Welcome to Home Again, where each and every Tuesday I’ll be running down some of the best genre releases coming to home media.
All info is from the excellent Blu-ray.com. This isn’t every genre release, just the ones I find interesting. For the full list, follow that link.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) – Universal Studios – The often insane Fast & Furious franchise decided, with this entry, to just go ahead and make a superhero movie. Marketing-wise it worked. My whole family was excited to see this one, but as often happened this year we couldn’t find the time.
Like most superhero movies this one has several editions available – your standard 4K/Blu-ray and Blu-ray/DVD, a Target exclusive Blu-ray with an interactive gallery book (whatever that means), and a Best Buy 4K Steelbook.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) – Lionsgate Films – We did, however, make it to the theater to see this one and to be honest I wish we’d seen Hobbs & Shaw instead.
This would have been much better served as an anthology along the lines of Creepshow or Trick r Treat. The narrative wasn’t strong enough to support the various elements and neither was the cast. There were some great visuals and moments, but overall it was a letdown. Not terrible, mind you. I’m sure we’ll watch it again when it hits Netflix or whatever. But it definitely didn’t live up to the potential of such inspiring source material.
I feel compelled to add that beyond Stephen Gammell’s original illustrations I don’t hold the stories themselves too sacred. Most of the titular “scary stories” aren’t that great. But between the three books there are a lot of great horror ideas.
A Best Buy 4K Steelbook is also available.
Universal Soldier 4K (1992) – Lionsgate Films – Back when this came out I’m not sure we were expecting it to actually be good, much less spawn a franchise.
At the time Jean-Claude Van Damme was the young new action guy who wasn’t quite as charismatic as Stallone or Schwarzenegger but was way more flexible. After a series of flops – Masters of the Universe, The Punisher, I Come in Peace – Dolph Lundgren was basically still the Russian guy from Rocky IV. Meanwhile the director, Roland Emmerich, was largely unknown to the mainstream movie going audience, as unthinkable as that may seem.
Universal Soldier didn’t set the world on fire when it was released, but over the years it has built a following and is generally well thought of. I miss these kind of medium budget sci-fi action flicks. We were blessed with a ton in the mid-80s to early 90s and the worst of them was at least watchable, which is higher praise than I can give much of what is released for ten times the budget now.
I can’t wait to see this in glorious 4K, with Van Damme and Lundgren in all their youthful glory.
Disney Animation 4K Steelbooks (2009-2016) – Disney/Buena Vista – After the Pixar Steelbooks from the past few months Disney and Best Buy are adding the movies that most people think are also from Pixar, but are actually from Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Today sees the release of The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana.
While 2009’s The Princess and the Frog is traditional animation, the rest tend to get lumped in with Pixar.
I’ll admit that I didn’t want to give this non-Pixar studio a chance at first. Ten years ago Pixar was the only production company that had delivered computer animated features that met my expectations. I wanted traditional animation. But these films seem to have found a formula that delivers in a very satisfying way. I’d go so far as to say that the four CGI films are better than most of Pixar’s output to date. Or at least, I like them more.
I honestly believed that Tangled was going to represent Disney’s decline. It looked to me like they were embracing Dreamworks’ successful but unfulfilling formula of CG and broad humor. I was WAY wrong. It’s not just a great animated film, it’s one of my favorites. The other three following in its footsteps only got smarter and more ambitious to the point where now I’m almost more excited for Walt Disney Animation Studios releases than I am for Pixar’s.
Except, of course, that Frozen II is next (which is probably why these are all getting releases now) and I did not like Frozen at all.
I’m not gonna lie, though – that trailer looks pretty good.
Galaxy Quest 20th Anniversary Steelbook (1999) – Paramount Pictures – This movie defied my expectations in a way that few films do. I was expecting a lame parody like the many that came in the wake of the Zucker brothers’ success. I wasn’t even interested in seeing this movie because my assumption was that it would be mocking a franchise and genre that I love. But then word of mouth came along and we were all reassured that it was more a loving spoof that was full of heart.
Nowadays Galaxy Quest is looked at with almost the same reverence as the series that inspired it, and rightfully so. I haven’t been able to figure out if this actually has new special features (I suspect not), but if you don’t own this in HD, this Steelbook is a good deal at twenty bucks.
Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy (2004-2013) – Universal Studios – From what I can tell Universal isn’t releasing this as a set. I almost see the logic, as it’s not like they’re a single narrative.
Instead, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End are available individually. I like the first two a lot more than the last, but I’ll admit that I probably need to watch it again. Repeated viewings might improve my enjoyment.
Memory: The Origins of Alien (2019) – Screen Media – This is a documentary about the elements that inspired Alien. I hear it’s good.
Good Omens (2019) – BBC – This seemed to be very popular. At Dragon Con I was on a panel that followed a Good Omens panel. The people leaving seemed like they had just had the absolute best time ever.
Castlevania: Season 2 (2018) – Viz Pictures – I don’t know quite what I was expecting from a Castlevania series, but this wasn’t it.
Fortunately, this is great and while it took two attempts at the first episode for me to get into it, I think it’s a phenomenal use of elements from Konami’s video game series. The characters are explored in fascinating ways and when the action does happen, it’s big and wild. If you haven’t checked this out on Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch it.
Apprentice to Murder (1988) – Arrow – It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this, but my memory is that it’s pretty dark and messed up.
Donald Sutherland plays an insane preacher who trains a kid to detect evil and also to murder a bunch of people. If you’re a fan of Sutherland – and who isn’t? – check this out. He’s something else.
Santa with Muscles (1996) – Mill Creek Entertainment – In their ongoing quest to make me say “get the fuck out of here” aloud at my work computer every couple of weeks, Mill Creek is releasing the Hulk Hogan Christmas movie Santa with Muscles on Blu-ray.
It’s a shame we’ve already chosen this December’s Needless Commentary. I think everyone would really enjoy this.
Other Titles Worth Noting
Ophelia, The Man Between, Cats, Schindler’s List 4K, Hitchcock: British International Pictures Collection
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