I didn’t get the biggest release of the week so I’ll start with the most fun, Ash Vs Evil Dead The Complete Collection. I am a big fan of The Evil Dead movie universe so I was a bit hesitant when they announced a TV show. Bruce Campbell is a great TV actor, but I wasn’t sure just how much of what I love in the movies would be allowed on TV, even pay cable. Then season 1 came out and I laughed and had a total blast with it. Then season 2 came out and it was just as good and then season 3 (the final season) came out and well now I’m bummed it’s over! This new collection features all three seasons and if you don’t own them already or haven’t seen the show, buy it. Buy it now. The series is a perfect complement to the movies and Bruce Campbell’s Ash is still a Nerd God. There is a ton of gore, a ton of laughs, a ton of Evil Dead quirkiness and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Each season in this collection comes with bonus features like commentary and plenty of Bruce Campbell. If you were like me and weren’t sure if the show was going to be good, it turned out great and I can see myself rewatching it over and over again. Highly recommended.
Speaking of TV shows I liked, Mill Creek releases Community The Complete Series this week. I’m assuming the comedy show that made stars out of Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown and Ken Jeong that also starred Joel McHale, Jim Rash and Chevy Chase has been released already, but this is a cheaper price for those who want to relive class at Greendale Community College. I was a big fan of the show when it aired on NBC, but never actually saw the episodes when it wasn’t on NBC. Those episodes are like the seasons of Scrubs on ABC, not nearly as good. A lot of cast members had moved on and Chevy had been long removed. But the show is still great and holds up well. The paintball episodes are hands down the best although all the themed episodes are solid. Community, again like Scrubs, is a show I see myself watching for years and this new box set has commentary on almost every episode, outtakes, gag reels, deleted & extended scenes, and over 3 hours of featurettes. The only way to describe this release is cool, cool.
Third we have BuyBust an action flick out of the Philippines. It really wants to be The Raid: Redemption, but it doesn’t quite get there. It’s good, but it takes a bit to get into. If it didn’t have so much backstory in the beginning I would have liked it a lot more. It’s worth seeing especially if you like Asian action dramas, but the first half hour or so is really unnecessary. If you want to be The Raid, just throw us into the action. But again, it’s still worth seeing. There are some great fight sequences, lots of knife work and gun play and tons of brutality. The big surprise is MMA star Brandon Vera. Given the right opportunities he could be the next Dave Bautista. I liked him a lot in it. For a movie I hadn’t heard of before, I dug it overall.
Next is Anna Karenina. This is the 2000 mini-series version starring Douglas Henshall, Helen McCrory, Kevin McKidd, Mark Strong, Amanda Root, and Stephen Dillane. Like Pride & Prejudice this is a story that’s been made, remade and redone a ton of times and I’ve probably seen it multiple ways myself. If you aren’t familiar with Tolstoy’s story, the official synopsis: After a train journey to Moscow, married aristocrat Anna Karenina encounters dashing soldier Count Vronsky, and the two begin a passionate affair. With gossip rife among society’s elite, Anna’s husband discovers their indiscretions, setting off a fateful chain of events. I’m not the biggest fan of period pieces like this, but when I watch I look for a few things which this does well. It has great costuming and production design. The sets, the locations, the wardrobe are all fantastic. The acting is good as well. McCrory is very good and I think Mark Strong is an underrated actor. It’s not my favorite genre to watch, but it’s an easy enough watch especially with quality actors and top-notch production.
Shout Factory has a City Slickers: Collector’s Edition coming out this week. I didn’t love the film when it first came out (I might have been too young), but it’s grown on me over the years. I’m still not a huge fan, but I understand why people are. It came out in the early 1990’s and I definitely wasn’t old enough to understand mid-life crisis type situations. I did always remember liking Jack Palance’s Curly though and watching it now, I understand the film way more. If you are a fan of the film, this latest release has a new 4K HD scan, and extras that include exclusive audio commentaries, specially-created featurettes including “Back In The Saddle: City Slickers Revisited” and deleted scenes. I definitely didn’t know who Jake Gyllenhaal was the last time I saw the film.
Dust 2 Glory is a documentary on the world’s toughest point-to-point desert race, the SCORE Baja 1000. I’m not a huge auto racing fan so I wasn’t familiar with this race. It’s pretty crazy and people actually die racing it. This race features different vehicles in it from trophy trucks to tricked out VW Bugs to motorcycles. The more you are into racing the more you’ll like this, but even as a non-fan you can still get something out of it. It shows families who have had generations of members racing it. It shows how dangerous the race is and how it’s raced by all levels of drivers. Some drivers have huge sponsors and race professionally. Others just do it themselves. It also shows how despite competing against each other, they still look out for each other out there. There are accidents and vehicles getting damaged and even casualties. If you are familiar with the first documentary, Dust to Glory or like racing, this is for you.
Second to last we have Schlock from John Landis, director of The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London. This 1973 release was years before Landis would hit the big time with Animal House and you can tell it’s his first film. With a name like Schlock, you expect the film to be absurd, but this is ridiculous and not the good kind of ridiculous. It’s not funny. It’s pretty laughably bad in every way. It’s about “The Banana Killer” killing tons of people in a small town. Turns out it’s a prehistoric ape going around murdering everyone. I know it’s supposed to be schlock-y and absurd, but it just didn’t work for me. The TV reporter was funny doing old-school on location interviews and talking about a giveaway with the best guess of how many dead bodies are in the bags winning a prize, but overall the film just didn’t do it for me. You can see hints of what would come from Landis like how the cars drove around which is reminiscent of The Blues Brothers. It is also one of Oscar-winning effects makeup genius Rick Baker’s first films. But even though I’m not a fan, I’m sure there are people who think this is a cult classic and this new release is for them. It’s gone through a 4K restoration and bonus features include commentary by writer/director John Landis and makeup artist Rick Baker, a 2017 video interview with John Landis and archival video interview with cinematographer Bob Collins.
Finally we have Boundaries starring Vera Farmiga, Christopher Plummer, Bobby Cannavale and Kristen Schaal. Ever since Little Miss Sunshine there have been a slew of odd family movies. This finds Farmiga as a single mom of a quirky boy who is having issues at school. Her father, played by Plummer, is being thrown out of his living situation and needs his daughter to help him out. She has a rocky relationship with her dad and he’s trying to sell weed behind her back on the car ride. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before but Farmiga and Plummer are always great. Cannavale has a small role as the ex-husband and Schaal is the sister. If you’ve liked movies like The Leisure Seeker or Little Miss Sunshine then you might like this. Don’t expect too much and you shouldn’t be too disappointed.