Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for August 9th, 2022! This week’s home video selection includes Neptune Frost, new 4K UHDs of Heat and Event Horizon, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
What is it? A group of downtrodden miners rebel against the authority.
Why see it? I’d be lying if I said I understood every beat and theme unfolding here, but the beauty of Neptune Frost is in the imagination, ambition, and brain-busting ideas it puts forth. Of course, the beauty is also in the beauty itself as the film delivers stunning visuals and camerawork on a clearly underwhelming budget. It’s science fiction, but it’s also a musical, a parable, and a poetic social commentary on everything from workers’ rights and corporate overreach to gender truths and the progressive use of technology. It’s gorgeous, confusing, ambitious, and unique, and its ideas hit hard, hold tight, and simmer in your mind. Highly recommended for viewers willing to open their eyes and hearts to something new.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, commentary]
Event Horizon [4K UHD]
What is it? A deep space rescue mission goes all to hell.
Why see it? Most of the chatter surrounding Paul W.S. Anderson’s slice of space horror is centered on the scissor-happy drubbing it took from the MPAA and the studio behind it. The excised footage, glimpsed now only in still photos, promised some epic imagery designed to appeal to horror fans, gore hounds, and fans of hellish delights. It’s a bit unfair, though, as the remaining film still delivers some solid grue alongside an entertaining and visually thrilling horror tale. Sam Neill headlines and is joined by Laurence Fishburne, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, and more. Paramount’s new 4K UHD, particularly the new steelbook, is slick in both its packaging and the film’s presentation.
[Extras: Commentary, documentary, featurettes]
Heat [4K UHD]
What is it? A tale of cops and robbers.
Why see it? Michael Mann’s filmography is filled with bangers, but there’s no denying the mastery on display in the modern classic, Heat. Not only to we get a face-off between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, but we also get an absolutely stacked cast beyond them including Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Mykelti Williamson, Tom Noonan, Hank Azaria, Danny Trejo, Jeremy Piven, Henry Rollins, and more! It’s a beautifully paced character study about what drives people, from the money to the hunt, and while its action highpoints are two robbery sequences, the film is overflowing with memorable beats, interactions, and scenes. The new 4K UHD offers a slight improvement over previous releases (some may disagree on the color timing, though), but it’s no big step up. This three-disc release carries over all the previous extras too.
[Extras: Commentary, Q&As, documentary, deleted scenes, featurettes]
Little Man, What Now? [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A young couple struggles.
Why see it? Frank Borzage’s mid 30s gem might not be among the most talked about movies set during Germany’s rise to fascism, but it’s still one of the most powerful. Troubles mount for a young couple clearly in love, and even as Germany’s depression stagnates they realize they’re about to welcome their first child into this world of misery and sadness. Sounds bleak! But there are moments of joy and beauty here all the same as the couple’s affection for each other outweighs the challenges they face. Kino’s new 2K master is a big step up from the public domain version floating around online.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
What is it? A research trip into the woods doesn’t end well.
Why see it? The setup here is an interesting one as a group of people head to New Hampshire to investigate the disappearance/deaths of an entire town back in 1940. The population went walking in the woods, and while many were found slaughtered most were never seen again. If you suspect this new team will meet a similar fate, well, you ain’t wrong! The film is a slow burn of sorts with a twisted madness creeping into the group in violent ways. Viewers who require answers to everything will want to look elsewhere, but if you can handle uncertainty and ambiguity then this engaging creeper should be up your alley. Also worth a watch is the interview between Cassidy Freeman & Clark Freeman — siblings who play siblings in the film — as their banter and anecdotes are great.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, interviews]
Back to the Beach [Paramount Presents]
What is it? 60s teen idols are still alive in the 80s!
Why see it? The beach blanket comedies of the 60s were a popular subgenre for the time, but as quickly as they appeared and multiplied, they disappeared. This 80s feature tries to rekindle that magic by maintaining the silly tone and bringing back Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and the result is slight fun. Other familiar faces are present too including Pee-Wee Herman, Don Adams, Bob Denver, Jerry Mathers, and more, and all of them have fun riffing on their expected television personas. It’s silly, but fans will want to pick up its Blu-ray debut.
Crimes of the Future
What is it? Humans undergo changes, and theater kids are there to capitalize on it.
Why see it? There’s a lot to dig in David Cronenberg’s latest feature, from the wicked practical effects to a cast that includes Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart, but while individual elements entertain the whole does not. Cronenberg loves it dry, and while that tonal quest often works for him it also sometimes stumbles. This blend of body horror-ish imagery and weirdness falls into that latter group as its eccentricities are rarely all that interesting. Stewart is good fun, and it’s pretty audacious in killing a kid and then performing an autopsy, but the weight of its observations just isn’t really there.
Flying Guillotine Part II [88 Films]
What is it? Rebels fight back against a merciless emperor.
Why see it? While the Shaw Brothers studio kicked off the “flying guillotine” trend a few years earlier, their eventual sequel was beat to screens by numerous ripoffs and nods. None of them, of course, take anything away from this follow-up necessarily, but it feels a bit like this movie is trying to play catch up. The plot is thin — rebels, bad guy — and instead the movie seems more intent on throwing together scenes of carnage and the occasional peekaboo. It all works well enough (despite an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending). The new 88 Films release is another winner, though, offering up a sharp picture, an informative commentary, and nice packaging.
[Extras: Commentary, booklet, poster]
What is it? An IT worker sits on a bomb.
Why see it? I’m still the a-hole who looks forward to the occasional Mel Gibson appearance, but not even I’m silly enough to defend this one. Gibson plays a supporting role as a bomb tech investigating a case that lands Kevin Dillon’s lead onto an office chair boobytrapped with a bomb. The killer’s identity is played as a mystery but is evident from second one, the CG explosions are garbage, the hacking elements are poorly rendered, the performances are dull (Gibson, innocent), and there’s just not an engaging moment to be found.
L.A. Aids Jabber
What is it? A sick man tries to infect others.
Why see it? Jeff has issues, but they all fall by the wayside when his doctor tells him he’s been infected with the AIDS virus. Furious and mad, Jeff takes to the streets with a vial of his own blood hoping to infect those who’ve previously wronged him. Very much exploitation of a time and place, this sleazy slice of 90s SOV terror is a legitimately entertaining time. The end offers a minor reveal bump, but the fun is in the characters, dialogue, and tasteless storyline. Upstart label Visual Vengeance delivers another winner here (that’s only landing under The Rest because it lacks the ooph of fun visual effects or action to push it into The Best).
[Extras: Introduction, featurettes, interviews, poster]
What is it? A woman begins to suspect men are assholes.
Why see it? All three of Alex Garland’s features as director — Ex Machina (2014), Annihilation (2018), and this year’s Men — put a woman at its center with themes touching on the dangerous inadequacies of men. Where those first two films tell engaging stories around that, though, Men is content making the subtext text through imagery and events that lack even the slightest subtlety. It’s ultimately not very good, but Garland shoots the hell out of a movie meaning it’s still an attractive ride. Add in Jessie Buckley and a multi-talented Rory Kinnear, some third-act zaniness, and a stellar gag involving a split arm, and it’s left as a film with certain charms that still can’t quite coalesce into a whole.
Next Time We Love [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A young couple faces trouble when their careers push them apart.
Why see it? This mid 30s drama is probably worth a watch strictly for James Stewart in his first real lead role, but I wouldn’t make it a priority. Stewart plays opposite Margaret Sullavan, and while he goes to Europe for work she finds success on stage. Their lives don’t mesh, will their marriage survive?! The film flies by too fast for the time covered, and as a result none of it ever sticks. It’s not a relationship that pulls you in making for an ultimately forgettable film.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [4K UHD]
What is it? Sonic once again steps up against the evil acts of Dr. Robotnik.
Why see it? Look, if you enjoy the first Sonic the Hedgehog film the odds are pretty darn good you’ll be in the bag for the sequel. The film once again pits a CG creature voiced by Ben Schwartz and his human buddy (someone give James Marsden a real gig again!) against a CG creature voiced by Idris Elba and the mad doctor played by Jim Carrey. The laughs are of the silly variety, and the action is mostly animated, but it’s what a lot of you dig. The film is aimed more at the kids, but fans of the character/games will find enough references and nods to keep you entertained.
[Extras: Short film, featurettes, deleted scenes, bloopers]
The Trials of Oscar Wilde [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A true story from the Oscar Wilde file.
Why see it? Legendary writer Oscar Wilde sued a man for libel after being accused of homosexual seduction, but instead of clearing his name it resulted in an explosive social eruption as he himself was charged with indecency. It’s an unfortunate truth, and Ken Hughes’ film affords the man an honest, emotional telling showing a life challenged by a society unwilling to learn or grow. The film also works as a legal drama as it delves into details on both sides of the case.
Also out this week:
Code Name Banshee, Doom [4K UHD], Dr. Lamb [Unearthed Films], The Enormity of Life, The Green Planet [4K UHD], Last Seen Alive, Learning to Drive [Shout Select], Nitram, Pam & Tommy, Vivo
Related Topics: Home Video