While there are no big names in this week’s home entertainment releases there are a lot of decent offerings including John Francis Daley’s black comedy Game Night, a sexy Jennifer Lawrence espionage film, the delightful Nick Park stop motion-animated Early Man, Todd Haynes’ unjustly neglected Wonderstruck, plus the heavily-populated DC cartoon series Justice League Action, and the hugely popular Nickelodeon hit, The Loud House.
This week’s highest-grossing release is also the most interesting, John Francis Daley’s Game Night
(Warner Bros., “R,” 120 min., $29.98, BD $35.99), an R-rated black comedy that features a sharp script and deft performances by Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman. This sort of dark action-packed comedy can be a very tricky thing to pull off without going too far in any thematic direction, but Daley pulls it off. If you didn’t catch Game Night
in the theater, check it out on disc (or streaming).
Also of interest, especially for fans of Jennifer Lawrence, is Red Sparrow
(Fox, “R,” 140 min., $29.98, BD $34.99, 4K $39.99), which recounts the saga of a ballerina who is pressed into espionage for Russia, a plot that resembles the backstory for Marvel’s Black Widow. While Red Sparrow
is overly long and a bit thin on characterization, it is sexy and Jennifer Lawrence almost singlehandedly makes the whole thing work (at least in part).
Less successful is Clint Eastwood’s 15:17 to Paris (Warner Bros., 120 min., $29.98, BD $35.99), which recounts a real life story of heroism in which three off-duty GI’s (and a Frenchman) prevented a major terrorist incident on a European train. Eastwood remains a smooth old school filmmaker, who understands how to use the camera, but his decision to use the actual real life heroes instead of actual real life actors was unfortunate.
Those who enjoy stop-motion animation will like Nick Park’s Early Man
(Lionsgate, “PG,” 89 min., $24.98, BD $29.98), which contains all the typical Aardman elements, including Rube Goldberg-like ingenuity and sweet humor. Early Man
is one of those animated films that will please both kids and adults.
Another film that has appeal for children, but also plenty of lessons (and entertainment) for adults is Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Brian Selznick’s heavily-illustrated children’s book Wonderstruck
(Amazon, 115 min., $19.98, BD $24.98). Wonderstruck
is not your typical children’s fare, it has a sophisticated storyline, stately exposition, and a bittersweet and emotionally touching finale. Wonderstruck
was unjustly neglected in its theatrical run (being from Amazon Studios didn’t help the film’s theatrical distribution), and definitely deserves a second look.
TV on DVD
The top domestic TV releases for the geek audience this week are mostly animated, led by Justice League Action: Battles From Beyond Season 1, Part 2
(Warner Bros., 286 min., $18.94), which includes episodes14-26 of the 52-episode Cartoon Network series that debuted in December of 2016 and features a huge number of characters from the DC Universe, something that makes this series of interest to older DC comics fans as well as kids.
Another animated gem due on Tuesday is The Loud House: It Gets Louder, Season 1, Part 2
(Nickelodeon, 286 min., $16.99), presents the 13 episodes from the second half of the first season of Chris Savino’s series, which quickly became the #1 kids’ animated TV series when it debuted in mid-2016.
Also of interest, especially to Scooby-Doo
fans, is Daphne and Velma: An Original Movie
(Warner Bros., 72 min., $19.76, BD $24.98), an animated movie that takes place before Daphne and Velma joined Mystery Inc., so the rest of the gang isn’t there, but it turns out that these “BFFs” knew how to follow a clue long before they joined up with Shaggy et al.
The top live action TV release is Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Singles Collection
(Shout Factory, 480 min., $59.99), which collects some of the earliest MST3K shows that were issued on solo DVDs. This collection includes The Crawling Hand, The Hellcats, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, Eegah
, and I Accuse My Parents.
Offerings from overseas include a new BBC adaptation of the American classic Little Women (PBS, 176 min., $29.99, BD $34.99), which is currently airing on PBS. Opinions about this adaptation are diverse, with some resenting the changes from the book and some added dialogue, but the production values of this series are definitely first rate.
Another BBC period drama is the 1950s/60s saga Call the Midwife: Season 7 (BBC, 567 min., $29.98), which tackles a lot of different social issues as the dedicated midwives ply their trade in London’s East End in the early 1960s.
The top release on Tuesday is the “subtitles-only” Rin-ne 3 Complete Collection
(Sentai Filmworks, “TV-14.” 625 min., $69.98, BD $89.98), which includes episodes 35-51 of the 75-episode series from Brain’s Base that adapts the supernatural manga series by Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma ½
), that has sold over 3 million volumes in Japan.
This week’s offerings also include the fan-service-filled Tsugumomo: The Complete Series (Funimation, “TV-MA,” 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), a 12-episode 2017 supernatural harem comedy from Zero-G that is based on the seinen manga by Yoshikazu Hamada about a teenage exorcist and his bevy of female spirit helpers.