New to View: July 18
By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on Tuesday, July 18, unless otherwise noted:
Kong: Skull Island (Blu-ray + DVD + digital HD)
Details: 2017, Warner Home Video
Rated: PG-13, intense sci-fi violence and action, language
The lowdown: A re-imagining of the iconic King Kong, this time tying in to Warner’s new creature feature franchises, which, will next have the big ape battle Godzilla.
But, back to “Kong: Skull Island.”
King Kong has undergone several iterations since he was introduced to the world in 1933 as “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Even after all these years, that stop-action pioneering, black-and-white feature continues to grip the imagination in a way that none of its various remakes has been able to reproduce.
“Kong: Skull Island,” however, is a CGI extravaganza that is a feast to the eye and a prime example of how technology has improved special effects since the original film.
But technology comes with a cost. While “Kong: Skull Island” is visual eye candy, its sophistication and excellence negate the fairy tale-magical quality that endeared the original to generations of filmgoers.
In this version, the creatures are far more interesting than the humans.
The movie, set in 1973, involves a disparate group of people uniting for an expedition to an uncharted island in the south Pacific, where, as John Goodman’s Bill Randa says, “Myth and science meet.”
“Kong: Skull Island” is a film that you simply enjoy for 118 minutes of men vs. monsters’ action. You marvel at the effects that offer wonderment, but no heart.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby digital descriptive audio and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus materials include a two-part documentary on creating and utilizing Kong, a Monarch files 2.0 featurette, a tour of the locations with star Tom Hiddleston, a look at star Brie Larson’s photography, deleted scenes, a featurette on filming in Vietnam and a commentary track.
The Lost City of Z (Blu-ray)
Release date: July 11
Details: 2017, Broad Green Pictures
Rated: PG-13, graphic violence, disturbing images, language, nudity
The lowdown: Technology has made the world a smaller place. Very few areas remain untouched by mankind, which, in some cases, is a shame.
“The Lost City of Z” harkens back to a time when many regions on the planet were simply dark spots on maps — unexplored territories whose mysteries a few hardy souls decided to reveal.
The movie is based on the true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charles Hunnam), who disappeared in the Amazon in the early 20th century while searching for a lost city.
The cast includes Sienna Miller as Fawcett’s wife, Tom Holland as his son and Robert Pattinson as he aide-de-camp.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 DTS digital surround; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include an “Adventure in the Jungle” featurette, a look at transforming the novel of which the film is based to the screen, an expedition journal featurette and a commentary track.
Details: 2016, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: PG, mature themes, suggestive material, language, smoking
The lowdown: This sports drama is based on the lives of “Old” Tom and “Young” Tommy Morris, the father-son team who revolutionized the modern game of golf.
The movie is set in the mid- and late 19th century — the early days of the sport. It explores the complex relationship and competitiveness between father and son as well as the class warfare under which the younger Morris chafed and finally rebelled.
The film garnered mixed reviews, earning a 63 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Golf fans should enjoy this look back at the early days of the game.
Technical aspects: 1.85:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of the movie that includes comments from golf star Jordan Spieth, is the major bonus effort.
Song to Song (Blu-ray)
Release date: July 4
Details: 2017, Broad Green Pictures
Rated: R, sexual content, nudity, drug use, language
The lowdown: The films of Terence Malick always have been visually arresting, but lately, the storylines and characters have been thin, almost as if he was using them as fill-ins in his cinematic landscapes.
And that is a perfect description for “Song to Song,” Malick’s latest feature, a romantic drama set against the backdrop of the Austin, Texas, music scene.
The story centers on the entanglements of two couples — struggling songwriters BV (Ryan Gosling) and Faye (Rooney Mara) and music mogul Cook (Michael Fassbender) and a waitress (Natalie Portman).
Seduction and betrayal flow through the movie like a guitar riff.
It’s the music that takes center stage with appearances by such personalities as Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Johnny Rotten and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A look at the music behind the movie is the major bonus offering.
Free Fire (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2016, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, bloody violence, language, sexual references, drug use
The lowdown: Academy Award-winner Brie Larson stars in this comedy-thriller set in 1970s Boston about an arms deal that goes horribly wrong.
Larson’s Justine brokers a deal between an IRA arms buyer, Chris (Cillian Murphy), and Vernon (Sharlto Copley), a South African gunrunner.
Everything is going smoothly, despite bit of tension, until shots are fired and everything goes wrong. It’s now every man and woman for themselves.
The movie, which costars Armie Hammer, received a respectable 67 percent fresh rating at Rottentomatoes.com.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a making of featurette and a commentary track.
With Great Power …: The Stan Lee Story
Details: 2015, Well Go USA Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A documentary that looks at the life and career of Stan Lee, who created many of Marvel’s iconic superheroes, including Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man and Thor.
The movie chronicles Lee’s determination to create fantastic stories and characters — contemporary fairy tales, as it were, that would keep people entertained.
The film interviews many of Lee’s friends and colleagues, such as Kevin Smith, Patrick Stewart and Samuel L. Jackson, as well as examining the artist’s contributions to pop culture and society.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English 2.0 Dolby digital; English closed-captioned subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include a commentary track, extended interviews, featurettes about Lee and his creations and galleries of the more than 500 characters Lee has created.
The Untouchables: The Scarface Mob
Details: 1959, CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This was the pilot movie for “The Untouchables” TV series, originally airing on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse.
Robert Stack stars as Eliot Ness who, along with his team of federal agents, battle to rid Chicago of mobster Al Capone (Neville Brand) and his gang as well as erase corruption in the city.
This is a violent feature by the standards of the late 1950s, with a lot of tommy guns mowing down hoodlums and good guys alike.
It was Stack’s no-nonsense performance that was the glue for the movie and the series that followed.
Technical aspects: 4×3 full-screen picture; English Dolby digital monaural; English closed-captioned and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include introductions by producer Desi Arnaz and narrator Walter Winchell.
T.J. Hooker: The Complete Series
Details: 1982-86, Shout! Factory
Rated: No rated
The lowdown: William Shatner headlines this 20-disc set as Sgt. Thomas Jefferson Hooker, a veteran Los Angeles County police officer who takes on the toughest criminals the Los Angeles area has to offer.
The set features the entire series filled with gunfights, fistfights, chases, explosions and a bit of humor.
Shatner’s Hooker is aided by Adrian Zmed’s Vince Romano, Heather Locklear’s Stacy Sheridan and James Darren’s Jim Corrigan.
The series is no work of art, but it is escapist fun, with the usual Shatner histrionics popping up from time to time.
Guest stars include Leonard Nimoy, David Caruso, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Brown, Dennis Franz, Tori Spelling, Delta Burke, Richard Hatch and Sharon Stone.
Technical aspects: 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English Dolby digital.
Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Karate Kill (Blu-ray + DVD + digital) (Dark Cuts)
Adventure Time: The Complete Seventh Season (Warner Home Video)
DIGITAL DOWNLOADS and STREAMING
Ari Shaffir: Double Negative (Netflix)
Bonjangles (Wild Eye Releasing)
The Circle (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Unforgettable (Warner Home Video)
Murdoch Mysteries: Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas (Acorn TV, July 24)
Veep: The Complete Sixth Season (HBO Home Entertainment, July 24)
Coming next week: Girls: The Complete Sixth and Final Season
Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He reviews movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.