Well folks, this is another year of great movies coming to an end. After this week there are no releases until January 7 so you can find me back here then for another year of flicks!
We kick off this week with a fantastic new sci fi tale, Ad Astra. Brad Pitt plays Major Roy McBride, an accomplished astronaut in the not too distant future. Roy’s father, Clifford, was a legendary space explorer who took the ambitious Lima Project into space 30 years earlier and vanished. But now there are immense energy surges ravaging the Earth and the U.S. Space Command believes Clifford may still be alive around Neptune and causing the disruptions. Now Roy must travel across our solar system on a manned mission to see firsthand whether his father is still alive, and, hopefully, locate the source of a problem that threatens the stability of our vast galaxy.
Ad Astra is co-written and directed by James Gray, who is best known for intimate crime dramas like The Yards and We Own the Night. But with this $88 million sci fi epic, Gray shows he can handle drama on the Earth or off. Pitt is fantastic as Roy delivering one of his best performances in recent memory. In addition to the tight script and great performances Ad Astra is one of the most gorgeous sci fi films I’ve seen. The film is not only an intimate characters study but also has a few very original and visually mind blowing action scenes that are truly unforgettable. Ad Astra is another great addition to the recent slew of sci fi gems.
Next up is the final (?) entry in the Rambo franchise, Rambo: Last Blood. Sylvester Stallone returns to his iconic role as Vietnam Vet John J. Rambo. After the events of the last film, Rambo has settled on his late father’s Arizona ranch which he shares with his close friend Maria Beltran (Adriana Barraza) and her teenage granddaughter Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal), the latter who views Rambo as something of an uncle. When Gabrielle goes missing after a trip to Mexico to look for her estranged father, Rambo heads to Mexico and traces Gabrielle’s whereabouts to a deadly cartel. But when Rambo finds himself outnumber and outgunned, he must find a way to face them on his own turf if he is to stop them.
I for one and a huge fan of the entire Rambo franchise. It is a thoroughly entertaining series of films launched by one of the best action films of all time, First Blood. While the reactions to Rambo: Last Blood was mixed (Rambo’s own creator, David Morrell, hated this film), I quite enjoyed it. Sure it is more action and less drama, but there are still some emotional scenes with Stallone and it is just great to see the character return. For action fans though, the finale is the real payoff with a huge bloodbath that is entertaining and hugely satisfying. Don’t expect Shakespeare but Rambo: Last Blood is an action fans dream.
Lastly this week is a complete reversal from Rambo with Downton Abbey. The popular TV series continues in Downton Abbey, the story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early twentieth century. Robert Crawley, The Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), his family, and the staff of Downton are all excited to learn that Downton will be host to none other than King George V and Queen Mary who are on a royal tour through the country and have announced they will be staying at Downton on one of their stops. The drama amongst the family and the staff rise to new heights as they all deal with their relationships, their jobs and the impending royal visit and try to deal with the changing times and their uncertain futures.
Downton Abbey was an addictive, well written and acted and entertaining show that many fans were very sad to see end after six seasons. So the arrival of a big screen iteration of the popular show was highly anticipated. The movie felt like getting back into a favorite pair of jeans. The entire cast return and are all in top form and the story of the Royal visit is fun and makes for some interesting drama. The film fits in with the series seamlessly and is just a perfect cherry on top for fans.
Also of note this week is the new Judy Garland biopic Judy starring Renée Zellweger as the screen legend, the new animated family flick Abominable, and a new Collector’s Edition of the classic Stephen King werewolf movie Silver Bullet starring Corey Haim and Gary Busey.
Happy Holidays to everyone and all the best in 2020!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday December 17, 2019
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)* - MVD Rewind Collection
Barbara Rubin And the Exploding NY Underground
Blood Moon River
Bonanza: The Official Tenth Season, Volume One
Bonanza: The Official Tenth Season, Volume Two
David Susskind Archive: Interview with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Eye See You/Reach Me
Feast of the Seven Fishes
Fuller House: The Complete Fourth Season
Heartbreak Hotel (1988)*
Intruder: Re-mastered 30th Anniversary
Killjoys: Season Five
Look Who's Talking (1989)*
Mad Love (1995)*
Main Street Meats
Maniac (4K Restoration)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)*
Rambo: Last Blood
Shade (2003)* - MVD Rewind Collection
Silver Bullet: Collector's Edition*
The Big F
The Boat is Full (1981)*
The Cable Guy (1996)*
The Life & Death of An Unhappily Married Man
The Remains of the Day (1993)*
The Wedding Year
To the Devil a Daughter (1976)*
Trailer Trauma 5: 70s Action Attack!
Universal Horror Collection: Volume 3*
Virus of the Dead
Where's My Roy Cohn?
White Squall (1996)*
WWE: Survivor Series (2019)
Zombie (4K Restoration)
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday December 24, 2019
Adopt a Highway
The Gallows Act II
The Kill Team
*Catalog Blu-ray debut