This weekly post will be devoted to going over a selection of new releases hitting the store shelves on Blu-ray, 4K UHD Blu-ray, DVD. Depending on the week, I may even include a few new streaming titles. The purpose is to shed light on old and new physical releases, as there are always plenty of films to catch up with. It could be a new studio film release, a classic or cult classic film title, or even a television release worth paying attention to. Ideally, they will include some extra features as well, whether it’s an informative commentary track or some retrospective documentaries. So continue to see what’s in store for those looking to take home one or more new titles this week.
Releasing on March 20, 2018:
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (4K UHD/Blu-ray/DVD)
I would imagine many weren’t anticipating a Jumanji reboot starring The Rock, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan to become the mega-blockbuster hit that it turned out to be this time last year. The key to success seemed simple enough to help other studios ideally learn better about their future attempts to take on old IP for new movies – as opposed to remaking, try rebooting. Putting the audience in the game was a fun idea to work with for Welcome to the Jungle, as it made for an enjoyable action-comedy, with solid star performances. The Blu-ray is not providing too many in-depth extras, as it’s mainly boasting the gag reel, but the film’s setting does make for a solid technical presentation.
Pitch Perfect 3 (4K UHD/Blu-ray/DVD)
While I have not seen this trilogy capper, I’ve heard from even the biggest fans of this musical-comedy series that Pitch Perfect 3 could practically be equated to a war crime. Picking up after a majority of the Bellas have graduated college and split apart to pursue their careers, an opportunity comes for them to reunite and join the USO tour. The whole cast returns and new add-ons include John Lithgow and Ruby Rose. Apparently, that only made things worse, as the film seemed to have little to offer for those enjoying this aca-franchise beyond some new musical numbers. Speaking of which, the home release offers new and extended musical performances, a gag reel, multiple commentary tracks and what everyone was probably hoping for – a featurette highlighting DJ Khaled’s presence in the film.
Downsizing (4K UHD/Blu-ray/DVD)
While Downsizing is looked at mostly as a misfire for director Alexander Payne and star Matt Damon, the film did have a fun premise. What if the world had the technology to shrink people, aiding in the world’s plight to take on economic and geographic issues? Presented as a social satire, Downsizing was not without its problems, but whether one likes the quirkier first half or, the more message and character-driven second half (featuring some great supporting characters), there is something to admire in this ambitious mess of a film. The Blu-ray release features some small featurettes going over the design and conception of the film. Sadly, there are not smaller copies available.
The Burbs – Shout Select Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
This horror-comedy cult favorite starring Tom Hanks is as much a fun movie as it is a fine experiment. Director Joe Dante wanted to make a film contained entirely on the neighborhood housing block on the Universal lot. Why his way of doing that was by making a movie about paranoid neighbors snooping on the bizarre new family living amongst them is unclear. Regardless, Shout Factory has released a new Blu-ray edition of the film, featuring a new 2K remaster and several new interviews to be enjoyed by any fan of this wacky 80s flick.
The Passion of Joan of Arc – The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray/DVD)
Regarded as a masterpiece of the silent film era, this new home release for The Passion of Joan of Arc is sure to be an excellent choice for any film fan’s collection. The 1928 film chronicles the trial of Joan of Arc in the days leading up to her execution. Renowned for its impressive cinematography and lighting, along with the use of interconnected sets and intimate close-ups, this was a film that pushed things forward as far as storytelling through the film medium. The new Blu-ray features a new high-def digital restoration and multiple presentations of the movie at various frames per second, three different scores, and various interviews. Quite the package for all who are interested.
Ichi The Killer – Definitive Remastered Edition (Blu-ray)
Here’s a film with plenty of fans, even if my taste for some of Takashi Miike films is a bit minimal. Ichi the Killer is a hyper-violent comic book movie inspired by a manga series. It involves the crime-ridden side of Shinjuku and a sadistic Yakuza killer. There’s an elaborate plan involved thanks to an ex-cop working to pit all the Japanese gangsters against each other. It’s mostly an excuse for an elaborate number of violent and wild sequences. As mentioned, the film has a lot of admirers, and they are in luck, because Well Go USA is releasing a newly restored edition of the director’s cut of the film. There’s also a commentary track to enjoy as well.
The Black Scorpion – Warner Archive Collection (Blu-ray)
I have never seen The Black Scorpion, but I do enjoy a 50s b-movie as much the next person. From what I can tell, this monster movie involves giant scorpions released from caverns deep beneath the earth’s surface by an earthquake. The film features effects co-designed by Willis O’Brien, the man who brought us King Kong, which is enough reason to think Warner Archive has a fun retro flick they’ve decided to bring back on this new release. Not hurting is the extras that come with this Blu-ray. In addition to a new remaster of the video, there are a few featurettes involving the creature design, which is enough for me to think this disc is worth checking out.
The Seven-Ups (Blu-ray)
I am happy to see The Seven-Ups scoring a Blu-ray release this week. This forgotten crime flick is notable for having one of the best car chases from an era that also gave us The French Connection and Vanishing Point. The great Roy Scheider stars as a New York cop who is part of an elite unit and becomes embroiled in a plot involving mobsters and kidnapping. It’s not on the level of other great crime dramas from this time, but I did mention the car chase, which easily makes it worthwhile. Thanks to Twilight Time, fans can now pick this one up in high definition.