This week’s Valentine’s Day home entertainment offerings include the superb cerebral science fiction film Arrival, the excellent coming-of-age saga Edge of Seventeen, along with a couple of solid TV neo-noirs based on books by Max Allan Collins and Joe R. Lansdale, both of whom have worked in comics, plus at last a reasonably priced Blu-ray of Star Trek: Enterprise, along with an unfortunately incomplete Beavis & Butt-head collection.

Theatrical Movies

This week’s movie releases include plenty of offerings for those who enjoy challenging films including Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (Paramount, “PG-13,” 116 min., $29.98, BD $39.98, Ultra BD $48.98), a well-acted, thought-provoking hard sci-fi film with virtually no action, though there is one explosion.  Arrival is a cerebral science fiction film that will disappoint those who want science fiction movies to be action films with spaceships and ray-guns.  Arrival will finish its domestic run with $100 million at the box office, which demonstrates that there is an audience for realistic science fiction films that take the possibility of alien encounters seriously.

Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen (Universal, “R,” 210 min., $29.98, BD $34.98) is one of the best “coming-of-age” films in years.  Hailee Steinfeld (the True Grit remake) stars as a socially awkward teen, still dealing with recent death of her father, and Woody Harrelson plays a sympathetic teacher in this saga, which has the good sense to mix some humor in with its hard-earned teenage angst.

Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk (Sony, “R,” 113 min., $26.99, BD $30.99, 4KBD $45.99) is the latest in a long line of Iraq War films that have suffered ignominious box office failure.  Sometime in the future this film, which mixes a PTSD flashback melodrama with a satirical look at American life at its phoniest, may well be rehabilitated because it captures some of the contradictions of our era in which we rely on an army of volunteers to fight our battles while the massive economic engine that is America plows ahead with a just a few nominal nods in the direction of those who are sacrificing their lives in conflicts of dubious purpose. 

Those who enjoy boxing movies might want to check out Bleed for This (Universal, “R,” 234 min., $29.98, BD $34.98), which is based on the true story of Vinny Pazienza, who in midst of a successful boxing career is horribly injured in a car accident, but fights his way back against the odds to win a decision against the powerful Roberto Duran.  While this movie can’t avoid the obvious sports movie cliches, Miles Teller gives a powerful performance.  Bleed for This was a box office bomb, but that is more likely because of the film’s unfortunate title, and the fact that the only boxing movies that seem to have any box office success these days are somehow affiliated with the Rocky franchise.


This week’s offerings include a couple of excellent neo-noir series, especially Quarry: The Complete First Season (HBO, 340 min., $24.98, BD $34.98), the 8-episode Cinemax series based on the Quarry novels by Max Allan Collins (Ms. Tree, Road to Perdition, Dick Tracy) about a Marine sniper who returns from Vietnam to Memphis in 1972 and slides into a career as a professional assassin.  The mood of this 1970s period piece is consistently bleak, but the characters never fail to interest, and evoking the gritty Mississippi River valley backgrounds comes natural for Collins, who was born on the river in Muscatine, Iowa.

Also of interest to fans of neo-noir is Hap and Leonard: Season 1 (Starz, 257 min., $39.98), which collects the six-episode series that aired on the Sundance Channel and is based on the novels Joe R. Lansdale, who like Collins has written for the comics (as well as for the Batman: Animated series, and provided the source material for Bubba Ho-Tep).  Hap and Leonard, which is set in the 1980s, is an East Texas-set swamp noir suffused with almost equal amounts of hyper violence and dark humor.

As predicted here a few weeks ago (see “DVD Round-Up: The Accountant”) Paramount is now releasing Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Series (Paramount, 4,296 min., BD $117.98) at a lower price on Blu-ray.  Buyers should be forewarned that this delayed release of the Blu-ray version appears to be stock tactic by Paramount, which is in the process of releasing the Star Trek canon in lowered-priced editions. All four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise have already been released on Blu-ray individually, but this is the first time that the entire series is available on BD.

The only other contemporary series due on Tuesday is the Civil War medical drama Mercy Street: Season 2 (PBS, $39.98).

The most problematic vintage TV release is Beavis and Butt-head: The Complete Collection (Paramount, 1041 min., $45.98), which does have a low price for the amount of material, though it is far from a “complete” since entire episodes are missing along with numerous videos (with B&B’s priceless commentary).  Licensing music for release on disc has proven to be a real problem for fans, especially now that sales are down.  Let’s hope that at some point in the future all the Beavis and Butt-head episodes will be available commercially—they are currently available in pirated editions, and poorly-produced incomplete release like this “Complete Collection” represent some of the major reasons why the black market for TV videos remains so vibrant.

Other vintage TV releases include the groundbreaking 1970s police series Kojak: Season 1 (Universal, 1,121 min., $29.98); Liberty’s Kids: The Complete Series (Mill Creek, 866 min., $14.98), the patriotic animated series that aired on PBS in 2002; True Women: The Complete Miniseries Event (Mill Creek, 183 min., $14.98), which contains the 1997 miniseries that depicted the lives of five generations of Texas women; and Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (Kino, 84 min., $19.95), the fourth of five film sequels to the long-running western series starring James Arness as Marshal Matt Dillon.


For many this week’s top anime release will be One Piece Collection 18 (Funimation, 600 min., $34.95), which contains 24 episodes of the long-running anime based on the manga by Eichiro Oda that now reached 84 volumes.  The episodes in this collection, which have been released before in 12-episode sets at a higher per-episode cost, are among the series’ best and feature some of this pirate epic’s most interesting characters.

As for titles that have never been released on disc before in North America, this week’s offerings are all “subtitles only” releases, and as such represent a growing trend—now only what the anime companies consider the top new series get English language dubbed soundtracks.  The good news is that this should allow for the release of more anime series that might have been passed over in the past because they represent genres (sports, mysteries, etc.) that haven’t done that well in the North American market.  Case in point is the period gothic mystery fantasy anime The Mystic Archives of Dantalian: Complete Colleciton (Funimation, 300 min., Subtitles Only, BD/DVD Combo $39.98), a 12-episode Gainax-produced series from 2011 that is based on a series of light novels by Gakuto Mikumo that is set in Great Britain in the 1920s.

Another subtitles only offering of interest is the Comet Lucifer: Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, 300 min., Subtitles only, $49.98, BD $59.98), which collects the 12-episode 2015 anime from 8-Bit that was simulcast on Crunchyroll.  The teenage protagonist of Comet Lucifer is collecting crystals on a prosperous mining planet when he meets a red-eyed blue-haired girl with telekinetic powers, and sets in motion a series of fantasy adventures.

This week’s lone re-priced re-release is the S.A.V.E. Edition of the Nobunagun Complete Collection (Funimation, 325 min., BD/DVD $29.98).