Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2018 Part 7: DVDs and Blu-rays (Part One)

TV Shows, Family Films, Classics, and More

Dec 18, 2018 By Mark Redfern and Austin Trunick Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
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Welcome to part 7 of our Holiday Gift Guide 2018, which centers of DVDs and Blu-rays. We're splitting this section into two parts, as we were sent quite a few releases to include in it. This installment includes family friendly films, as well as TV shows and some movies (including some classics and some more recent films). It includes some travels through time and space, some animated adventures, and an impressive collection celebrating an iconic filmmaker.

We have previously posted part 1 of our 2018 gift guide (for video games), as well as part 2 (for board games), part 3 (for technology), and part 4 (for collectibles). Then there was part 5, for toys and other gifts for kids and parents, which was split into two parts: one on kid-friendly toys, books, and DVDs/Blu-rays and another one on kid-friendly board games and technology. Part 6 covered apparel and household items. And in the next week or so we will still also be posting more gift guides centering on more DVDs/Blu-rays, music box sets and reissues, and books and comic books. And don't forget that Under the Radar subscriptions also make a great gift. Plus donating to the charity of your choice in the name of the gift receiver is also a good way to go.

Ingmar Bergman's Cinema (The Criterion Collection)

RRP: $299.

Few names loom as large over the history of art-house cinema than Ingmar Bergman's. To mark what would have been the late director's 100th birthday, The Criterion Collection-home video's most revered stewards of film history-have issued what is easily the most ambitious release within their library of nearly 1000 titles. Ingmar Bergman's Cinema is a meticulous and far-reaching survey of the Swedish maverick's long and varied career behind the camera, collecting 39 of his films across 30 discs. Housed in two colossal, slipcased tomes that resemble (both in design and weight) a beautiful coffee-table book by the likes of Taschen rather than a mere Blu-ray boxed set, cracking into Ingmar Bergman's Cinema may be the most monumental undertaking any fan of international film could embark upon.

Bergman's directing career stretched almost 60 years, beginning with his debut feature Crisis in 1946 and lasting through his final film, 2003's Saraband, released only five years before his death. Stunningly productive in his native SwedenBergman made 15 films in those first 10 yearshis international breakthrough did not arrive until 1955's Smiles of a Summer Night, a winsome comedy that won him acclaim the world around. With the windfall of good faith it earned him, Bergman entered a creative period that yielded films that were not only personal pinnacles, but regarded by many to be among the best and most influential films ever made: 1957's The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries, his "trilogy of faith" (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, and The Silence), and 1966's landmark Persona. Bergman earned an unshakeable reputation for perpetual dournessto say he had a preoccupation with human suffering wouldn't be inaccuratewhich was only cemented by much of his output during the 1970s. (An encounter with 1972's unforgettable Cries and Whispers, maybe one of the most emotionally crushing films ever made, effectively frightened this writer away from Bergman's work for half a decade.)

We'd guess that many American cinephiles' exposure to Bergman has already been curated, to some degree, by The Criterion Collection. While 21 of the films featured in this set have been issued by the label in some form or another, there are 18 more here that had previously seen little or no release on domestic home video. While any film studies education (even self-conducted) will expose a budding cineaste to several of the consensus classics of Bergman's catalogue, settling afterward on how one will approach the remainder of his massive oeuvre is a daunting decision for even the most dedicated of cinematic explorers. Criterion have chosen to present this box set in the format of a film festival, with an opener and closer and numerous centerpiece films, suggesting double-headers and lumping together features from throughout Bergman's career based on shared themes, rather than chronological release dates. It's a wonderful idea, and one that certainly makes diving in to such a large canon feel much less formidable.

Of course, this wouldn't be a Criterion release without a host of enlightening extras, and we'll say that those found in Ingmar Bergman's Cinema are proportionate to the volume of films it tackles. You'll find extensive interviews with all of Bergman's regular collaboratorsand more than five hours of interview footage with the director himself. Six of the films have full-length audio commentaries, while six more have Making Of documentaries. (That's not including the handful of Bergman documentaries found here that were made by other directors.) You'll also find stills, trailers, video appreciations, and introductions, as well as a gigantic, 248-page book that accompanies the set, full of striking photographs and essays by both Bergman and Bergman critics.

While it's conceivable that someone could plow through all of the films here in a brief period of time, we're not sure what that would do to them. These films are best savored, and given time to dwell in the viewer's psyche. (One does not simply binge watch six decades' worth of challenging art-house films.) Working through the set at a leisurely pace, taking in the bonus materials and allowing the films their space, Ingmar Bergman's Cinema should give the cinema fan in your life years' worth of viewing pleasure. There's never been a home video set of this magnitude before, and there may never be one to rival it. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

 

Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Deluxe Limited Edition) Blu-ray (Warner Bros.)

RRP: $112.99

Batman: The Animated Series is continually voted as one of the best animated TV shows of all time and also won four Emmy Awards, all for good reason. The show, which debuted in 1992, the same year as Tim Burton's Batman Returns film (the one with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman), took the character seriously. It had film noir and art deco influences, but wasn't so dark that kids couldn't watch it. And it influenced the comic books too: Harley Quinn was first introduced in the show before becoming a major character on the print page and on the big screen. The series has been on DVD before, but now it's been released on Blu-ray for the first time. It includes the two seasons where it was titled Batman: The Animated Series and then The Adventures of Batman & Robin (in season two), as well as the third season when it moved from Fox Kids to Kids' WB and was re-titled The New Batman Adventures. All-in-all it's 109 episodes. Also included in the Deluxe Limited Edition is the theatrical film based on the show, 1992's Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and it's straight-to-video sequel, 1998's Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero!, as well as three mini POP figures of Batman, Harley Quinn, and The Joker. Some fans consider Kevin Conroy's voice acting as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Hark Hamill's voice work as The Joker to be the very best interpretations of the characters, characters they continue playing in various TV shows, direct-to-DVD movies, and video games to this day. Certainly when reading Batman comics it's easy to hear Conroy's voice in your head when Batman speaks. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

The Big Lebowski: 20th Anniversary Edition (Universal)

RRP: $19.99, or $59.98 for limited edition

The cult around The Big Lebowski has certainly grown in the two decades since its release. (If an entire festival dedicated to one movie isn't an indicator of its cult status, we don't know what is.) The wackiest film in the Coen Brothers' off-kilter filmography stars Jeff Bridges as The Dude, an easygoing guy who gets roughed up and his favorite area rug soiled by thugs thanks to a case of mistaken identity. When he sets out to get the carpet replaced, he gets caught up in a much bigger and potentially dangerous extortion plot. With a cast that includes Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Julianne Moore, and John Goodman, the incredibly odd The Big Lebowski is an easily acquired taste. This 20th anniversary edition brings the film to 4K definition and ports over the many great bonus features found on prior releases of the movie. Also available is a limited edition complete with a tiny bowling ball and replica of the Dude's sweater-this edition would look pretty nice on your media shelf, and you might even say it would tie the room together. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

The 'Burbs: Collector's Edition Blu-ray (Shout! Factory)

SRP: $29.99

A year after 1988's Big, and several years before his back-to-back Best Actor Academy Awards for 1993's Philadelphia and 1994's Forest Gump, Tom Hanks teamed with director Joe Dante for this quirky dark comedy. The entire film takes place on a cul-de-sac in a suburban neighborhood, with Hanks playing Ray Peterson, a family man who has elected to spend his vacation at home, rather than go away with his family. Carrie Fisher, six years removed from playing Princess Leia, is Hank's wife Carol Peterson. The film pokes fun at suburban living, when Peterson and his neighbors Art Weingartner (Rick Ducommun), Lt. Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), and resident metal-head Ricky Butler (Corey Feldman) become suspicious of the Klopeks, the creepy and mysterious new family that's moved to the street (Henry Gibson plays patriarch Dr. Werner Klopek). Are the Klopeks secretly inbred murderers doing science experiments in their basement or are Ray and his friends just being nosy and bored? The friends eventually go to great lengths to find out. While The 'Burbs isn't as memorable as some of Dante's other films of the decade, most notably 1984's Gremlins and 1987's Innerspace, it is still an amusing diversion due to a game cast and an over the top climax that brings new meaning to the phrase "there goes the neighborhood." The new Shout Select release of the film includes a new 2k scan of the interpositive, audio commentary with the film's screenwriter, Dana Olsen, a making of documentary featuring Dante, Feldman, and others, an alternate ending, and the original workprint cut including deleted and extended scenes. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Coco Blu-ray/DVD (Disney)

RRP: $39.99

Pixar's track record is fairly stellar. The computer animation imprint of Disney has had few misfires. Perhaps the Cars films and 2015's The Good Dinosaur are less beloved than classics such as the Toy Story franchise, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out, but they aren't actively hated by many. 2017's Coco continued Pixar's winning streak with a moving and beautifully realized tale of a 12-year-old Mexican boy, Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), whose dream of becoming a musician defies his parents. When he accidentally ends up in the afterlife on the Day of the Dead, Miguel is forced to confront his family history and the secrets of his ancestors. Coco was acclaimed by critics, won numerous awards, and became the biggest grossing film in history at the Mexican box office, a signal that director Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and the other filmmakers did a good job representing the culture and traditions of that country. The Blu-ray/DVD includes over two hours of bonus features, including deleted scenes, commentary, and documentaries. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

   

Community: The Complete Series Blu-ray or DVD (Mill Creek Entertainment)

SRP: $40.83 for Blu-ray, $33.99 for DVD

It's hard to believe that next year marks the 10th anniversary of the first episode of Community. Prior to Community, star Joel McHale was already known for hosting The Soup and Chevy Chase was a 1970s/1980s comedy icon, but the rest of the cast was fairly unknown. The final season aired in 2015. Since then, Donald Glover has gone on to become a much bigger star, creating and starring in the acclaimed show Atlanta and becoming a music star as Childish Gambino. Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie have both starred in well-liked Netflix shows (Love and G.L.O.W., respectfully). John Oliver now hosts the HBO political comedy show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. And creator Dan Harmon later co-created the animated hit Rick and Morty. Back in 2009, however, most of those actors were mainly known for playing the students at Greendale Community College. It soon became clear that Community wasn't an average sitcom, as it parodied sitcom and film tropes from the get go, such as season 1 episode "Modern Warfare" that riffed on action films when a paintball game got out of hand and season 3's "Pillows and Blankets," which made fun of the Ken Burns documentary The Civil War, when the school splits into two factions, those who make pillow forts and those who make blanket forts. Millcreek has collected the complete series on DVD and Blu-ray. It includes the fourth season, for which Harmon did not serve as executive producer (he returned in season five), and season six, the final season, which streamed on Yahoo! Screen after NBC cancelled it. Harmon always said he was aiming for six seasons and a movie-we're still waiting on that movie. Special features include commentary on "almost every episode," deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and gag reels, and behind-the-scenes featurettes. By Mark Redfern (Buy Blu-ray here. Buy DVD here.)

 

 

The Disaster Artist Blu-ray/DVD (Lionsgate)

SRP: $39.99

Is it worth it to be famous and beloved if what you're solely known for is writing, directing, and starring in what is considered one of the worst movies of all time? It worked for Ed Wood, actor/director of various 1950s films also routinely considered some of the worst, in that he was the subject of an acclaimed Oscar winning Tim Burton-directed biopic starring Johnny Depp as Wood. Tommy Wiseau is not quite this generation's Ed Wood, but his 2003 film The Room has developed a strong cult following over the years for being one of the best bad movies, with interactive midnight showings across the globe that continue 15 years later. The Disaster Artist, released last fall, chronicles the making of The Room, with James Franco starring as Wiseau and his brother Dave Franco co-starring as his best friend, fellow actor Greg Sestero (his 2013 non-fiction book of the same name, co-written with Tom Bissell, is the basis of the movie). James Franco also directs. You don't have to have seen The Room to enjoy The Disaster Artist, although fans of Wiseau's film might get a kick of seeing Franco's incredibly accurate recreations of the original Room scenes (as witnessed in the end credits, where they place several Disaster Artist scenes side-by-side with the original Room ones). Stick around for a meta post-credits scene featuring Wiseau as a waiter interacting with Franco as Wiseau. Special features include a gag reel, audio commentary featuring both the Franco brothers, as well as Wiseau and Sestero, and various documentaries. The Room may only have a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but The Disaster Artist is "Certified Fresh" with a 91% rating. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Doctor Who: The Christopher Eccleston & David Tennant Collection DVD (BBC)

RRP: $44.98

When Doctor Who was revived in 2005, there was no guarantee it would be a success. The long-running British sci-fi show originally debuted way back in 1963, but was cancelled in 1989 as viewers lost interest. A 1996 TV movie starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor did well in the British ratings, but it was a co-production with the American TV network Fox, where the ratings with lackluster, and so it didn't lead to a new series. Thankfully producer/writer Russell T. Davies wore down the BBC after years of trying, and convinced them to bring back the series in 2005 with Christopher Eccleston as the Ninth Doctor. For the uninitiated, when The Doctor is mortally wounded he/she doesn't die, but instead regenerates into a new body and slightly tweaked personality, but with the same memories. It was envisioned as a creative way to cast a new actor in the role when, in 1966, William Hartnell was too old to play the part of the First Doctor after three years as the Time Lord. Davies' gambit worked and the rebooted show is still going strong 13 years later, with the eleventh season of the reboot just finishing, with Jodie Whittaker starring as the first female version of The Doctor.

BBC have put out new DVD collections for each previous Doctor of the reboot. These are barebones sets, without any of the previous special features. As Eccleston left show after only one season, due to not really enjoying the experience of making it, this set includes both all his episodes and those of fan-favorite David Tennant (as the Tenth Doctor). It includes such classics as the two-parter "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances," "Blink," and "The Girl in the Fireplace." "Are you my mummy?" By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)  

 

Doctor Who: The Matt Smith Collection DVD (BBC)

RRP: $36.74

Matt Smith took over from David Tennant to become the Eleventh Doctor in 2010, the same time that Steven Moffat took over from Russell T. Davies as showrunner. Smith's seasons also brought on board new companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), and Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman). Although Tennant remained beloved, Smith proved popular with U.S. audiences, where the ratings increased in his tenure. Smith went on to win acclaim for his role in the Netflix drama The Crown and has a key role in next year's Star Wars Episode IX. Gillian has also become a bigger star since leaving Amy Pond behind, playing Nebula in various Marvel Cinematic Universe films (starting with Guardians of the Galaxy) and starring in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. This set includes all 45 of Smith's episodes, including such classics as "The Eleventh Hour," "Vincent and the Doctor," "The Doctor's Wife," and the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor," which brought back Tennant as the Tenth Doctor for a team-up with Smith. And remember, bow ties are cool. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)  

 

Doctor Who: The Peter Capaldi Collection DVD (BBC)

RRP: $36.74

Peter Capaldi's reign as the Twelfth Doctor is a bit underrated. Firstly Capaldi was excellent in the part, one of the best actors to ever play The Doctor. There are some truly astonishing acting moments from Capaldi in his seasons, such as his speech at the end of "The Zygon Inversion." But some fans were supposedly put off by a new Doctor who was 24 years old than his predecessor, even though the early Doctors were all older men. Others began to grumble that Steven Moffat was overstaying his welcome and it was time for someone else to take over as show-runner, despite the high volume of classic episodes he's written (including the iconic Tenth Doctor story "Blink"). This collection of all 40 of Capaldi's episodes includes some fantastic ones as well, such as the acclaimed "Heaven Sent," featuring a one-man tour-de-force performance from Capaldi as he spends most of the episode alone, trapped in a mysterious castle for what ends up being billions of years. Capaldi's final episode, 2017 Christmas Special "Twice Upon a Time," featured him teaming up with the First Doctor (David Bradley) before regenerating into the Thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), whose first season has just concluded. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)  

 

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!: The Ultimate Edition Blu-ray/DVD (Warner Bros.)

RRP: $24.98

Sure a new animated version of Dr. Seuss' children's classic was just released in theaters, The Grinch starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Christmas hating creature, and it's done well as the box office. Then there was Ron Howard's 2000-released live action film, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey as the title character, which hasn't aged all that well and wasn't particularly well-received by critics at the time. But what about the original 1966 animated TV special? It was directed by Looney Tunes master Chuck Jones and starred Boris Karloff (he of various Frankenstein films) as The Grinch. Warner Bros. has now put it out on Blu-ray in an Ultimate Edition that also includes a DVD and digital code. Special features includes various making of documentaries (including an old one hosted by the late Phil Hartman), as well as two sequel specials: 1977's Halloween is Grinch Night and 1982's The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Early Man Blu-ray/DVD (Lionsgate)

RRP: $19.99

It's too bad Early Man didn't do better at the box office. It may not be quite the classic that some previous Aardman Animations films were (such as Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit, and Shaun the Sheep Movie), but Early Man was still clever, amusing, and lovingly made by director and Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park. Any film that could be described as a "stop-motion animated historical sports comedy film" would have to be a labor of love. Early Man starts in prehistoric times. After an asteroid hits Earth and kills all the dinosaurs, cavemen take a chunk of it and invent the game of football (meaning soccer). The film's main setting is many years later, in the Stone Age, and involves a Stone Age man, Dug (Eddie Redmayne), challenging the evil Bronze Age king Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston) to a football match in order for his tribe to regain control of their valley. Perhaps the film was too British for American audiences, as it only made $8 million in America and a total of $54 million worldwide, half what Shaun the Sheep Movie made and also roughly a quarter of what Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit grossed. Hopefully families can discover it on home media. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Eighth Grade Blu-ray/DVD (Lionsgate/A24)

SRP: $24.99

Most movies about the teenage years tend to focus on high school, and usually seniors, with the characters played by impossibly beautiful actors in their 20s. For example, with The Breakfast Club, considered one of the best teen movies of all time, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy were both around 22 when the movie was made and Judd Nelson was around 25 (although Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were both still of high school age). One era that Hollywood often ignores is middle school, but this is where Eighth Grade comes in, a highly authentic movie that was acclaimed by critics and which Ringwald, the most iconic actress of teen movies, wrote "was the best film about adolescence I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever." Actress Elsie Fisher was an age appropriate 13 when she filmed her part as Kayla Day, a quiet and awkward girl navigating her final week of eighth grade. The film features a cast of mainly unknowns, perhaps you might recognize Josh Hamilton, who plays Kayla's dad Mark, from his multitude of character actor credits. Not all that much happens in Eighth Grade: Kayla goes to the pool party of a popular girl, invited only because the girl's mother fancies Kayla's dad, as part of a school program she spends a day at high school shadowing a student there to get a feel for the place, she has a crush on an unattainable boy, and she spends a lot of time on social media on her phone. It's not so much a plot-driven film, instead it's more of a character-study, anchored by a star-making performance by Fisher. Eighth Grade is also a wonderful showcase for writer/director Bo Burnham. Special features include commentary with Fisher and Burnham, deleted scenes, and a making of documentary. Read our interview with Fisher and Burnham on Eighth Grade. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)  

 

Fireworks Blu-ray/DVD (GKIDS/Shout! Factory)

RRP: $26.99

Fireworks is a 2017 Japanese animated movie, which is based on a 1993 Japanese television play. It's kind of an anime Groundhog Day and features two teenagers who end up repeating the same day over and over again thanks to a magical orb. GKIDS' Blu-ray release includes both the English dubbed version and the original Japanese version with subtitles. The film is technically unrated, but is recommended for kids 13 and up. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series Blu-ray (Sony)

RRP: $75.99

When Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock debuted in 1983 it felt like it was attempting to bridge the gap between Sesame Street (which was more aimed at preschoolers) and The Muppet Show (which also appealed to older kids and adults). The puppet-based show was filmed in Toronto, broadcast around the world (sometimes in slightly different versions), and used fantasy as an allegory for all sorts of serious issues, including prejudice, the environment, spirituality, and personal conflicts. Now, to celebrate its 35th anniversary, all 96 episodes have been released on Blu-ray for the first time. It has a slew of special features, including some new ones, such as a sing-along option for every episode and "Life on Set: Moments with Jim Henson." Plus there are a ton of special features from the previous DVD edition. It also includes the complete Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series, which ran for one season on NBC in 1987. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

The Good Fight: Season Two DVD (CBS DVD/Paramount)

RRP: $22.00

Spinoffs from successful TV shows don't always work. For every Frasier, which successfully transplanted its title character from the Boston-set Cheers to Seattle, there's a Joey, which unsuccessfully transplanted its title character from the New York-set Friends to Los Angeles. Frasier ran for 11 seasons and won 37 Emmys (including winning Outstanding Comedy Series five years in a row), Joey was cancelled midway through its second season, leaving eight episodes that never even aired. The Good Fight, thankfully, falls firmly in the former category. In its first two seasons it has successfully carried on the tone and quality of its parent show, The Good Wife (which ran for seven seasons on CBS and won five Emmys), while also charting its own course. Christine Baranski continued her role as Chicago lawyer Diane Lockhart in the spinoff, which was created by The Good Wife creators Robert King and Michele King, alongside Phil Alden Robinson. Many characters and actors from The Good Wife show up from time to time, alongside brand new characters, such as Maia Rindell, Diane's goddaughter and also a lawyer, whose reputation is threatened when it is revealed that her father orchestrated an elaborate Ponzi scheme. The Good Fight is very much a reaction to the Trump presidency and pulls no punches criticizing the President and the current political climate. One of season two's episodes finds the lawyers representing a Russian woman who claims she was one of the escorts who allegedly took part in the infamous "pee tape" referenced in the Steele dossier, in which Trump was supposedly peed on by women in a Russian hotel room and filmed by the Russian intelligence services as a way to blackmail him. Special features on this season two DVD set include deleted scenes and gag reels. The Good Fight was the first original show on CBS All Access, yet another streaming the service. The upside is that the characters can now swear and the creators can likely be more brazen with their left-leaning political content. The downside is that less people might be watching. Still, the show has already been renewed for a third season. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

The Incredibles 2 Blu-ray/DVD (Disney)

RRP: $39.99

It took Pixar 14 years to follow-up their 2004 superhero family classic The Incredibles, but it was certainly worth the wait. Despite the time gap, The Incredibles 2 actually picks up right where the first film ended, as they fight the Underminer. Most of the original cast returns, including Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl, Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr, Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone, and director Brad Bird as Edna Mode. The family's speedster son, Dash Parr, was voiced by Spencer Fox in the first film and Huck Milner in this one, due to the 10-year-old age of the character. The film was nearly as acclaimed by critics as the first one and was a box office smash (it's currently the second highest grossing animated film of all-time, worldwide, beaten only by Frozen). If you've got kids, there's a good chance you've already seen the movie, but the Blu-ray includes the new mini-movie Auntie Edna, in which Edna babysits baby Jack-Jack, the Pixar short Bao that player before the movie in theaters, 10 deleted scenes, and various other behind-the-scenes documentaries. Hopefully the wait for The Incredibles 3 won't be quite so long. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Killing Eve: Season One Blu-ray or DVD (BBC)

RRP: $22.00 for Blu-ray, $20.00 for DVD

As a TV writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was previously best known for her comedy work, such as 2016's limited series Crashing and her BBC/Amazon series Fleabag (which is expected to return for a second season next year). In both she also starred. As an actress she has, however, appeared in dramas, such as the murder-mystery Broadchurch. Still, it was a bit of a surprise when her next project as a writer was Killing Eve and that she wasn't even acting in it. Instead Killing Eve stars Grey's Anatomy alum Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri, a London-based MI5 officer who generally works at a desk but gets drawn into the field when she starts to track an international assassin named Villanelle (Jodi Comer, who was not all that well-known outside of her native UK before this). The show has been justifiably praised, recently landing on many best of 2018 lists and garnering various award nominations, including for Emmys and the Golden Globes. By Mark Redfern (Buy the Blu-ray here. Buy the DVD here.)

 

 

Lady and the Tramp (Walt Disney The Signature Collection) Blu-ray/DVD (Disney)

RRP: $21.99

Disney are making a live action version of Lady and the Tramp that's set to premiere on their new Disney+ streaming service. The live action cast will include Kiersey Clemons, Thomas Mann, and Yvette Nicole Brown, with Tessa Thompson voicing the presumably computer animated Lady, Justin Theroux as Tramp, Janelle Monáe as Peg, Sam Elliott as Trusty, Ashley Jensen as Jackie, and Benedict Wong as Bull. No release date has been announced yet, so in the meantime why not revisit the 1955 animated original about a classy dog from a well-to-do household who falls in love with a scruffy street dog. Interesting, the film was panned by some major critics on its release, with the likes of The New York Times and Time Magazine calling it too sentimental and gooey and even criticizing the animation. It was a box office hit nonetheless and has since been regarded as a classic. This Signature Collection Blu-ray includes a new sing-along version, as well as various other special features. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

My Neighbor Totoro (30th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray/DVD (GKIDS/Shout! Factory)

RRP: $49.97

Hayao Miyazaki's Japanese animation classic My Neighbor Totoro turned 30 this year. Despite its age, the 1988 film still resonates with kids today. It is one of the favorite films of my daughter, who's nearly six. Although we already had it on Blu-ray, earlier this year we took her and some of her friends to a 30th anniversary screening in our town and they all loved it (for one four-year-old it was the first movie he'd ever seen in the movie theater; what a way to start). The film takes place in 1958 when sisters Satsuki and Mei have to move out to an old house in the countryside with their father, university professor Tatsuo Kusakabe, to be closer to their sick mother, who is recovering from an illness at a nearby hospital. In the forest behind their house the sisters encounter magical creatures. The 2005 Disney English language redub of the film featured real-life sisters Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning as Satsuki and Mei, with Tim Daly as their father. GKIDS already released the G-rated My Neighbor Totoro on Blu-ray last year, but the 30th Anniversary Edition also includes the soundtrack on CD and a 40-page essay book, along with other Blu-ray special features. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Peter Rabbit (Special Garden Edition) Blu-ray/DVD (Sony)

RRP: $24.99

Peter Rabbit has been around since 1902, and yet this year director Will Gluck (Easy A, Friends with Benefits) was able to make Beatrix Potter's mischievous rabbit relevant to modern audiences with this live action/computer animated film. Perhaps it was the casting of late night TV host/actor/social media star James Corden as the voice of Peter. Perhaps it was the tone and humor, which was Home Alone-esque in its slapstick cartoon violence as Peter and Thomas McGregor (a live action Domhnall Gleeson) go to war with each other for both control of the farm and the affections of Bea (Rose Byrne). Whether Potter would have approved is up for debate, but either way the film connected with audiences, making $351 million worldwide, enough to green-light a sequel for release in 2020. The Blu-ray release includes an all-new mini movie starring Flopsy (voiced by Margot Robbie), Mopsy (voiced by Elizabeth Debicki), and Cottontail (voiced by Daisy Ridley). The Special Garden Edition is a Target exclusive and includes the exclusive bonus disc, Make Your Own Macgregor Garden!, as well as "plantable carrot seed cards with planting tips to create your own garden." By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 3 Blu-ray/DVD (Disney)

RRP: $24.99

Pixar started out by making short films at the dawn of computer animation in the 1980s. Their earliest shorts, some which were utterly charming for their time, were collected in 2007 on Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1, which has gotten a lot of replay in our house. These days Pixar shorts generally screen before their feature films and Volume 3 collects a lot of those. It includes 2016's Piper, about a little sandpiper bird, which screened before Finding Dory and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Sanjay's Super Team (2015) was paired with The Good Dinosaur and was nominated for an Oscar, as was 2017's Lou, which showed prior to Cars 3. Riley's First Date? was a continuation of 2015's Inside Out and was included on the home media release of the film (as the title suggests, it's about 12-year-old Riley going on a first date and how the emotions inside her deal with that). Party Central features the Monsters Inc. characters but didn't actually screen in front of another Pixar film, instead it was shown ahead of 2014's Muppets Most Wanted. The films range from 2012's Partysaurus Rex, a Toy Story short in which Rex parties with some bath toys, to the most recent Pixar short, Bao, which screened with this year's Incredibles 2. Included are filmmaker commentaries, a making of Bao, and a documentary on the caricatures Pixar animators draw of each other. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Satellite Girl and Milk Cow Blu-ray/DVD (Gkids/Shout! Factory)

RRP: $26.99

Satellite Girl and Milk Cow is certainly a strange one. It's about an out-of-commission satellite that comes to Earth and turns into a robot girl named Satellite Girl. There she falls in love with a twenty-something singer who has been turned into a cow. Oh, and there's also a walking/talking roll of toilet paper. The South Korean film sure is quirky, but it's not exactly a premise you can say you've seen before. The film is officially unrated in America, but perhaps would be good for 9 or 10 year olds and up. The Blu-ray includes the additional short film Coffee Vending Machine and Its Sword. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Sherlock: The Complete Series DVD (BBC)

RRP: $55.00

There have been quite a few Sherlock Holmes adaptations in the last decade. There were two theatrical films starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. John Watson, which were set in Victorian London as befitting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories (a third movie is due in 2020). Jonny Lee Miller has played an Englishman in New York version of the character in CBS' TV show Elementary, which is set in the present day, stars Lucy Liu as the gender-flipped Dr. Joan Watson, and is ending next year with its seventh season. Then there was this year's critically hated computer animated kids film Sherlock Gnomes, with Johnny Depp as the voice of Sherlock Gnomes and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the voice of Dr. Gnome Watson. Finally, this Christmas we get the out-and-out comedy version of the great detective in the period film Holmes & Watson, starring Will Ferrell as Holmes and John C. Reilly as Watson (the jury is still out on that one). But without a doubt the best-regarded version of Sherlock Holmes of late has been the BBC TV show starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson. It is the role that really helped make Cumberbatch the international star he is today.

Steven Moffat (who was also the show-runner of Doctor Who for many years) and Mark Gatiss created this version of Holmes and it's a thoroughly modern take, set in present day London and with hints that Holmes has Asperger syndrome. Sherlock has won multiple Emmys and was a huge ratings hit, both in the UK and worldwide. This DVD set is billed as The Complete Series and includes every episode and special thus far, including 2016's "The Abominable Bride," the sole episode to be set mainly in Victorian times. Season four aired in 2017 and the creative team haven't ruled out a season five in the future, although there are no current plans (Cumberbatch is quite busy playing Doctor Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example), so this could end up being Sherlock: The Complete Series (So Far). Well, hopefully anyway. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Sofia the First: The Secret Library DVD (Disney)

RRP: $14.99

Sofia the First: The Secret Library collects four episodes from the third season of the popular Disney Junior show. The series centers on Sofia (played by Ariel Winter, Alex Dunphy on Modern Family), who becomes a princess after her mother marries a king. Sara Ramirez (Grey's Anatomy), Wayne Brady (Whose Line is it Anyway?), and Tim Gunn (Project Runway) all voice characters as well and sometimes episodes feature other well-known Disney characters. On this DVD, "The Secret Library," for example, features Merida from Brave and "The Secret Library: Olaf and the Tale of Miss Nettle" features Olaf, the snowman from Frozen, as voiced by Josh Gad. The DVD also includes the episodes "Princess Adventure Club" and "The Princess Ballet," and comes with a sparkling Sofia necklace. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Star Trek: Discovery Season One Blu-ray or DVD (CBS DVD/Paramount)

RRP: $50.99 for Blu-ray, $41.99 for DVD 

It had been 12 years since the last Star Trek series, the prequel Star Trek: Enterprise, which is perhaps the least liked Star Trek show (although it has its supporters). Since then there were three rebooted theatrical movies (the first and third of which were great, the second was an unnecessary retread of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). When Star Trek: Discovery was announced there was reason to skeptical: it was another prequel, the main character for the first time wasn't the captain of the ship, and the only way to watch it was on CBS All Access, yet another streaming service competing for a monthly fee. Luckily once fans actually got to watch the show when the first episode premiered on CBS, the broadcast network, with the rest of the season on CBS All Access, they discovered a fresh take on the Star Trek mythos. It takes place about a decade before the original series and chronicles the conflict between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) stars as Michael Burnham, initially the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou, who also happens to be the foster sister of Spock. But after an incident with the Klingons that leads to mutiny she is stripped of her rank, sentenced to prison, and later assigned to the USS Discovery, an experimental ship. Season one finds them encountering the original series character Harry Mudd (now played by Rainn Wilson) and getting stuck in the Mirror Universe (again a nod to the 1960s episodes). If you didn't have a chance to watch it on CBS All Access, season one is now on Blu-ray and DVD. Special features include 10 behind-the-scenes featurettes and deleted and extended scenes. Get caught up before season 2 premieres on January 17. By Mark Redfern (Buy it on Blu-ray here. Buy it on DVD here.)

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies Blu-ray/DVD (Warner Bros.)

RRP: $35.99

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies was criminally under-seen in the theaters, despite a whopping 91% Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. It did make $51.9 million worldwide, with $29.6 million in the United States, against a $10 million budget, so it wasn't a complete flop. The film would certainly appeal to fans of the Cartoon Network show it's based on, Teen Titans Go!. But really anyone with a passing knowledge of superheroes will get a kick out of it, as the whole motion picture is a loving send up of superhero movies. The Teen Titans superhero team, especially its leader Robin, are desperate to have a movie made about them. All sorts of obscure characters are getting movies made about them, including the Batmobile and Batman's utility belt, so why not the Teen Titans? The problem is that no one takes them seriously. Robin is still thought of as just Batman's kid sidekick and the team as a whole are viewed as goofballs. What they need is an archenemy. Enter supervillain Slade (aka Deathstroke, voiced by Will Arnett). The film takes potshots at some of DC's ever so serious superhero films, such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the much mocked part about the adversaries' mothers both having the same first name. But Marvel isn't immune either, be it jokes about Deadpool (who was initially kind of a rip-off of Deathstroke) or the late Stan Lee making not one, but two cameos poking fun at how much he loves to make cameos in all the superhero movies, even though this isn't a Marvel one (it was Lee's one and only cameo in a DC film and his final animated role). Plus the songs are really good (oh yeah, it's a musical too), including the sax-tastic "Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life" sung by Michael Bolton. And Nicolas Cage plays Superman, which is a reference to the cancelled Tim Burton Superman Lives film from the late 1990s, in which Cage was scheduled to play the Man of Steel. So, in summary, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies offers an exploding truck full of laughs for both kids and adults. The Blu-ray includes music videos, sing-along segments, The Late Batsby DC Super Hero Girls short film that screened before the movie in theaters, storyboard animatics, and more. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Creepshow [Collector’s Edition] (Scream Factory)

SRP: $39.93

The anthology film has long been a staple within the horror genre, and 1982’s Creepshow may be the pinnacle of the format. Combining that legendary talents of horror masters Stephen King, George A. Romero, and Tom Savini, Creepshow spins together five tongue-in-cheek tales of terror inspired by old, E.C.-style horror comics. (Think Tales from the Crypt episodes, but in bite sized portions.) Serious horror fans, of course, don’t need to listen to us say this – Creepshow was a staple on video rental store shelves, and well deserving of this lavish retrospective release. Aside from the new, color-improved 4K restoration, there are literally hours and hours of all-new bonus materials (as well as some thankfully returning from prior editions, including insight from the late George Romero.) All of it is housed in a heavy slipcase, and comes with a thick booklet featuring a wonderful extended essay on the film by longtime Fangoria chief Michael Gingold. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

The Critters Collection (Scream Factory)

SRP: $69.97

A shipload of fugitive alien furballs crash lands in an unsuspecting Midwestern community in the first Critters movie, a sci-fi staple on VHS rental shelves which was successful enough to spawn three sequels. If you’ve never seen the movie, don’t just write it off as a Gremlins rip-off: the Critters series is original enough to hold up as a fun franchise all its own. Chased by shapeshifting, intergalactic bounty hunters, the ornery Critters (or Crites, as they’re known off-planet) can roll into balls, shoot knock-out quills, and rip apart human flesh with their sharp teeth. The series gets increasingly ridiculous as it goes along (but the third does star a very young Leo DiCaprio in a role he’d probably rather forget.) Scream Factory have given all four movies new 2K scans and a wealth of extra features, housing them all in a thick slipcase that’d make a handsome gift for any sci-fi b-movie aficionado. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

Get Shorty (Shout! Factory)

SRP: $34.93

In spite of its recent TV spinoff series, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty seems to be the film that’s often forgotten among the trio of Elmore Leonard adaptations that hit big screen in the late ‘90s. (The other two were Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and Soderbergh’s Out of Sight.) The movie holds up surprisingly well today thanks to great comedic turns by John Travolta, Danny Devito, and an against-character Gene Hackman. Travolta plays a gangster gone straight, now working as a debt collector seeking owed funds from a b-movie director (Hackman) and finds himself suddenly caught up in the Hollywood biz. Re-released under the Shout Select line, the movie features a new 4K transfer and a bunch of extra features, including a feature-length commentary by Sonnenfeld. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

It’s Alive Trilogy (Scream Factory)

SRP: $49.97

Mutant babies abound in Larry Cohen’s classic horror trilogy, collected here for the first-ever time in high definition. In the 1974 original It’s Alive, a husband and wife welcome a newborn bundle of joy into their home – a twisted, fanged, murderous bundle of joy, that is, due to a pharmaceutical prescription gone horribly wrong. While by all rights it should have been schlocky, It’s Alive is still surprisingly chilling thanks to a great performance by Runaway Train’s John P. Ryan, a strong score by Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann, and grotesque monster baby effects by future seven-time Oscar winner Rick Baker. It’s Alive Again ups the number of mutant babies to three, where 1987’s Island of the Alive goes all out with an entire island full of humanoid infant monsters. All three films feature new 2K scans and audio commentaries by Cohen alongside many other bonus features. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

 

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Singles Collection (Shout! Factory)

SRP: $59.99

Intended as a catch-all assemblage of missing episodes from discontinued box sets, The Singles Collection accidentally came together as the best collection of classic MST3K episodes ever released. First off, it’s a great value: you get six episodes for the price you’d usually pay for four. On top of that, three of those episodes are what we’d consider among their Top 20 from the entire original run, as well as two more above-average outings and one of their always-worth-throwing-on Shorts collections. Did we mention that one of those episodes is the holiday classic Santa Claus Conquers the Martians? (How much more appropriate a gift could you get?) Whether it’s for the diehard MSTie who’s probably missing these episodes from their extensive DVD collection, or a fan who’s stumbled across the new episodes on Netflix and wants a good place to start with the original run of the show, The Singles Collection gets our excited recommendation. To listen to us rave about it more, head over to our full review of the set. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)

Valley Girl (Shout! Factory)

SRP: $34.93

You can argue this is the movie where Nicolas Cage became the Nicolas Cage we all know and love today. Indeed, it’s the first movie he was credited under that name, shirking his family surname of Coppola, but it’s also the first role where he shows any signs of the eccentric, goofball over-acting that he’d eventually make his entire brand. Only a teenager when the film was released, Cage plays a punkish New Wave kid who falls for a stereotypical valley girl in this 1983 retelling of Romeo and Juliet. With a top-notch soundtrack and a whole bunch of new bonus features, Valley Girl will click with any fan of movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High or The Last American Virgin. Or, buy it for the Cage aficionado in your life. By Austin Trunick (Buy it here.)  

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