There are some great releases this week, including a new horror stand-out, a great catalogue comedy classic, and some low-priced budget titles that offer a lot of value. Check it out!
Last Night in Soho – Edgar Wright, who has become one of my favorite directors, returns to the big screen with Last Night in Soho, a terrific new film that skirts the line between horror film, mystery, and psychological thriller. The film follows young Eloise, a fashion student in London, who begins to see visions of a 1960s chanteuse named Sandie. What starts out as an inspirational trip to the swinging ‘60s in her visions quickly starts to take a dark turn, and Eloise finds herself more and more haunted by visions of the past. Wright has crafted a terrific thriller here, both in terms of story and cinematography. Eloise is brought to life magnificently by Thomasin McKenzie, and her journey is a compelling one. And what Wright does to capture her visions, with his creative use of mirrors and lighting, is absolutely stunning. You’ll get caught up in the story from the start, but you’ll also find yourself marveling at the visuals on screen. Last Night in Soho comes to home video on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), and the A/V presentation is simply stunning. The film uses a lot of neon colors to heighten scenes, and they glow with vibrance here. The soundtrack is populated with ‘60s songs, all of which feel rich and full and alive thanks to an excellent surround mix. This one is just a great experience from start to finish. RECOMMENDED!
Venom: Let There Be Carnage – The first Venom film caught me by surprise, I’ll admit. I thought the trailer for it was pretty terrible and my expectations were low, and then I saw it and had a pretty fun time with it. So I was pretty excited for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which brings another symbiote villain into the fold. Unfortunately, I found Venom: LTBC a pretty big let down. First of all, the Venom “voice”-slash-character was so ever-present in this film that Tom Hardy feels like he’s playing second fiddle, and the film is just an endless stream of this rumbly voice saying things so fast you miss half of them. And then, while Carnage is a cool enough character, all the symbiote-on-symbiote action feels a little same-y after a while. It’s not a bad film per se, it just feels like they tried to throw too much stuff in and the end result is a movie that’s very messy. The after-credits scene is super cool, though. It’s worth a watch if you liked the first one, but I wish I liked it more than I did.
Wayne’s World: 30th Anniversary Limited Steelbook – In this week’s “Makes You Feel Old” category, we are reminded that Wayne’s World — a pop culture touchstone in the the early ‘90s — is now 30 years old. Luckily, to soften the blow a little bit, Paramount has given us a new 30th Anniversary Steelbook edition of the film, which remains one of my favorite comedies of all time. “Exsqueeze me? Baking Powder?” “A gun rack.” “The Scooby Doo ending!” “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” If these quotes don’t automatically send you into a wave of nostalgia, then I don’t know what you were doing in the ‘90s. This new anniversary edition doesn’t offer up much in the way of new extra features, but you do get a digital copy of the film, which is most excellent. It also comes in a super cool Steelbook case for a limited time, and I love me some Steelbooks so this is a nice collector’s piece for the bookshelf. RECOMMENDED!
Tom and Jerry: Cowboy Up – 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: Cowboy Up. This time around, the duo are in the wild west, trying to help a family save their land from a greedy varmint. And I’ll say this: I liked the film. 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. My only complaint is that Tom and Jerry team up in the film, and while I’m okay with that, it’s really most of the movie. The whole “cat and mouse” aspect of the cartoons, with the two of them out to get each other is almost completely done away with. I don’t mind the team up, but I wish there had a been a little more of the two of them going at each other mixed in. That said, younger audience members should enjoy this one quite a bit, and I think many parents will too.
Fortress – Apparently, Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray have become best friends, because this is their third direct-to-video movie together in the past three years. The films are all unrelated and unconnected, they just keep starring in movies together. Go figure. This latest one sees Murray take on a bad guy role (maybe for the first time) and follows a similar formula to the previous ones. Willis plays the estranged dad of Jesse Metcalfe, who’s trying to get some money out of him to save his company. Enter a team of mercenaries trying to get to a hidden cache of money, which leads the family unit to retreat into a “fortress,” or a high tech bunker in the woods. And while this is labeled as an action film, it forgets a good amount of the action, instead choosing to let our characters talk, talk, talk. It’s dull and not well written, which is a shame because I like all of the actors involved.
Superhost – A clever new horror film, Superhost follows a young couple who are also video bloggers. They travel around to popular AirBnB-type vacation rentals and chronicle their trips for a shrinking amount of viewers. In their latest outing, they meet host Rebecca, who’s eager to please, a bit nosy, and… well, not quite right. From there, I don’t want to say much (although I’m sure you can guess that things don’t just go super smoothly for everyone), but the film manages to be a little bit scary, a little bit humorous, and a little bit topical all at once. As more and more people use other people’s homes as vacation rentals, it’s not hard to imagine something like Superhost eventually becoming a reality. It’s a fun little flick that I think horror fans will enjoy.
Also Available This Week on Home Video:
- Kamen Rider Zero One – This new Japanese show debuted in 2019, and while it’s not really fair to compare it to Ultraman, there’s no denying that if you like that classic hero, you’ll probably enjoy this much more updated take on the genre. This new Blu-ray set includes every episode of the popular show, which sees humanoid androids called Humagears being taken over by an outside force and causing havoc in the world. Enter young Aruto, who has inherited his family’s intelligence company, and who becomes the armored Zero One Driver and steps in to become a hero. Throughout the series, we see Aruto take on rogue Humagears while also clashing with other organizations out to get the Humagears. This new 8-disc set gives you the entire series, which includes 46 regular episodes, plus you get the feature-length movie, and five special episodes, giving you a lot of bang for your buck. While a lot of shows in this genre can be super cheesy, I found Kamen Rider Zero One to be a pretty good ride; well-written and with characters that are enjoyable. Fans of Japanese television and shows like Ultraman and Power Rangers will enjoy this one for sure, especially since it’s much more modern than those shows.
- Dancing With Crime/The Green Cockatoo – The Cohen Collection brings us another terrific double feature Blu-ray, this time focusing on British film noir. The first film is 1947’s Dancing With Crime, which stars a young Richard Attenborough as a taxi driver who’s best friend is murdered, leading him and his fiancé to go undercover in the mob to try and find out who’s responsible. Attenborough’s real life wife Sheila Sim plays his fiancé, and their chemistry on screen is palpable. It’s a really terrific little crime thriller. 1937’s The Green Cockatoo is slightly less successful. It follows a man who’s brother is murdered by. The mob, and then an innocent woman is suspected of the crime, all while the mob wants to kill her for being a witness. It’s a solid concept for the film, it just doesn’t quite gel and the performances aren’t as good as in Dancing With Crime. That said, this is still a nice collection of two British film noirs that overall have good entertainment value.
- Elmo’s World: All Around the Neighborhood – For those with little ones at home, this release is aimed squarely at the preschool set. All Around the Neighborhood is the latest collection of Elmo-centric Sesame Street spin-off Elmo’s World episodes. This collection has a little less of a theme than some of the previous DVD Releases, but basically each episode sees Elmo wondering about how things work in the real world. As a result, we get a mix of segments about topics such as sport, machines, geography, and the like. With two solid hours of content, it’s hard to find anything to fault about this collection for parents or kids.
- Birds Like Us – I get direct-to-video animated films for kids pretty much every month, but rarely ones with such an impressive pedigree of voice talent. Birds Like Us boasts no less than Jeremy Irons, Alicia Vikander, and Jim Broadbent among the cast, which ain’t too shabby. Now, does that make the film good? Unfortunately not. This was originally a Bosnian animated film that came out in 2017 and has now been reduced for American audiences. The plot is like a mash-up of A Bug’s Life and Madagascar, and it doesn’t feel particularly inspired or interesting, and the animation is pretty average. It’s not terrible, and younger viewers might like it (although they might also find it a little hard to follow at times), but it’s not a home run by any stretch.
- Through the Decades: 1970s & Through the Decades: 1960s – Mill Creek specializes in low-priced film collections and catalog releases, and with these two new Through the Decades collections, they offer up some pretty interesting mixes of films. Of course, neither one is stocked with blockbusters and A-list titles; that’s just now how these 10-films-for-$20 types of collections tend to work. But there are more solid films in these releases than I expected. Through the Decades: 1960s gives us 12 films, and mixed in amongst a host of lesser-known flicks are Who Was That Lady (starring Tony Curtis, Dean Martin, and Janet Leigh); Lilith (starring Warren Beatty and Peter Fonda); The Chase (starring Marlo Brando, Jane Fonda, and Robert Redford); and Hook, Line and Sinker (starring Jerry lewis and Anne Francis). Through the Decades: 1970s gives us 11 films, and standouts here include The Owl and the Pussycat (starring Babs herself, Barbra Streisand); The Anderson Tapes (starring Sean Connery and Dyan Cannon); Fun with Dick and Jane (starring George Segal and Jane Fonda); and The Last Detail (starring Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid). I enjoyed watching some of these movies for the first time, especially The Anderson Tapes and The Chase. For the low price point you can get these collections for, it’s a neat way to see some lesser-known films by some big stars of yesteryear.
What’s New on Home Video – February 1st, 2022 – Last Night in Soho, Venom, Wayne’s World, Tom & Jerry, & More!
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