‘Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,’ ‘Robocop’ on 4K Among Titles Due in April From Arrow and MVD

Six titles, including two new box sets and three 4K Ultra HD releases, are available in the April lineup from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, from legendary Shaw Brothers’ director Lau Kar-leung, makes its American Blu-ray debut April 5. In the film, General Yeung Yip and his sons are ambushed and brutally attacked, leaving Yip and all but two of his sons killed or captured. One son, Yeung Chiu (Alexander Fu Sheng), returns home to his mother and sisters. The other son, Yeung Dak (Gordon Liu), goes to live in a monastery where he develops the eight diagram pole fighting technique. After one of their sisters is captured, Dak is driven with anger to return home and exact his revenge. The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter was one of the last great martial arts epics to be released by the famous Shaw Brothers studio. However, the film is also remembered for the great tragedy that struck during filming. Star Fu Sheng tragically died in a car accident midway through production. As a result, Kar-leung reworked the final half of the script, turning it into the ultimate action spectacular as a tribute to his young star. This Arrow release features a brand-new 2K restoration from the original camera negative and comes loaded with bonus content.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is available on 4K Ultra HD April 12. Kenneth Branagh directs and stars alongside an all-star cast that includes Robert De Niro, Helena Bonham Carter and Ian Holm in this cinematic telling of the influential gothic tale. At the turn of the 19th century, scientist Victor Frankenstein (Branagh) is determined to conquer human morality. His attempt at playing God results in the creation of a hideous monster (De Niro). The film earned an Oscar nod for Best Makeup and seven nominations at the Saturn Awards. Arrow brings the film to 4K for the first time with a brand new restoration from the original camera negatives. The release includes a slate of new special features, including a documentary on the origins and evolution of the Frankenstein story. 

April 12 also marks the release of Robocop in a limited edition 4K Ultra HD steelbook. This sci-fi classic, about a terminally injured cop (Peter Weller) that returns to the line of duty as a cyborg advertised as the future of law enforcement, introduced Hollywood to the wild world of director Paul Verhoeven. The film is making its global debut in 4K, with a restoration approved by Verhoeven. Included in this limited edition release are both the theatrical and director’s cuts of the film.

On April 19, Arrow will release Rogue Cops & Racketeers: Two Crime Thrillers by Enzo G. Castellari on Blu-ray. One of the most influential Italian genre directors of all time, Castellari made a name for himself helming titles such as Keoma and The Inglorious Bastards. Arrow presents two of Castellari’s action-packed titles in one set. First up, is 1976’s The Big Racket, in which a gang of goons attempts to bring an Italian city to its knees by extorting money from local shops and bar owners. Unfortunately for them, Inspector Palmieri (Fabio Testi) is on the scene. The film is notable for a death-defying stunt that sees Testi trapped in a car that goes tumbling down a ditch. Rounding out the set is Castellar’s The Heroin Busters. Testi returns, this time as an Italian police officer that goes undercover to bring down an international heroin smuggling ring. While on the job, he and a hot-tempered Interpol agent (David Hemmings) working the same case, butt heads. The limited-edition two-disc set includes brand-new 2K restorations for both films, new audio commentary tracks and new interviews.

Arrow will release their second set of Claude Chabrol films on April 26 with Twisting The Knife: Four Films by Claude Chabrol. This four-disc set brings together four films from the later part of Chabrol’s career starting with 1997’s The Swindle. In that film, Victor (Michel Serrault) and Betty (Isabelle Huppert) are a pair of small-time scam artists that travel in their camper van from business convention to business convention robbing unsuspecting businessmen. Betty sets her sights on something more ambitious and convinces Victor to take on a mark with a potential payday of 5 million Swiss francs. The pair soon realize they’re in over-their-head and must fight for their lives. In The Color of Lies, a 10-year-old girl is found murdered in a small town. René (Jacques Gamblin), her art teacher, is the last one to see her alive and instantly becomes a prime suspect. Chabrol partnered with Huppert once more for the 2000 psychological thriller Nightcap. Huppert stars as Mika, owner of a Swiss chocolate company and the first wife of renowned pianist André Polonski (Jacques Dutronc). After André’s second wife dies, he remarries Mika. Soon an unsuspecting visitor arrives, bringing with her revelations of foul play and long-hidden family secrets. The final film on the set is 2003’s The Flower of Evil, in which a wealthy family living in Bordeaux sees their perfect life come crashing down when the wife of the family, Anne (Nathalie Baye), decides to run for mayor. A political smear campaign reveals secrets of an old murder scandal that threatens to bring the family down. The Flower of Evil was nominated for Best European Film at the 18th annual Goya Awards. Bonus content on the set includes new 4K restorations; new audio commentary tracks; new interviews; and an 80-page collector’s booklet of new writing by Sean Hogan, Brad Stevens, Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Pamela Hutchinson.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The month comes to a close on April 26 with the 4K Ultra HD upgrade of Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi thriller 12 Monkeys. Set in a future world that is ravaged by disease and death, the film stars Bruce Willis as a convict sent back in time to find the original virus and help develop a cure. Brad Pitt earned an Oscar nomination for his turn as Jeffrey Goines, a mental patient with environmentalist and anti-corporatist views. This new release comes with archival bonus content and a limited-edition illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and Ian Christie.

The Crown: The Complete Fourth Season

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Drama;
$45.99 DVD, $55.99 Blu-ray;

Not rated.
Stars Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Gillian Anderson, Josh O’Connor, Emma Corrin, Marion Bailey, Erin Doherty, Stephen Boxer, Emerald Fennell.

The acclaimed series about the British monarchy takes a turn in its fourth season to focus on the women who defined the United Kingdom in the 1980s.

With Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman) having served as Queen for several decades, the series shifts further away from dealing with her adjusting to the position, and puts more emphasis on examining the appropriateness of a monarchy in modern society, and the impact that open question has on Elizabeth, her husband, Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies), and their growing family.

In particular, the season introduces Princess Diana (Emma Corrin) and takes a hard look behind the scenes of her marriage to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), which famously ended in divorce before her tragic death in a car accident in 1997.

Diana is depicted as a bright-eyed teenager looking for a fairy tale life and getting a lot more than she expected, with Charles marrying her only out of convenience to satisfy the pressures of his hereditary duties. Much to the chagrin of his family, he remains in a discreet relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, who the previous season had been deemed unsuitable as a match for the future king. Bowles is played by Emerald Fennell, who would go on to win a writing Oscar for Promising Young Woman.

Follow us on Instagram

Meanwhile, the other major thread of the season concerns the rise of Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) as prime minister, who vows to reshape the country from the bottom up. This leads to a bit of a clash of personalities with the Queen, who doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with her policies — a disagreement that eventually spills out into the press in a breach of protocol that proves scandalous. Thatcher, in turn, finds the royal family to be a bit boorish and out of touch with her perception of the common British citizen. As they are roughly the same age, the season takes the obvious, but effective, move of exploring their parallel tracks toward leadership — working class republicanism versus aristocratic duty.

The season also hits upon some of the other historical milestones of the 1980s, such as the Falklands War, and even finds time for a welcome cameo from some familiar faces from earlier seasons. One fascinating detour involves focusing an episode on the story of Michael Fagan, an unemployed commoner who managed to break into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and managed to have a conversation with the Queen in her private bedroom.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

With this latest batch of 10 episodes, the series maintains its usually high marks for writing and acting, and while the veracity of certain off-the-record events might be open to scrutiny, its not hard to see why the season dominated at the Emmy Awards, sweeping the top seven categories for Drama Series, taking trophies for writing, directing, Best Supporting Actress for Anderson, Best Supporting Actor for Menzies, Best Actor for O’Connor, Best Actress for Colman, and Outstanding Drama Series. Academy voters were so eager to fête the series they even gave a Guest Star Emmy to Claire Foy, who already won an Emmy for playing the queen in the first two seasons, for a brief appearance as the younger queen in a flashback.

The Blu-ray includes three behind-the-scenes featurettes and a photo gallery.

The six-minute “Triumph & Tragedy: Diana & Charles” offers a brief look at the depiction of the season’s central relationship; the six-and-a-half-minute “Three Groundbreaking Women” focuses on the complicated relationships between Elizabeth and Thatcher, and Elizabeth and Diana. The general making of the series is covered in the eight-and-a-half-minute “Research, Costumes & More: The Making of Season 4,” an informative look at the process of researching the historic events that inspired the series.

The photo gallery is interesting as it presents stills of scenes from the series next to photos of the actual royals in the real-life situation upon which the scene was based.

While the season premiered on Netflix a year ago, the Blu-ray release is well timed, as the biopic Spencer with Kristen Stewart as Diana has just hit theaters.

Originally published as a streaming review Nov. 16, 2020.

Tim Burton’s ‘Big Fish’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD May 4

The Tim Burton-directed 2003 fantasy drama Big Fish is coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 4 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film stars Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Lohman, Robert Guillaume and Marion Cotillard with Steve Buscemi and Danny DeVito.

The story, based on the book, follows Edward Bloom (McGregor), who throughout his life has always been a man of big appetites, enormous passions and tall tales. In his later years, portrayed by five-time Best Actor Oscar nominee Finney (Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Erin Brockovich, 2000), he remains a huge mystery to his son, William (Crudup). Now, to get to know the real man, Will begins piecing together a true picture of his father from flashbacks of his amazing adventures.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The 4K UHD disc is newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative with HDR10 and includes new Dolby Atmos audio plus original theatrical 5.1 audio. The Blu-ray disc includes the feature presented in HD, sourced from the new 4K master; Burton audio commentary, moderated by Mark Salisbury; several featurettes; Easter eggs; and the theatrical trailer.

Ocean’s Eight

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Comedy;
Box Office $139.32 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for language, drug use, and some suggestive content.
Stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Mindy Kaling, Richard Armitage. 

Ocean’s Eight is pretty much exactly the movie one might expect from the premise of making a female-centric version of an “Ocean’s” heist movie.

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, sister of George Clooney’s character from the “Ocean’s” trilogy, who gets out of prison and gathers her former cohorts for a scheme to steal an expensive necklace during the Met Gala.

Their plan is to convince a famous actress (Anne Hathaway) to wear the jewels, and through the franchise’s usual series of complicated maneuvers find a way to swap it for a fake and sneak off with the goods. Debbie also might want some revenge against a former boyfriend who got her sent to prison in the first place.

So, naturally, the plan seems to get more out of control with every detail while the twists and turns become more far-fetched. It’s best not to think too much about the logic of all of it.

True to the franchise, the film is mostly just an excuse to spend some time with the quirky and likable personalities of the all-star assembly of talent involved. There are even a few cameos from some of the characters from the earlier trilogy (but, alas, Matt Damon’s rumored cameo is nowhere to be found, not even the deleted scenes).

The Blu-ray offers a couple of short deleted scenes totaling less than two minutes.

There are also three behind-the-scenes featurettes that run about 38 minutes in total. One focuses on the cast, one focuses on the caper, and one focuses on how the filmmakers re-created the Met Gala for the story.

‘Oceans 8’ Due on Digital Aug. 21, Disc Sept. 11 From Warner

The caper flick Ocean’s 8 will come out on digital Aug. 21 and 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD special edition Sept. 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter as a group of thieves targeting $150 million in diamonds to be worn at the Met Gala.

Ocean’s 8 earned $136.5 million at the box office.

The 4K UHD combo pack ($44.95) features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the film in 4K with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound, a Blu-ray disc of the film and special features, and a digital version of the movie. The Blu-ray combo pack ($35.99) features a Blu-ray disc of the film and special features in hi-definition, a DVD with the film in standard definition, and a digital version of the movie. The DVD special edition ($28.98) features a DVD with the film in standard definition and a second DVD with special features in standard definition. The film will also be available on Movies Anywhere.

Special features include deleted scenes and the featurettes “A Heist in Heels,” “Ocean’s Team 3.0” and “Reimagining the Met Gala.”

Netflix Releases First Screen Shot of Olivia Colman as the Queen in ‘The Crown’

Netflix July 16 released on Twitter a screen shot of British actress Olivia Colman playing Queen Elizabeth II on upcoming seasons three and four of its immensely popular original series, “The Crown.”

The 44-year-old Colman, who is seen holding a cup of tea, has won three BAFTA Awards, three BIFA Awards, a Golden Globe Award (“The Night Manager”) and has two Emmy nominations in her career.

Season three is currently in production and slated for release in 2019, covering the time period from the early 1960s to 1970s.

The second season, which just received 13 Emmy nominations, starred Emmy nominees Claire Foy (who already won Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards) as Her Majesty, Matt Smith as Prince Philip, and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret. Kirby, who co-stars with Tom Cruise in upcoming Mission: Impossible – Fallout, won a BAFTA TV Award for her role in season two.

Newcomers Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Daniels play Margaret and her husband, respectively, in season three, among other cast changes implemented to better reflect the aging of the show’s principal characters.

Netflix releases second quarter financials today after the market’s close.