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DVD/Blu-ray Roundup for Dec. 21, 2018

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Hello and welcome to this year’s final edition of highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. Tuesday lands on Dec. 25, and as such, there aren’t any new releases. Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of noteworthy flicks arriving now to hold you over until January. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

Big New Releases!

1985 - Set during the’ 80s, this indie drama involves a closeted marketing executive who heads home to visit family in Texas for the holidays. While visiting his conservative parents as well as acquaintances from his past, he wrestles with whether or not to tell his clan while confronting a devastating personal revelation. Shot in black and white 16mm film, reaction was positive toward this feature. One or two didn’t care for the stark photography or references to the era, but almost everyone else called it a well-acted, refined and powerful story that captures the mood and atmosphere of the ’80s. The cast includes Cory Michael Smith, Jamie Chung, Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis.

Assassination Nation - Taking a critical look at modern technology, this thriller follows the media-obsessed residents of a small town. When a hack exposes everyone’s personal details and thoughts on social media, it creates chaos. Four young women attempt to survive the madness while dealing with fallout from having all their information made public. Overall, notices were positive for this action/comedy. There were a handful who didn’t think it made the most of its concept and stated the story veered all over the place. However, the majority forgave its imperfections, admiring the wild energy on display. Odessa Young, Abra, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Joel McHale and Bill Skarsgard headline the film.

Fahrenheit 11/9 - The latest documentary from Michael Moore (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko) deals with the state of American politics, focusing on the current White House administration. The filmmaker examines the mindset of the people who voted ultra-conservative, as well as how to undo the damage that has already been done. Response towards the movie has been upbeat. A small percentage thought Moore’s feature would have been more successful had he more subtly tried to convince the president’s supporters to flip. However, the majority said it painted an effectively disturbing picture of the future and properly skewered the head of state.

Monster Party - A group of teens-turned-criminals in desperate need of cash decides to rob a fancy Malibu mansion. They arrive during a dinner party and decide to take advantage of the extra goods that seem up for grabs. Unfortunately, their lives are put into great danger when they realize the event is for a serial killer cult. This independent horror picture also earned some favorable notices. About one quarter didn’t think it added up to much or stood out from the genre crowd, but significantly more found it appropriately distressing and darkly humorous. The cast includes Sam Strike, Virginia Gardner, Brandon Michael Hall, Robin Tunney and Lance Reddick.

The Predator - This latest chapter in the Predator franchise finds the titular creations to be an even more powerful threat after splicing their DNA with other alien creatures. They arrive on Earth and create more havoc as they hunt human prey. The world’s only hope is a group of traumatized ex-soldiers, a disgruntled science teacher and a kid genius. The fourth time was not the charm for this series, at least according to members of the press. A small group enjoyed the action and liked the antics of the unhinged veteran heroes. Yet more found the end results a bit messy and overstuffed with too many supporting characters. Now viewers can make up their own minds. It features Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn and Thomas Jane.

A Simple Favor - Two mothers from different backgrounds meet at their children’s school and become friends. The wealthier, more secretive of the pair suddenly asks her new friend to babysit for her son and disappears. The other decides to investigate and try to find out exactly what happened to the aristocrat, uncovering many unexpected secrets in the process. This picture earned praise from critics. A small number felt it couldn’t settle on a specific tone of comedy or thriller and ending up suffering for it, yet the overwhelming consensus was that this was an enjoyably twisty little thriller that easily keeps audiences guessing. It stars Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding.

The Super - A new superintendent at a luxury New York City apartment building faces more than utility problems in this horror movie. As it turns out, residents are completely disappearing from the premises. Worried about his two daughters who live with him, the protagonist begins taking a look into the strange events occurring around him. He suspects the building’s very strange maintenance man, who speaks in cryptic riddles. This effort earned mixed reviews, with a few more negative write-ups than positive opinions. Some appreciated the twist ending and the performances, although most didn’t think these pluses made up for an otherwise generic genre entry. Patrick John Flueger and Val Kilmer headline the film.

Venom - The latest superhero epic is this feature that focuses on one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes. When reporter Eddie Brock pushes too hard to get to the truth behind a story involving corporate crime, he ends up encountering a strange alien symbiote that gives him incredible power. Brock bickers with the lifeform as he tries to stop the sinister conspiracy. This film was a hit at the box office, but didn’t impress many reviewers. A small group described it as an enjoyably quirky action picture with an emphasis on dark humor. However, many complained that they didn’t know if they were watching a superhero film, a monster movie or a comedy. It stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed and Jenny Slate.

Blasts from the Past!

The MVD Maquee Collection has a Blu-ray of the Sally Field drama, Not Without My Daughter (1991). It comes with a making-of featurette and a trailer. If B-movie action is more to your liking, then you can pick up Raven (1997). This title features Burt Reynolds as an elite mercenary on a secret and deadly mission. Finally, the tween scavenger hunt comedy Sleepover (2004) is also getting the high definition treatment. This flick features an all-star cast including Jane Lynch, a very young Brie Larson, and Steve Carell. The Blu-ray includes a director commentary, multiple making-of featurettes, profiles of the cast, a gag reel and other extras.

Shout! Factory’s also delivering several Blu-rays. They include a Collector’s Edition of Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), the third entry in the Hammer Dracula series starring Christopher Lee as the famous vampire. This disc includes a 4K scan of the UK and US versions of the film, new audio commentaries from a movie expert and filmmaker/fans Constantine Nasr and Steve Haberman, a previously released audio track featuring the cast (including Lee himself), a making-of short, behind-the-scenes footage and a World of Hammer episode detailing the entire British Dracula film series.

The distributor also has Steve Martin’s classic comedy The Jerk (1979). It’s arriving in a 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray package that features a new 2K remaster, new interviews with Martin and director Carl Reiner, a conversation with the film’s writers, the lost film strips of Father Carlos Las Vegas De Cordova, trailers and a segment teaching you how to play the song, “Tonight You Belong to Me.”

You can also pick up a Blu-ray of the Neil Simon murder/mystery spoof, Murder by Death (1976). It features a great cast (including Peter Falk, Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith and others) and arrives with a Simon interview, as well as a new film historian audio commentary and publicity materials.

Finally, Shout! has a Collector’s Edition of the sci-fi/drama, Starman (1984). This effort from John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China and many others) about a visiting alien earned an Oscar nomination for its headliner, Jeff Bridges. The Blu-ray comes with a new retrospective documentary on the making of the film, an audio commentary featuring Carpenter and Bridges, a vintage featurette and loads of publicity materials.

Warner Achives is now making made-to-order Blu-rays available of several titles in their catalogue. This includes the William Holden crime flick, The Blue Knight (1973), which later got turned into a TV series.

You Know, For Kids!

Listed below are some titles that will appeal to kids.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Power Rangers: Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger: The Complete Series

On the Tube!

And these are the week’s TV-themed releases.

The Dr. Blake Mysteries: Season 5

Neanderthal (PBS)

NOVA: Transplanting Hope (PBS)

Sacred: Milestones of a Spiritual Life (PBS) - Released December 25th

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun