New to View: May 18
By Bob Bloom
The following titles are being released on Tuesday, May 18, unless otherwise noted:
Raya and the Last Dragon (Blu-ray + DVD + digital)
Details: 2021, Walt Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
Rated: PG, some violence, action, thematic elements
The lowdown: This movie is an animated fantasy about the power of trust.
The feature is a fairy tale of sorts set in the Pan-Asian world of Kumandra, where, at one time, humans and dragons lived together in tranquility.
But 500 years earlier, monsters called the Druun threatened humanity. The dragons, to save mankind, sacrificed themselves.
But before they did, they left a beautiful gem that would protect the people, but because of the disaster, they were divided into five tribes — Heart, Tail, Talon, Fang and Spine.
The Heart clan, led by Benja, is the guardian of the gem. His young daughter, Raya has recently passed her father’s test of combat to also become a guardian.
Benja’s dream is to reunite all the factions and again make Kumandra one land.
He invites the leaders of all the factions to Heart, but there is a betrayal, the gem is smashed, and the various clans make off with its pieces.
The destruction of the gem allows the Druun to attack unchecked, and they turn most of the people of the land to stone.
Raya feels responsible for the calamity because she trusted Namaari, a young girl her own age who took advantage of Raya’s generosity to deceive her.
Raya begins a quest to track down the last dragon, find the gem pieces and restore Kumandra.
After six years of searching, Raya, who has matured into a formidable warrior and who carries one of the gem fragments, finally finds Sisu, the last dragon. Together, they begin a quest to recover the other four pieces.
Along the way, they gather a disparate group of allies.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” is an entertaining lesson about hope, healing and redemption.
It is also a fable about leaning on others for help and again seeing the best in people. It is nicely paced and provides positive life lessons that children will easily comprehend.
But, most of all, it is fun.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 descriptive audio and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital and English 2.0 descriptive audio; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include the animated short, “Us Again”; featurettes on the film’s martial arts and a Southeast Asian menu inspired by the countries that influences the movie; a look at the challenges of making the film during a pandemic; a featurette on the Southeast Asia Story Trust and the cultural influences that inspired the movie; outtakes; deleted scenes; and Easter eggs and fun facts about the movie.
Madame Rosa (Blu-ray)
Details: 1977, Kino Classics
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Simone Signoret stars as a French-Jewish Holocaust survivor in this winner of an Oscar for best foreign language film.
Signoret plays Madame Rosa, who runs a boarding house in Paris for the children of prostitutes. Rosa forms a relationship with Momo, an Algerian boy who she raises in the Muslim faith, which is a controversial decision in the midst of the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.
Their bond transcends religion as they create their own family bond.
Challenges arise when Rosa’s health begins to decline and the intolerance spewing around them threatens them.
Signoret’s performance is outstanding, overcoming some of the movie’s flaws.
Critics awarded the movie an 86 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.66:1 picture; French 2.0 DTS-HD monaural; English subtitles.
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (Blu-ray)
Details: 1939, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: The film adaptation of Maxwell Anderson’s stage play is a stilted melodrama from start to finish.
You would think with a cast headed by Bette Davis as Queen Elizabeth I and Errol Flynn as the Earl of Essex, there would be sparks.
But, alas, the chemistry between Davis and Flynn is nil; she is bombastic, and he is stiff and subdued.
The movie follows the ill-fated love affair between the aging monarch and the younger earl.
The film wastes Olivia de Havilland is an insignificant supporting role. Even director Michael Curtiz cannot instill any life into the feature.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection. It can be ordered at www.warnerarchive.com or other online retailers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 (16×9 enhanced) full-screen picture; English 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include the Leonard Maltin-hosted “Warner Night at the Movies,” with a newsreel, musical short and cartoon; and a featurette about the movie.
It Happened Tomorrow (Blu-ray)
Details: 1944, Cohen Film Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: French director René Clair helmed this fantasy comedy starring Dick Powell and Linda Darnell.
Powell plays a newspaper reporter who wishes he could scoop the competition by knowing about events before they happen.
His wish soon comes true when a mysterious old man begins giving him the news of the day in advance.
But some of the news he gets isn’t the best — especially when a headline predicts the reporter’s death.
The news hawk gets involved with a fortune teller, played by Darnell, and her uncle, played by comedian Jack Oakie.
Writer Charles Beaumont later used a similar newspaper setting in his short story, “The Devil, You Say,” which was adapted as a popular episode of “The Twilight Zone,” entitled “Printer’s Devil,” which involved a small-town publisher selling his soul to the devil to boost circulation by getting fantastic stories.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 full-screen picture; English audio; English SDH subtitles.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (Blu-ray)
Details: 1948, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Cary Grant and Myrna Loy sparkle in this comedy about New York adman Jim Blandings who, tired of living in a cramped city apartment, decides he is ready to build a home for himself and his family in Connecticut.
But the cost and complications of the project continually grow, creating pressure and tension at work and at home.
A strong supporting cast, which includes Melvyn Douglas, Louise Beavers and Reginald Denny, add to the fun.
The movie was updated and re-imagined as “The Money Pit,” starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.warnerarchive.com or other Internet dealers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.37:1 (16:9 enhanced) full-screen picture; English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include two radio adaptations of the movie and a cartoon.
Drive: Special Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Release date: May 11
Details: 1997, MVD Rewind Collection
Rated: R, violence, language
The lowdown: An action-thriller about an individual with superior martial arts skills because of a bio-energy module placed on his chest.
The problem is that Toby Wong (Mark Dacascos) doesn’t want these super-human powers.
Wong is being hunted by an army of hitmen, so he takes a hostage, Malik (Kadeem Hardison), to drive him to freedom in Los Angeles.
It’s basically nonstop action with several exciting set pieces, as the two must fight with, among other things, an advanced killer in this cult feature.
The disc features two versions of the film, the preferred one by director Stephen Wang, and a revised version of the movie that aired on HBO.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital and 2.0 LPCM monaural.
Don’t miss: Extras include deleted scenes, an archival making of featurette, cast interviews and a commentary track.
Drunken Master II (Blu-ray)
Details: 1994, Warner Archive Collection
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Jackie Chan stars as Wong Fei-Hung in this martial arts action-comedy who sets out to oppose a smuggling ring that is stealing priceless national artifacts.
Wong confronts his foes using drunken boxing, a loose-limbed fighting style in which he staggers, leans, weaves and basically has a fun time.
The fight choreography is the highlight of the movie and it includes Wong turning himself into a human blowtorch.
The release is a made-on-demand Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection and can be found at www.warnerarchive.com or other online sellers.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16:9 enhanced) widescreen picture; Cantonese, Mandarin and English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio monaural; English SDH subtitles.
Nina Wu (DVD)
Details: 2019, Film Movement
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: Aspiring actress Nina Wu (Wu Ke-Xi, who cowrote the script with director Midi Z) finally gets her big break after years playing bit parts.
She is cast as the female lead in a big-budget espionage thriller.
The role, however, calls for nudity and explicit sex scenes, which are made all the more stressful by the director’s vicious disparagements.
As the pressure builds, Nina’s psychological resolve begins to waver. As she works to maintain her sanity, a traumatic past event begins to resurface.
The stylish and disturbing feature, which Wu and Midi refused to simplify, impressed critics who awarded it an 86 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Technical aspects: 2.35:1 widescreen picture; Mandarin 5.1 Dolby digital; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Behind-the-scenes featurettes are the main extras.
CSI: New York: The Complete Series (DVD)
Details: 2004-14, CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A 55-disc set that features all 197 episodes in this “CSI”-franchise series.
The shows, set in New York City, feature Gary Sinese as forensic investigator Mac Taylor who, with his team, investigates cases that require scientific methods to solve.
Taylor’s team includes Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo), Aiden Burn (Vanessa Ferlito) and Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper).
As a unit, they gather and process evidence to help find the truth behind some of the most baffling crimes to touch the Big Apple.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture; English and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English closed-captioned subtitles (seasons 1-6) and English SDH (seasons 7-9).
Don’t miss: Bonus options include deleted scenes, archival behind-the-scenes featurettes, gag reels and commentary tracks.
Beverly Hills 90210: The Ultimate Collection (DVD)
Details: 1990-2000, 2019, CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: It’s time to revisit those steamy young people who populate the Beverly Hills zip code 90210.
This massive 74-disc set features all 290 episodes plus the 2019 series “BH90210.”
The original series follows siblings Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestley) and Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty) as well as their circle of friends and rivals, played by Jennie Garth, Luke Perry, Brian Austin Green, Ian Ziering, Tori Spelling, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, future two-time Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank, Kathleen Robertson, Vincent Young, Lindsay Price, Danial Cosgrove and Vanessa Marcil.
The show is simply glossy melodrama and soap opera, but it struck a chord in viewers.
“BH90210” centers on many of the cast members reuniting to get a reboot back on the air. This is more of a show-within-a-show type of series as the actors — playing heightened versions of themselves — rekindle feuds, first loves and old romances.
So, if you were one of those fans who couldn’t wait for the next episode of either series, here’s your chance to get the whole package in its entirety.
Technical aspects: 16:9 widescreen picture (“Beverly Hills 90210”) and 4:3 full-screen picture (“BH90210”); English Dolby digital monaural (“Beverly Hills 90210”) and Dolby digital 5.1 (“BH90210”); English, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles (“Beverly Hills 90210, seasons 3-9 and English SDH, English, Portuguese and Spanish, season 10) and English SDH subtitles (“BH90210”).
Don’t miss: Extras include behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, season recaps, a “BH90210” gag reel and an “Entertainment Tonight” segment.
Other titles being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
3 Tickets to Paradise (DVD & digital) (Indican Pictures)
100 Candles (DVD & VOD) (Devilworks)
2149: The Aftermath (DVD & digital & VOD) (4Digital Media)
Hunted (Blu-ray & DVD) (RLJE Films)
The In-Between (Blu-ray & DVD & VOD) (Secret Identity Pictures)
The Nest (Blu-ray) (Shout! Factory)
Peace Piece: The Immersive Poems of Mandy Kahn (DVD) (IndiePix Films)
Son (Blu-ray & DVD) (RLJE Films)
The Prince’s Voyage (Blu-ray) (Shout! Factory)
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD, STREAMING or VOD
616 Wilford Lane (Magnolia Pictures-Indican Pictures)
Boogie (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Two of Us (Magnolia Home Entertainment)
The Last Days (Netflix, May 19)
Between the World and Me (HBO Home Entertainment, May 20)
The Nest (Sundance Now, May 20)
1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything (Apple TV+, May 21)
American Fighter (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, May 21)
Army of the Dead (Netflix, May 21)
Blast Beat (Sony Pictures-Vertical, May 21)
Drunk Bus (FilmRise, May 21)
The Dry (IFC Films, May 21)
Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Home Entertainment, May 21)
Sound of Violence (Gravitas Ventures, May 21)
Walking While Black: L.O.V.E. Is the Answer (Magnetbox Films, May 21)
The Dark Hobby (Rhino Films-Earthwork Films, May 22)
Breathe (Sundance Now, May 24)
Coby (Sundance Now, May 24)
Hotel Salvation (Sundance Now, May 24)
Joanna Lumley in the Land of Northern Lights (Acorn TV, May 24)
Whitstable Pearl: Episodes 1 & 2 (Acorn TV, May 24)
Coming next week: Nightmare Alley
I am a founding member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I review movies, 4K UHD, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. I can be reached by email at email@example.com. You also can follow me on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook at ReelBob or the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My movie reviews also can be found at Rotten Tomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.