New Blu-ray & DVD releases for the week include a big action flick, some TV, something for the kids, some dancing and much more. It’s actually a pretty big week for home video releases.
I’ll start with the big action flick because it’s my favorite film of the week. The Fate of the Furious is over the top, ridiculous and absolutely fun. You either love these movies or you don’t. The franchise may have started as a look at illegal street racing, but from Fast Five on and the inclusion of The Rock, some people may think they jumped the shark. There’s no shark in this one, but they do sort of jump a submarine. Dwayne Johnson is one of the most charismatic people in the world and he shines in these movies. Jason Statham takes a step up in this one as well and has some fantastic and funny scenes with The Rock. These movies work because of the chemistry of the cast. Every movie seems to add another layer and this time around Statham gets more to do and we get Scott Eastwood as well. Statham does some of his best action sequences since his Crank and The Transporter days. If you’re a Statham fan like me, you’ll love him in this. Eastwood ends up the butt of most jokes and Kurt Russell is great as usual. Charlize Theron plays the villain and there is tons of action, explosions, fighting and much more. It’s one of my favorite films of the year and I thoroughly enjoy this franchise. The film looks incredible in HD especially 4K and it’s filled with bonus features including a director’s cut through the digital copy. If you are like me and enjoy these movies, definitely add this to your collection.
Next is Their Finest, a historical piece that takes place in World War II England. With England under attack, an unknown screenwriter (Gemma Arterton) is hired to write a film to boost morale and help push the United States to join the war effort. It’s a quirky little film that’s watchable because of its cast. I’ve always liked Arterton’s work and she’s easy to look at as well. Plus you can never go wrong with Bill Nighy who plays an aging acting idol. I know I’ve seen Sam Claflin in other things (most recently in My Cousin Rachel), but I think I confuse him for Sam Heughan from Outlander. I don’t know if it’s something I’d watch again, but it’s good for one viewing at least. I thought it was entertaining enough and educational. It’s not just your standard “film within a film” movie, it’s historical and has reasoning for it. I’m not familiar with the book it is based on so I can’t tell you how accurate it is to that story.
Third we have The Missing Season 2. I haven’t seen the first season, but I don’t think it hurt too much. Even without seeing the first season I still very much enjoyed Season 2. It’s a very smart missing person story that connects with season 1, but has enough depth and new characters to standalone on its own. The Walking Dead‘s David Morrissey plays a British military man stationed in Germany whose daughter Alice goes missing. Julien Baptiste from Season 1 gets involved when Alice mentions the name Sophie, a case he had worked on. Alice isn’t fitting in and layer after layer is peeled away bringing the story to Iraq, Germany and Switzerland. What I like about the show is that it time jumps like The Affair. Alice goes missing in 2003, she returns in 2014 and the story also takes place in current day. It hooked me pretty quickly and I binged the 8 episodes over 2 days and will watch Season 1 when I find the time. Well written and well made programming.
Fourth we have Game Changers. I’m not a gamer. I haven’t owned a gaming system since the Wii. Not being a gamer doesn’t really hurt my enjoyment of this because even if I was, I still wouldn’t like it. It’s about 2 former Halo champions who retired and worked normal jobs. One once to return to his glory and is pretty much a jerk to everyone around him until he gets his way. The biggest problem with the film is the acting. It’s terrible. No one in the cast should be allowed to act again. I understand this isn’t a big budget blockbuster with known names, but seriously, they are awful. The script is bad with tons of clichés, but even if it was decent, their acting would have ruined it. No one is worth rooting for. The skinnier guy is a jerk. The chubbier one lets his friend walk all over him yet somehow gets a hot girl interested in him? Not gonna happen. This might be based on a true story, but I’m not sure and I don’t care enough to look it up. I don’t think gamers or table top gamers will like the gaming in it either. It seems fake and not by the actual rules. There’s a poker scene where the skinnier guy is playing poker and it’s not accurate. I didn’t like this movie, I’ll leave it at that.
Next is Smurfs: The Lost Village. I didn’t realize until watching it that it wasn’t a continuation of the live action films of the past few years. It’s a brand new, fully CGI movie with no live action, no Neil Patrick Harris, etc. To me it’s more kid oriented. The live action films were kid friendly, but adults watched and recognized the actors. This is a movie parents will be putting on and walking away from as their kids watch. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Kids can have their own movies and this is very family friendly. It’s super colorful and musical and full of adventure. It introduces a slew of new female Smurfs, but keeps all the ones we already know. I think kids will like it a lot. The 4K looks AMAZING. It is pristine and flawless looking and the sound is perfect. It has a bunch of bonus features including Demi Lovato and a sneak peek at The Emoji Movie. Parents may grow tired of it, but the kids will have fun with it.
Stormy Monday is next. It’s from 1988 and stars Sean Bean, Tommy Lee Jones, Sting and Melanie Griffith. I don’t remember ever seeing it before watching it on Blu-ray. Bean looks extremely young in it as a new employee of Sting. He cleans bathrooms and the club, but overhears a conversation and gets involved in Sting’s business. He falls for Griffith who was connected to Jones, an American “business” man in England. I don’t know if I actually liked the film overall, but there are parts of it I did like. Sting plays a stand up bass in one scene which was cool and you can see Bean had potential. It has a cool vibe with jazz and other music. It also has solid direction, but the film feels a little dated now. We’ve definitely seen a lot of gangster films before and after its original release. I’m sure someone is dying to get it on Blu-ray and this release is pretty impressive with a lot of bonus features. If you remember the film, pick it up.
Alive and Kicking is a documentary on swing dancing. I didn’t realize it was still popular enough to warrant a documentary, but I guess I was wrong. I remember the last boom of swing that happened with Swingers and the Gap commercial which they actually talk about in the documentary. If you are like me and don’t know much about swing dancing, you’ll learn there are dozens of different styles. There are also swing dancing legends from decades past. I don’t think the film will make me go out and learn to dance but it’s colorful and musical and entertaining enough. The outfits people wear are different and you see all kinds of different styles. There is a “sister” duo that dance together and turns out they aren’t actually sister so that was kind of funny. If you like dancing, especially swing dancing, you’ll like this.
I’m a big fan of westerns and somehow never saw Terror in a Texas Town hitting Blu-ray this week. It’s a noir-ish western with a crazy final “shoot out”. I’ve never seen one like it. The film is your classic western with a bit more style. You have a greedy hotel owner trying to drive out the farming folk. There’s a hired gun and son trying to avenge his Pa. It’s pretty much what you expect in an old-time western. It was actually written by Dalton Trumbo, one of the screenwriters that was blacklisted for being a Communist. If you like classic, black & white westerns, you’ll like this one a lot.
Underground Season 2 is next. It continues the story of the Underground Railroad with the remaining Macon 7 in the North. Noah (Aldis Hodge) has a new owner. Patty continues to search for Rosalee and much more. Some people might have a hard time watching a show like this especially some scenes. There is an episode where a character is taught to please their master. There’s realistic violence and drama that, again, some viewers might have a hard time with. I’ve liked Hodge since first seeing him consistently in Leverage and Chris Meloni fans might not like him in this. If you watched season 1, go ahead and watch season 2. Unfortunately the show has been cancelled beyond this season.
Second to last we have The Lost City of Z. The film did nothing at the box office despite having a pretty well known cast. It stars Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame and Tom Holland, the new Spiderman. Watching it now I can see why no one went to see it. It’s extremely slow. The first 40 minutes goes by with not much happening. Then Hunnam gets to South America and it stays slow. I wasn’t quite expecting Indiana Jones, but I thought there would be some adventure. There’s only a handful of scenes with natives attacking or Hunnam and Pattinson in danger. He returns home multiple times and somehow became a famous adventurer. Eventually Holland joins him and they head back to South America. It’s based on a true story so you might know what happens at the end, but I wasn’t familiar with it. There is some beautiful cinematography, but the film is over 2 hours long and it feels even longer. Hunnam feels out of place doing any film that isn’t present day. Pattinson and Holland are fine, but the film is just way too slow for me.
Last we have Pulse. They did an American remake of this, but I hadn’t seen either version. I did not understand this whatsoever. I love horror, but I’m not a big fan of ghost horror. This is about a computer virus letting ghosts through or something like that. There’s a hacker involved and people using computers so I think that’s what was happening, I could be mistaken though. Even though I didn’t understand it, I liked the film’s style. It had a cool vibe with muted colors and solid direction. There’s a scene where a woman jumps off a water tower that was very good. Same for the plane crash scene. I know Japanese horror, especially their ghost stories, is hugely popular so I’m sure there are many people waiting to get their hands on this Blu-ray release. The film originally came out in 2001 so I’m it has a following along with Ringu and those movies. If you know of it and like it, this new collection is really nice.