‘The Silencing,’ ‘Welcome to Sudden Death’ Top Slate of New Disc, Digital Releases

Lionsgate’s The Silencing and Universal Pictures’ Welcome to Sudden Death top the slate of new disc and digital releases available Sept. 29.

Also newly available, on Blu-ray Disc and DVD: Shout! Factory’s 20th anniversary edition of children’s classic Thomas and the Magic Railroad;  10-movie Illumination Films, Focus and Blumhouse collections from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment;  and Season One of “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” from Paramount Home Entertainment (also available through digital retailers).

The Silencing stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) as a reformed hunter, and Annabelle Wallis as a sheriff, who are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse when they set out to track a killer who may have kidnapped the hunter’s daughter five years earlier. The cast also includes Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Zahn McClarnon and Melanie Scrofano.

The film, available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, was released through VOD Aug. 14.

Welcome to Sudden Death, a remake of the 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme action film, was directed by Dallas Jackson and becomes available on DVD only, as well as through digital retailers. The film centers on Jesse Freeman (Michael Jai White), a former special forces officer and explosives expert now working a regular job as a security guard in a high-tech basketball arena. When terrorists kidnap the team’s owner and Jesse’s daughter during opening night, it’s up to Jesse to save them.

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Thomas and the Magic Railroad is a 2000 British-American fantasy adventure based on the popular TV series “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends,” which in turn is based on The Railway Series books by the Rev. W. Awdry. The movie stars Alec Baldwin (as Mr. Conductor), Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson, Didi Conn, Russell Means, Cody McMains, Michael E. Rodgers, and Eddie Glen as the voice of Thomas.

“Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” is a dark fantasy TV series set in Los Angeles during 1938. A spinoff of the British-American horror drama TV series “Penny Dreadful,” the series revolves around two police detectives investigating a gruesome murder who face off against demons, racial tension and Nazi conspiracies. The series premiered in April and in August was canceled after one season.

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

‘The Silencing’, ‘The Vanished’ Among Five New Releases on Weekly ‘Watched at Home’ Chart

Five new films appeared on the “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended Aug. 22, led by Lionsgate’s The Silencing and Paramount’s The Vanished, both of which debuted in the top 10.

The Silencing debuted at No. 6 on the weekly chart, which tracks transactional video activity compiled from studio and retailer data through DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group. The  U.S.-Canadian action thriller follows a reclusive hunter and police sheriff who track down a murderer they suspect kidnapped the hunter’s daughter five years earlier. The film, released through digital retailers on Aug. 14, was directed by Robin Pront from a screenplay by Micah Ranum and stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Annabelle Wallis.

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The Vanished (No. 7), also released through digital retailers in mid-August ahead of an Oct. 20 DVD and Blu-ray Disc release, is about an idyllic family vacation that turns into a living nightmare for parents Paul (Thomas Jane) and Wendy (Anne Heche) when their young daughter disappears without a trace. When the local sheriff (Jason Patric) fails to chase down any new leads, the frantic parents have no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

Also new to the “Watched at Home” chart are RLJ Entertainment’s Spree (No. 15), a horror satire that follows a social media-obsessed, ride-hail driver played by Joe Keery, and Sony Pictures’ Sputnik (No. 18), a Russian science-fiction horror film that stars Oksana Akinshina as a young doctor who is recruited by the military to assess a cosmonaut who survived a mysterious space accident and returned to Earth with a dangerous organism living inside him.

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Warner’s Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons, a direct-to-video animated superhero film version of the CW Seed series of the same name, debuted at No. 20 after its Aug. 18 disc release date. The film was released through digital retailers two weeks earlier.

The top five on the “Watched at Home” chart for the week ended Aug. 22 remains unchanged from the prior week, with RLJ’s The Tax Collector at No. 1 for the third consecutive week. The film, which stars Shia LaBeouf and Bobby Soto as “tax collectors” working for a Los Angeles crime lord, was released through digital retailers on Aug. 7.

Rounding out the top five are DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, distributed to home audiences by Universal Pictures, and three seasons of Paramount’s “Yellowstone,” with Kevin Costner.

  1. The Tax Collector (RLJ Entertainment)
  2. Trolls World Tour (Universal/DreamWorks)
  3. Yellowstone: Season 1 (Paramount)
  4. Yellowstone: Season 3 (Paramount)
  5. Yellowstone: Season 2 (Paramount)
  6. The Silencing (2020, Lionsgate)
  7. The Vanished (2020, Paramount)
  8. The Outpost (Screen Media)
  9. Made In Italy (IFC Films)
  10. You Should Have Left (Universal)
  11. The Rental (IFC Films)
  12. Deep Blue Sea 3 (Warner)
  13. Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)
  14. The King of Staten Island (Universal)
  15. Spree (2020, RLJ Entertainment)
  16. Scoob! (Warner Bros.)
  17. The High Note (Universal)
  18. Sputnik (Sony Pictures)
  19. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Universal)
  20. Deathstroke Knights & Dragons (Warner)

 

Source: DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group
Includes U.S. digital sales, digital rentals, and DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD sales for the week ended Aug. 22.

Game of Thrones: Season 8

DIGITAL REVIEW:

HBO;
Fantasy;
$19.99 SD; $26.99 HD;
Not Rated.
Stars Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Anderson, Iain Glen.

The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” is certainly its most divisive, setting off a wave of Internet debates as to whether the final run of episodes was worthy of the extensive storytelling that had been laid out before.

Much of the ire seems to be focused on the creative decisions made by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in mapping out the final story arcs of the various characters once they no longer draw from the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels by George R.R. Martin, which formed the basis of the first five seasons.

A noticeable shift in the show’s pacing occurred in season six, once it was clear they had to create their own after reportedly receiving outlines from Martin about how he envisioned the saga more or less ending up. After season six, it was announced the show would wrap up in 13 episodes split into two seasons, with seven in season seven and six in season eight.

In hindsight, the argument goes, this timeline was insufficient in setting up the character development needed for the plot twists of the final episodes, leaving the final storylines feeling rushed while retroactively weakening the earlier seasons by both devaluing their story development and making it clear (particularly to readers of the novels) where the show missed opportunities to lay the foundation for the plot points the writers eventually decided to pursue.

The series has spent seven seasons seemingly maneuvering every character into two factions. One is the army gathering at Winterfell to fight the Night King and the White Walkers. This is the faction commanded by Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, who joined forces last season. However, their truce may be complicated by the lingering truth of Jon’s true heritage, which could present an obstacle to Dany’s claim to the Iron Throne.

Meanwhile. Queen Cersei has fortified her hold on King’s Landing through an alliance with Euron Greyjoy’s fleet and a mercenary army.

The first two episodes deal largely with various characters reuniting, setting the stage for the battle against the Night King, which takes place in the third episode. The final episodes involve the battle for King’s Landing and its aftermath.

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So, is the final season as problematic as the darkest corners of the Internet would make it out to be? Well, mostly no, but a little bit yes.

The ire seems to fall into two categories. The first, as mentioned, is the show rushing to get to the end. The second is the specific outcomes for some of the characters, which may have differed a bit from what some of the more entitled fans envisioned in their heads.

As to the second point, such is often the refrain of toxic fandom, and seems misguided. The character arcs themselves are fine and completely understandable, particularly when it comes to the most divisive of the individual stories, that of Queen Daenerys and her quest to reclaim the Iron Throne on behalf of her family.

The show has always been an examination of the dangers of tyranny and absolutism, even when the results of such governance may seem beneficial. The cycle of inherited power is itself the problem, not the potential for harm a new ruler may bring.

That being said, it’s hard to disagree that the final march to the end was a bit rushed, and perhaps could have used a few episodes to show events for the characters to experience that might reinforce their motivations in the final battles.

The final season is fine as it is, as easy as it is for fans to pick it apart, and will likely come to be better regarded once absorbed into the bulk of the show as fodder for binge viewing. While the asinine suggestion of fan petitions to “remake the season with competent writers” is beyond the realm of credibility, it’s hard not to at least entertain the idea of filming a few more episodes of material to expand on the character development, then re-editing them into the final couple of seasons (though, realistically, that ain’t happening either).

The show’s critics are also quick to overlook the many strengths of the final season, which offers some of the most stunning visuals of the series. This includes the purposefully dark and moody third episode, which uses its nighttime setting to great effect give viewers the same sense of unseen dread the characters would experience in fighting off wave after wave of undead armies.

There was some concern about the cinematography being too dark upon its initial airing, but this isn’t much of a problem with the digital HD presentation.

The other aspect of concern in fan circles were all the memes pointing out Starbucks cups and plastic water bottles left on the set for key scenes. The prominent coffee cup was subsequently digitally erased from episode four, but a few water bottles spotted under the chairs in the “Council of Lords” scene in the finale were still visible in the digital copy of the episode, at least within the first few days of its digital release. It will certainly be something to keep an eye out for in the eventual Blu-ray release that should arrive in a few months.

The digital package of the final season also includes a four-minute production featurette, a 17-minute profile of a key season from the third-episode battle, and The Last Watch, the feature-length documentary chronicling the making of the show’s final season that provides an enlightening look at the filmmakers and craftsman who brought it all together.

De Palma’s ‘Domino’ Falls to Digital and Disc July 30 From Lionsgate

Brian De Palma’s action-thriller Domino is coming to Blu-ray Disc (plus digital), DVD and digital July 30 from Lionsgate.

The film is currently available on demand.

Featuring international sets from Scandinavia to Spain, the film stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”), Carice van Houten and Guy Pearce.

In the film, a Copenhagen police officer, Christian (Coster-Wealdau), seeks justice for his partner’s murder by ISIS member Imran. Determined to hunt Imran down, Christian and Alex (van Houten), a fellow cop and his late partner’s mistress, are unwittingly caught in a deadly cat-and-mouse chase with a duplicitous CIA agent (Pearce) who is using Imran as a pawn to trap other ISIS members. Their quest for revenge becomes a race against time to save their own lives.

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Domino was released domestically on May 31, 2019, by Saban Films, skipping theaters and premiering on demand over the Internet. It is De Palma’s first film since 2012’s Passion.