We start off a thin but solid week with the box office smash Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman reprises his role from Captain America: Civil War as King T’Challa, the head of the mysterious African nation of Wakanda. While the country hides its true self from the rest of the world, T’Challa must contend with problems arising within Wakanda’s own borders when factions within its population conspire to take over the country and impose a new order on the rest of the world using Wakanda’s superior technology. Now the king and members of his special forces, The Dora Milaje, must face Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and his followers to battle for the future of Wakanda and the world.
Black Panther really took the world by storm, becoming the highest grossing Marvel film to date. And rightfully so, Black Panther is a superhero movie like none before it. The cast is just perfection from Chadwick Boseman in the lead to the always fantastic Michael B. Jordan as his nemesis, to the rest of the Wakandans, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker. And throw in Martin Freeman as a great sidekick, and Andy Serkis as one of the best Marvel villains to date and you have a recipe for a rollicking action adventure well deserving of its success.
Next up is a classic horror franchise getting the deluxe treatment on its Blu-ray debut, the It’s Alive Trilogy. Spanning from 1974 to 1987, the It’s Alive films start with Lenore and Frank, a couple expecting a child who turns out to be some kind of mutated monster that kills everyone in the delivery room and escapes. So begins the saga of the It’s Alive babies and their mysterious past. The second film follows an epidemic of the monster babies that sweeps America, and the third film follows a man who journeys to an island where all the monster babies have been sent to try and free them, unleashing their terror upon the world.
The It’s Alive films are a rare horror series in that all three films are equally entertaining, over the top fun. The great casts include such talent as Michael Moriarty, Karen Black, Frederic Forrest and John P. Ryan and are all written and directed by the legendary Larry Cohen (God Told Me To, The Stuff, Q). The creatures are great, the pacing of all three films is tight and never boring, and they are a great blend of suspense, thrills and humor. And the new box set features new 2K scans of all 3 films that look great, as well as some killer new special features. This one is a most welcome release.
Lastly this week is a new horror film from Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I, Robot, I Am Legend) called Stephanie. Stephanie (Shree Crooks) is a little girl mysteriously living alone in a huge house after some sort of global crisis. When her parents (Frank Grillo and Anna Torv) return, they must carefully navigate their relationship with Stephanie as there seems to be some sort of power in the house that may threaten all of their lives.
Stephanie seems on the surface to be a run of the mill horror film but it turns out to be anything but. First off, the young Shree Crooks is fantastic as the strange Stephanie. She keeps you guessing as to what exactly is going on in that house while still being wholly convincing as just a kid dealing with a unique situation. Add to that the significant talents of the underappreciated Frank Grillo and Fringe’s excellent Anna Torv and you have a three person story that really becomes quite captivating. The story unfolds unpredictably, the scares and thrills are plentiful and the entire vibe is unique and entertaining. For something different, check out Stephanie.
Also of note this week are a threesome of classic action adventure films hitting 4K Blu-ray for the very first time. John McTiernan’s iconic Die Hard, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, and Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Fire up the 4K system and do up what may be the best triple feature ever.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday May 15, 2018
A Lady Takes a Chance*
A Pyromaniac’s Love Story*
Acts of Violence
Barbie – 4 Movie Princess Collection
Bleach (TV) Set 4
Cold Feet: The New Years: Season One
Die Hard 30th Anniversary 4K
Doctor Blood’s Coffin*
How Do I Love Thee? *
It’s Alive Trilogy*
LEGO DC Super Hero Girls: Super-Villain High
Mum: Season 1
Rick and Morty: The Complete Third Season
Silent Witness: Season 5
The Bloodthirsty Trilogy*
The Bold Type: Season One
The Honor List
The Monkey King 3
The Other Side of Hope* - Criterion Collection
The Shannara Chronicles: Season Two
Two Thousand Maniacs! *
*Catalog Blu-ray debut