It’s beginning to look a lot like… well, the fourth quarter, when studios pump out lots of terrific releases to make great holiday gifts! This week is true to form, with some big name titles, a box set or two, some cult classics, and some new catalog releases… there’s something for everyone. Check it out!
Don’t Worry Darling – I wish I could say that Don’t Worry Darling is a masterpiece. I wish that because I liked the film quite a bit, but it has some flaws. I can’t tell too much about the story without giving away the whole thing, but suffice it to say that Florence Pugh plays a housewife in an idyllic 1950s community where all the husbands work on the mysterious “Victory Project” and all the wives stay home and raise the kids. But something isn’t quite right, and the film sees Pugh trying to figure out what’s up while everyone around her tells her she’s just being crazy. The movie is directed by Olivia Wilde, who is very talented behind the camera. The cinematography and performances are excellent, and Wilde is clearly a talent to be reckoned with. She also takes on a supporting role alongside Pugh, Chris Pine, Nick Kroll, and a surprisingly good Harry Styles. The main issue with the film is that it takes so long to get to the answers that you almost start to lose interest in it, and then the conclusion is so abrupt, it leaves you wanting more. The film’s ending isn’t overly ambiguous; you do get a sense of what happens, but I feel like a coda to wrap things up a little stronger would have been really helpful. As it is, I still enjoyed the film quite a bit, I just wish it stuck the landing more. Don’t Worry Darling comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD) and it looks and sounds terrific in the premium format. The film is lushly shot and vibrantly colored, and the 4K picture looks stunning. The surround soundtrack doesn’t have a ton to work with, but it does a nice job of creating an atmosphere in the sound channels. It’s a terrific presentation of a good film.
Bros – Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane’s romantic comedy got a lot of attention for being the first mainstream studio rom-com featuring gay main characters (and actors). Unfortunately, it completely bombed at the box office, and I’m not entirely sure why. I thought the trailer was hysterical, and I hoped it would bring people out in droves. Even though it didn’t, I think there’s an audience to be found on home video. The film is your basic rom-com, with Eichner and MacFarlane as two guys who meet cute but are quite the opposite of each other. From there, it’s the standard rom-com formula, but honestly, it’s really funny. The jokes are on point, the characters are endearing, and the supporting cast is great. There’s a lot to like about Bros, and Billy Eichner is a much better lead actor than you might expect if you only know him from his Billy on the Street show. Check out Bros and help it gain a bigger audience on home video.
The Offer – I really didn’t know what to expect from The Offer, Paramount+’s limited series about the making of The Godfather. It’s based on the experiences of Al Ruddy, the film’s producer, and he apparently had some interesting stories to tell. Based on the strength of the cast alone, I was intrigued to watch it; with Miles Teller, Colin Hanks, Juno Temple, Dan Fogler, and Matthew Goode on the screen, I figured it would at least be well acted. Turns out, The Offer is absolutely fantastic. Tying in Ruddy’s experiences as a new producer, the mafia’s desire to shut the film down, the larger-than-life personality that is studio mogul Robert Evans, and the one-two punch of Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola, it all adds up to a story that is utterly fascinating. Add in a sharp script that weaves all these elements together seamlessly, terrific performances, and tons of great guest stars and cameos, and the end result is a total hit. I can’t say that 100% of the show is the absolute truth, but it’s so much fun that I don’t care. Take note, Paramount: I would love to see more shows like this!
Peacemaker: The Complete First Season – John Cena’s character from The Suicide Squad gets his own show in the HBO Max action/comedy series, Peacemaker, and it is a lot of fun. While I wasn’t a huge fan of The Suicide Squad (that’s the second movie, not the first), this show takes Cena’s will-kill-for-peace super hero and teams him up with a few of the behind-the-scenes support characters from the film to take on a new mission. The show absolutely nails the tone, with Cena as an earnest yet clueless (and utterly violent) hero, a strong supporting cast of characters, and a great mix of comedy (with some really great writing) and all-out action. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this show, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Cena is great, and he really give the character his all; just watch the opening credits which sees the entire cast — including Cena — performing elaborate dance moves. Over the course of nine episodes, you’ll get laughs, you’ll get special effects, you’ll get drama, you’ll get action; the show has something for everyone. Definitely worth checking out!
Starship Troopers (4K Ultra HD Steelbook) – While Starship Troopers was never the mega-box-office-smash it should have been, the film has long been a cult favorite of ‘90s cinema-goers and sci-fi geeks, and it’s one of my absolute favorite movies. Now, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, we get a new version of it on 4K Ultra HD, wrapped up in a beautiful Steelbook case that features some really sharp, tonally unique artwork. Now, the film was released on 4K Ultra HD in 2017, but this version not only give you the awesome Steelbook case, it also includes a brand-new 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion as one of the bonus features, which is super cool. I feel like at this point there’s no real reason to tell you how great the film is; you either love it or you don’t by now. But on the off chance you haven’t seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to track it down and watch it ASAP, and this 4K releases is a great way to do that. The picture quality is terrific and the surround soundtrack will blow you away, plus you get a library of extra features. This one is simply a must have!
Reservoir Dogs (4K Ultra HD) – I’m a bit surprised by how little fanfare Lionsgate gave their new 4K Ultra HD release of Reservoir Dogs. After all, this was the film that started Quentin Tarantino’s career, one of the most successful and influential filmmakers of the last 30 years. But here it is, a 4K version of the film with no special packaging, no new features, just the movie on 4K with a couple of bonus materials and a sharp looking slipcover. Oh well. Regardless of the lack of pomp and circumstance the release got, Reservoir Dogs remains a cult classic film that spawned thousands of posters in college dorms across the country in the 1990s. Everyone saw Pulp Fiction; only the cool people also saw Reservoir Dogs, or at least that was the perception back in the day. While not my favorite of QT’s films, it remains a really strong crime suspense/drama film and a taut, tense viewing experience that features great Tarantino dialogue, a killer soundtrack and THAT scene with the ear. Still great stuff. The 4K Ultra HD release sees the film get a little bit of new life from an A/V perspective; it’s still a low-budget film from 30 years ago, so it’s not like it suddenly looks brand new, but you’ll notice brighter colors, a slightly sharper picture, and a relatively active soundtrack (mostly making sure the music sounds terrific), and it’s hard to complain about any of those things. And while there’s only a few extra features, it does include a digital copy, which might make this version worth the purchase for some fans.
Charmed The Complete Series – The original Charmed show was a surprise hit for the WB (now The CW), running for eight seasons and gaining millions of fans in the process. When the new version of Charmed was announced in 2018, I thought it was odd that the show was being rebooted so soon, and then I looked it up and realized that the original series ended THIRTEEN years before that! Holy cow! With that in mind, it actually made sense to see the show rebooted, as it had a huge built-in fan base. The newer series followed the general storyline of the original show, with three sisters who also happen to be witches, only updated to a more modern sensibility. This time around, we joined Mel, Maggie, and Macy on their witchy adventures, and while the show didn’t find the same success as the original, I think it has its devoted fans and it still ran for four seasons, which Ian’t bad. It’s those fans who the new Charmed: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set is for, collecting all 72 episodes and a handful of previously released extra features into one nice, compact box set. While I was never personally blown away by the show, I found it to be enjoyable enough, with a likable cast, solid stories, and enough of a similar vibe to the original that I can see why it had its fans. And while it’s over now this terrific box set is a great way to relive the adventures of a new generation of witchy sisters.
Tom & Jerry: Snowman’s Land – As a kid, I always loved Tom & Jerry. It was a simple cartoon, but the physical comedy aspect was always top notch. I’m glad to see that Warner Brothers is working hard to keep some of their classic properties alive, as evidenced by the all new feature film, Tom & Jerry: Snowman’s Land (the second Tom & Jerry film we’ve gotten this year!) This time around, the duo star in a winter/holiday themed adventure, with Jerry and his nephew Tuffy building a snowman… err, snowmouse that comes to life. And I’m happy to report that I liked the film quite a bit. It’s fun and has some good humor and it looks great, with colorful animation that feels fresh but also stays true to the aesthetics of the classic cartoon. Younger audience members should enjoy this one quite a bit, and I think many parents will too.
Also Available This Week on Home Video:
- Emergency Declaration – A fantastic new disaster thriller from Korea, Emergency Declaration sees a bioterrorism release a fast acting virus on a jumbo passenger jet. When no airports will let the plane land, scientists and the police on the ground have to figure out how to save the passengers on board, while the people on the plane are just trying to keep the aircraft in the air. While there are some obvious allusions to COVID, the film really plays as a straight thriller and not a morality tale, and I have to say it works quite well. It’s a touch long at almost two-and-a-half hours, but honestly, after a mildly slow start, once things get going, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat for pretty much the rest of the film. The film stars Song Kang-Ho, who garnered a lot of attention for his role in Bong Joon-Ho’s Oscar-winning film, Parasite, as well as a talented supporting cast that I’m assuming are more well known in Korea than in the US and Europe. Don’t let the fact that this film is subtitled deter you from it, it’s a heck of a ride!
- Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon – This new animated film from Peru is a solid animated family adventure that suffers from being a bit uneven but will probably please younger viewers. The film tells the story of Ainbo, a young girl from a tribe in the amazon who is a hunter and a plucky spirit. She’s tasked with saving her village from a demonic bad guy and some corporate villains that are endangering the rainforest. Along with her two spirit animals, a tapir and an armadillo, they set off on an adventure to save their land. The film wears its influences on its sleeve, borrowing tone and plot points from films like Moana and Pocahontas, but younger viewers won’t care about stuff like that. It’s not a classic, and the ending falls apart a little bit, but for entertainment for the kiddies, it’ll do the trick nicely.
- The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: Seasons 7 & 8 – Because the show aired over half a century ago, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet is not exactly a big part of the pop culture conversation today, so it’s easy to forget what a huge part of early American television the series was. Starting in 1952 and running for a whopping 14 seasons (with over 400 episodes!), the show was a prototypical family comedy with parents Ozzie and Harriet raising their two young sons, David and Ricky. The twist here was that the family on screen was played by the real life Nelson family. America got to watch the boys grow up, and Ricky Nelson became one of the first teen heartthrobs of the television generation. While there have been a smattering of home video releases over the years, most of them were just random collections of episodes with no semblance of order to them. A few moths back, MPI Video finally answered fans’ requests with the first two official releases of the show, followed up with the next four seasons, and now we have two more seasons! Wow! MPI is clearly fast tracking the releases to try to get the whole series into fans’ hands without a giant wait in between each release. So this month delivers The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet: The Complete Seasons Seven and Eight, each released as their own complete season set. Both of these sets includes all of the episodes from their respective seasons, and while the shows have some various minor video issues here and there, I was surprised by the high audiovisual quality of most of the episodes, especially for a show that premiered 70 years ago. The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet is a fun and wholesome family comedy that is a nice snapshot of a different time in America’s history, and I’m glad to see MPI Video finally giving this touchstone of American pop culture the release it deserves.
What’s New on Home Video – November 29th, 2022 – Don’t Worry Darling, Bros, Peacemaker, Starship Troopers, Charmed, Reservoir Dogs, & More!
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