It's a healthy week for new and catalog to-own releases. So, let's dive in.
- A Quiet Place Part II - The sequel to "The Quiet Place" arrived in theaters a year later than expected and while the box office returns might not have been as robust as they might have been in a pre-pandemic setting, the film managed a worldwide total of $279 million. More importantly, it's a good film that doesn't simply mimic the formula of the first movie. Where "A Quiet Place" was more of a thriller with sci-fi and horror elements, "A Quiet Place Part II" is more of an action film. The focus has also shifted from the adults to the children. I'll most certainly be adding this to my personal collection and look forward to whatever might come next for the franchise.
New to DVD and Blu-ray
- Mortal Kombat - The first entry in the rebooted Mortal Kombat franchise isn't the film I would have made but there's no denying that director Simon McQuoid and writers Greg Russo and Dave Callaham made a movie that captures the spirit of the videogames it is based on. The story doesn't make much sense, the actual tournament never happens and yet somehow they've managed to build a film that is essentially a bloody fight from start to end.
- The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run - Written and directed by Tim Hill, "Sponge on the Run" sees Spongebob heading out in search of Gary, his beloved pet snail, who has been abducted by who knows who for who knows what purpose.
- Wrath of Man - The first of two Guy Ritchie films to make this week's roundup, "Wrath of Man" sees the director reteam with Jason Statham for an action thriller that sees the duo using all the action-movie clichés they can cram into two hours. That's quite an accomplishment. The film also attempts to pull some emotion out of Statham that simply is beyond the actor's range.
- No Man's Land - A Jackson and his father Bill vigilante who patrol the Mexican boarder. When Jackson kills an immigrant boy he finds himself riding a horse through Mexico in search of absolution from the boy's father.
- Limbo - A group of asylum-seeking strangers are relocated to a Scottish island while they wait for their request to be processed. They're an odd, often absurd group who are detached (literally and symbolically) from the rest of the world. The weight of the refugees' lives doesn't fall on the audience until the end of the film. There's no twist to speak of, just a completion of a big picture that brings the details littered through the film into focus. A wonderful first feature from writer/director Ben Sharrock.
- A Cinderella Story: Star Struck - The latest title in the series inspired by the classic tale of Cinderella sees Finley (Bailee Madison), a country girl, botch a film audition. Determined to make her way into the production so that she can capture the attention of its star, Jackson Stone (Michael Evans Behling), Finley pretends to be Huck, a cowboy, and lands a part.
- Almost Famous 4K UHD Steelbook - Released in 2000, Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiological film sees a high school student hired by Rolling Stone to accompany and write about Stillwater, a band on the verge of something big, on their concert tour. It wasn't a box office hit but found a second life when it was released on DVD. It is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Crowe's films. This 4K set includes both the theatrical cut and the "bootleg" extended version that Crowe put together for the DVD release. The 4K transfer is simply gorgeous for both versions of the film. Any disappointment that accompanied the 2011 Blu-ray release are forgiven. For those who aren't 4K ready, Paramount has also released an improved Blu-ray release as part of their Paramount Presents series.
- Snatch 4K UHD - "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" put director Guy Ritchie on the map. With "Snatch" the British director had his breakthrough hit. Like "Lock, Stock...," the narrative explored the criminal underground with a biting sense of humor and a cast included Benicio del Toro, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, and Jason Statham. There's a particular energy to Ritchie's films. A rollercoaster car threatening to go off the rails. The plot, such as it is, revolves around an 86-carat and a horde of criminals looking to pad their retirement fund with the cash it will most certainly bring them.
- The Pianist - Adrien Brody stars as Wadysaw Szpilman, a Jewish pianist, who along with his family was forced to abandon their homes and relocate to the Warsaw Ghetto. There, Szpilman struggles to survive while lending what support he can to a pending revolt. Based on Szpilman's autobiography, "The Pianist" won three Oscars including Best Picture.
- Deep Cover - Laurence Fishbourne stars in director Bill Duke's 1992 thriller "Deep Cover." Praised for its noir influences, the film sees Fishbourne play an undercover cop who infiltrates a drug trafficking ring at great personal risk.
- The Night - Trapped inside a hotel, a married couple must face the darkness of the secrets and ghosts (real and imagined) that haunt them over the course of an endless night.
- Working Girls - Lizzie Borden’s 1986 drama offers a humanizing look at Molly (Louise Smith) a photographer who works part-time in a New York City brothel. This new Criterion Collection release includes a new 4K restoration. new interviews and archival bonus features.
- House of Wax - Jaume Collet-Serra, a frequent collaborator of Liam Neeson and the director of the upcoming Disney release "Jungle Cruise," made his feature-length debut with "House of Wax," a 2005 re-make of the 1953 film of the same name. It's a prototypical teen slasher featuring the likes of Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murry, and Paris Hilton as a group of friends who come to discover the small town where they are stranded with a wax museum at its center isn't the friendliest or safest of places to be.