As February begins its leap year bow out, we kick off the week with the new Rian Johnson whodunnit, Knives Out. When bestselling crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is called upon to investigate the huge list of potential suspects including Harlan’s daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), her husband Richard (Don Johnson) and their son Ransom (Chris Evans), and Harlan’s son Walt (Michael Shannon) among others. But as Blanc starts to sift through the web of red herrings and lies he must uncover the truth about Harlan’s death, and must do so before anyone else dies.
Knives Out is a wonderful return to a film genre that has not been shown much love in the past few decades. Johnson has crafted a deliberately paced mystery draped in a classic set up but with a fresh sense of humor and one of the best ensemble casts put together in recent memory. The story plays out like classic Agatha Christie with a darker edge and some really great character moments leading to a truly twisty plot that I didn’t even come close to guessing. And with more Benoit Blanc movies supposedly on the way, Rian Johnson may find himself branded a Hitchcock for a new generation.
Next up this week is the new horror film Color Out of Space. Nathan and Theresa Gardner (Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson) move with their children to a remote farm in rural New England to escape the hustle of city life. As they settle in and start to adapt to a less hectic life, a meteorite crashes in their yard. The mysterious object seems to melt into their landscape, infecting both the land itself and those who live on it, giving the trees and earth a strange, otherworldly neon color and affecting the Gardner family not only physically but psychologically until they must find a way to survive the strange invasion before it consumes everything.
Color Out of Space marks the return of enigmatic South African filmmaker Richard Stanley after an absence of over 20 years. Stanley chose to return with an adaptation of a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and to cast Nicolas Cage in his lead and the results are pure Lovecraftian 80s inspired horror. Cage gets progressively more ‘Cage’ as the film goes on, but in the best possible way and the story is engaging, fast paced and fun. The real deal here though is the fantastic direction and production design. Color Out of Space is gorgeous to look at. The transformation of the Gardner property is lush and brilliantly colored, especially on the 4K disc, and it is nice to see a film look this good in the horror genre, which is usually not known for being colorful and beautifully photographed. Add to that some amazing old school practical effects and you have what is destined to become a new horror classic. And with Stanley apparently ready to make a couple more Lovecraft adaptations, I say bring it on.
Lastly this week is what is now the highest grossing animated feature of all time, Frozen II. Now that everything in the kingdom of Arendelle is peaceful and the curse of eternal winter is lifted, Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel) and her sister Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) enjoy a happy life. But when Elsa keeps hearing a melodious voice calling out to her, she decides to follow it along with her friends to find answers in a mysterious misty realm in the woods. But many secrets lie ahead on their journey and many revelations about their ancestors pasts and their potential futures.
Frozen II smashed box office records thanks to the great love audiences have for the characters of Elsa, Anna and their friends. The adventure this time around is a little deeper with some underlying messages, but at the same time it seems to lack as much of the fun that made the original Frozen so memorable. But issues I had with the story aside, it didn’t seem to stop people from flocking to Frozen II again and again and undoubtedly putting the movie in most household movie collections.
Also of note this week is a new 4K Steelbook edition of the classic thriller The Hunt for Red October with Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, the Blu-ray debut of the Edward Furlong horror sequel Pet Sematary II and the Blu-ray debut of the silly comedy cult classic Hot Dog…The Movie.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday February 25, 2020
And Hope to Die (1972)*
Color Out of Space
Cries of Pleasure (1983)*
El Esqueleto De La Senora Morales AKA Skeleton of Mrs. Morales*
End of the Century
Hollywood Horror House (1970)*
Hot Dog... The Movie: Unrated Producer's Cut (1984)*
Hudson River Massacre a.k.a. Canadian Wilderness (1965)*
It Started with a Kiss (1959)*
Line of Demarcation (1966)*
Max and the Junkmen (1971)*
Mind Games – Special Edition*
Night of Open Sex (1983)*
Norm of the North: Family Vacation
Perfect Friday (1970)*
Pet Sematary Two (1992)*
Public Affairs (1983)*
Quai des Orfèvres (1947)*
The Astrologer (1977)*
The Deadly Trap (1971)*
The Hunt for Red October 4K Collector's SteelBook (1990)
The Return of Ultraman (1971-1972)*
The Third Lover (1962)*
Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman - Criterion Collection*
Una Familia De Tantas (A Family Like Many Others)*
V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family 5 Movie Series
WWE: Royal Rumble 2020
Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995)*
Zombie Rampage 2
*Catalog Blu-ray debut