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You are here: Community Film Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for September 3, 2021

Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for September 3, 2021

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Welcome back to another look at the latest Blu-rays and DVDs that are now available for purchase. There are a couple of big titles being released this week, as well as a large selection of older features getting high-definition upgrades. So, if you shouldn’t be heading out or can’t make it to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

BIG NEW RELEASES!

12 MIGHTY ORPHANS: Based on a true story, this biopic is set during the Great Depression. A Fort Worth, Tex. high school football team is made up of orphans struggle to get by, lacking the basic necessities of life. When a coach decides to step in, help out and train the group, the squad begins winning. Soon, they find themselves making the state championships and inspiring a nation.

Overall, reviews for this sports drama were decent. About a third of the write-ups complained that it didn’t attempt to do anything new with its underdog tale and described the sentimentalism on display as being overplayed. Still, the majority thought that it was a sweet and earnest family flick that would provide viewers with an old-fashioned, inspirational story. It stars Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Luke Wilson, Vinessa Shaw, Wayne Knight, Treat Williams and Carlson Young.

AWAKEN: Terrence Malick (“Badlands,” “The Thin Red Line,” “The Tree of Life,” “A Hidden Life”), is the executive producer of this documentary. The film was made by one of his cameramen who worked with him on the “Voyage of Time” project that played on IMAX screens a few years back. This feature was made in 2018, but had difficulty finding a North American distributor. It features an interpretive series of striking images taken in over 35 countries that show off the world, all in the hopes of celebrating the planet.

The film was finally released this year and seems to have split critics right down the middle. Half were completely baffled by what they witnessed, stating that it was just a bunch of footage that didn’t appear to have a point. However, the same number admitted that while it didn’t make its intentions clear, the gorgeous, trippy cinematography was jaw-dropping to behold, and that it generated a certain mood and atmosphere that they appreciated. This release includes both a Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD disc.

BERLIN ALEXANDER- PLATZ: Based on the well-regarded 1929 novel by Alfred Döblin, this adaptation tells the story of an undocumented immigrant in Berlin. After arriving from Africa, the protagonist vows to do his best to fit in and make a new life for himself. Unfortunately, the man runs into difficulties getting his work permit. He is approached by a high-paying, dangerous gangster and struggles to turn down an offer to join a high-paying criminal outfit.

There was a beloved German miniseries produced from this material decades ago, but reviewers have not been nearly as impressed by the latest version. A small group thought this foreign-language film was stylish and were taken in by the lead and his struggle for survival. Alas, more stated that it all felt like a slog and didn’t make its points clearly or effectively. It features Welket Bungué, Albrecht Schuch, Jella Haase and Annabelle Mandeng.

IN THE HEIGHTS: Viewers who enjoy song and dance will be happy to see this official adaptation of the award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway musical. The story follows a Washington Heights, N.Y. bodega owner. Each day, he works and saves his money with the intention of moving and reopening his dad’s business in the Dominican Republic. But as his plans come to fruition, he finds it more and more difficult to leave his friends and neighbors behind.

Response was very upbeat toward this feature. A few complained that the story was too cluttered with extra, unnecessary characters and could have examined the immigrant experience in more depth. Still, the vast majority found it enjoyably earnest and warm-hearted. They also appreciated the high-energy and elaborate musical numbers.

The cast includes Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Olga Merediz and Jimmy Smits.

MORTAL KOMBAT LEGENDS: BATTLE OF THE REALMS: The popular video game “Mortal Kombat has been receiving a lot of press lately, perhaps because of the release of a new live-action Warner Bros. film based on the property. Now, the studio has produced an R-rated animated feature that takes the game characters and has them compete to the death in another martial arts tournament. Members of the press who saw this film seemed to enjoy it more than the live-action feature that preceded it. There was a small contingent who said that the story was poor and that the blood-soaked, graphic fights were so repetitive that the movie became dull.

Still, most claimed that the title would definitely entertain fans of the game, calling it a more faithful adaptation that delivered plenty of jaw-dropping carnage. The voice cast includes Joel McHale, Jennifer Carpenter, Grey Griffin, Jordan Rodrigues and Patrick Seitz.

SPIRIT UNTAMED: This picture has been described as both a reboot of the 2002 animated feature “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and spin-off of the Netflix-exclusive series, “Spirit Riding Free. The plot involves a young girl from the city who gets into trouble at home and is sent to stay with family members on the American frontier. She befriends a wild mustang and sets out to protect the animal and its herd from a villainous wrangler. This picture split reviewers with slightly more panning the final results.

Those who gave it a pass said that it was cute and would definitely appeal to young children who love horses. Unfortunately, slightly more thought it was an unnecessary and ordinary rehash of the franchise, noting that the story was predictable and that it dismissed earlier themes of leaving wild animals alone in nature. Isabela Merced, Marsai Martin, Mckenna Grace, Walton Goggins, Andre Braugher, Julianne Moore and Jake Gyllenhaal provide voices for the characters.

SUMMER OF 85: In this French period drama, a 16-year-old boy in Normandy goes boating. When the lead falls into the water and nearly drowns, he is rescued by another young man. The two become close friends and eventually fall in love. Seeking to recreate the dangerous and exciting circumstances of how they met, they sneak away from others to test their own limits.

The pair risks their lives trying to figure out who they are in the process. Overall, notices were positive for this feature. Some felt that while the concept was interesting, the storytelling was unfocused and ultimately didn’t provide a believable or convincing love story. However, more found the narrative unpredictable, appreciated the work of the cast, and called the movie an interesting examination of teen angst. It stars Benjamin Voisin, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Melvil Poupaud, Isabelle Nanty, and Félix Lefebvre

BLASTS FROM THE PAST!

Arrow Video has a couple of interesting Blu-rays available for purchase. Those who enjoy drive-in horror features from the 1970s may be interested in “The Brotherhood of Satan (1971). It’s about a family on vacation which finds itself in a town filled with Satanic followers. The villains attempt to steal the couple’s newborn infant.

This disc includes a new critic commentary, a visual essay discussing this Devil-themed thriller and others like it that were common in the ‘70s. It also comes with exclusive new discussions with a couple of the cast members and lots of publicity materials.

The distributor’s most notable title of the week is “Dune” (1984), the studio epic based on the classic Frank Herbert novel. This original adaptation was directed by auteur David Lynch (who, rumor has it, signed on to direct the project so that producer Dino de Laurentiis would finance his follow-up film, the legendary “Blue Velvet”). This sci-fi opus didn’t fare well at the box office and certainly has its flaws, but it is a visual marvel that turned heads during its original release.

The title has been out-of-print for some time and is arriving as a special “Limited Edition.” You can either pick the movie up in 4K Ultra HD with a Blu-ray full of bonus features, or as a regular 2-disc Blu-ray edition. Each set contains a vastly superior transfer of the feature created from the original camera negative, two new commentaries featuring film historians, a lengthy 2003 documentary on the making of the movie, featurettes on the production design, model effects, visual effects, costume designs, deleted scenes, as well as publicity materials. And it comes with a 60-page book on the production.

As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get a featurette on the score by Toto featuring discussions with the band members, interviews with two make-up effects artists on the film, production coordinator and cast member Paul Smith, as well as a detailed look at the merchandizing tie-ins for the film.

It all looks like a phenomenal product, even if purchasers should note that Lynch had a very bad experience making this movie and has never involved himself in any releases of the title. And due to other licensing issues, the lengthy network TV-cut that was made without the permission of the director isn’t included here – that version of the film is still only available in North America on a rare, “Extended Edition” Steelbook DVD released in 2005. Still, there’s so much other amazing material on this new Blu-ray that anyone who appreciates the film will need to pick it up.

AGFA is providing B-movie thrills with its Blu-ray release of “She Freak” (1967). It’s about a woman who joins a traveling carnival and freakshow, only to encounter great danger behind the curtain. Inspired in part by Tod Browning’s 1932 film “Freaks,” this creeper goes to extreme lengths to disturb viewers. The Blu-ray contains a 4K restoration of the movie from the original camera negative, an archival commentary track with the film’s producer, extra footage from the film preserved in 2K, vintage carnival midway shorts, promotional materials, and more.

 

Shout! Factory has licensed several titles from award-winning animation company Laika Studios and is releasing two of them on Blu-ray. The first is the underrated effort, “The Boxtrolls (2014), which tells the story of an orphaned boy who is adopted by trash collecting creatures who live underground. In addition to an audio track with the directors, deleted scenes, a making-of, and some featurettes, you’ll also get never-before-seen test footage from the production, a look at the old puppets used in the movie, feature-length storyboards and character concept art.

 

They are also presenting a new Blu-ray of “Coraline (2009). This excellent treat follows a bored young girl who finds a secret door to a magical world. Once there, she meets a new mother figure who caters to her every whim. Unfortunately, the protagonist soon learns that she has fallen into a trap and that her life is in peril.

It’s an impressive flick and, for those interested, the extras on this Blu-ray are almost identical to those found in the previous title.

Paramount Presents has some really special things coming your way. “Bugsy Malone” (1976) is a wild, one-of-a-kind period mobster musical with an all-kid cast. Yep, the flick featured pint-sized youngsters firing at each other with cream-filled tommy-guns while singing catchy songs.

The movie is notable for several reasons. It marked the directorial debut of Alan Parker, who would go on to make “Midnight Express,” “Pink Floyd: The Wall,” “The Commitments,” and “Evita.” The impressive songs were written by Paul Williams (with my personal highlight being, “You Give a Little Love”) and it starred a very young Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. If memory serves, it’s actually a fun and zippy movie, yet it has never been released on either DVD or Blu-ray in North America.

This very welcome new “Limited Edition” disc contains a 4K picture restoration, a featurette on Paul Williams, a discussion with the executive producer, theatrical trailers and a fold-out box with the original poster. Looks like a great disc!

Kino has plenty of new Blu-rays to choose from. “The Comedy of Terrors (1963) is a horror/comedy featuring stars both in front of and behind the camera. Legendary Jacques Tourneur (“Cat People,” “I Walked with a Zombie,” “Curse of the Demon”) directs Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and Vincent Price in a story about an undertaker who murders people to generate more cash for his mortuary business. The disc contains a film historian commentary, a feature on author/screenwriter Richard Matheson, a trailer and a “Limited Edition” slipcase for its first run.

You can also pick up a Blu-ray of the Vincent Price horror picture, “The Last Man on Earth” (1964). It is set in a post-apocalyptic world where one lonely man tries to survive nightly attacks from vicious creatures. Based on the famous novel, “I Am Legend” by author Richard Matheson, this picture arguably stands as the strongest adaptation of the source material. The disc includes a film critic commentary, a trailer for the movie with commentary by director Joe Dante, a special featurette on author Matheson (the same extra as the one listed on “The Comedy of Terrors” release), two TV spots, an alternate ending, various trailers for the feature, and a special slipcase.

If you want to see Price and writer Matheson team up on an adventure film, “Master of the World” (1961) might be for you. It’s about a well-intentioned, but maniacal inventor who builds a massive, armed airship to eradicate all of the world’s military forces. The title has been remastered for Blu-ray and comes with an informative movie historian commentary, a second track featuring a cast member, the previously-noted Matheson featurette, a trailer, and a slipcase for the disc.

 

You can also pick up the Edgar Allan Poe adaptation of “The Raven” (1963) in high definition. This version stars Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre and arrives with a historian commentary, an interview with producer/director Roger Corman, a trailer, and another with some added info from filmmaker Mick Garris and the Matheson featurette. He also wrote the screenplay for this title.

Kino also has a Blu-ray of cult director Walerian Borowczyk’s final film, “Love Rites” (1987). It’s a very eccentric and unusual erotic drama that the Polish director made in France. The Blu-ray contains the full version of the movie and a director’s cut, a short film by Borowczyk, a movie expert commentary and an interview with one of the stars, as well as a trailer.

Criterion has a noteworthy Blu-ray release, too. “Beasts of No Nation” (2015) is the critically acclaimed Netflix war picture about a child soldier fighting a civil war in an unnamed West African country. The youngster witnesses and is forced to take part in horrific acts, eventually questioning his leaders and their motives. This is a disturbing, but excellent movie and the Blu-ray presents a 2K master of the feature that was approved by director Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Jane Eyre”, the upcoming “No Time to Die”) a commentary with the filmmaker, two new documentaries on the feature, additional conversations with Fukunaga and the costume designer, as well as a trailer and an essay on the movie.

Looking for some action? Scorpion has “The Devil’s 8” (1969) on Blu-ray. It follows a federal agent who rounds up a group of convicts to raid a vicious criminal moonshine operation in return for a reduced sentence. The concept sounds very similar to the popular “Suicide Squad” comic-book series and films.

This disc includes a new 2K master of the film, an interview with cast member Larry Bishop and a trailer.

Recently, Vinegar Syndrome has released a huge number of Blu-rays. There are plenty of fascinating titles being offered, although those interested should note that the best place to order them is through the official company website. First off, they have the horror/comedy, “Auntie Lee’s Meat Pies” (1992). You can already imagine what the main ingredient is in the titular food item.

The movie has been restored in 4K from the original camera negative and the disc includes several interviews with cast members (including Michael Berryman). They are also putting out a double-feature Blu-ray of the Australian sex-comedies “Fantasm” (1976), and “Fantasm Comes Again” (1977). These titles have been restored in 2K and feature interviews with crew members.

“Forgotten Gialli: Volume 2” is a new Blu-ray set that includes the low-budget thrillers, “The French Sex Murders” (1972), “Girl in Room 2A” (1974), and “My Dear Killer” (1972). Once again, these flicks have been given new high-definition restorations and come with visual essays and some film historian commentary tracks. This particular release is available on the Vinegar Syndrome site, as well as on Amazon. If you want more, there’s also a “Volume 3” that is now available on the company website.

The distributor also has the Philadelphia-set slasher, “Girls School Screamers” (1985). This Blu-ray presents the film restored in 2K along with an extended making-of documentary featuring cast and crew, in addition to multiple commentaries.

They are also presenting the rancher comedy “Rancho Deluxe” (1975), with Fun City as a “Limited Edition” Blu-ray. This movie stars Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston as cattle rustlers causing trouble in Montana. The print run is only 2000 and comes with a slipcover featuring art designed by frequent Mondo poster artists “We Buy Your Kids.” Besides a new 2K restoration, the disc comes with a couple of video interviews about the film (including one with Bridges himself), an audio commentary, and publicity materials.

“Terminal Island” (1973) is a B-picture about an island where convicts are sent to live on their own and do battle with each other. This flick marks an early appearance by future star Tom Selleck. This Blu-ray includes a sharper image (it was scanned in 4K), an extended interview with director/co-writer Stephanie Rothman, discussions with the lead actress and other cast members, a new featurette delivering a critic analysis of the movie’s female’s perspective along with trailers and ads. They also have a Blu-ray of the Satanic thriller, “Through the Fire” (1988) aka “The Gates of Hell Part II.”

The disc comes with both versions of the movie under different titles, director commentary tracks on both cuts, as well as interviews with the filmmaker, a clip about the make-up effects and a discussion with the artists.

“Lilies of the Field” (1963), is a drama about a traveling handyman who helps five impoverished nuns build a church. This well-regarded drama was nominated for five Academy Awards and earned star Sidney Poitier a Best Actor Oscar. It also comes with an audio track featuring a movie authority giving details about the production.

In the World War II drama, “O.S.S.” (1946), Alan Ladd plays an undercover spy trying to help the French prevent Nazi forces from using their railway system.

This picture has been given a 2K master and includes a commentary and trailer. And you can also pick up a Blu-ray of the Gary Cooper period drama, “Peter Ibbetson” (1935), that is based on the George du Maurier novel. It comes with a film historian track and a theatrical trailer.

Criterion is making a Blu-ray available of the Japanese drama, “After Life” (1998). It’s set in a world where, when one dies, their spirits are permitted to exist in one happy life memory. The dead struggle to choose and determine how to spend eternity. The disc includes a 2K restoration of the feature, a film scholar commentary, new interviews with the movie’s cinematographers, deleted scenes, a trailer and an essay on the story.

Vinegar Syndrome’s highlight this week may be the notorious critical bomb, “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” (1987). Written and directed by Norman Mailer, the movie stars Ryan O’Neal as an abrasive writer with a drinking problem who awakens to find himself embroiled in a murder. Isabella Rossellini co-stars in the film. It’s over-the-top in every possible way (with the stand-out moment being the “Oh man, oh God, oh man, oh God!” scene).

The movie earned numerous Razzie nominations, while also winning an award or two at film festivals. The movie is finally being presented on Blu-ray with a 2K scan, new interviews with co-star Wings Hauser, the cinematographer, Mailer’s biographer and his son, an archival piece on the film, and a trailer.

And Severin is also delivering the action picture “Whatever It Takes” (1998) on Blu-ray. The story involves a group of cops investigating a steroid epidemic in body-building culture and facing off against a villainous dealer. Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Fred Williamson and Andrew Dice Clay headline the title. The flick has been newly scanned and restored in 4K and comes with interviews with Wilson, Williamson, and a double-sided mini-poster for the movie.

If you grew up watching Japanese animated shows about heroic, giant-robots piloted by humans and fighting evildoers, you may be excited about the new release from Discotek Media. It is presenting all 47 episodes of the TV series, “Future Robot Daltanious” (1979-1980). The Blu-ray will present the show in its original Japanese language with an English subtitle track. Additionally, they are also putting put the animated show “Lupin the 3rd Part III: The Pink Jacket Adventures” (1984 - 1985) on Blu-ray.

Finally, the Cohen Media Group is releasing a double-feature of the gritty, French Alain Delon crime pictures “The Gang” (1977), and “Three Men to Kill” (1980).

 

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS!

There are plenty of movies for kids of all ages arriving or being re-released this week. Here’s a list!

“The Boss Baby: Back in Business” Seasons 1 & 2

“The Boxtrolls”

“Bugsy Malone”

“Coraline”

“Future Robot Daltanious” (1979-1980)

“Spirit Untamed”

ON THE TUBE!

 

And you’ll find plenty of TV-themed releases below.

“Blue Bloods” Season 11

“The Boss Baby: Back in Business Seasons 1 & 2

“Fear the Walking Dead” Season 6

The Good Doctor (2014) Season 4

“Magnum P.I.” Season 3

“Murdoch Mysteries” Season 14

“NCIS: New Orleans” The Final Season

“NCIS: New Orleans The Complete Series

VISIT: WWW.CINEMASTANCE.COM

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun