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Pick of the Week
Anna and the Apocalypse
What is it? A teenager looking to escape her dead-end town awakes to a zombie apocalypse.
Why see it? Far too may movies fail to find the audience they deserve, but few are as packed with absolute goodness as this zom-com from Scotland. It’s funny, bloody, and thrilling, and did I mention it’s also a musical? The songs are catchy, toe-tapping numbers designed to get you moving, and the characters are every bit as affecting. It’s just an entertaining as hell ride for fans of awesome things.
ffolkes [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? Greedy terrorists take an oil rig hostage, and only Roger Moore can save the day.
Why see it? This action/thriller has been among my favorites from the 80s for decades. Yes, the action is fun, and yes, the casting is aces with an evil Anthony Perkins, a commanding James Mason, and a better than he’s ever been Roger Moore — he plays the title character as a dickish, sexist, cat-loving prick, and it’s a damn delight. In a better world this would have gotten the franchise treatment Moore enjoyed as James Bond, but instead we’ll have to be content with this sharp-looking Blu from Kino.
The Gangster the Cop the Devil
What is it? Two men from opposite sides of the law join forces to stop a serial killer.
Why see it? It may not be a ground-breaking entry in the country’s output, but it still exists in a realm well above most of the genre efforts Hollywood knocks out these days. From its compelling premise through its engaging leads and exciting action beats the film is more often than not a captivating exploration of the blurry lines and varying gray areas between the law and those skirting it. There’s some filler here in the form of montage scenes and office politics that slow down the film’s momentum and energy, but the bulk is a stylish and fun ride into the night with two lovable assholes as our guides.
What is it? The true story of an all-female sailing team.
Why see it? Documentaries aren’t typically my bag, especially sports-oriented ones, but some stories carry historical and social values well beyond mere tales of underdogs. This look at the first all-female crew in a round the world sailing race is thrilling, both emotionally and viscerally thanks to footage filmed during the race itself, and the message throughout it all is a powerful one. Show it to your kids, both girls and boys.
[Extras: Featurette, Q&A]
Spider-Man: Far from Home
What is it? Peter Parker heads to Europe!
Why see it? This follow-up to Spider-Man: Homecoming still relies far too much on Tony Stark and the MCU, but when its sticking close to home — ie Parker — it succeeds at being great fun. Tom Holland gets this character, and the resulting comedy, action, and heart work in large part to his presence. Credit Jake Gyllenhaal too for his mysterious new hero who delivers much of the film’s personality and laughs. It’s a great ride.
[Extras: Short film, bloopers, deleted scenes, featurettes]
The Addams Family – 2 Movie Collection
What is it? An altogether ooky family enjoys some hijinks.
Why see it? The Munsters get a lot of the attention, but it’s this goth clan that deliver a bit more on the personality front. Barry Sonnenfeld’s live-action adaptation of the famed cartoon turned TV series is loaded with fun gags and performances, and while the sequel is a lesser creation there’s still some fun to be had. The highlight through both, of course, is a star-making turn by Christina Ricci as little Wednesday Addams.
Doom Patrol – The Complete First Season
What is it? A group of misfits come together to fight evil.
Why see it? While Marvel continues to rule the big screen DC has taken a firm lead on the small with dozens of series about do-gooders doing good. This show is a deviation from the pack, though, as its characters aren’t household superhero names, and even more noticeable is the R-rated content — boobs, butts, f-bombs, etc. Tone-wise it falls in with the recent (and better) The Boys, but comic fans will have fun with the attitude and action all the same.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, PSA, gag reel]
What is it? A single mom and her kids are terrorized by a stupidly big spider.
Why see it? Spider horror typically goes either the “real” route with lots of regular spiders (Arachnophobia, Kingdom of the Spiders) or the “giant” spider route with big ass arachnids (Tarantula, Big Ass Spider!), and this mixed bag of an indie lands somewhere in the middle. It’s a single spider, but it’s the size of a dog meaning it’s both clearly fictional and still a bit creepy. The effects go both ways too with some impressive practical work paired with some more obnoxious CG, but the bigger issue is a tone that can’t quite settle.
[Extras: Commentaries, featurettes]
What is it? A new girl in town tries to fit in at her new high school.
Why see it? This Tina Fey-written teen comedy has become something of a gold standard and a modern classic thanks to a sharp wit and big laughs. This re-release doesn’t bring anything new to the table, though, so if you already own it you’re all set. But if you don’t this is a solid release of a fun movie with some worthwhile extras.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Nightmare Beach [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A killer stalks a Florida beach during Spring Break.
Why see it? Italian horror giant Umberto Lenzi directed this US-set slasher and cast some solid supporting players to fill out the ranks including Michael Parks and John Saxon alongside a score by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti. The result is a mean-spirited little number that sees co-eds being slaughtered by a leather-clad psycho on a motorcycle. It may not be a classic, but slasher fans will find a lot to enjoy here thanks to a sharp, cleaned up picture by Kino.
[Extras: New 4K master, commentary, interview]
The Prey [Arrow Video]
What is it? Friends in the forest are hunted by a madman.
Why see it? The *awesome* tagline states “It’s not human, and it’s got an axe!” Only the second half of that is accurate, but the movie itself is still a fairly solid entry in the 80s spate of movies about killers in the woods. The big draw here for fans is the incredible work Arrow has done not only in restoring the theatrical feature but also in collecting all kinds of extras. Most notable among them is the inclusion of three versions — released, international, and fan composite — which offers plenty of variety for fans. It’s a fantastic release.
[Extras: New 2K restoration, commentary, interviews, alternate cuts of the film, Q&A]
Zombieland [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Four survivors of a zombie apocalypse try to continue surviving.
Why see it? Zom-coms are their own sub-genre at this point, and this one ain’t bad for a studio effort. It’s no Return of the Living Dead, mind you, but it offers up some good fun with comedic antics and zombie bloodletting. The cast becomes the make or break here with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin taking lead and a very special cameo joining along the way. The 4K upgrade is worth it for fans as the film’s action-heavy beats are made sharper and more vibrant.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes, commentary]
Also out this week:
Chernobyl, Framing John Delorean, Gremlins [4K UltraHD], Jarhead: Law of Return, Pan’s Labyrinth [4K UltraHD], The Shining [4K UltraHD], Wanted Dead or Alive [KL Studio Classics]
Related Topics: Home Video