Cold War Creatures: Four Films by Sam Katzman [Arrow Video]
What is it? Four films by the legendary B-movie producer.
Why see it Arrow Films continues to resurrect little-seen films from lesser-known genre directors in lovingly crafted box sets, and their latest is this four-film release from producer Sam Katzman. The focus is on his work from the 1950s with two films about the dangers of nuclear radiation, one about an alien monster and one about an undead curse. Neither of them is truly a lost gem, but all four deliver some old-school, low-budget entertainment. They have their charms despite their reputation – The Werewolf finds a tragic ending, Zombies of Mora Thau’s underwater zombie action feels like it inspired a later classic or two, and The Giant Claw is just, well, check that out Picture above. How could you not love that face The real strength of the set lies in a bevy of extras exploring Katzman’s career, the genre of the time, and the four films at hand.
[Extras: Booklets, poster, cards, eaturettes, commentaries, documentary]
What is it? A long overdue solo film.
Why see it Marvel movies very rarely reach size, and this latest entry isn’t one of those few, but it’s still a very entertaining watch. Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha is finally getting the solo film she has long deserved, and although it’s a prequel – thank you Thanos! – it plays with an ease and a sense of fun that a later entry would not have allowed. Florence Pugh is a fantastic addition as her sister and the two share great chemistry. The film creates laughter, some addicting action, and introduces Pugh’s character to future Marvel films. It’s good stuff.
[Extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, featurettes]
What is it? An ensemble debut from the director of Birds of Prey.
Why see it While her work for DC with Birds of Prey revealed a filmmaker who was comfortable mixing big action and big laughs, Cathy Yan’s debut film did the same on a smaller scale. The film examines the rise of capitalism in communist China through individual stories and characters that interweave to form a larger whole. It’s smart and fun, but when topics land they do it with a heavy blow. Still, it’s fun stuff that feels universal in its themes and inferences.
[Extras: Short film]
Star Trek: The Original 4 Movie Collection [4K UltraHD]
What is it? The two best Star Trek movies plus two more!
Why see it While this set would ideally have been a full collection of all six original Star Trek films in 4K, it focuses at least on the first four – which arguably include the top two. The Wrath of Khan and The Voyage Home remain all-timers for the franchise, one with its darkness and moral complexity and the other with wit, warmth and humor. All four films benefit from the 4K upgrade with colors and sharp details that stand out. And all four films come with additional functions. If you’re a fan, you already own these movies, but if you have 4K it’s worth upgrading.
[Extras: New 4K remasters, commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, interviews]
The Boss Baby: family business
What is it? More baby genius gadgets.
Why see it I missed the first movie, and if you do the same prepare yourself to go into these with little to no backstory. (I had to ask my nephew …) As it stands, the movie delivers some adult jokes, some funny ninja action, and a fast paced story. It lands somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to today’s animation for kids as it isn’t flaring or touching. It is what it is.
[Extras: Short film, featurettes, music video]
Crazy nights [Full Moon Features]
What is it? A world by Joe D’Amato.
Why see it Mondo films are a special kind of film – fake documentaries about “wild” things, people and / or places – for which I never understood the audience. All of them are dull as dirt for long stretches and then at best create a handful of highlights. This entry doesn’t even create a single highlight unless you’re a fan of boring softcore movies that suddenly get X-rated in the back half. If that’s you, then this boring travelogue of a woman’s journey through “crazy” parties and sex shows should be on your radar.
What is it? A great shark terrorizes some people.
Why see it As a longtime fan of Animal Attack Horror – although the aquatic diversity is my jam in particular – a new killer shark film is ideally just the thing for me. It must be pretty bad that I don’t like it, and unfortunately this latest entry almost fits in. Acting and writing are perfectly adequate, but the set pieces are completely castrated by horrific CG effects. They’re cartoon-like nonsense, and while that may work for some in a sharknado situation, it’s death for a movie as seriously as this one.
Also published this week:
Death ring [Code Red], The Devil in Maddalena, Escape from Area 51, The Gate, Rear Window [4K UltraHD], The Return of the Swamp Thing, Theater of the Blood [KL Studio Classics], The thing [4K UltraHD], The tomb of Ligeia [KL Studio Classics], Dizziness [4K UltraHD]’You should have gone, Zack Snyder’s Justice League