This week’s home entertainment offerings include only one hit, the horror thriller Don’t Breathe, and three major box office misfires, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, David Lowery’s Pete’s Dragon, and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, which are, nevertheless, worthy of a second look—plus there’s a full slate of anime (including the second season of Netflix’s first original anime series), and a Doctor Who Monsters Gift Set that comes with a replica of the Tenth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver.

Theatrical Movies

The top movie release this week is Fede Alvarez’s horror thriller Don’t Breathe (Sony, “R,” 88 min., $30.99, BD $34.99), a taut thriller about three kids (with varying motives) who break into the house of a blind man, who has received a big insurance payout.  But the sightless victim (played by Stephen Lang, the nearly un-killable marine from James Cameron’s Avatar) is a tough military vet with a dark side and some serious battle skills.  For those who enjoy well done genre films, 2016 has been a banner year largely on the basis of two minor genre film masterpieces, Hell or High Water (see “DVD Round-Up: Kubo, Hell or High Water”) and Don’t Breathe.

Also better than expected was Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon (Disney, “PG,” 103 min., BD $39.99), a heartwarming tale that takes full advantage of today’s advances in CGI, but really works because of solid performances from Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, and the young Oakes Fegley.  The only problem is that Disney is not releasing a 3D version (yet) in spite of the fact that the original film made excellent use of the new 3D process.  Pete’s Dragon snared a very strong 86% positive rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, but the film was largely overlooked by audiences during this past crowded summer.  Pete’s Dragon is excellent family entertainment and merits a better fate than it received at the box office.

Another film that got great notices (75% positive on RT), but made a dismal showing at the box office is Steven Spielberg’s The BFG (Disney, “PG,” 103 min., BD/DVD Combo $39.99), an adaptation (by Melissa Mathison) of the children’s book by Roald Dahl.  Yes, Spielberg and Mathison toned down some of the darker aspects of Dahl’s story, but its essence remains.  As was the case with Pete’s Dragon, The BFG is solid family entertainment that deserves to be seen, and once again, Disney is not releasing the 3D version of the film at this time, a slap in the face to the growing number of viewers who have 3D capability at home.

Those who enjoyed Absolutely Fabulous on TV will find much to like about Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (Fox, “R,” 91 min., $29.99, $39.99).  Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley bring their over-the-top hilarity to the big screen in a film that has plenty of a kind of light effervescent fun that has just about vanished from most Hollywood comedies.

This week’s other release is not nearly as edifying.  The Wild Life (Lionsgate, “PG,” 91 min., $29.98, BD $34.98) is a Franco-Belgian animated feature that wastes a solid concept—retelling Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe from the point of view of the animals on the island where he was marooned.  Unfortunately this half-baked production, which could muster only a 15% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes is just another example of the proliferation of second-rate computer-animated productions.  With its drab backgrounds, obvious 3D effects (once again no 3D for home release, at least yet), and lack of consistent animal characterizations, The Wild Life is just plain disappointing.


It’s a very light week with only the Doctor Who: Monsters Gift Set (BBC, $24.98) of much interest to geek viewers.  This themed sampler includes 11 episodes featuring those wonderful Whovian antagonists The Cybermen and the Daleks fighting an array of Timelords from both the old and new Doctor Who series (Tom Baker, Peter Davison, David Tennant, Matt Smith, and Peter Capaldi).  The episodes come on 4 discs, but the coolest thing about this set is the replica of the 10th Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver.

Also out this week is the Showtime series House of Lies: The Fifth and Final Season (Showtime, 280 min., $39.98) features the final episodes of the corporate/backroom series starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell.

This week’s top overseas offering is the drama/comedy Brief Encounters (Acorn Media, 288 min., $39.99), which follows the lives of four English women, who come together in the early 1980s when they join  a “Tupperware” like marketing group that organizes parties for housewives in order to sell lingerie and sex toys.


This week will see the North American disc release of a number of interesting anime series including Death Parade (Funimation, 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98, Ltd. Ed. $84.98), a 12-episode anime TV series from Madhouse that was written and directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa.  Based on an anime short (by Tachikawa), Death Parade is an anthology anime set a supernatural fantasy bar suspended between the world of the living and that of the dead.  People who expire at the same exact time compete in games with very high stakes—the winner will be reincarnated, while the loser is sent into the void.  The Limited Edition comes in a special art box and includes 8 exclusive art cards.

For mecha fans there is Heavy Object, Season 1, Part 1 (Funimation, 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), which collects the first 12-episodes of the 24-episode 2016 series that is based on a series of light novels by Kazumi Kamachi that is set in a factionalized future where warfare is conducted exclusively by mecha until two intrepid teens bring down the Faith Coalition’s Water Strider mecha all by themselves.

Another mecha offering is Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine Complete Collection (Sentai Filmworks, 308 min., $59.98, BD $69.98, Combo $99.98), which collects the second 12-episode season of Netflix’s first original anime series, an action-packed, adult mecha saga produced by Polygon Pictures that is surprisingly good.

For those who value fan service-filled comedy there is Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist (Funimation, 300 min., BD/DVD Combo $64.98), which is also based on a series of light novels (by Hirotaka Akagi) set in a sterile future Japan where obscenity has been outlawed, but dirty jokes find a champion in Blue Snow, a sexy and perverted verbal terrorist who kidnaps the hapless teen hero and forces him to join her “revolution.”