Monday, March 27, 2017

Paramount Home Media Will Release 4K Ultra HD • Blu-ray • And DVD Editions Of Director D.J. Caruso’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage On May 16

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Paramount Home Media announced this past week that director D.J. Caruso’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage, with Vin Diesel returning as “Triple-X,” will be heading to the home entertainment arena on May 16 as a three-SKU product offering.

The ARR comes in at 116 days and the domestic box office haul was $44.9 million.

Planned for release are a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Compo Pack, a Blu-ray/DVD Compo Pack and a stand-alone DVD edition.

xXx was a box office hit in 2002 and might have been a possible film franchise, but Vin Diesel hit gold as both Riddick (Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick) and as Dominic Toretto (The Fast and the Furious), so when the script for xXx: State of the Union was presented to him he had the luxury of saying no.  That film arrived in April of 2005 with Ice Cube as a new xXx (Triple-X) recruit (Darius Stone) and it bombed badly, effectively ending the franchise.

Skip-ahead 12 years and this new production, which had to have a script that resurrected Diesel’s Xander Cage character (he faked his own death as it turns out) and it also had to work around his relationship with Yelena (Asia Argento).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThose issues aside, Xander is recruited out of retirement to help solve an internal CIA “action” that revolves around the heist of “Pandora’s Box,” a gizmo that turns orbiting satellites into guided missiles.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage is basically a well-told spy versus spy thriller that even manages to work Ice Cube’s xXx character into the plot.   The jury is out as to whether the series will continue on for a fourth installment (the ending leaves it open).

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
As to bonus nuggets, these are exclusive to the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray SKUs.   There are four featurettes — “Third Time’s the Charm: Xander Returns,” “Rebels, Tyrants & Ghosts: The Cast,” “Opening Pandora’s Box: On Location” and “I Live for This Sh#t!: Stunts” — and a gag reel.

Icarus Films Selects May 23 For The DVD Debut Of Documentary Filmmaker Pascal Plisson’s On Our Way to School

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Icarus Films new distribution pack with Distrib Films continues to pay dividends for domestic home entertainment audiences with the news this week that documentary filmmaker Pascal Plisson’s 2013 César Awards-winner for Best Documentary (the French equivalent of our Oscars), On Our Way to School, will be making its DVD debut on May 23.

This fascinating look at the effort by four disparate middle-school aged children to obtain an education is well worth a look.   Not only for the inspirational stories connected to each of the kids, but the stunning cinematography work accomplished by Plisson and his crew in bringing their stories to the screen.

Plisson begins his search-for-knowledge tale with the statement, “Nous oublions souvent la chance que nous avons d'aller à l'école“ (English: We often forget how lucky we are to go to school) … it is simple and yet eloquent as the commonplace act of going to school for European and American kids is just that, a process that is taken for granted.

The day begins for his four subjects in four different places in the world — we jump back and forth between them as their travels to and from school play out during the course of each day.   There are no moms in their SUVs dropping these resourceful kids off in front of their schools and retrieving them once again at day’s end.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Jackson Saikong (11-years old) and his younger sister, Salome, live in a remote area of Kenya and travel nine miles each way to school on foot, through what might be called very “rugged” country (think: wild animals).   

Carlito Janez (also 11-years old) and his little sister, Micaela, cover 11 miles each way on horseback in the remote region of Argentina’s Patagonia region, while 12-year old Zahira Badi covers equally rugged terrain in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco on foot.

The last child in Plisson’s travel odyssey is Samuel J. Esther, a 13-year old, has the shortest distance to cover each day … just two and half miles.   But in many ways his is the most challenging as he has lost the use of his legs and his two brothers (Gabriel and Emmanuel) have to tug, push and pull him along the dusty road in a homemade wheelchair.   No air conditioned SUV for Samuel.

On Our Way to School is presented in French with English subtitles.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Announces Five New Film Library Blu-ray Releases For The Month Of April

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has placed five new Blu-ray selections on its home entertainment release calendar for delivery to consumers during the month of April.   All five films are from the 1960s (it looks a little bit like a “by the numbers” array of films not previously available on Blu-ray).

Arriving on Apr. 11 is writer/director George Seaton’s 1965 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1946 short story, “Beware of the Dog,” which reached the screen as 36 Hours.

This very clever film has James Garner starring as Major Pike in the U.S. Army who has just come from a briefing with General Eisenhower about the D-Day invasion and has been dispatched to Lisbon to disseminated false information about a planned landing at Pas de Calais.   He is, however, captured.   His world goes black.

No worries, the German operatives in Lisbon apparently worked him over to the point of total collapse, but he didn’t give up the details of the invasion.   He finally awakes from the trauma in an Allied hospital, the war long since over.  

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyA chipper Major Gerber (played by Rod Taylor) tells him that has been under psychiatric care for a number of years in an attempt to help him regain his memory.   

For Pike the place has the look and feel of an Army hospital — the recovering patients are playing baseball — and he has a beautiful nurse (Eva Marie Saint) to care for him, but little details here and there begin to form a picture that this is just an elaborate charade.   

A nice twist at the end makes 36 Hours a World War II film that is in a category all to itself.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Other Blu-ray debuts include auteur filmmaker Sam Peckinpah’s 1962 Western, Ride the High Country (of note, The Criterion Collection announced one week ago a June 27 restoration of Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs), which will be available on Apr. 4.

Henry Fonda will be showcased on Apr. 18 in both director Burt Kennedy’s 1965 film release of The Rounders and filmmaker Delmer Daves’ 1963 film adaptation of the late Earl Hamner, Jr.’s 1961 novel, Spencer’s Mountain.

And, Apr. 25 is the street date for a Blu-ray edition of director Arthur Hiller’s 1963 comedy release of The Wheeler Dealers, starring James Garner and Lee Remick.

The Film Detective Preps Ten New Film Restorations For Delivery On DVD On Mar. 28

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Vaudeville stars Robert Woolsey and Bert Wheeler lead the way for The Film Detective’s next round of ten film restorations, which will be ready for collectors on DVD on Mar. 28.

Director Paul Sloane’s 1930 Pre-Code comedy, Half Shot at Sunrise, starring Wheeler and Woolsey, and also co-starring Wheeler’s often love-interest Dorothy Lee, plus George MacFarlane, Edna May Oliver and Leni Stengel (she would also join Wheeler and Woolsey the following year in Cracked Nuts).

The pair are in the army during World War I and want to have a “really good time” in Paris, so it is no holds barred as they go AWOL to enjoy the women of the city.   While out having their fun, Wheeler meets Annette (Dorothy Lee) and Woolsey hooks up with the exotic Olga (Leni Stengel), who turn out to be their commanding Colonel’s daughter and mistress (George MacFarlane plays their CO) respectively.   

Through a series of comic misfortunes the two end up carrying secret orders to the front and that eventually leads to a firing squad, but their Colonel has a change of heart (call that blackmail) and let’s them go.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Also on the Mar. 28 release calendar from The Film Detective is director William C. Thomas’ 1947 film noir/crime drama, Big Town After Dark, the third of four entries in the Big Town film series (1947–1948: Big Town, I Cover Big Town, Big Town After Dark and Big Town Scandal).   

This short-lived film series was based on Daniel Mainwaring’s “Big Town” radio series and starred Phillip Reed (Bandit Queen, Song of the Thin Man, etc.) as a crusading newspaper editor and Hillary Brooke (The Fuller Brush Man, The Woman in Green, Lost Continent, etc. … as herself on The Abbott and Costello Show) as his ace reporter.   

In this entry in the series, friction is brewing between Steve Wilson (Reed) and Lorelei Kilbourne (Brooke) as she has become a best-selling novelist and he has to get her back on the beat.   He uses Susan Peabody, the niece of the paper’s owner (played by Ann Gillis), to make her jealous, but the young woman is actually up-to-her-neck in a gambling racket!    The story is just too juicy for Lorelei to walk away from … she saves the day and Steve’s hide as well!
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Another crime drama in the Mar. 28 release mix is director Jack Bernhard’s 1948 film adaptation of Whitman Chambers’ 1938 detective novel “Once too Often,” which reached the screen as Blonde Ice.    

Interestingly, Chambers wrote a series of detective novels during the period and ended up in Hollywood writing scripts, which included the aforementioned Big Town After Dark (it’s a small world after all).

With Blonde Ice, a film noirish tale, Leslie Brooks plays a “black widow” by the name of Claire Cummings, who fancies herself a “society” reporter, but that’s just the excuse to mingle with the rich and famous.   She seduces a wealthy man by the name of Carl Hanneman (played by John Holland), gets him to marry her … and then, when he gets wise to her ways, he commits suicide (blows his brains out)!    

She is quickly on to her next mark, a rising political star (played by Michael Whalen), who falls for her and then discovers her duplicity (yep, he dies too) and, get this, she thinks nothing of diverting the blame to what might just be her only real friend in the world, Lee Burns (Robert Paige), who has a crush on her from their newspaper days together.   She is just downright wicked!

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Also to be counted among the Mar. 28 film restorations are five Westerns from The Film Detective … these are: Buffalo Stampede (aka: The Thundering Herd — 1934, a Zane Grey Western adventure starring Randolph Scott and Judith Allen, with a cast that includes Buster Crabbe, Noah Berry, Raymond Hatton, Harry Carey, Monte Blue and all around bad guy Barton MacLane); Come On, Cowboys (1937, a Three Mesquiteers Western, with Robert Livingston, Ray “Crash” Corrigan and Max Terhune); The Gambling Terror (also from 1937, starring Johnny Mack Brown and Iris Meredith); Colorado (1940, Roy Rogers rides with sidekick Gabby Hayes in this Civil War “Western” with Pauline Moore and Milburn Stone) and Brand of the Devil (1944, Texas Ranger Dave O’Brien battles rustlers by the name of “Devil’s Brand”).

Rounding out the films selections are Headline Crasher (1937, starring Frankie Darro) and director Roland West’s Pre-Code 1931 film adaptation of Walton Green’s novel, “Corsair, a Pirate in White Flannels,” which reached the screen as simply Corsair (Chester Morris and Thelma Todd star).

MIG Music Teams With MVD Entertainment Group For The May 5 DVD/CD Combo Pack Release Of Blue Cheer: Live at Rockpalast - Bonn, 2008

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
MIG Music, with domestic sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has tabbed Friday, May 5 as the street date for the DVD/2 CD Combo Pack release of Blue Cheer: Live at Rockpalast - Bonn, 2008.

Early “heavy metal” pioneer, Blue Cheer, lead by Dickie Peterson, Paul Whaley and later Andrew "Duck" MacDonald would rise and fall over a thirty year period beginning in the late ‘60s in San Francisco.   Their film album, “Vincebus Eruptum,” contained the band’s unique cover of Eddie Cochran’s 1958 chart hit, “Summertime Blues,” and with that they were off to the races.   

Five additional albums quickly followed and then they were gone — reformed — gone — re-invented — gone … and then back again.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph TribbeyThis live concert for Germany’s Rockpalast series is near the end for Peterson, who would succumb to his battle with cancer the following year (October of 2009).

Included in this ten-number set are “Summertime Blues” (of course), “Just a Little Bit,” “The Hunter” and “Babylon” (all from the 1968 “Outsideinside” album), plus “Parchment Farm” and an epic rendition of “Doctor Please” from the aforementioned “Vincebus Eruptum” album.    And from the 2007 album “What Doesn’t Kill You …” there are both “Malajusted Child” and “Rollin' Dem Bones.”

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Has 4K Ultra HD • Blu-ray • And DVD Editions Of The Great Wall Ready For Retailers On May 23

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will be bringing Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall, a mega-budget, mixed-genre fantasy tale — starring Matt Damon — to market on May 23 as a three-SKU product offering.

The ARR is 95 days and domestic ticket sales currently stand at $44.8 million (internationally the box office haul was roughly seven times that number).

Planned for release are a stand-alone DVD edition, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray Combo Pack.

200 years before Marco Polo arrived in China, a band of European mercenaries are secretly scouting the Chinese countryside for “black powder” (gunpowder) when they are attacked by an unknown terror.   Only William Garin (Matt Damon) and Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) escape as the rest of their group are ripped to shreds by unknown beasts (monsters).  
Garin and Tovar manage to chop a claw from one their attackers and keep it as a trophy of sorts, but they are soon swept up by guardians of a magnificent great wall fortress, the purpose of which will circle back to the pair’s beastly encounter.   Quizzed by their captors, things look bleak, but the trophy claw and Garin’s wizardry with a bow and arrow earn them a reprieve.
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

The Great Wall is a fantasy film, pure and simple.   Anyone who attempts to put the action into some sort of historical context — as some mainline critics argued — is on a fool’s errand.   The film is one part “Cirque du Soleil” (death-defying aerial stunts) and one part zombie movie (think: World War Z … same sort of action) that is all blended together into action epic with stunning stunts and CGI work.   

Bonus features included deleted scenes and six production featurettes — “Matt Damon in China,” “Working with Director Zhang Yimou,” “The Great Wall Visual Effects,” “Man vs. Monster,” “Weapons of War” and “Designing a Spectacular World.”

Arrow Video Picks May 30 As The Release Date For A Special Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Edition Of Evil Ed

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Arrow Video, with domestic sales and distribution expertise provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has circled May 30 on its release calendar as the street date for a special edition presentation of writer/director Anders Jacobsson’s 1995 gore fest (or feast, as the case may be), Evil Ed.

It arrives as a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack edition (2 blu-ray discs and a DVD).

Eddie Swenson (Johan Rudebeck) didn’t start out evil.   No, movies drove that way … or perhaps it is the things that reside in his refrigerator.   No matter, Ed has gone over the edge and there is no coming back.

Our boy Ed is a film cutter — you know, a film editor — who is pretty good at his job.  A pro, so to speak, and that is exactly what the film studio that he works for needs right at the moment.   

It seems that their “Splatter and Gore” division needs help in editing some the really nasty stuff out of their Loose Limbs film series for distribution in some of those overseas markets that are over-sensitive and prohibit all of that over-the-top gore and violence.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
As he works on cutting these films down to something equivalent to a “PG” rating he slowly goes insane  — yes, gore and violence will drive you mad!   He goes mad in a BIG way and even the best of insane asylums can’t keep him locked up long!   He’s on a mission and that is to KILL, KILL, KILL!

Bonus goodies include two cuts of the film, the original theatrical release and a newly prepared “Special ED-ition” cut (an additional two minutes worth of bloody mayhem), a featurette titled “Reconstructing Edward,” deleted scenes, a blooper reel, a making-of documentary, Keep ’Em Heads Rollin’, and an epic documentary on the making of Evil Ed that is titled Lost in Brainland (three hours worth of bloody insights).
DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment Bids Farewell To Bones On June 13

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
They say that all good things come to an end; the last day and the goodnight kiss.   

20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment will have the farewell party — in the form of the three-disc DVD set — on June 13 for Bones: The Final Chapter (a complete 12-season set will also be available on that date).

The final season for Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel), Seeley Booth and the rest of the forensic gang consisted of just 12 cases (episodes), with the sign-off coming on Tuesday, Mar. 28.

Bonus features for this final season consist of a gag reel and the featurette titled “Back to the Lab: A Bones Retrospective”

Wild Eye Releasing Preps Blu-ray And DVD Editions Of Director Charles Pinion’s American Mummy For Release On May 9

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Wild Eye Releasing, with sales and distribution support provided by MVD Entertainment Group, has selected May 9 as the debut date for DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack editions of director Charles Pinion’s American Mummy.

The timing for this release is spot-on as the Tom Cruise/Sofia Boutella mega-budget film release of, The Mummy, will arrive in theatres on June 9.    

Professor Jenson (Suziey Block — Wonder Valley, Meaning of Violence, etc.) leads her students on what should be a routine “dig” in the New Mexico desert, but it soon becomes anything but that.    Of course genre fans will recognize this assembly of “students” as the victim pool … and sure enough victims they are.

At this particular dig they’ve found a mummy, which is decked out with a death mask (Aztec in origin) made of a human skull.   It shouldn’t be where they’ve found it, so instead of returning to campus, Jenson and some eager volunteers decide to stick around for an extra few days to see what they can turn up at this very peculiar dig.   Why here? 

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey
Among their group is Carmen (Esther Canata), a graduate student specializing in Aztec rituals.   And sure enough, before you can say “hocus pocus” she tries one out and Shazam! — The spirit of Tezcalipoca is set loose upon Jenson and her students!

As to bonus goodies, the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack edition includes both 3D and 2D presentations of American Mummy, plus there are outtakes and a behind-the-scenes production featurette.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey