Streaming might be the future, but physical media is still the present. It’s also awesome, depending on the title, the label, and the release, so each week we take a look at the new Blu-rays and DVDs making their way into the world. Welcome to this week in Home Video for August 4th, 2020, which includes our pick of the week, Ride your Wave!
This week brings us a home video selection that includes two animated hits from Japan, engaging dramas from China and South Korea, some popular action shows from TV, and more. Check out our picks below.
Pick of the Week
Ride Your Wave
What is it? A female surfer and a fireman hit it off before tragedy strikes.
Why see it? Director Masaaki Yuasa returns with a vibrant and affecting tale that feels like a romantic comedy blended with the supernatural. An odd pairing perhaps, but it works with a love story that feels as fresh as it does familiar. Early beats work well as the new lovers connect and grow close, and it doesn’t miss a step once the mystical elements come into play. It’s a sweetly energetic ride worth taking for movie fans (whether they dig animated movies or not).
[Extras: Interview, booklet]
Promare – Limited Collector’s Edition
What is it? All that stands between a mysterious race and the destruction of the planet is a whole lot of attitude.
Why see it? Studio Trigger and director Hiroyuki Imaishi deliver a somewhat blistering and energetic tale of alien beings, global carnage, and dramatic face-offs. It’s big, colorful, and loud — sometimes too much so — and its fans already know they love it. It’s a bit too busy and broad for my tastes, but this special edition re-release ups the ante with some solid physical extras including the film’s soundtrack on CD and an English-language script. It’s a nifty package sure to thrill fans and get some of them to double dip.
[Extras: Interviews, featurettes, short films, CD soundtrack, booklet, script, poster, sticker]
What is it? A young boy is assigned as servant to a gangster’s mistress.
Why see it? Gong Li as a lead is never a bad thing, and here she plays a woman married to the Chinese mob through infidelity. The film’s focus is the boy whose eyes we watch everything else unfold, and as he moves from disgust to indifference to loyalty the film’s drama and danger increases. Director Zhang Yimou delivers a film with real beauty and carefully crafted scenes, sequences, and shots. It’s low-key for much of the film, action-wise, but the characters, visuals, and performances are enough to keep attention.
[Extras: Featurette, booklet]
What is it? A man investigates a murder at an assisted suicide facility.
Why see it? The premise here is an intriguing one, and it delivers a fairly compelling mystery along the way leading to a satisfying denouement. It’s something of a slow burn, though, and its methodical nature might leave some viewers cold. Nicolaj Coster-Waldau does good work outside of his usual comfort zone with a more sedate, meditative character, and he helps make for a solid little thriller.
His Dark Materials – The Complete First Season
What is it? Philip Pullman’s epic fantasy gets a new shot at screen life.
Why see it? 2007’s The Golden Compass was meant to be the start of a new cinematic franchise based on Pullman’s beloved novels, but the combination of less than stellar box-office and an unimpressive film left it dead in the water. This new HBO series looks to correct that, but while it succeeds on some fronts it feels wobbly on others. The CG occasionally stumbles, and the cast is solid but unmemorable, and the end result is a good adaptation that once again misses the mark on being great. Fans should enjoy this more than the truncated movie experience, though, so that’s something, and hopefully a second season can correct this one’s fumbles.
[Extras:] Featurettes, interviews
House of Hummingbird
What is it? A teen looks for friendship beyond her coldly abusive home.
Why see it? South Korean films are often home to heart-wrenching emotion and perfectly captured melodrama — seriously, their actors, especially the young ones, trounce Western counterparts on a regular basis — and this recent effort taps into some of that beauty. It’s a simple tale of loneliness and friendship, and while it doesn’t hit as hard as some of its dramatic contemporaries it’s a solidly affecting watch.
NCIS: Los Angeles – The Eleventh Season
What is it? “Even the City of Angels needs heroes.”
Why see it? Eleven seasons! The original NCIS has seventeen! Crazy how time flies when you’re a CBS show. Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J headline this action series focused on bad guys terrorizing Los Angeles, and if you’re a fan of the network’s procedurals than you’re probably a fan of this one. I myself lean more towards NCIS: New Orleans as a Scott Bakula fan, but this entry delivers plenty of drama, thrills, and action for those in search of competent examples of all three.
[Extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
Paddington Bear – The Complete Series
What is it? The world’s most lovable bear gets animated.
Why see it? Everyone loves the new movies focused on Paddington’s adventures with a human family in London, but he’s reached the screen previously in varied forms including this short-lived animated cartoon. It only ran for thirteen episodes as part of 1989’s The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, but it’s good fun for fans. The entirety of its run is here, and while it’s undeniably slight compared to the richer, denser films, it’s still a sweet watch.
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan – Season Two
What is it? Jack Ryan is no stranger to the big screen, but maybe his small screen adventures are even better?
Why see it? John Krasinski stars as Tom Clancy’s most enduring character creation, and he’s quite good at balancing the man’s nerdy interests with his action abilities. The show delivers some thrilling action beats alongside its politically charged dialogue and story points, and season two does good work expanding both his character and the world he inhabits. Some have criticized it as being “pro-military,” but it’s a show about a CIA agent combating terrorism, so… ?
[Extras: Deleted scenes]
Also out this week: