Welcome to this week in home video!
Pick of the Week
Lonely Are the Brave [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A cowboy struggles to remain free in the modern world.
Why see it? This is a terrific film, and it might just feature my favorite Kirk Douglas performance. He plays a cowboy living in the wild who returns home — to civilization, basically — to discover his good friend has been jailed for two years. What follows is the cowboy’s efforts to free his friend and keep himself free even as helicopters, jeeps, and armed men chase him and his loyal horse up a mountain. It’s a sad, powerful reminder about the down side of progress and the inability for people to be truly free in the modern world, and it’s a clear inspiration for Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World too.
[Extras: Commentary, tribute, featurette]
What is it? A young woman finds love for others, but will she see it for herself?
Why see it? Jane Austen’s beloved tale, and her final novel, has reached the screen before in both direct adaptations and more creative ones (hello Clueless), and this latest plays a bit on both sides. It’s a period piece, but elements are stepped up for modern times. The core of it all remains, though, as sharp dialogue and a smart character study work to deliver both comedy and romance. The cast is stellar too including Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Rupert Graves, and more.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes, commentary]
The Long and the Short and the Tall [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A squad of soldiers in Burma struggle against the enemy and each other.
Why see it? This early 60s tale of war is a dark look at human behaviors under the worst of circumstances. Heroes are in short supply as danger and death lead even the brave to wither and choose poorly, and the result is a film that embraces the horror of war without the promise of a happy ending. While the film appears to have been shot on sound stages the action beats and setups still work to deliver drama and thrills.
Selena [Warner Archive]
What is it? The life and death of a star.
Why see it? Jennifer Lopez headlines this music biopic and gives a stellar performance as the inspirational but doomed singer. Even if the music isn’t exactly your jam, the film delivers with drama and power as an unlikely but well-deserved success story cut short by madness and jealousy. It’s an energetic story, and while tragedy is inevitable it’s Selena’s life that lives on.
[Extras: Featurettes, outtakes]
Top Gun [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A talented but egotistical pilot learns a hard lesson.
Why see it? Tony Scott’s mid 80s blockbuster has its fair share of detractors these days, but the film’s never been shy about its simplicity or preference for bombast. Tom Cruise headlines and nails the needed attitude and confidence alongside a fantastic supporting cast including Tom Skerritt, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Kelly McGillis, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, and more. If you’re a fan and have a 4K setup you’ll want this upgrade as it hits hard with both an invigorating picture and wall shaking sounds.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary, interviews]
War of the Worlds [4K UltraHD]
What is it? A man fights aliens to save his kids.
Why see it? Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the H.G. Wells classic novel isn’t nearly as beloved as it should be. Sure, it’s no Minority Report or Munich when it comes to his under-appreciated films, but it’s a big, thrilling tale filled with epic set-pieces, suspenseful sequences, and lots of Tom Cruise running. The only acceptable knock against it is the obnoxiousness of the teen, because seriously, but the rest offers up a thrilling, heroic tale with another invested and energetic Cruise performance. The 4K upgrade highlights all the action and visual splendor and is guaranteed to give your system an entertaining workout.
Alice in Wonderland [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? You know this story.
Why see it? This early 30s adaptation hits the bulk of the expected beats from Lewis Carroll’s beloved tale, and its use of costumes and fairly elaborate sound stages makes for a visual treat. The bigger draw, though, is the cast of big names in small roles. Cary Grant, W.C. Fields, and Gary Cooper all make appearances here, and while they’re early roles there’s still fun to be had seeing them here.
[Extras: Commentary by Lee Gambin]
Brahms: The Boy II
What is it? A sequel to a better movie.
Why see it? There are some interesting choices made in this sequel to a pretty solid “killer in the walls” flick, but none of them are for the better. Rather than follow the first film’s lead this story line heads in a more supernatural direction, and it doesn’t suit the film’s thrills. There’s a reason the best scare here is one during a very human home invasion.
[Extras: Deleted scenes]
The Captive Heart [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A POW passes the time pretending to be someone else.
Why see it? This World War II drama explores the daily lives of prisoners of war, and it’s far more of a character piece than a traditional war film. Michael Redgrave takes the lead as a Czech soldier pretending to be British to avoid further scrutiny by the Nazis, and there’s a growing warmth in his letter exchange with the dead man’s widow. Other stories populate the film too, and that’s where it loses much of its momentum and strength. Any of them could have been expanded into its own narrative, but as it stands they serve mostly to distract from the core story. Still, an engaging drama.
[Extras: Commentary by Samm Deighan]
Days of Thunder [4K UltraHD]
What is it? Tom Cruise plays a character named Cole Trickle.
Why see it? Tony Scott movies are always worth watching. Tom Cruise movies are always worth watching. Days of Thunder is worth watching. It’s far from great, though, so this 4K upgrade — which admittedly looks and sounds pretty fantastic — should be a buy for fans only. The story about Cole Trickle’s need for speed hits the expected bumps, and while it exaggerates much about the NASCAR racing scene it’s a solid enough film thanks to Scott, Cruise, Robert Duvall, Nicole Kidman, and some thrilling race sequences.
The Night My Number Came Up [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A military commander acts on a dream possibly portending the future.
Why see it? This is a solid little tale about listening to both your gut and the universe at large, and the suspense of it comes from seeing those around the commander react as reality slowly lines up with the possibly prophetic dream. He saw disaster, but could respecting the dream help avert that fate? The film earns points too for its refreshing take on the Chinese people as it acknowledges their beliefs while also stating that they’re smart rather than bashing them.
[Extras: Commentary by Samm Deighan]
The Postcard Killings
What is it? A man searches for his son’s killer.
Why see it? James Patterson’s bibliography is half collaborations at this point — novels where he proposes the idea and a second author actually writes it, most likely — and I suspect this adaptation probably gives a pretty fair representation of their contents. It’s perfectly okay, but aside from an early twist there’s nothing here to make it stand apart from the pack. The kills, action, and characters all feel fairly flat, but like I said, it’s fine?
What is it? An alien race arrives and war erupts.
Why see it? This feature anime is a barrage of color, action, and science fiction shenanigans, and it rarely lets up. Whether or not that’s a good thing will depend on the viewer, but as much of it results in a numbing blur it doesn’t work as well for me. It’s entertaining to be sure, but while it lands some engaging commentary with its allusions to ICE (unless I’m misreading it) the animation style threatens to distract. Fans will absolutely eat it up, though, and if you’re on its wavelength it makes for a big, fast-moving, and constant experience.
[Extras: Interview, featurettes, short films]
The Runner Stumbles [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A priest is charged with murdering a nun.
Why see it? Dick Van Dyke charged with murder? Say it ain’t so! Stanley Kramer’s final film is a drama about love, guilt, and possible redemption, and it’s an engaging watch. The priest recounts his story in flashback (to his lawyer played by Beau Bridges) and we see his struggle in a small, disengaged but conservative town as a young, electrifying nun arrives to shake things up. The mystery isn’t exactly hard to figure out, but the drama works.
Sonic the Hedgehog
What is it? A blue trash panda arrives on Earth to befriend James Marsden and make an enemy of Jim Carrey.
Why see it? As a kids movie this hits all the expected beats combining a beloved video game character with live action shenanigans, but that’s not really saying much. It’s still entertaining, though, in large part to Jim Carrey’s over the top performance as Dr. Robotnik that sees him tear through every scene with glee. James Marsden is once again saddled with the straight guy lead, but he’s always welcome too. Again, kids will enjoy its energy and goofy jokes.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, commentary]
Sunday in New York [Warner Archive]
What is it? A young woman navigates horndogs in the big city.
Why see it? Jane Fonda as a hot 22 year-old virgin? The 60s were wild, man. She’s a delightful lead in a romantic comedy as she nails both aspects well, and the flurry of supporting male co-stars is equally solid with Rod Taylor, Robert Culp, Jim Backus, and Robert Culp along for the ride. It’s a fun film that sees Fonda’s character dealing with male expectations while also facing her own impulses, and it manages to be sexy even as it’s forced to rely on innuendos and the like. The film unfolds across a single day making some of its observations seem silly, but it works.
Also out this week:
The Blues Brothers [4K UltraHD], Buffaloed, Danger: Diabolik [Scream Factory], The Evil of Frankenstein [Scream Factory], Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, The Way Back
Related Topics: Home Video