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You are here: Community Film Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for March 4, 2022

Blu-ray/DVD Roundup for March 4, 2022

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Welcome to another look at highlights arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. This isn’t a particularly busy edition, but it does include some Oscar nominees and interesting independent features. So, if you can’t or shouldn’t be heading out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!

 

BIG NEW RELEASES!

BELFAST: Based on the early life of writer/director Kenneth Branagh, this drama tells the story of a young boy growing up in Belfast during the tumultuous 1960s.

We see the youngster go about his daily business as the threat of violence on the street looms all around. After his father suggests the family move out of the country, the child must grapple with potentially leaving the neighborhood he has spent his entire life in.

Critics were generally very impressed with this feature. A small contingent was unhappy that the film was told from the point of view of a child, instead wanting an adult perspective on the conflict between Protestant unionists and Roman Catholic nationalists. However, most appreciated the events being presented cinematically through the eyes of a youngster.

They also called it a sincere and moving drama with incredible performances, noting it was one of the year’s best films. It stars Jude Hill, Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan and Ciarán Hinds.

FLEE: This interesting documentary uses animation to tell its subject’s powerful story. A man is interviewed by filmmakers and a crew, recounting his life and a painful secret that he has kept hidden for 20 years. Through the audio and animated images, viewers learn that this man is a child refugee from Afghanistan and learn what prompted him to seek asylum in another part of the world.

This feature received rave reviews from the press and is currently nominated for Academy Awards in both the Best Documentary and Best Animated Feature categories. One or two didn’t find this individual’s tale as compelling as other stories they had seen about refugees. But everyone else called it an effective immigrant story and one that effectively addresses some of the inner turmoil one feels when being uprooted.

HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN: While cable and television releases are normally included in the “On the Tube! section below, it is a slower-than-usual edition. So, this week a couple of titles are getting a more detailed analysis.

This is a Lifetime TV-movie remake of the popular 1980s show. In this update, an angel arrives on Earth and takes a position as a school guidance counselor. She then sets out to help troubled students and their families.

This picture earned reasonable notices from a select group of reviewers who saw it. They noted that the feature was overly sweet and resolved the character’s problems in far too easily a manner. Still, most thought it was earnest, good-natured family entertainment and that those who appreciated the original program would likely enjoy this as well.

This is a DVD only release. The cast includes Jill Scott, Barry Watson, Victoria Bidewell, Sasha Rojen and Robert Moloney.

I AM MORTAL: Roughly 200 years in the future, technology has progressed to the point where humans have achieved immortality through genetic engineering. In addition, war and violence have become a thing of the past. A group of teenage rebels learn that all life is now monitored and decide to form their own resistance movement in order to love and live a normal, mortal life.

There aren’t many reviews available for this title and those that have appeared online haven’t been inspiring. They suggest that the movie features a lot of talking heads and awkward speeches. Apparently, the film doesn’t provide much in the way of thrills or excitement. And these write-ups also suggest that viewers will get a bluntly delivered religious message about joining the Christian faith.

Abraham Lewis, Eloise Smyth, Lauren Lindsey Donzis, John Harlan Kim and Sean Gunn headline the film.

THE PILOT: A BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL: Inspired by true events, this foreign-language feature from Russia is set during World War II. It’s about a pilot who is shot down by Nazi forces.

After crashing in a forest behind enemy lines, the wounded figure must find a way back to safety. To do so, the man must find sustenance, avoid enemy forces, endure incredibly harsh conditions like extreme cold, and even fend off a pack of hungry wolves.

Those who can stomach a Russian war movie right now won’t find many notices available for the title. A few online ones from different parts of the world have appeared on websites. Most state that the survival element of the movie is effective and chillingly rendered, but that the romantic subplot and sections involving supporting characters are corny and inauthentic.

It features Pyotr Fyodorov and Daniel Brach.

THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN: Here’s another film that was made-for-cable (specifically, Showtime) but is receiving a more thorough examination in this section.

Many know Charlie Chaplin as one of the greatest comedians of cinema, but he also endured a scandal or two in his personal life and was incredibly private. Little is actually known about the man and this documentary blends previously unheard voices and perspectives on the figure to provide more detail into who Chaplin was.

Critics were very impressed with what they saw. A small contingent who didn’t care for the movie commented that it didn’t enlighten them as much as they had hoped for. However, the consensus was that the documentary was well put together and gave an honest and unvarnished picture of its subject. This title will be exclusively available on DVD.

RUN & GUN: This action/thriller follows a reformed criminal now living a quiet life in suburbia with his new family. That all changes when his past catches up with him, bad guys arrive and he is blackmailed into picking up a mysterious package.

The lead is immediately double-crossed and pursued by various assassins. Drawing upon his old abilities, he must take all the heavies down in order to save those he loves.

This appears to be a direct-to-disc DVD only release, so there aren’t many write-ups available yet. Those that have popped up online suggest the feature suffers from a familiar storyline that feels routine and predictable. Still, they do state that it is better-written than other low-budget action titles and benefits from a dependable cast and a few good zingers.

It stars Ben Milliken, Angela Sarafyan, Mark Dacascos and Richard Kind.

LA SOGA: SALVATION: A hit man decides to retire from the business. He quits and moves with his significant other to a seaside resort town. Soon, men from his past arrive and kidnap his lady.

They demand that he perform one last assignment for them (this appears to be a very familiar problem for the hero of these types of movies).

This foreign-language feature from the Dominican Republic is actually a sequel and was released as “La Soga 2 in its homeland.

So far, there are only a few write-ups in this part of the world. One article thought that the cast were solid and that the lead managed to sell the dramatic aspects of the story well. Others critiqued the movie heavily, calling it a poor knock-off of features like Taken and suggesting that it would not thrill viewers. The cast includes Manny Perez, Sarah Jorge León, Hada Vanessa and Chris McGarry.

STOKER HILLS: In this flick, a small group of college students are assigned to shoot a horror picture in the titular small town. Unfortunately, the production gets off to a terrifying start when they are attacked and kidnapped by a real serial killer.

After their disappearance, two detectives are sent to search for the kids. They find their personal items and go through the camera footage, trying to identify the psychopath and locate the students before it’s too late.

So far, the press has panned this effort. They have written that the movie is flat, lacks tension and feels padded out. This group has also complained that there are some major logic problems with the screenplay, saying that even horror fans will have a tough time enduring this feature. Tony Todd, Steffani Brass, David Gridley, Vince Hill-Bedford and Tyler Clark headline the film.

 

BLASTS FROM THE PAST!

It’s a very quiet edition for older features being given Blu-ray upgrades (though next week will more than make up for it).

Full Moon Features is one of the distributors who are delivering something from their vaults. “Prehysteria! 2” (1994) is a straight-to-video family flick and sequel that involves dinosaurs.

In the first movie, a household discovers and takes in a group of tiny ancient reptiles. This picture picks up with the creatures accidentally getting lost and ending up on a plane. When they land, a young girl and her friend discover them. The little dinosaurs help the kids take on their sinister governess.

This Blu-ray includes trailers for other features from the studio, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette. If you’re wondering if the original “Prehysteria!” (1993) is also available on Blu-ray, it was released in 2018 on the format and can also be found at online retailers.

And the other major release comes from Warner Bros., who have the “James Bond: The Daniel Craig 5-Film Collection 4K UHD + Blu-ray” box set.

This contains new, high-quality 4K UHD transfers and Blu-rays of “Casino Royale” (2006) (both the theatrical and unrated cuts are included), as well as “Quantum of Solace” (2008), “Skyfall” (2012), “Spectre” (2015) and “No Time to Die” (2021). Presumably, the box includes all of the previously released extras from earlier editions on the accompanying Blu-rays.

 

YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS!

Here are some titles that may be of interest to children.

“Arthur: Believe in Yourself” (PBS Kids) DVD

“The Batman” (2004 – 2007 Animated Series) Blu-ray

“Blues Clues & You Triple Pack” (Nickelodeon) DVD

“Prehysteria! 2” (1994) Blu-ray

“Scooby-Doo Where Are You!” The Complete Series (Original Animated Show – 3 Seasons) Blu-ray

“SpongeBob Squarepants Triple Pack” (Nickelodeon) DVD

 

ON THE TUBE!

And you’ll find all of the TV-themed releases for the week listed below.

“American Gods” Seasons 1 – 3 Collection DVD

“The Batman” (2004 – 2007 Animated Series) Blu-ray

“Chronicle Mysteries: 3-Movie Collection” (Hallmark Channel) DVD

“Deadhouse Dark” Season 1 (Shudder) DVD

“Highway to Heaven” (Lifetime TV-movie) DVD only

“Manhunt: The Night Stalker” Series 2 (Acorn) Blu-ray and DVD

“Masterpiece: Around the World in 80 Days” (PBS Mini-series) DVD

“The Real Charlie Chaplin” (Showtime Documentary) DVD

“Scooby-Doo Where Are You!” The Complete Series (Original Animated Show – 3 Seasons) Blu-ray

“Stranded in Paradise” (Hallmark Channel) DVD

“Taking the Reins” (Hallmark Channel) DVD

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun