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 September 5th, 2023! This week’s home video selection includes The Princess Bride on 4K UHD, the Expendables trilogy on 4K UHD, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
The Princess Bride [4K UHD, Criterion]
What is it? A stone-cold family fantasy classic.
Why see it? A love story that transcends all others, plus a ton of laughs and highly quotable exchanges, Rob Reiner and William Goldman bring pure magic to the screen. It’s silly, smart, witty, and finds plenty of time for action and suspense amid the comedy. Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, Peter Falk, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Guest, Mandy Patinkin, and Andre the Giant all shine, and the fairy tale’s stage-like execution fits the storytelling without ever feeling confined. Criterion’s new 4K UHD brings the fantasy to beautiful life, and an upgrade is highly recommended.
[Extras: Commentary, audiobook, featurettes, interviews]
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse [4K UHD]
What is it? One of the best films of the year, animated or otherwise.
Why see it? The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made frequent efforts to make the multiverse a thing, but none of the films have managed it nearly as well as this animated masterpiece. You feel the chaos and world-shattering effect of it all as Miles moves between universes, and the characters storm in like gangbusters with variations on Spider-Man that entertain, thrill, and delight in equal measure. The film is very funny, wildly exciting, and surprisingly emotional. It’s also a part one of two, and while that usually hurts a film — looking at you Dead Reckoning — here you’re left on such a high that the thought of being irritated by the unfinished story never even enters your head. Just an incredible flick that absolutely pops in 4K.
[Extras: Featurettes, commentary]
The Expendables [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? A group of older dudes shoot some guns and stuff.
Why see it? The thing that’s wild about this film — and the whole franchise really — is that the concept is still fantastic. A bunch of older action stars coming together as an ensemble in a big action flick? Should be good fun! And yet… the action underwhelms at every turn. Fights are dull, stunts feel neutered and generic, and despite the title these motherfuckers aren’t going anywhere. It ultimately feels like an action movie for kids, although they wouldn’t know who any of these guys are so maybe not.
[Extras: Introduction, featurettes]
The Expendables 2 [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? The boys are back, and this time they brought a couple men along.
Why see it? While it’s still a mediocrity, this follow-up is still a noticeable improvement over the first film. Jet Li gets a fun fight sequence, Chuck Norris pops in to make a Chuck Norris joke, and Jean-Claude Van Damme is always a good villain. Still, Scott Adkins is in this and is completely wasted, so it’s upsetting all the same.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, gag reel]
The Expendables 3 [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? Age jokes.
Why see it? The worst offender of the original trilogy brings in more familiar faces with Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson bringing the charismatic goods, but the film is a patchwork effort filled with scenes shot at different locales and times. Conversations and interactions are between people who were never in the same room, and the cobbled together nature of it all is just a mess.
[Extras: Theatrical/extended, featurettes, gag reel]
Matilda [4K UHD, steelbook]
What is it? A young girl with a terrible family develops telekinesis.
Why see it? I know I’m in the minority on this one as most people see it as a beloved classic, but while I dig the recent Netflix musical version, this effort just feels a little clunky. Can’t argue with the performances, and it’s fun enough when Matilda starts taking names, but it never connects. Eh, whatever. That said, the film’s production design is good stuff and looks pretty sharp in 4K.
[Extras: Commentary, featurettes]
Also out this week:
Black Circle [Synapse], Borsalino [Arrow Video], God Is a Bullet, Master Gardener, Night of the Comet [4K UHD], Sleepy Hollow [4K UHD]