Well, it’s not the biggest week this week in terms of sheer number of releases, but considering you’ve got Star Trek, Rick and Morty, South Park, Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart, Disney, and a recent theatrical hit all in the mix, it’s hard to complain! Read on for the full list!
Missing – I was extremely impressed with 2018’s Searching, the missing-teenager thriller starring John Cho that was told entirely through a computer interface, utilizing video chats, skype calls, video footage, social media posts, emails, and the like to tell a mystery story. It was an unusual approach to a real-world thriller, and it paid off quite well. Now we have the pseudo-sequel Missing, which sees a teenager searching for her missing mother and told via the same aesthetic conceit. I say pseudo-sequel because aside from some very quick references to the first film in the beginning, there’s no real story thread between the two films, so Missing is more of a spiritual successor than a sequel and it works 100% as a stand-alone film. And boy, does it work! Whatever you think of the film’s format, it’s so well written and so well executed that you will be riveted by it from start to finish. This go-around there are even more plot twists and turns, and it really kept me guessing until almost the very end. Storm Reid – who notable played Ellie’s girlfriend on The Last of Us – is in the lead role and she really carries the film, but an always-welcome Joaquim de Almeida adds a lot of value in a supporting role. While the storytelling format might be aimed at the younger generations, Missing is an extremely effective and enjoyable thriller that anyone can get into. Check it out!
Star Trek: The Next Generation 4-Movie Collection (4K Ultra HD) – While there is no shortage of packaged collections of the various Star Trek movies, this newest box set is one of the most exciting collections yet. The four Star Trek: The Next Generation movies are collected on 4K Ultra HD into one box set for the first time in this terrific new collection from Paramount. This set – whose packaging nicely matches last year’s Original Movies 4K Collection — features Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis. Now, I know people feel various ways about the Next Gen movies, with many fans claiming First Contact as the best of the bunch, but I actually really like almost all of the Next Gen films. Generations is a great crossover movie, Insurrection plays like an extended episode of the TV series but is still a lot of fun, and even Nemesis – admittedly the weakest of the bunch – has some great moments. The 4K Ultra HD format does make some nice improvements in the A/V quality of the films, although seeing as how they’re all 15-30 years old, it’s not a complete transformation. Brighter colors, deeper blacks and sharper imagery are evident, but don’t expect the films to look like they were made yesterday. The surround soundtracks are also extremely solid, with nice action from the rear channels and some excellent discrete sound effects in all of the satellite speakers. So while upgrading to 4K Ultra HD isn’t an absolute necessity if you have the Blu-ray releases, these versions are still the best the movies have looked and sounded on home video, and all the extra features (plus the included digital copies) make this sharp box set a must-have for Trek fans.
Encanto (Disney 100 Steelbook) – To celebrate their 100th anniversary, Disney is re-releasing some of their biggest hits in new Steelbook Editions (exclusively through Best Buy) that feature both 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs as well as some other neat goodies. Encanto was one of Disney’s more recent hits, and the more I talk to people in the real world, the more I see how beloved this movie is becoming. It leans a little more towards the “family” side of things, in more ways than one. First of all, it’s definitely a film that will appeal to all ages, but it’s a little friendlier towards the younger kids than some of the slightly more mature fare they create, like maybe Onward or Coco. But the film also features family as a major theme of the film, with a great ensemble of characters from a large Colombian family driving the action. The focus is on Mirabel, the one member of a magical family who didn’t get magical powers, and her quest to save the magic of the family. It’s a bright and colorful film, filled with some great characters and a few top-notch songs (Lin-Manuel Miranda had a hand in crafting some of them, much like he did in Moana), and I think little children will enjoy it but older kids and parents will have a great time with it too. The animation is terrific, it has a good sense of humor, and it’s just one of those movies you can sit and smile through. Hard to argue with that! The new Steelbook Disney 100 edition features the film on 4K Ultra HD as well as Blu-ray; it also includes a number of extra features and a digital copy of the film, plus inside the case you will find a high-quality enamel pin from the movie. It’s a nice Collector’s Edition for fans of the movie and might be worth the upgrade if you don’t already own it on 4K.
Rick and Morty: Season 6 – I’ve heard it compared to everything from Back to the Future to Doctor Who to Futurama to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and in reality, it is kind of a mash-up of all of those things, just in animated form and with a seriously R-rated sense of humor. Unfortunately, it’s also just not my thing. I know people really love Rick and Morty and the show’s fan base is fanatical, but I have never been able to tap into whatever it is that people enjoy about it. Still, whenever a new set comes out for review I always dive in and try to find a few things to enjoy about it. This season sees the usual galaxy-spanning mayhem, picking up right where Season 5 left off. There is a Die Hard-inspired episode that I enjoyed parts of, but there’s also an episode with an ocean of urine, and that one was definitely not my thing. Still, assuming you are a fan, this new collection features all ten episodes of Season Six on Blu-ray (it is also available on DVD), but for some reason this time around there is no digital copy included, which all the previous sets did have. Not sure why the studio chose to go that route, but I suspect fans will not be overly thrilled about it.
Cool Hand Luke (4K Ultra HD) – As part of Warner Bros.’ 100th Anniversary (boy, along with Disney’s 100th anniversary this year, 1923 was apparently a good year for Hollywood!), the studio is dipping into its catalogue titles and releasing a number of seminal and well-loved films on 4K Ultra HD for the first time. This week sees Cool Hand Luke and The Maltese Falcon, with Rebel Without a Cause dropping in a couple of weeks. Cool Hand Luke was an obvious choice for inclusion; it’s one of Paul Newman’s signature roles and one of his finest movies. This 1967 film sees Newman as a man sentenced to prison for two years, which should be a relatively simple sentence to live out and move on from. But Luke refuses to conform to the cruel and sometimes crooked practices enacted by the warden and his men, and soon things start to escalate. George Kennedy won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role (and Newman was nominated), and the film really is just a fantastic piece of work. It’s moving, funny, serious, and thought-provoking, and there are some truly iconic moments in it. (In fact, mega-rock band Guns N’ Roses even famously utilized an audio clip from the film as a lead-in to their hit single Civil War back in the early 90s.) The new 4K Ultra HD release (which also includes a Blu-ray and a digital copy, yay!) sees the film in Ultra High Def for the first time, and it looks and sounds utterly terrific. Colors are bright and vivid, and the image quality is way sharper than it has any right to be for a movie that’s almost 60 years old. Warner has done a bang-up job with this one, and I highly recommend it!
The Maltese Falcon (4K Ultra HD) – The other release this week that’s part of the Warner Bros. 100th Anniversary celebration is the Humphrey Bogart classic The Maltese Falcon. One of two films in which Bogey portrayed famed Dashiell Hammett detective Sam Spade, the story sees Bogey’s detective get caught up in a murder investigation centered around a missing statue that’s incredibly valuable. But the mystery aspect of the film is almost secondary to the dialogue that drives it; the rat-a-tat back-and-forths between Spade and his various antagonists (including both police and mobsters) is where the film gets all of its verve from, and it’s a joy to watch. Like with Cool Hand Luke, this marks the film’s debut in 4K Ultra HD (and it, too, comes with a Blu-ray and a digital copy). The Maltese Falcon is a black and white film, so the extraordinary colors that stand out with a typical 4K release are absent here, but the contrasts are excellent and the black and white looks more textured and more nuanced than ever before. Black levels are deep and rich, and the overall aesthetic is exactly how you want a black-and-white movie to look. I’m a huge Humphrey Bogart fan and while The Maltese Falcon isn’t my favorite film of his, it’s certainly a seminal one and I’m glad to see Warner giving it the treatment it deserves.
South Park: The Complete Twenty-Fifth Season – I know it’s going to seem like I don’t like animated comedies when you read my review of South Park after my take on Rick and Morty above, but I swear that’s not the case. It’s just these two shows that I find highly overrated. I’ve never been a big South Park fan, but I always revisit it when it comes out on home video (this week brings us Season 25 on Blu-ray and DVD.). At this point in time, even though I’ll never love the show, I also know I’ll get a few chuckles out of its timely and irreverent parodies of real-world events. Whereas Season 24 was just two COVID-related episodes, this season returns things to normal a bit with an eight-episode collection, culminating in a two-episode event called The Streaming Wars, which basically is a giant middle finger to streaming content in general and the sheer volume of it that comes out on a regular basis. As usual, the season definitely doesn’t pull any punches; you can expect the ever-present raunch, swearing, and topical humor in every episode. And as is usually the case for me, while I still don’t love the show, there were definitely a few jokes that had me laughing. If you’ve collected the previous 24 seasons. I see no reason to stop now.
What’s New on Home Video – April 4th, 2023 – Missing, Star Trek, Rick & Morty, Encanto, South Park, & More!
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