Well it’s not a particularly big week in terms of the number of titles, but man, are there some amazing releases this week. We’ve got a huge new theatrical film and then tons of catalogue titles, including some of my favorite movies of all time. And if you’re a Steelbook collector, I have good news for you: there are no less than three new Steelbook releases this week. Read on for the full breakdown!
Indiana Jones & The Dial of Destiny
The Movie: I am as big of an Indiana Jones fan as you will ever find. The original trilogy is some of the greatest movies of all time, and I have watched all three of them – yes, even Temple of Doom – more times than I can count. And I don’t even necessarily hate the fourth movie, although I won’t go out of my way to talk about it. But as big of a fan as I am of the character and the films, I was really let down by Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. It just isn’t a good film. But what surprised me even more is how many people I know that seemed to really enjoy it. I guess they got something out of it that I didn’t because I found it to be hackneyed, unoriginal, repetitive, and lacking much of the charm that made the original movies so great. Maybe making a sequel 30 years after the heyday of the original films with an 80-year-old action hero isn’t a formula for success? I will say that I liked the last 20 minutes or so of the film, but aside from that, I felt like the action was uninspired, the writing was really pedestrian, and Harrison Ford was sidelined in his own movie. Color me disappointed.
The 4K Audio/Video: The film has been released on 4K UHD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD.) Not surprisingly, The Dial of Destiny is the kind of movie that the 4K Ultra HD format was made for. Image clarity is razor sharp, and colors boast an impressive range of dynamic hues. Shadow delineation is strong as well, making sure that none of the action is obscured just because it takes place at night. Meanwhile, the surround soundtrack offers up a wide range of discrete sound effects sprinkled throughout the various channels. It really is like the film is happening in your living room. It’s a terrific A/V presentation of a terrific film.
The Special Features: You get a pretty great five-part making-of documentary that runs about an hour, plus an isolated score track that allows you to watch the film with just the music
The Wrap-Up: Maybe I just need some time and separation. I’m hoping I’ll revisit Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny in a year or two and gain a new appreciation for it, maybe see what all of my friends who loved it saw in it. But for now, the film was mostly just a giant let down for me.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Season Two
The Show: Okay, admittedly you don’t have to work overly hard to get me interested in a Star Trek show, but I absolutely LOVE Strange New Worlds. The show originally spun out of Star Trek: Discovery’s second season, which re-introduced Captain Pike, Number One, and Mister Spock to the current Star Trek universe. They were so popular in that season (largely due to Anson Mount’s absolutely delightful portrayal of Captain Pike, the most Kirk-esque captain we’ve had since Kirk himself) that they earned a whole new show, which gives us the adventures of the Enterprise in the years before Captain Kirk took over. Now in it’s second season, Strange New Worlds has found its own identity and it’s almost impossible to remember that it got its start as part of Discovery. The show is unabashedly Star Trek and I want more, more, more of it. It’s the most fun iteration of the franchise in years, and it really captures the spirit of the original series. While there are more serious episodes, of course, there are also a number of episodes that introduce fantasy settings or oddball situations for the crew to find themselves in and they have the Original Series DNA written all over it. Two words: musical episode. The characters are terrific, the scripts are sharp, and the show is just filled with fun and adventure. This week, the show lands on home video on Blu-ray and DVD, and there’s a Steelbook version of Season Two available that features gorgeous artwork that any fan will want on their shelves.
The 4K Audio/Video: Strange New Worlds looks and sounds terrific in 4K. Colors saturation is deep and rich, and you also get impeccably sharp imagery, and deep, rich black levels. The print, of course, is devoid of any blemishes or debris. The surround soundtrack has a lot to work with and it doesn’t waste any opportunities to fill your living room with constant surround activity. There’s also a nice low end bass channel that gives many of the scenes an effective rumble that you’ll feel in your chest. It’s a terrific technical effort.
The Special Features: There are over two hours of extra features, including a collection of deleted and alternate scenes, plus there are five making featurettes that focus on particular aspects of Season Two.
The Wrap-Up: Honestly, I can’t get enough of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and I can’t wait for season three. The Steelbook release of Season Two is droolworthy and the bonus features make this an even better release. Highly recommended!
Titanic (4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition)
The Movie: Still one of the biggest movies of all time, Titanic makes its 4K Ultra HD debut this week in two formats: a standard edition and a fantastic Collector’s Edition box set! I was lucky enough to receive the Collector’s Edition for review, which is exciting for two reasons. One, I’m a huge fan of James Cameron and Titanic, so I love all the goodies that come with this special edition. Two, it gives me something to talk about in this review. Because let’s be honest, nothing I’m gonna say about the film itself is going to make a bit of difference. Just about everyone in the world has seen Titanic and either loves it or doesn’t, so what am I going to add to that conversation? But what I can tell you is that the new Collector’s Edition box set is chock full of goodies, and even includes some new bonus features, which I wasn’t expecting (and which are detailed in the “Special Features” Section below.) The highlight of this oversized package is a full-color coffee table book about the making of Titanic. This isn’t one of the nice, illustrated DVD-sized books you get with some collector’s editions, though; it’s a full sized coffee table book, about a foot wide and about eight inches tall, and it’s gorgeous. You also get a Blueprint of the Titanic, sheet music, boarding passes and menus from the ship, tickets for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class rooms, and letters from Jack and Rose. You also get the film on 4K UHD for the first time, as well as a Blu-ray copy of the film and a digital copy. This is a great piece to have in your collection if you’re a fan.
The 4K Audio/Video: Paramount has done a nice job of bringing Titanic to 4K Ultra HD, with a transfer that’s results in the film looking the best I can say I’ve ever seen it on home video. Of course, the film is 25 years old, so image clarity is at the mercy of the source material, but close-ups especially are nicely clean and clear. The colors really stand out the most, however, giving the film a new life on 4K. The soundtrack isn’t an especially overdone affair, but you get clean and clear dialogue with no crackle or hiss, and the music comes through sounding full and effective. Overall, it’s a very strong effort for a beloved film.
The Special Features: In addition to all of the previously released extra features for Titanic, which includes three audio commentaries and multiple making-of featurettes, there are three new extra features included on the disc. The first one is called Stories From the Heart, and it’s a retrospective documentary that includes new interviews with James Cameron and Kate Winslet. (Leo couldn’t be bothered, apparently.) There’s also a new featurette called Titanic: 25 Years Later with James Cameron in which the director looks at the ship, its shipwreck, and even tries to prove once and for all whether Jack could have fit on that door! Then there’s a fan poster art gallery, featuring still images of some incredible fan-created posters for the film. Great stuff all around!
The Wrap-Up: Whether you opt for the standard 4K edition or the gorgeous Collector’s Edition, you can’t go wrong with Titanic. It’s an epic, beloved film that’s worth having in any movie collection.
Point Break (4K Ultra HD)
The Movie: I’m trying to think of something that Point Break doesn’t have. I mean, you have Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. There are bank robberies, gun fights, and foot chases. There’s surfing and skydiving. There’s a love story. There are high adrenaline stunts. There’s snappy dialogue. It really is a perfect action movie. And now it’s on 4K Ultra HD for the first time, which makes it even better. I’m such a huge fan of Point Break, which sees Keanu Reeves play Johnny Utah – one of the greatest movie character names in film history – go undercover with a bunch of adrenaline junkies who surf, skydive, and may or may not rob banks wearing masks of US presidents. I know most people have seen it so spoilers are negligible, but I’m not going to say any more about the story to avoid any spoilers. But I will say the film is a fast-paced and action-packed thrill ride that also manages to fit in terrific and unique characters, a great soundtrack, and a few real movie star moments. I love this movie, and if you don’t love it too, then I’ll just have to assume you’ve never seen it, because I can’t think of any other reason not to love it.
The 4K Audio/Video: Point Break comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD for the first time and it looks and sounds quite good. Colors are at a premium, with the beach and skydiving scenes especially at a premium. Image detail is impeccable, and the print is free of any dirt or debris, which is a nice bonus for an older film. The surround soundtrack brings the action to life, utilizing the rear speakers well to surround you with crashing waves, wind whipping past your face, gunshots, and more. All in all, a terrific A/V presentation.
The Special Features: There is a collection of additional scenes, four making-of featurettes, and the film’s trailer. It’s not a huge amount of extras, but it beats a bare bones release.
The Wrap-Up: Point Break is one of the truly great action movies of the 90s, and that’s high praise coming from me, because ‘90s action movies are probably my favorite film genre of all time. If you don’t already have this one in your collection, the new 4K UHD release is the perfect way to remedy that.
The Monster Squad 4K
The Movie: From one absolute favorite to another (with one more to come!), The Monster Squad also makes its 4K Ultra HD debut this week. Now, The Monster Squad isn’t as well known as Point Break, but it is a 1980s comedy about a group of kids who have to stop a gang of supernatural monsters – including Dracula, the Wolfman, and the Mummy – without any help from the clueless grown-ups around them. In many ways it’s a precursor to Stranger Things, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Duffer Brothers (creators of Stranger Things) are fans of The Monster Squad. It’s a horror comedy that focuses more on the comedy, but it’s such a funny and endearing film that there is a devoted fan base out there of people like me who absolutely adore this film. Sadly, none of the actors in the cast went on to find their acting fame and fortune afterward, which I think is a real shame, but talented young actors such as Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, Robby Kider, and Ashley Bank all shine in this film, as do Duncan Regehr and Tom Noonan as some of the monsters. It’s a wonderful film and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes great movies. There’s also a really special bonus feature that makes this release even more exciting (detailed below).
The 4K Audio/Video: The audiovisual upgrade is definitely noticeable, even if the film does show its age a little bit. Imagery is super clear with excellent shadow delineation (a must-have for a film where large portions of it occur in the dark), while colors are strong and clarity is terrific. The surround soundtrack won’t win any awards, but it does create a nice, intense atmosphere throughout the film.
The Special Features: Okay, so the highlight of this release is Wolfman’s Got Nards, a 2018 documentary about the film that was written and directed by none other than Andre Gower, one of the original stars of the film. It’s 90 minutes long and it comes on its own disc in the set, and it’s pretty much the ultimate retrospective documentary made by one of the kids who was there. There’s also another documentary from the last home video release that runs over an hour and ten minutes. In addition, there are two audio commentaries, one of which features writer/director Fred Dekker along with the three of the now grown-up kids, Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, and Ashley Bank. Then there are some deleted scenes and a couple of additional mini-extra featurettes.
The Wrap-Up: If you’re a fan of The Monster Squad, I can’t recommend this release highly enough. Not only do you get the film in 4K UHD, but the Wolfman’s Got Nards documentary is like getting a second movie for free. I’m so glad Kino Lorber put together a truly special release for this one.
Young Guns: 35th Anniversary Edition
The Movie: And the trilogy of movies I’m a lifelong fan of continues! Back in 1988, 20th Century Fox said, “Hey, what if we get a bunch of incredibly popular young actors to play Billy the Kid and his outlaw friends and make a rousing action/adventure movie?” And so they took four incredibly popular Brat Pack actors and added a couple of other popular and rising (at the time) faces and came up with Young Guns. Armed with the tagline, “Six Reasons the West Was Wild,” the film was an instant box office hit and even spawned a sequel. It might be hard to imagine now, but at the time, putting Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney, and Casey Siemazko in a movie together was the equivalent of making a movie with Tom Holland, Timothee Chalamet, Andrew Garfield, Freddie Highmore, Daniel Radcliffe, and Lakieth Stanfield all in the cast nowadays. Emilio Estevez shines as the slightly unhinged outlaw William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, while the rest of the cast plays real life members of his gang. Sure, the movie takes a lot of liberties with the facts (this is not a docudrama), but it’s so much fun to watch that you want care. I ‘ve been a massive fan of this film since it came out, and the new 4K Steelbook 35th Anniversary Edition from Lionsgate is a great way to revisit the film. (It’s also available in a standard 4K release, while the Steelbook version is currently a Best Buy exclusive.)
The 4K Audio/Video: This is one of those movies that clearly benefits from the 4K upgrade, but it’s not a completely transformative experience, either. Image clarity is sharp and colors are naturalistic and lifelike, while the print is nice and clean. Black levels are solid and there’s a nice depth of field that makes the film feel very textured. The surround soundtrack focuses largely on dialogue and music, and both come through well with no muddying. There are some nice directional effects in the action scenes, but it’s not a continually immersive aural experience from start to finish. So it’s not like watching a completely new film, but it does look and sound better than previous home video versions.
The Special Features: There’s a nice 35-minute documentary on the disc, as well as a half-hour doc on the real life Billy the Kid, and then there’s an Audio Commentary with cast members Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney and Casey Siemaszko. Plus you get two trailers for the film.
The Wrap-Up: While it’s hard for me to accept that it’s been 35 years since Young Guns came out, this movie is just as much fun now as it was when it came out. I love having a fantastic 4K edition of it in my collection, especially one wrapped up in a collectible Steelbook case.
A Christmas Story Christmas
The Movie: I didn’t watch a lot of Christmas movies as a kid, so the first time I saw the original A Christmas Story was as an adult. And I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan. Without that sheen of nostalgia, the film just doesn’t work as well, at least for me, and it’s one of those movies that I may not actively dislike, but I can easily take it or leave it. Still, when A Christmas Story Christmas was released, I was at least curious about it. After all, it’s been 40 years since the original; would a sequel have anything to offer? This new original film sees Ralphie (a returning Peter Billingsley) coming back to his childhood home after the death of his father and trying to give his own family a magical Christmas. He reunites with childhood friends (and his mom, played once again by Julie Hagerty), and tries to deal with the passing of The Old Man while also seeing his family get wrapped up in neighborhood adventures and escapades. And to be honest, I found the film rather enjoyable. Since I’m not a huge fan of the original, I don’t hold it up on the same pedestal as a lot of people, so I’m sure many viewers will only see the deficiencies and proclaim, “it’s not as good as the original.” Well, of course it’s not, you can’t compete with childhood memories. But as its own stand-alone film that has ties to a previous film, it’s pretty solid.
The Special Features: Sadly there are no extra features on the DVD.
The Wrap-Up: While I wish it had been released on Blu-ray and not just DVD and that there were some extra features, the previously-exclusive-to-MAX A Christmas Story Christmas is now on home video for anyone to enjoy, and it will make a fun holiday viewing experience for families.
Silver Bullet: Collector’s Edition 4K
The Movie: Corey Haim (a very young Corey Haim, I should point out) and Gary Busey star in this adaptation of Stephen King’s slightly tongue-in-cheek werewolf story. Silver Bullet is one of those movies never got around to watching when it came out or even in the years after on home video, even though I read the book back in the late ‘80s. I finally saw it for the first time a few years ago, and now this week we have a brand new 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition of the film out courtesy of Shout Factory’s excellent Scream Factory imprint. It turns out that Silver Bullet is a slightly silly but awfully fun movie, which is a rarity in the world of werewolf flicks, which are bad way more often than they are good. I was always a Corey Haim fan, so to see him starring in a Stephen King adaptation, even a humorous one, is great. I mean, it’s not a masterpiece, but there are so few good werewolf movies out there that this one stands out as a really fun entry in the genre.
The 4K Audio/Video: This new 4K Ultra HD version of Silver Bullet sees the film getting a nice upgrade from the Blu-ray and DVD releases in the past. The Dolby Vision treatment benefits the film nicely, with rich and even blacks and strong contrasts. Color saturation is strong, with daytime scenes bright and vivid, and nighttime scenes not seeing the various hues getting lost in the crush. The Dolby 5.1 surround soundtrack isn’t a masterpiece, but it does feature strong musical cues and clear dialogue, as well as some decent directional effects in the surround speakers. It’s a very strong overall presentation.
The Special Features: This two-disc set is loaded with extra features, most of which are from the previous Blu-ray Collector’s Edition, but which include a new audio commentary with two people from The Kingcast, a Stephen King podcast. There are two other audio commentaries, as well. In addition, there are three interview featurettes, a special effects featurette, and isolated score selections.
The Wrap-Up: Silver Bullet has a solid fan following and with this new 4K release you get upgraded picture and sound, new cover art and a slew of extra features; literally hours of new extras will make any fan howl at the moon. It’s an outstanding release for a pretty good movie.
Lords of Dogtown Steelbook
The Movie: Lords of Dogtown is a great little flick about the rise of skateboard culture starring Emile Hirsch and Heath Ledger and, while it’s been released on Blu-ray before, this new drop from Mill Creek gives us the film on Blu-ray but in a sharp-looking Steelbook case. While the movie was never a big hit, it’s a solid film that has a decent fan following, so having a new home video version of it is a welcome thing. Based on the same real-life events that fueled the hit documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, the film dramatizes the story of real life skateboarding icons Stacy Peralta (who also wrote the film), Tony Alva, and Jay Adams. The three teens were surfers who pioneered the style of skateboarding that we all know and love from years of Tony Hawk video games. Directed by Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke, the film is also a rags-to-riches story while telling a coming-of-age story at the same time. The good thing is that you don’t have to even like skateboarding to enjoy the film; it’s a solid drama in its own right that just has skateboarding as a driving force.
The Special Features: You get two audio commentaries here, one with the cast and crew, and one with the real life Z-Boys that the film is based on. There’s also a handful of making-of featurettes and a gag reel, plus the movies trailer.
The Wrap-Up: While Lords of Dogtown has been available on home video before, it can be hard to find on Blu-ray sometimes, and now you can own in it in a collectible Steelbook case. If you’re a fan of the movie, I’d track it down before they’re out of print.
What’s New on Home Video – December 4th, 2023 – Indiana Jones, Star Trek, Titanic, Monster Squad, & More!
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