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 November 3rd, 2020!
This week’s home video selection includes Game of Thrones in 4K UltraHD, two John Wayne films from the 40s, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Games of Thrones – The Complete Collection [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Swords and dragons and boobs, oh my.
Why see it? HBO’s epic fantasy series was a cultural phenomenon during its run for understandable reasons. It’s big entertainment filled with warring factions, engaging characters, heroes, villains, unexpected deaths, and dragons. Its earlier seasons were also heavy with the T&A, if that’s your bag. Well not every narrative thread comes to the ideal resolution, more than enough of them deliver drama and thrills to make for a terrific and lively series. The show also benefits from some ace cinematography, visual effects, and direction meaning it’s a damn attractive series. That last aspect is where this new 4K UltraHD set shines as the show is frequently a stunner. If you’re a fan who hasn’t picked up the Blu-ray release yet this is a must-own.
[Extras: Commentaries, interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Kick-Ass [4K UltraHD, steelbook]
What is it? A teen decides to become a superhero.
Why see it? There seems to have been a critical re-evaluation of this comic adaptation in recent years, but I’d argue it remains a highly entertaining action/comedy. The fight choreography and cinematography work to create exciting and thrilling set-pieces, and the comedy is equally as fast-moving and abrasive. It’s not to everyone’s speed, but it’s an extremely fun ride with terrific turns from Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz. The 4K upgrade captures all of the film’s action, sharpness, and color in impressive detail making for big, bombastic fun.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary]
The Mortal Storm [Warner Archive]
What is it? The rise of Adolph Hitler sees the fall of families and friendships.
Why see it? The synopsis might sound familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention in America over the past four years, but the film remains a powerful statement on the fragility of relationships and human behavior. There is minimal action/suspense here of the traditional kind, but the tension and rising uncertainty between loved ones and friends is anxiety-inducing and highly compelling.
[Extras: Cartoon, short film]
What is it? A modern woman wakes up a slave.
Why see it? Oh boy, is this a dud. The promise of a Twilight Zone-like tale of time travel and social commentary never arrives, and instead we get a poorly constructed thriller devoid of thrills. Worse, the conversation it does attempt to ignite is as ignorant as it is insulting. Attempts to build mystery are laughable, and stabs at heroic imagery land even worse. It’s just a misfire across the board.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
The Crown – Season Three
What is it? The queen, from 1964 to 1977.
Why see it? It’s a risky move jettisoning your entire cast in order to jump decades ahead with your characters, but season three of The Crown handles it well and delivers another compelling season. Olivia Colman takes over as the queen, and she’s every bit as fantastic as you’d expect. New challenges, both public and personal, rise to cause havoc, and the show offers a dramatic and entertaining look at their unfolding outcomes.
Josie and the Pussycats – The Complete Series
What is it? A popular rock band solves mysteries!
Why see it? This Archie comics spinoff only ran for sixteen episodes, but all of them are brought together for this release. It’s a fun little show pairing a Monkees vibe with the Scooby Doo mystery genre, and while it never rises above minor entertainment it’s good to have them available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Seven Sinners [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A singer finds music and trouble throughout the Pacific.
Why see it? As musicals go, this one is headlined by the great Marlene Dietrich and finds some value in her fiery persona. The song and dance numbers are solid enough, but the story holding it all together leaves something to be desired. It’s messy and never comes together meaning not even the arrival of John Wayne can help. He’s fine, especially seeing him before becoming “the John Wayne,” and fans will want to pick this one up.
The Shepherd of the Hills [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A mountain man is soothed by a stranger.
Why see it? John Wayne returns as a gruff, angry man whose volatile nature is calmed by the arrival of a mysterious stranger. It’s a different kind of role for Wayne, one that sees him far from heroic at first, and his transformation is an inspiring one. Others in the community shift as well, and while the film’s mild religious undertones are silly the main theme remains a powerful one. It’s also Wayne’s first color film, for whatever that’s worth, and even then it was clear that the man was a still-growing star.
What is it? A documentary crew investigates a mass suicide and finds more horror.
Why see it? Thomas Jane steals this dark, methodical thriller as the deceased cult leader responsible for all of the carnage, and Jessica Alba plays the journalist who makes the mistake of digging into the past. It’s a moody thriller that takes its time crafting some engaging atmosphere, and while the payoff isn’t as effective as it could have been it remains an engaging thriller.
[Extras: Commentary, interview]
Also out this week:
The Bureau – Season 5, Lake Michigan Monster [Arrow Video], Let’s Scare Julie, V for Vendetta [4K UltraHD]
Related Topics: Home Video