moderate box-office hit upon its initial release and a solid performer on video over the years since. “My Cousin Vinny” writer Dale Launer’s remake of the David Niven-Marlon Brando forgettable ‘50s farce “Bedtime Story” offers a robust comedic premise – dueling con artists Caine and Martin spar for the fortune of an heiress (Glenne Headly) on the French Riviera – and the two stars have a great time, generating ample chemistry under Frank Oz’s finely tuned direction.
Shout Factory adds the Orion release to their Shout Select line of Blu-Rays this month. While MGM previously released a Blu-Ray back in 2013, this is a new 2K (1.85) based transfer that shows obvious enhancements in terms of color and detail, as well as less noise than the prior MGM scan, even though that earlier disc offered a higher bit-rate. Miles Goodman’s playful score is on-hand in both 5.1 and a less forceful 2.0 DTS MA mix, while extras here include a new, 20-plus minute interview with Launer, who discusses the project’s unusual genesis (initially conceived as a vehicle for David Bowie and Mick Jagger!), casting (Richard Dreyfuss tested for Caine’s role) and legal issues (including much confusion as to which studio owned the film). Frank Oz’s older commentary, trailers and a promo featurette round out this highly recommended release.
COBRA Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray (**, 87 mins., 1986, R; Shout! Factory): When Sylvester Stallone signed on for a pair of movies with the Cannon Group, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus had to seek out the involvement of Warner Bros. to help pay for Sly’s astronomical salary. The first film of their two-picture deal, “Cobra,” followed the blockbuster success of “Rambo: First Blood Part II” in 1985, but didn’t become the hit any of its producers intended.
It’s not hard to see why: this drab, dreary cop thriller that Stallone himself scripted – from the same Paula Gosling novel, “Fair Game,” that later became Cindy Crawford’s one and only action movie – offers Sly in arguably the most somnambulant performance of his entire career. His Lt. Cobretti is a one-man wrecking crew here tasked with protecting a witness (Stallone’s then-wife, Brigitte “Red Sonja” Nielsen) from a gang of vile killers who like to pound axes around and…well, your guess is as good as anyone else’s in terms of their overall motivation. Helmed with all the efficiency of a tire commercial by George Cosmatos – more or less – “Cobra” is sleekly shot by Ric Waite but humorless and unappealing, barely stopping to develop its characters while Stallone looks like he’d have rather been anywhere else.
Not even as much fun as its basic concept of dropping an ‘80s superstar into a typical, low-grade genre exercise promises (“Death Wish 3” is far more entertaining), “Cobra” racked up enough bucks worldwide to be profitable but scarcely made good on Stallone’s then-blockbuster contract.
The movie’s apathetic feel is confirmed in Shout Factory’s terrific new Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray of the picture, which sports interviews with supporting cast members Brian Thompson, Marco Rodriguez, Andy Robinson, Lee Garlington and Art LaFleur. These character actors are quite engaging in some 80-minutes of interviews which detail an unhappy set with a seemingly disengaged Stallone and dictatorial Cosmatos, who only calmed down whenever the star was around (and apparently directed the film himself when he was).
Shout’s disc also carries over Cosmatos’ DVD commentary, trailer and EPK featurette, while adding an additional trailer, still gallery, and a nicely nuanced new 2K scan (1.85) of original film elements. With a wider color gamut and sleeker presentation (not to mention higher bit-rate), this 1080p AVC encode bests Warner’s early-format catalog disc, while both 2.0 and 5.1 DTS MA stereo options represent a gratingly loud soundtrack sporting ample songs and Sylvester Levay’s original score.
One of many slashers to follow in the wake of “Scream,” Warner Bros.’ VALENTINE (**, 96 mins., 2000, R)from “Urban Legend” helmer Jamie Blanks is fairly stylish for what it is, though its appeal is still mostly going to be limited to genre fans.
David Boreanaz and Denise Richards lead an attractive cast of twentysomethings being picked on by a killer who was always denied the girl and assaulted back in high school. Now, those same girls (Richards, Marley Shelton, Katherine Heigl and Jessica Cauffiel) and their formerly overweight friend (Jessica Capshaw) attempt to track down the killer before he strikes again with vengeance clearly in mind.
Tom Savage’s book was adapted by four credited screenwriters for this slickly made widescreen horror outing, which carries interest for its cast but ultimately goes nowhere you can’t see coming from the first 15 minutes. Scream has, at least, packaged a number of new extras for their Blu-Ray, including commentary from Jamie Blanks and a moderating team of Don Coscarelli and Peter Bracke; interviews with Cauffiel, Richards and Shelton, plus composer Don Davis, the screenwriters and editor Steve Mirkovich; an older commentary with Blanks and vintage cast/crew interviews, and the trailer. The new 2K (2.35) scan from original film elements and the 5.1 DTS MA soundtrack are both top notch.
Also New This Month From Shout: Richard Donner directed the acclaimed 1975 TV-movie SARAH P. – PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE ALCOHOLIC (96 mins.), a notable television film addressing teenage substance abuse starring Linda Blair as a young girl who’s addicted to alcohol, much to the surprise of her friends and family. Mark Hamill essays Sarah’s friend with Larry Hagman and Verna Bloom as her parents in an Emmy-winning production new to Blu-Ray featuring a 2K scan (1.33) and fresh interviews with Blair, Donner and producer David Levinson…Penelope Spheeris’ SUBURBIA (94 mins., 1983, R) looks at the punk scene in early 80s Los Angeles, as seen through the prism of two brothers who become part of a group of squatters living under a highway. “Suburbia” captures time and place through Spheeris’ observational lens, and is here preserved by Shout in a new 4K (1.85) scan of original film elements on Blu-Ray with numerous extras carried over from prior releases – commentaries from Spheeris, producer Bert Dragin and actress Jennifer Clay; the trailer, TV spots and stills gallery…Masaaki Yuasa’s THE NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL (93 mins., 2017) is an enjoyable animated comedy about a group of teens who engage in increasingly surreal encounters with Kyoto nightlife. This eclectic and engaging outing from Gkids and Shout offers a 1080p (1.77) Blu-Ray transfer, interview with Yuasa, trailers, TV spots and 2.0 Japanese audio with English subtitles plus a DVD copy…Another Yuasa film, LU OVER THE WALL (112 mins., 2017, PG) offers an appealing spin on “The Little Mermaid” via a contemporary tale of a teen whose family relocates from Tokyo to a small fishing village, where he subsequently befriends a young mermaid who likes to dance. “Lu” is an engaging concoction from Yuasa, presented by GKids and Shout on Blu-Ray (1.77, 5.1 DTS MA) with both Japanese and English audio, commentary from the filmmakers, an interview with Yuasa, trailers, TV spots and a DVD.
A very different kind of mermaid tale comprises Svyatoslav Podgaevsky’s THE MERMAID, LAKE OF THE DEAD (87 mins., 2018, Not Rated), a Russian import that finds the title creature a former woman cursed to swim through the seas. She sets her sights on an engaged couple in a rather pokey affair with a few too many jumpcuts and a story that’s not always easy to follow. Shout’s Blu-Ray (2.35, 5.1/2.0 Russian or English dubbed) is available February 5th…Finally, 4K UHD owners can add another quality IMAX feature to their growing collections this month thanks to Shout! Factory. AIRCRAFT CARRIER: GUARDIAN OF THE SEAS (43 mins., 2017) is Stephen Low’s look at the USS Ronald Reagan, which houses 5,000 military personnel participating in simulated training exercises. The IMAX feature houses stellar 4K HDR (1.78) imagery that’s fascinating to watch and Dolby Atmos audio, along with a Blu-Ray and numerous featurettes.
New & Noteworthy
THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS 4K UHD (*½, 99 mins., 2018, PG; Disney): If pretty images were enough to sustain a movie, this lavish Disney fantasy would make for a must-own 4K UHD purchase. The movie’s cinematography positively sings with gorgeous colors and a general “Christmas warmth” that’s sumptuous to behold with ample implementation of HDR – it’s just a shame the movie is such a drag.
With two credited directors (Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston, the latter brought on-board to handle extensive reshoots), this charmless studio product sends a young girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) off to a snowy kingdom after the death of her mother. There she finds magical creatures, fragments from the ballet, and an annoying Keira Knightley, all the while Ashleigh Powell’s tedious script recycles patented Disney tropes about “believing in yourself” while the narrative is a patchwork of clichés in every aspect. Silly appearances from the likes of Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren likewise fail to register, and it all comes off feeling like the second sequel to Tim Burton’s equally thankless “Alice in Wonderland,” just with different backdrops and paper thin characters.
Wall-to-wall underscoring by James Newton Howard and Linus Sandgren’s accomplished visuals help but only to a degree as this “Nutcracker” was every bit as much of a dud as another Disney flop from 2018, “A Wrinkle in Time” – just without the PC preachifying.
Disney’s 4K UHD of “The Nutcracker” does look phenomenal though, and the HDR usage in particular should be enough to keep viewers engaged – even if it’s just for a period of time. The Dolby Atmos audio houses a score conducted by Gustavo Dudamel with performances by pianist Lang Lang, both brought in to obviously help “legitimatize” the soundtrack (at least it’s not just another Zimmer and Friends hack job). Extras include deleted scenes, music videos (admittedly, the Bocellis’ “Fall on Me” duet is quite nice), a fluffy featurette, BD and Digital copy.
THE GRINCH 4K UHD Combo Pack (**½, 86 mins., 2018, PG; Universal): Genial but completely inconsequential Illumination adaptation/extension of the Dr. Seuss TV classic is at least more entertaining than the infamous Jim Carrey fiasco – yet this new “Grinch” still never gives us a good reason why it had to exist outside of monetary motivations.
Benedict Cumberbatch voices the Grinch in this colorfully designed affair, which is almost too upbeat for its own good: his Grinch isn’t especially nasty and comes off simply as a misguided crank who eventually warms to the spirit of Christmas. Meanwhile, the Whoville aspect seems like little more than an underdeveloped afterthought (Cindy Lou’s Mom is a hard-working single-parent who…is basically forgotten about completely) meant to pad the film out to feature length. Musically, Danny Elfman reworks some material from the beloved, Chuck Jones-animated holiday special, but never gets the same chance – one that James Horner at least had in the Carrey version – to compose notable thematic material of his own. It’s all inoffensive and “fine for kids,” but about as memorable as a seasonal TV commercial when all is said and done.
The movie’s use of color – arguably too much given the story — does shine in Universal’s 4K UHD (2.40) release. HDR and Dolby Vision add to an impressive color pallet that at times leaps off the screen. The Dolby Atmos audio is active and ample extras on the BD include three mini-movies, countless featurettes and a Digital HD copy.
GOOSEBUMPS 2 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (**, 90 mins., 2018, PG; Sony): Lower-budget sequel to the 2015 box-office hit brings back Jack Black only for a cameo in a story of how Slappy escapes from a locked book, leading a pair of kids (Madison Iseman, Jeremy Ray Taylor) to combat both the dummy and Stine’s creatures before they completely overtake the human world. Released as “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween,” this modest follow-up nearly plays like a cable TV effort, with Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris Parnell and Ken Jeong scoring a few laughs amongst the adults but Black – unbilled on the principal credits and advertising – relegated to just a few scenes. It’s the kind of innocuous affair that’s probably acceptable for its intended audience, but lacks the broader appeal of its predecessor. Sony’s 4K UHD of “Goosebumps 2” boasts a gag reel, deleted scenes, “Slappy’s Audition Tape,” a Making Of and other segments, plus a BD, Digial Copy, superb HDR-enhanced transfer (2.39) and Dolby Atmos audio.
REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN 4K UHD Combo Pack (87 mins., 2019, PG-13; Warner): DC Original animated movie concludes the story started in last year’s film version of “Death of Superman.” Months after the Man of Steel’s apparent demise, four different heroes – Eradicator, Superboy, Steel and Cyborg Superman – show up in Metropolis looking to lay claim to Supes’ mantle, only to have to band together with the Justice League when dark forces converge. If you enjoyed “Death of Superman” you’re likely to appreciate this well-animated and entertaining continuation of a beloved DC storyline, though some fans may lament alterations from the source material. Still, production values are high and the picture is quite satisfying on the whole.
Warner’s 4K UHD is out this week and looks great (1.78, HDR, 5.1 DTS MA) with a segment on Lex Luthor (here voiced by Rainn Wilson), two bonus cartoons and a sneak peek at the next DC movie, “Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five,” included plus a BD and Digital HD copy. Recommended for Superman fans.
THE HATE U GIVE 4K UHD Combo Pack (133 mins., 2018, PG-13; Fox): Adaptation of Angie Thomas’ bestselling novel stars Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter, a smart and savvy high schooler from an underprivileged inner-city background who attends a posh prep school – and who gets in the middle of a debate when a childhood friend is killed by a cop. From there, “The Hate U Give” goes off in very predictable directions espousing an unsurprising PC agenda, but the performances and George Tillman, Jr.’s direction are sincere enough. Fox’s 4K UHD (something of a surprise release for the format given its modest box-office returns) is out this week featuring an HDR enhanced (2.40) transfer, 7.1 DTS MA sound, extended scenes, featurettes, commentary from Tillman and the cast, a BD and Digital HD copy.
ONCE UPON A DEADPOOL Blu-Ray/DVD (117 mins., 2018, PG-13; Fox): Cut-down PG-13 version of “Deadpool 2” was released to minimal commercial interest last month, and makes a fast track to home video already from Fox. This BD/DVD combo pack houses the “family friendly” (or, to be more accurate, family-friendlier) version of the film, featuring framing scenes with Deadpool relaying the story to Fred Savage a la “The Princess Bride,” along with some alternate scenes and gags. If you’ve already seen “Deadpool 2” there’s scant reason to check this out, making it useful only to older kids who couldn’t get into the R-rated theatrical release. Fox’s BD includes a 1080p (2.35) transfer, 7.1 DTS MA sound, a DVD and Digital Copy.
Lionsgate New Releases
There are weirder movies than Luca Guadagnino’s reworking of the Dario Argento horror favoriteSUSPIRIA (152 mins., 2018, R), but you’re unlikely to see one this month at least. This Amazon-produced, sprawling, gross and downright strange effort stars Dakota Johnson as the American ingénue who heads to Berlin to audition for a prestigious dance academy that’s really a witches’ coven. Things get odd – slowly – as Guadagnino and writer David Kajganich spend an inordinate amount of time on set-up and peripheral characters new to the story, which in the end, scarcely resembles Argento’s picture. That, I suppose, will be a relief for that movie’s fans, yet even on its own terms the new “Suspiria” will be just too obtuse and relentlessly grim – clocking in at 2 ½ hours – to really score with most genre fans. Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray includes three featurettes, a 1080p (1.85) transfer and crisply effective Dolby Atmos audio along with a Digital HD copy…Debuting January 22nd is AMERICAN RENEGADES (106 mins., 2018, PG-13), a Luc Besson production concerning a group of Navy SEALs who discover a buried Nazi treasure at the bottom of a lake while serving on a mission in Bosnia. The squad is ultimately attacked while trying to retrieve the gold in a Steven Quale-directed picture written by Besson and “Equalizer” scribe Richad Wenk, and starring “Blacklist”’s Sullivan Stapleton and J.K. Simmons. Lionsgate’s BD (2.39, 5.1 DTS MA) offers a number of featurettes and a Digital HD copy.
More action is on-tap with February 5th’s release of ALL THE DEVIL’S MEN (106 mins., 2018, R), a Saban Films production tarring Milo Gibson (Mel’s son) and William Fichtner in the story of a mercenary who takes an overseas mission to find a disavowed CIA operative. Liosgate’s Blu-Ray includes a featurette, digital copy, 1080p (2.39) transfer and 5.1 DTS MA audio…WWE Studios produced BLOOD BROTHER (90 mins., 2018, R),an urban drama about an ex-con who exacts revenge on the former childhood friends who let him take the rap for a crime they committed together. Years later, one of them – now a cop – tries to stop him in this action affair on Blu-Ray this week from Lionsgate (1.85, 5.1 DTS MA). The disc includes a Digital copy, behind-the-scenes featurette, and commentary with director John Pogue and star Trey Songz…Survivors of an attack on pizza delivery boys go after the killer in Austin Vesely’s SLICE (83 mins., 2018, R), a self-consciously bizarre genre mash-up starring Zazie Baetz and Chance (the Rapper) Bennett. Commentary and deleted scenes are included in Lionsgate’s DVD (2.49, 5.1 Dolby Digital), out on January 29th…Coming February 5th from Lionsgate is SABAN’S POWER RANGERS: SUPER NINJA STEEL (7 hours, 2018), the latest adventures for the popular heroes, still going strong decades after their initial debut. This time, the Rangers are tasked with stopping Madame Odius, who’s still alive and gunning to steal the Ninja Nexus Prism for her own dastardly purposes. 22 episodes, all in 16:9 (1.78) widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital, are included in Lionsgate’s three-disc set, including the Halloween and Christmas specials.
The eclectic tandem of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero attempt to reprise their cult magic from “The Room” with BEST FRIENDS Volumes 1 and 2 (104/84 mins., 2018, R), a pair of movies about a homeless drifter rescued by a mortician who steals the gold teeth out of his corpses. Their bizarre friendship is carried over through two offbeat movies that are only going to work if you enjoyed the off-kilter sensibilities of “The Room.” Lionsgate’s Blu-Ray couples both features (1.85, 5.1 Dolby Digital) on a single BD along with a digital HD copy, deleted scenes, featurettes, and commentary with Sestero and Wiseau on the first installment….Kirk Harris helmed BERNIE THE DOLPHIN (88 mins., 2018, G), an easy-going family film about a pair of kids who go hunting for their missing dolphin pal and discover a real-estate development that threatens not just “Bernie” but baby sea turtles that have hatched on a nearby beach. Kevin Sorbo and Patrick Muldoon star in this Grindstone production, new to DVD (2.35, 5.1 Dolby Digital) from Lionsgate.
SCOOBY-DOO AND THE CURSE OF THE 13TH GHOST DVD (82 mins., 2019; Warner): The Mystery, Inc. gang is forced into a premature retirement after finding an innocent man guilty. Luckily, Vincent Van Ghoul needs some help as Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and Daphne go off hunting for an elusive 13th ghost that’s still on the loose. Globe-trotting locations comprise this newest Scooby-Doo animated feature, on DVD this week from Warner featuring two vintage cartoons, a 16:9 transfer and 5.1 sound.
PAW PATROL Pawsome Collection DVD (280 mins., 2013-16; Nickelodeon/Paramount): Three-disc compilation from Nickelodeon includes the adventures of Chase, Skye, Marshall and the rest of the Paw Patrol sang in three previously released discs: Sports Day, Meet Everest!, and Marshall and Chase on the Case! 16:9 (1.78) transfers and 5.1 soundtracks are included in this specially-priced anthology.
BEN 10: OUT TO LAUNCH Season 2, Part 1 DVD (198 mins., 2019; Cartoon Network/Warner): 18 episodes from “Ben 10”’s second season are new to DVD this month from Warner Home Video. This fun animated series continues to be a kid favorite on Cartoon Network, with Warner’s single-disc DVD including 16:9 transfers and 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtracks.
Also New & Noteworthy
THE WIFE Blu-Ray (100 mins., 2018, R; Sony): Well-acted if somewhat unappealing drama about an obnoxious author (Jonathan Pryce) who’s on his way to receive the Nobel Prize at the same time his long-suffering wife (Glenn Close) reveals, through flashbacks, just how much of his career he owes to her. Meanwhile, a meddlesome reporter and the couple’s son play a part in Bjorn Runge’s film, scripted by Jane Anderson from Meg Wolitzer’s novel, which sports a strong Close performance but a bit of a sluggish pace. Sony’s Blu-Ray includes a Q&A with Wolitzer and Close; an interview with the cast; conversation with Close; a 1080p (2.40) transfer and 5.1 DTS MA sound.
THE GAME – The Complete Series DVD (52 hours, 2006-09, 2011-15; CBS): Comedic drama about an aspiring med student (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) who puts her dreams on hold so her football playing boyfriend (Pooch Hall) can chase his ran for several years on the CW network. Despite being canceled in 2009, “The Game” was resurrected for BET in 2011, running for several more seasons – all of which have been collected in this CBS Complete Series DVD box set. In addition to 16:9 transfers and 5.1 audio, CBS’ set retains numerous extras from the prior, respective season DVD releases, including interviews, a gag reel, deleted scenes and more.
Also newly available from CBS is the First Season of KIDDING (5 hours, 2018), Jim Carrey’s first foray into scripted television with the comedian starring as Jeff – a children’s television host who has a hard time holding it together when his domestic life starts to unravel. The subject matter is familiar but Carrey, reuniting here with his “Spotless Mind” collaborator Michel Gondry, is compelling in this Showtime series. Season 1 of “Kidding” is on disc this week featuring several featurettes, 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital sound and 16:9 transfers.
HUMANS 3.0 Blu-Ray (391 mins., 2019; Acorn/RLJ): Continuation of the acclaimed British sci-fi series continues its believable speculation on where our world is headed with evolving A.I. Set a year after “Humans”’ second season, fans should be enthralled with this mix of domestic drama and thoughtful sci-fi, with Katherine Parkinson, Gemma Chan, Ivanno Jeremiah and Colin Morgan leading the ensemble cast. Acorn’s Blu-Ray (1.78, 5.1 DTS MA) includes all eight episodes from the series’ “3.0” season along with nearly a half-hour of behind-the-scenes featurettes.
THE APPARITION DVD (144 mins., 2018; Music Box): A journalist (Vincent Lindon) is contacted by the Catholic Church to investigate a vision of the Virgin Mary in a small French village. There he finds a young novitiate (Galatea Bellugi) and a town with its own motivations in Xavier Giannoli’s new film. Available this week on DVD from Music Box, “The Apparition” includes a 16:9 (2.39) transfer, 5.1 French audio with English subtitles, the trailer, Bellugi’s audition tape and an interview with Giannoli.
SPIRAL Blu-Ray (79 mins., 2017; Cohen Media Group/E One): Laura Fairrie directed this French documentary touching upon the frightening rise of anti-Semitism in both France and around the world, from a number of deadly attacks to the prejudice that extends down to day-to-day life. Cohen’s now-available Blu-Ray (1.78, 5.1 DTS MA French audio with English subtitles) also includes a “Conversations from the Quad” featurette featuring Fairrie.
POSSUM DVD (87 mins., 2017, Not Rated; Dark Sky/MPI): Absolutely bizarre tale of a puppeteer (Sean Harris) who returns to his home where a boy is missing and his large spider-puppet named Possum could be to blame…perhaps. Matthew Holness helmed this intentionally weird, self-indulgent film that explains little and offers a 16:9 (1.85, 5.1) transfer with an interview and behind-the-scenes segment in MPI’s DVD, out February 12th.
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