Supernatural: The Complete Series

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/25/21;
Warner;
Fantasy;
$329.99 86-DVD set, $359.99 58-disc Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Starring Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Alexander Calvert, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, Mark A. Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, Jim Beaver, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Samantha Smith, Adrianne Palicki, Kathryn Newton, DJ Qualls, Felicia Day, Osric Chau, Lauren Tom, Alaina Huffman, Courtney Ford, Sterling K. Brown, Kurt Fuller, Curtis Armstrong, Ruth Connell.

It may be a cliché to say they don’t make ’em like they used to, but it’s an idiom that certainly applies in the case of “Supernatural.”

The series stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who spend the show traveling the country in a black 1967 Impala hunting monsters, demons, ghosts and other supernatural beings. Their quest to find their father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and find their mothers’ killer introduces them to a wider world of demon hunters, magic and divine beings who hold the fate of reality in their hands. At one point, the characters even become animated for a crossover with Scooby-Doo (in season 13).

Running an amazing 15 seasons and 327 episodes, the series began in 2005 on the old WB network, its last year before it merged with UPN to become what’s now known as The CW. Airing on the lowest rung of the network ladder certainly helped it flourish, as it became the longest-running American sci-fi/fantasy TV series in history with its 11th season, surpassing WB/CW sister series “Smallville,” which had run for 10 seasons and 217 episode, outpacing another 10-season sci-fi series, “Stargate SG-1,” by three episodes. The British side of the genre has produced “Doctor Who,” of course, with separate runs of 26 and 12 seasons (and an upcoming 13th), but with shorter episode lengths in the classic era and fewer episodes per season in the modern.

That’s the kind of output the TV industry just isn’t interested in sustaining anymore, beyond the handful of legacy procedurals that are sticking around on the networks. Between cable and streamers and the short attention spans of audiences, three- to four-season runs of 10 episodes apiece are much more the norm now.

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The massive complete-series Blu-ray disc set efficiently repackages all the previously released individual season sets, as well as the new 15th and final season set, and all the bonus material that entails.

The set comes in the form of a handsome outer box housing seven thick Blu-ray cases, packed two seasons per case, except for the seventh case which contains the final three seasons. Each of the first six cases house eight discs (except for case two, which has seven discs for seasons three and four), while case seven has 10 discs in total. This distribution pattern left no room for the season 15 bonus disc, which is instead housed in its own separate cardboard sleave at the end of the stack, alongside a booklet containing an episode guide, photos from the series, production artwork, and notes to the fans from series creator Eric Kripke and executive producer Robert Singer.

It’s a slightly awkward configuration but seemingly unavoidable without either splitting up one of the seasons into two separate cases, inventing an 11-disc case, or putting the four discs of season 15 in its own case and making the overall box bigger. All in all it’s just a minor infringement on any OCD some fans or collectors might have.

Among the extras on that final disc are a featurette about the series finale, a documentary about the show’s strong themes of family, and a look at the Winchesters as American heroes in the vein of folklore archetypes. There’s also a gag reel, a retrospective of all 15 seasons, and highlights from the show’s 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panel, which due to COVID-19 canceling the 2020 event turned out to be the show’s last.

In the final extra, a lucky fan wins a replica of the show’s iconic Impala.

The set does not include Supernatural: The Anime Series, which was released on Blu-ray in 2011.

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‘Croods,’ ‘Freaky,’ ‘Greenland’ Top Slate of New Disc, Digital Releases Out Feb. 9

The Croods: The New Age, Freaky and Greenland, all from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, top the slate of new disc and digital releases available for home viewing beginning Feb. 9.

Also newly available for home audiences — with Valentine’s Day in mind — are two new entries in the acclaimed Paramount Presents line of movie classics, Love Story and Elizabethtown, as well as a Steelbook special edition of the horror classic My Bloody Valentine, from Shout! Factory.

The Croods: A New Age, the computer-animated sequel to 2013’s The Croods, both from DreamWorks Animation, becomes available Feb. 9 for digital purchase through digital retailers and cable operators, two weeks ahead of its Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD debut.

The film was released theatrically over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend and ultimately grossed $46 million domestically and $149 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. The Croods: A New Age was released as a premium video-on-demand (PVOD) 48-hour rental on Dec. 18.

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Freaky and Greenland are both arriving on disc Feb. 9, two weeks after they became available for purchase through digital retailers and cable operators.

Freaky is a horror film from Blumhouse that earned $15.2 million worldwide in theaters. The film — in which a teenage girl (played by Kathryn Newton) switches bodies with a relentless serial killer (Vince Vaughn) — was released as a premium VOD rental on Dec. 3, just 21 days after its theatrical bow.

The dystopian disaster film Greenland, from STX Films, was released as a PVOD rental on Dec. 18 and is slated to become available for streaming on HBO Max at some point in the first quarter of this year. In the meantime, it is available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Feb. 9.

The film follows a family fighting for survival as a planet-killing comet races to Earth. John Garrity (Gerard Butler), his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) and young son Nathan make a perilous journey to their only hope for sanctuary.

Also on Feb. 9, Paramount is adding the acclaimed classic Love Story and director Cameron Crowe’s romantic Elizabethtown to its vaunted “Paramount Presents” line, which now numbers 15 titles.

Love Story, starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw as two college students who remain lovers against all odds, has been newly restored from a 4K film transfer in time for its 50th anniversary. Based on Erich Segal’s best-selling novel, Love Story was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and became a cultural phenomenon, earning more than $100 million at the domestic box office. In 2002, the AFI placed it at No. 9 on its list of the 100 greatest love stories of all time.

The limited-edition Blu-ray includes the newly restored film; a new “Filmmaker Focus” with film historian Leonard Maltin; previously released content, including a commentary by director Arthur Hiller, an introduction by film critic Ben Mankiewicz, “Love Story: A Classic Remembered” and the theatrical trailer; and digital copy access. Packaging includes a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments.

The limited-edition Elizabethtown Blu-ray Disc includes the 2005 film, which stars Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst, newly remastered from a 4K transfer supervised by Crowe. The disc is presented in collectible packaging that includes a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster, and an interior spread with key movie moments. It also includes a new “Filmmaker Focus” with Crowe, never-before-seen deleted scenes, and an alternate ending with an introduction by Crowe. Along with access to a digital copy of the film, the Blu-ray also includes previously released special features, including deleted and extended scenes with an introduction by Crowe; the “On the Road to Elizabethtown,” “The Music of Elizabethtown,” “Meet the Crew” and “Training Wheels” featurettes; and a photo gallery.

Also out Feb. 9 is a new two-disc Steelbook edition of the 1981 Canadian slasher film My Bloody Valentine, from Shout! Factory. The film follows a group of young adults who throw a Valentine’s Day party, only to find themselves the targets of a vengeful killer dressed in mining gear.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Freaky

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/9/21;
Universal;
Horror;
Box Office $8.99 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody horror violence, sexual content, and language throughout.
Stars Vince Vaughn, Kathryn Newton, Katie Finneran, Dana Drori, Celeste O’Connor, Misha Osherovich, Uriah Shelton, Alan Ruck.

There’s a lot of fun to be had in Freaky, which combines the scares of a slasher film and the wackiness of a body-swap comedy to great effect.

The film goes to town on all sorts of tropes from horror films to high school and teen coming-of-age movies. Freaky the kind of movie that could easily end up being a cult hit.

It begins as any typical slasher movie would, with a psychotic killer nicknamed the Butcher (Vince Vaughn) stalking sex-crazy teenagers having a party. During the mayhem, he discovers the antiquities collection of one of the kids’ parents, and an ancient magical dagger calls out to him.

His next target turns out to be Millie (Kathryn Newton), a typical American put-upon teenager dealing with all sorts of angst, not the least of which is her father’s sudden death a year earlier and her mother turning to alcoholism to cope. So when her mother doesn’t show up to give her a ride home after the Homecoming game, the Butcher strikes, and manages to stab her in the shoulder with the magical dagger before Millie’s cop sister shows up to scare him off.

The next morning, Millie and the Butcher wake up in each other’s bodies. Since Millie was able to describe the Butcher to police, everyone now knows what he looks like, so she can’t just go walking around in his body trying to figure out what happened. But having the body of a teenage girl gives new life to the Butcher, who now has a free pass to fresh meat at high school, and ends up running afoul of all the same people who have been giving Millie problems.

Eventually, Millie is able to reconnect with her friends and convince them of what happened, and they learn about the dagger’s body-swap abilities, and that they have until the end of the day to reverse the process with another stab before the switch becomes permanent.

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The blend of supernatural hijinks with typical high school problems gives the movie some serious “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” vibes, particularly the way it serves as a revenge fantasy for dealing with all the troubles that pop up during high school, from bullies to mean teachers. The film finds a nice balance between tongue-in-cheek humor and some nasty gore.

Newton does a good job switching from meek teenager to killer on a dime, but the key to the film’s success is Vaughn, who has to take on the persona of a teenage girl. That’s why you cast someone like Vaughn for this role, since he’s no stranger to playing creepy, but has the comedic chops to pull off a convincing Millie.

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The Blu-ray includes a number of good bonus features, starting with the feature-length commentary by director Christopher Landon, who covers all the challenges of filming at an active high school during the winter in Atlanta with a shoestring budget.

Other extras include three deleted scenes running about five minutes in total, including a funny bit with a rideshare driver.

The two-and-a-half-minute “Split Personalities: Millie vs. The Butcher” featurette deals with Vaughn and Newton crafting their characters, while the three-and-a-half-minute “Crafting the Kills” dissects the variety of gruesome murders depicted in the film.

“Christopher Landon’s Brand of Horror” is a two-and-a-half-minute featurette about the director’s penchant for horror-comedy. Finally, the three-minute “Final Girl Reframed” examines how the film flips some common horror tropes about gender stereotypes.

Horror-Comedy ‘Freaky’ Coming to Digital Jan. 26, Disc Feb. 9

The Vince Vaughn horror-comedy Freaky will come out on digital Jan. 26 and Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 9 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the film from Blumhouse (Happy Death Day, “The Purge” franchise), a teenage girl switches bodies with a relentless serial killer.

High school senior Millie (Kathryn Newton, Blockers, HBO’s “Big Little Lies”) is just trying to survive being the unpopular kid when she becomes The Butcher’s (Vaughn, Wedding CrashersCouples Retreat) next target. Their fateful encounter gets twisted, and they wake up in each other’s bodies. Now looking like a towering psychopath, Millie learns she only has 24 hours to reverse the curse and get her body back before the switch becomes permanent and she’s trapped in the form of a middle-aged maniac forever. With some help from her friends — Nyla (Celeste O’Connor, Ghostbusters: Afterlife) and Joshua (Misha Osherovich, The Goldfinch) — and her crush Booker (Uriah Shelton, Enter the Warriors Gate), Millie races against the clock to reverse the curse while The Butcher discovers that having a female teen body is the perfect cover for a little homecoming killing spree.

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The “Killer Switch Edition” bonus content includes deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and a feature commentary with co-writer/director Christopher Landon.

Vaughn won a Critics Choice Super Award for Best Actor in a Horror Movie.

Blockers

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 7/3/18;
Universal;
Comedy;
Box Office $59.84 million;
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for crude and sexual content, and language throughout, drug content, teen partying, and some graphic nudity.
Stars Leslie Mann, John Cena, Ike Barinholtz, Hannibal Buress, June Diane Raphael, Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, Gideon Adlon, Graham Phillips, Miles Robbins, Gary Cole, Gina Gershon, Colton Dunn.

Kay Cannon’s directorial debut Blockers puts a spin on the typical “teenagers trying to lose their virginity” plot by approaching it from the point of view of the parents. And in doing so, the film becomes a coming-of-age story for both sides, as the parents learn to accept that their kids are growing up amid the abundance of storylines involving the children coming to terms with their own identities.

The parents are played by Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz, who discover what their daughters have planned for prom night through the magic of a randy text-message chain, an open laptop and the magic of iCloud beaming identical content to every portal signed into it. Mann plays a single mother who doesn’t want her daughter’s youthful indiscretions to mirror her own, while Cena is hilarious as the straight-laced dad who never wants to picture his little girl growing up. Barinholtz is more of a wild card, the divorced dad who argues not to get involved in their daughters’ sex lives but ends up going along with the other two more or less for the wacky adventure of it.

And that’s where the film gets to have it both ways, mining gags from both the typical teen plots and the desperation of the parents in chasing after them from one party to the next. The film isn’t afraid to get as raunchy as these types of films can get, but balances it out with moments that are actually kind of sweet. It isn’t shy about debating the morality of what the parents and kids are up to, either.

Thrown in the middle is Colton Dunn, the kids’ limo driver who gets some of the best throwaway lines in one of those minor roles that exists in the margins but provides a good opportunity for a performer to go to town with it.

The Blu-ray backs up the film with a number of funny supplements, starting with a few short deleted scenes running about two-and-a-half minutes total, a gag reel about the same length, and a “Line-O-Rama” of alternate takes running about seven-and-a-half minutes.

There are a couple of fun sketches that each run a little more than two minutes, with Barinholtz describing the history of sex in one, and Cena instructing viewers on how to create a “Prom Survival Kit” in the other (snacks are important).

The making of the film is covered in four topic-specific featurettes. The five-minute “Rescue Mission” covers the film in general, while the six-and-a-half-minute “Prom Night” focuses on how the filmmakers created the prom scenes as they reflect on their own prom experiences. The final featurettes are a bit more off-the-rails, with a three-minute glimpse at Cena’s infamous “butt chugging” scene, and a two-minute examination of creating the perfect fake puke for a projectile vomit scene.

Topping it off is a solo commentary from Cannon, who touches on the film’s key moments with some good behind-the-scenes insights, but leaves a lot of moments of silence as she’s just watching the film along with the rest of us. It’s enough to make you wish they were able to get more of the cast together for a commentary that could have potentially been a lot more fun.