There are a number of popular TV shows hitting home video this week, including everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader. Oh yeah, and The Matrix is back, too. Read on!
The Matrix Resurrections – I am as big a fan of The Matrix as you can find. The original 1999 film ranks in my top 5 movies of all time, and I’ve seen it innumerable times. I have mixed emotions about the sequels, though; I don’t love them, I don’t hate them, but I definitely don’t think they hold a candle to the original. So I was cautiously optimistic about The Matrix Resurrections. On the one hand, I was super excited to revisit this world that I love so much. On the other hand, I had no previous evidence to support the idea that this would be an amazing film, based on the previous sequels. At the end of the day, I think the film falls squarely in the same category as the previous two films: I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. It takes a little too long to get going but once it does, there are some pretty kick-ass action sequences. Keanu Reeves has stopped being the most interesting part of the franchise, that honor this time going to Jessica Henwick’s character, Bugs, who doesn’t get enough screen time down the stretch. There’s a neat “meta” aspect to the film, which starts off with The Matrix being a video game that has become super popular in the “real” world, and I also liked some of the tie ins to the previous films. But it never feels like a film I could fall in love with. Instead it’s more of a, “Oh, that’s kinda cool, I guess,” type of movie. I know it’s hard to capture lightning in a bottle twice. But I would have loved another truly amazing film in the franchise. The Matrix Resurrections comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), and the Ultra HD format is easily the best way to watch this film. Image clarity is impeccable, colors are bright and vivd, and the on-screen action just looks stunning. The surround soundtrack has a robust low end bass and really utilizes the surround channels well to immerse you in the action. It’s an excellent A/V presentation of a solidly okay film.
The Batman: The Complete Series – Perfectly timed to coincide to the theatrical release of The Batman, Warner Brothers brings us a new Blu-ray collection of The Batman. This 2004 animated series that was the first new solo Batman show after the iconic Batman: The Animated Series (and it’s continuation/follow-up The New Batman Adventures) and Batman Beyond. It offered up a totally different animation style than the Bruce Timm-inspired gothic look of B:TAS, returning to a more “cartoony” look with more colorful and outrageous villains and a less noir-stylized vibe. Similar to the new theatrical film, this version of Batman takes place earlier in his career, when he was a little more raw and meeting several of his villains for the first time. This was never my favorite Batman show, but it was hard to judge it fairly coming after the original animated series, which is one of the best shows of all time. Watching it now, it’s pretty easy to enjoy, although the animation style does smack of that early-2000s aesthetic that was rampant through animation of that time. This six-disc set includes all 65 episodes, and I think the show actually gets better as it goes on. Most Batfans have probably seen the original animated series numerous times, but if you’re looking for something for your Batman fix, this show might be a little further off your radar and is worth checking out.
Yellowstone: Season 4 – I’m a huge fan of Kevin Costner, and even though he isn’t the box office star he once was, I actually think he’s moved into a more interesting phase of his career, one where he’s become such a value-added player that he instantly makes every project he’s in better. So he’d been chugging along in supporting film roles for the past decade or so, and then — Bam! — along came Yellowstone. A drama that deals with money and politics in the ranch lands of Montana and the family that runs it all, it’s his first starring role on a TV series, and it has gone on to become a true juggernaut, with this latest fourth season finishing with the highest ratings yet. And while I’m not as die-hard a fan as some people are, there’s no denying that Costner is terrific in it. I’m a little surprised that it’s become SO popular as it really takes a while to get interesting in my opinion, but there’s something about this show that really resonates with people. If you’ve been hearing all the buzz but haven’t dipped your toes in the water yet, all four seasons of Yellowstone are now available on DVD/Blu-ray for you to get in on the zeitgeist.
Supergirl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season – The CW has perfected its superhero television formula, so to see Supergirl run for six seasons is really no surprise. This latest Blu-ray collection (also available on DVD) also marks the end of the show’s run, but six years is nothing to sneeze at. And sure, like most CW shows, Supergirl has its cheesy moments. But it’s always had that one secret ingredient that very few shows have: Melissa Benoist. Benoist is so charming, so delightful, so effervescent, and so beautiful that it seems clear that nobody else could have played Supergirl but her. This final season works hard to keep things fresh and interesting with new villains and challenges while also wrapping up long running storylines. The main bad guy is a character named Nxyly, but Lex Luthor is still around to shake things up and there’s quite a bit of action in the Phantom Zone as well. This new Blu-ray set (also available on DVD) includes all 20 episodes on four discs, and if you’re a Supergirl fan, you’ll want to have it to finish off your complete series collection.
National Champions – I’m a huge football fan, so National Champions should have been a no-brainer for me. This drama about two student football players boycotting the national championship game until student athletes get paid for playing is loosely based on the real life fight that led to students being able to cash in on their name, image and likeness. But the film is a waste of some great talent, including J.K. Simmons (who is outstanding as usual), Timothy Olyphant, Kristen Chenoweth, Jeffrey Donovan, David Koechner, and Tim Bake Nelson. I don’t even mind the fact that it’s all talk, because the movie isn’t about football per se; it’s just so boring and uneventful. And honestly, the film makes just as good as a case against the main characters as it does for them. The last 20 minutes or so get pretty good, but even that is undercut by a final scene that leaves you what exactly — if anything — all this drama accomplished. I was pretty disappointed with this one, honestly.
Silent Night – Sometimes you watch a film and you’re not really sure if you like it or not, and for me, I think Silent Night falls squarely in that category. The film follows a groups of college friends and their families who get together for a holiday celebration… a final holiday celebration. See, the world is ending, via clouds of poisonous gas that are killing off all life on the planet. The British government has sent out fast-acting suicide pills to all of its citizens, and this is one final dinner-party hurrah before everyone takes their pills and dies quietly instead of violently and painfully choking on their own blood when the gas hits. The film has a terrific cast, which includes Matthew Goode, Keira Knightley, Annabelle Wallis, Lucy Punch, Lily-Rose Depp, and young Roman Griffin Davis, who was so fantastic in Jojo Rabbit. Now, part of what I disliked about the film is that it quickly devolves into people arguing and yelling at each other as long-kept secrets and opinions finally come forth. It feels a little tired, frankly, and I would have liked to have seen a different take. That said, there are some terrific performances, some really touching moments, and a pretty good ending. It kind of started off as a film that annoyed me but won me over more than not by the end. I didn’t love it, but I suspect there are people who will really enjoy it.
Also Available This Week on Home Video:
Adventure Time: Distant Lands – I’ve said numerous times before that I don’t really get Adventure Time. And maybe that’s not important, to really understand it on a conceptual level, but I just don’t get this show and I’ve never really been able to connect to it. But it ran for ten seasons and is incredibly well loved, so obviously I’m in the minority on that. But fans of the show will be super excited for this newest release, Adventure Time: Distant Lands, a four-episode collection that brings together four AT specials that occurred outside the original 10-season run. The special included are: BMO, which follows the little robot from the show; Obsidian, which focuses on Marceline & Princess Bubblegum; Together Again, which puts the focus squarely on main characters Finn and Jake; and Wizard City, which follows Peppermint Butler back in Wizard School. As I said, I don’t really get the show, but fans will snatch up this newest release, which is available on both Blu-ray and DVD.
Dalgliesh: Season 1 – From Acorn Media, we have a new mystery series, which of course, is Acorn’s specialty. This new British mystery show focuses on police detective Adam Dalgliesh, a recent widower, poet, and all around empathetic guy. He investigates murders and other crimes in the mid-1970s, but he uses his sense of people’s emotions and psyches to get to the truth. Dalgliesh is played by Bertie Carvel, who does a good job of keeping some mystery around the character while still making it easy to get wrapped up in his drama. This new DVD set includes all six episodes from Season 1, although each story is split up into two parts, so six episodes is really, three two-hour episodes split into two episodes each. Either way, it’s an engaging show that — while it doesn’t break any new ground — will be enjoyable for fans of quality British mystery television.
A Writer’s Odyssey – Despite a title that makes the film sound like a documentary about a famous novelist, A Writer’s Odyssey is actually a Chinese fantasy action/adventure film. The film starts off with Guan, a father whose daughter was abducted six years ago and at this point, he’s exhausted all actions for finding her. Enter a huge corporation comes in with an unusual offer: kill a particular author and we’ll give you your daughter back. And this is where the fantasy comes in; it turns out this author’s book is bleeding into reality, with his fantasy world becoming part of the real world. From there, we are introduced to assassins, martial arts feats, and fantastical creatures, among other visual treats. The film becomes very bright and colorful, with some stunning CGI sequences and some battle scenes that evoke the Lord of the Rings movies. The story, which could easily become confusing, stays pretty coherent throughout, and I found the film to be pretty cool overall. It’s a little long, but it has a big scope and it works well for the most part. Fans of Asian action/fantasy cinema will definitely want to track this one down.
13 Fanboy – I love movies that take a meta approach or allow the real world to bleed into their fictional worlds, so I was intrigued when 13 Fanboy came across my desk. The film is about an obsessed Friday the 13th fan who starts stalking and killing cast members from the franchise. And the film brings in actual actors from the films (many playing themselves), including Kane Hodder, Corey Feldman, and Dee Wallace, among many others. So the film’s concept is fantastic,… how is the execution? Well, I’ll say this: it’s solid. The film is pretty fun and enjoyable overall. It’s not the greatest script in the world and it drags in a few places, but it does have some good kills and if you’re a fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, you’ll enjoy seeing a lot of familiar faces on screen. It would have been fun to see a bigger budgeted production tackle this same idea, but I think it works pretty well for the most part. I also like that the ironically named real life actress Deborah Voorhees (who played Tina in F13 Part V) co-wrote and directed the film, so it feels like a production that comes from a place of love, not crass commercialism.
Sight: The Story of Vision – If you’re reading this, you probably watch movies. I watch movies every day, yet I never stop to think about how my vision works. This relatively brief (55 minutes) documentary — narrated by Elton John of all people — works to explain how our sight and vision work, which was, pardon the pun, pretty eye opening. We learn how our eyes function, what technology helps us, and what advances there have been in medicine for treating vision problems, all in the course of a quick hour. I’m not generally a giant fan of documentaries, but I found this film both educational and interesting, and the running time being basically that of an episode of an hour-long TV show was a strong aspect in its favor. Definitely worth a watch if you’re interested in how it is exactly you’re able to read these words on the screen.
What’s New on Home Video – March 8th, 2022 – The Matrix, Batman, Yellowstone, Supergirl, & More!
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