Top Gun: Maverick
What is it? A sequel sixty-nine times better than the original.
Why see it? You always hope that a legacy sequel — one arriving decades after the original — will actually turn out to be good, but you almost never expect it to surpass the original in every way. Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to Tony Scott’s 80s hit is the superior film as it brings Tom Cruise’s Maverick back in spectacular fashion in a film that delivers both nostalgia beats and new thrills. Is the third act basically copied from Star Wars? Sure, but who cares when the energy, entertainment, and enthusiasm are this confident and terrific. Add in a supporting cast bringing the goods with the likes of Glen Powell, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, and Monica Barbaro being highlights. Val Kilmer also returns for an extremely touching appearance. Cruise’s commitment to professionalism and realism means he had cast members log hundreds of hours of flight time including in actual fighter jets. The result is a movie that looks and feels like an old school, (mostly) CG-free adventure bringing real thrills back to the screen. There’s only a single downside to the film — no room for a Meg Ryan or Kelly McGillis cameo? Lame. The disc is also home to a single issue too — no commentary from Kosinski and Cruise!
The Classic Christmas Specials Collection [4K UHD]
What is it? Three stop-motion holiday favorites in 4K!
Why see it? Viewers of a certain age will remember these specials as certified classics, and their magical power remains even today. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town all bring sweet stories, fun stop-motion animation, catchy jingles, and more while tickling your nostalgia in wonderful ways. The films come on both UHD and Blu-ray, one per disc, and the bonus features are plentiful including commentaries on two of them along with featurettes looking at the productions. Honestly, every home should have these in their collection whether there are kids around or not.
[Extras: Documentary, featurettes, commentaries]
Escape from Alcatraz [4K UHD, KL Studio Classics]
What is it? The true story of the only three inmates to ever escape Alcatraz.
Why see it? The pairing of Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel is one of the most consistent in Hollywood. Their fifth and final collaboration is their most grounded and dramatic with Eastwood playing a bank robber who masterminds an escape alongside two other inmates. It’s an engaging tale, one that lets you essentially choose your own finale — the real people succeeded in escaping and were never found again, meaning they went on with their lives or drowned. Regardless of the ending, it’s a successful drama with compelling characters and a strong turn by Eastwood. Kino’s new disc delivers a sharp new picture bringing the shadows of prison life to detailed existence.
[Extras: New 4K scan and remaster, commentary, interviews]
Bedtime for Bonzo [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A scientific experiment leads to love.
Why see it? We all know Ronald Reagan was a terrible president, but what this entry presupposes is, what if he was also a pretty mediocre actor? I kid, but also, he’s absolutely outshined by the chimpanzee here. Reagan plays a scientist hoping to prove that “right and wrong” are learned behaviors, and hijinks ensue! It’s a simple little comedy, remembered mostly because of its lead actor, but it’s also never looked better than it does on Kino’s new Blu-ray.
[Extras: New 2K master, commentary]
What is it? A man and his daughter are held captive by Emile Hirsch.
Why see it? Thomas Jane may not have reached the levels of stardom he deserves, but that doesn’t mean his career is a dud. This minor thriller sees him as a guilt-ridden man whose actions led to the death of his wife. His teen daughter — who also blames herself — has never forgiven him, but they have a new issue when a pair of thugs take them hostage. Jane and a goofily violent Emile Hirsch are the big draws here, but both Liana Liberato and Harlow Jane are equally compelling here. Things go pretty much where you’re expecting, but it’s a solid watch.
Earth Girls Are Easy [Vestron Video]
What is it? A so-cal valley girl befriends three aliens.
Why see it? Some comedies thrive with a stellar cast, while others stumble despite it. This silly romp isn’t bad, but it should be far, far better given the cast that includes Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, and co-writer Julie Brown. It’s a fairly broad comedy, and if you’re on its wavelength it’s fine, but if you’re looking for something a bit more grounded you’ll probably be out of luck. Still, kudos to Vestron for giving it a remaster and new extras.
[Extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes, deleted scenes]
Fancy Pants [KL Studio Classics]
What is it? A rom-com/western!
Why see it? Real talk, it’s hard to go wrong with Lucille Ball and Bob Hope. Both talents are extremely funny performers in their own right, and their pairing makes for double the fun. The plot is somewhat familiar for Hope as he plays a man who’s not quite who he pretends to be, but the charm is in the duo bantering, wisecracking, and flirting with each other. Basically, the movie is fine and they’re great.
[Extras: New 4K scan]
The Witch: The Other One
What is it? A sequel to a South Korean banger.
Why see it? Park Hoon-jung’s The Witch: Part 1 – Subversion is one of 2018’s best action/genre films (and one of the best in the past few years too) with its blend of killer martial arts action and X-Men shenanigans. It’s a complete tale with a great finale, but there’s more to the story. This sequel is less of a direct entry and more of a new tale in the same world. There’s still dark fun to be had here, but the action sadly underwhelms as it relies less on martial arts skills and more on CG and wire-work. It’s still a solid watch, but the compelling bits are more world-building than action-oriented. So yeah, we’re still excited for the third film!
Also out this week:
Aqua Teen Forever: Plantasm, Audrey Rose [Arrow Video], Casablanca [4K UHD], Christmas Cruelty, A Christmas Story [4K UHD], Christmas Vacation [4K UHD], Daisies [Criterion Collection], Devil’s Workshop, Elf [4K UHD], The Enforcer, Felix and Lola/Love Street, The Good Boss, In the Mood for Love [4K UHD, Criterion Collection], Incredible But True [Arrow Video], The Power of the Dog [Criterion Collection], The Running Man [4K UHD], She Will
Source by filmschoolrejects.com