This week’s home entertainment offerings include three box office bombs that are definitely worth a look, plus a thought-provoking documentary about church and state in contemporary America, and a classic anime comedy produced by Kyoto Animation, which suffered extreme damage this week in a fire set by a deranged individual that killed 34 studio employees.

Theatrical Movies

There are three movies with real interest this week in spite of the fact that they all bombed at the box office.  The most elaborately produced film of this trio is Alita: Battle Angel (Fox, “PG-13,” 122 min., $29.98, BD $34.98, 4K $49.99).   James Cameron handed this project, which is based on a popular manga and had been In development for over 10 years, to fellow director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), and though it was a box office failure, this live-action manga adaptation has plenty of visual flair and flash, plus a strong performance from Rosa Salazar in the title role.  Sci-fi and action movie fans who missed Alita in theaters should take the time to check it out in the aftermarket.

Neil Marshall’s attempt to reboot the Hellboy franchise was even more of a box office failure than Battle Angel Alita.  The new Hellboy (Lionsgate, “R,” $29.95, BD $39.99, 4K $42.99) is the third live-action film in the franchise.  Guillermo Del Toro directed the first two films and was preparing a third, but the studio wanted more control so Del Toro (and then actor Ron Perlman) bowed out.  Marshall added more violence, but not more narrative coherence, to a film that used elements from at least four different Hellboy comic storylines, “Darkness Calls,” “The Wild Hunt,” “The Storm and the Fury,” and “Hellboy in Mexico.”

Laika’s stop-motion animated adventure film Missing Link (Fox, “PG,” $29.98, BD $34.98) was yet another box office bomb, earning just $15.4 million at the domestic box office against a $100 million cost.  But this genial film with superior voice talent (Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson, and Stephen Fry) earned a stellar 89% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and is definitely worth watching, especially if there are kids involved.

For those who enjoy documentaries there is Penny Lane’s Hail Satan? (Magnolia Pictures, “R,” 94 min., $26.98), an illuminating look at the five-year rise of the Satanic Temple activists, who are far more interested in preserving the separation of church and state in America than actual devil worshipping.  Thought-provoking and slyly humorous, Hail Satan? questions the notion that Christian churches are under attack in America.


Ironically in view of the horrific fire that took 34 lives this past week at the Kyoto Animation Studio (see “Damage From Kyoto Animation Fire Labeled ‘Extreme’”), this week’s top anime release is an English dubbed, high-def version of the 26-episode 2011 Nichijou anime produced by Kyoto Animation.  Nichijou: My Everyday Life—The Complete Series (Funimation, 650 min., BD $64.98) is a slice-of-life comedy based on the manga by Keiichi Arawi about three teen girls, an android school girl, and a talking cat, all of whom greatly enliven everyday life in the town of Tokisadame.

Speaking of androids, this week’s other major anime release is the Cutie Honey Universe: Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, “TV-14,” 300 min., $69.98). This 2018 production is the fifth anime series based on Ga Nagai’s Cutie Honey manga franchise, and an important part of the celebration of Nagai’s 50th anniversary as a manga artist.


There is only one release of interest this week in this fast-diminishing category, the NBC supernatural drama Manifest: Season 1 (Warner Bros., 960 min., $29.98), which concerns an airliner, which suddenly appears after being “missing” for five years.