The weekend’s here. You’ve just been paid, and it’s burning a hole in your pocket. What’s a pop culture geek to do? In hopes of steering you in the right direction to blow some of that hard-earned cash, it’s time for the FRED Weekend Shopping Guide - your spotlight on the things you didn’t even know you wanted…
(Please support FRED by using the links below to make any impulse purchases - it helps to keep us going…)
The 1/6-scale Harry Potter figures from Star Ace have, to this point, been pretty darn good. Their young Harry and Ron are by far their best of the line, rivaling anything - from sculpt to materials to paint ops - that bigger fish like Hot Toys and Sideshow have been producing. However, their Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone Hermione Granger (Star Ace/Sideshow, $209.99) easily outstrips them all, and is as close to perfect a figure as you can get. This is clearly a young Emma Watson, benefiting from a perfectly realized sculpt and the best use of rooted hair I’ve seen in this scale to date. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but this figure? Wizard.
By the end of its first season, the show had clearly found its footing beyond just the shock value that early episodes relied far too heavily on, and the second season of Rick And Morty (Adult Swim, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.98 SRP) cements it as a modern classic, deftly weaving comedy and science fiction together with a well-defined cast of characters. And yes, all without losing the shock value. Bonus materials include audio commentaries, animatics, a featurette, and deleted animatic sketches.
It seemed like a far-off goal when it started, but with The Complete Peanuts: 1999 to 2000 (Fantagraphics, $29.99 SRP), we now have all 25 volumes comprising the entirety of the 50 year run of Charles Schulz’s iconic strip. In addition to the final year of strips, it also contains the Li’l Folks strip that Schulz created before launching Peanuts, plus an introduction by President Barack Obama. As a special bonus, Fantagraphics will be releasing an additional volume this Fall, containing rarely seen stories and images.
It took a few years of middling pictures, but Disney Feature Animation has most certainly gotten their groove back in recent years, and no where is that more evident than in the self-assured and frankly wonderful Zootopia (Walt Disney, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP). It also manages the difficult feat of striking the perfect balance of being genuinely funny and entertaining while also managing to impart a strong message with a sincere emotional core. Bonus materials include featurettes, deleted scenes, and more.
I loved Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel so much that, sure, I’ll watch The Martian: Extended Edition (Fox, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP) and enjoy its extra 10 minutes of footage and clutch of documentaries on both the science and making of the film, plus additional deleted scenes, a gag reel, and more.
Yes, the episodes themselves are truly, truly masterpieces of modern comedy, but the real reason to pick up the fourth season of Veep and the second season of Silicon Valley (HBO, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$34.98 SRP each) is so you can get more sublime moments via the clutch of deleted scenes featured on both sets. Yes, you’ll end up wanting more, but that’s why you’re watching their new seasons.
Even 30+ years on, the second film in the series of Kirk & Co.’s cinematic adventures resonates as a glorious outing for Trek and just a great film, and the Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan Director’s Cut (Paramount, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$22.98 SRP) finally brings Nicholas Meyer’s expanded cut of the film to high definition with the added bonus of a brand new retrospective featurette. The film holds up perfectly, has never looked better, and is the perfect way to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary.
And because the celebration of the show’s 50th anniversary is in full swing, the J.J. Abrams Nu-Trek films are also getting into the act with their debut in 4K Ultra HD. The new 4k editions of Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount, Rated PG-13, 4K Blu-Ray-$47.99 SRP each) port over all of the bonus features from the previous collector’s editions of both titles. Say what you want about the merits of the films themselves, there’s no denying that they look truly impressive in 4K.
Did you know that Dr. Seuss wrote a live action film in the 50s? Well, he did, and while toned down from the fantastic flights that would define his storybooks, there are more than enough elements that smack of pure Seuss to make The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (Mill Creek, Rated G, Blu-Ray-$14.98 SRP) worth a spin.
Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell in a comedy about an unlucky in love woman who hooks up with a man who turns out to be an assassin? Yes, that’s a movie I’ll watch, and you’ll probably get a kick out of Mr. Right (Universal, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$26.98 SRP), too. Bonus materials are limited to a single featurette, but you can always just watch the movie over again.
I’m finding it terribly difficult to resolve my conflicted feelings about 10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP). On the one hand, it’s a gripping bunker drama with the always-watchable John Goodman as a man who either saved a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) from a mysterious catastrophe or has kidnapped her . And that part is great. But on the other hand… well, it’s where it all winds up. And I don’t want to spoil that, so I’ll leave it to you to judge. Bonus materials include an audio commentary and featurettes.
The practical effects work of the original Independence Day (Fox, Rated PG-13, 4K Ultra HD-$39.99 SRP) looks pretty darn astonishing remastered for 4K presentation in this new anniversary release (timed, of course, for the debut of the sequel). In addition to the extended cut of the film and bonus features from pervious editions, this adds a brand new 30-minute documentary.
The release of the live action Alice Through The Looking Glass has triggered the nifty book Alice In Wonderland: An Illustrated Journey Through Time (Disney Editions, $29.99 SRP) is a look back at the history of Lewis Carroll’s creation with the focus, obviously, being on Disney’s connection, from Walt’s earliest Alice shorts to Mickey to the animated and live action adaptations.
I feel that Gods Of Egypt (Summit, Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP) is a misunderstood film. Many have attacked it, but I think its over the top but thoroughly committed cornball nature is actually meant to be a wholly evocative homage to the Cannon films of the 80s. You remember those B-movie fantasy epics like Masters Of The Universe, right? Yeah, this is that, but with a bigger budget. Just big ol’ goofy fun. Bonus materials include featurettes and deleted storyboards.
The original Zoolander film manages to exist and largely succeed in a small pocket of absurdity. The sequel, Zoolander No. 2 (Paramount, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP), never manages to find that pocket, and instead manages to just be a bit of a self-indulgent mess. Perhaps some things shouldn’t be revisited. Bonus materials include a trio of featurettes and a Youth Milk Beauty Ad.
When you start counting them, there have been loads of Disney dragons - a short list of which includes Maleficent, Elliott, Mushu, Figment, and many more, all of which can be found in The Art Of Disney’s Dragons (Disney Editions, $29.99 SRP), a lovely little tome filled with sketches from the company’s archives.
Although it often feels like a DVD bonus feature, Elstree 1976 (MVD Visual, Not Rated, DVD-$19.95 SRP) is full of enough untold anecdotes from the production of an unknown little science fiction film shot in Elstree Studios in 1976 - a little film called Star Wars - that it’s well worth a watch. Those untold tales come courtesy of the background actors who had little idea of what a momentous film they were working on.
Oh, I’m sure there are thousands of films from over 100 years of cinema I’ve never heard of that, if I finally watched them, I would probably love. Maybe that’s why I love companies like Olive Films, who on e a monthly basis have been releasing clutches of catalogue titles from the vaults of studios like Paramount and MGM. The quartet this month includes the Mel Stuart-directed 1969 farce If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (Olive Films, Rated G, Blu-Ray-$29.95 SRP), original Doctor Who William Hartnell as a thief in Appointment With Crime (Olive Films, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.95 SRP), Bob Hope & Tuesday Weld in I’ll Take Sweden (Olive Films, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.95 SRP), and the coming-of-age drama Cornbread, Earl & Me (Olive Films, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$29.95 SRP).
Even when I don’t enjoy the film, I always get a kick out of diving into an “Art Of” book for a film and getting to view the design process. The Art Of The Jungle Book (Insight Editions, $45.00 SRP) is absolutely crammed full of great artwork and insight into the development process of Disney’s surprisingly enjoyable live action re-take.
And while the film was blah, Warcraft: Behind The Dark Portal (HarperDesign, $45.00 SRP) is a fascinating tome that at least provides plenty of interesting artwork to look at even if the film that eventually came out of it didn’t work.
Nick Kroll takes his often bizarre and more-often-than-not deeply funny sketch show out on a high note with the 3rd and final season of Kroll Show (Comedy Central, Not Rated, DVD-$26.98 SRP). To try and describe it any further… I mean, words can not possibly hope to capture just how truly mental it all is. Bonus materials include a trio of additional character bits.
If you need the perfect antidote to the grimdark cinematic DC Comics universe, look no further than Teen Titans Go: Eat. Dance. Punch (Warner Bros., Not Rated, DVD-$19.97 SRP), which collects the first 26 episodes of the show’s 3rd season in all its brightly colored, upbeat glory.
If you watch Washington being targeted in the bombastic actioner Olympus Has Fallen, you know exactly what to expect for ol’ blighty in London Has Fallen (Universal, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$34.98 SRP), which finds Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) trying to protect US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) from a terrorist organization systematically picking off world leaders in town for the funeral of the British Prime Minster. Bonus materials include a pair of featurettes.
After a massive storm off Cape Cod rips a tanker ship in half, one of the greatest small-boat rescue missions in Coast Guard history is undertaken, all of which is dramatized in The Finest Hours (Walt Disney, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP), starring Casey Affleck as the Chief Engineer of the tanker and Chris Pine as the Coast Guard captain risking all to save the survivors. Bonus materials include featurettes and deleted scenes.
You would almost expect Charlie Kaufman to be the mind behind such a beautifully told, traditional yet experimental movie like Anomalisa (Paramount, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP), in which a chance encounter on a business trip upends the life of a middle-aged family man. And it’s all told through stop-motion animation. Bonus materials include a quartet of featurettes.
The story of Queen Elizabeth’s courtship and the royal family’s concern with young Philip Mountbatten is chronicled in the fascinating documentary Prince Philip: The Plot To Make A King (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP). From his uncouth manners to concerns about his German heritage, it’s a candid portrait of an unlikely marriage.
Binge on the ocean’s most iconic predators with Discovery’s Shark Week (Lionsgate, Not Rated, DVD-$19.98 SRP), a 3-disc collection of 13 documentaries from the channel’s iconic annual celebration of all things swimmy-toothy-bitey.
After 6 seasons of Workaholics (Comedy Central, Not Rated, DVD-$19.99 SRP), I think we’re reaching the point where Adam, Blake, and Ders are moving squarely into a far sadder territory as they transition into their 30s and the bleak reality of their futures becomes an ever-closer present. Bonus materials include audio commentaries, bloopers, and deleted scenes.
There’s a blatant air of an agenda that drags down the none-too-subtle approach of Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi (Paramount, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP), although anyone who thought Bay might have an informed, nuanced approach to such a sensitive event must not be terribly familiar with his oeuvre. Bonus materials include a clutch of behind-the-scenes featurettes.
For the younger set, you’ve got the educational Super Why: Goldilocks And The Three Bears (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$9.99 SRP), featuring four reading adventures, and the fun Strawberry Shortcake: Campberry Stories (Fox, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP), which also comes in a DVD case that smells like strawberries. Which is both awesome and unsettling.
So there you have it… my humble suggestions for what to watch, listen to, play with, or waste money on this coming weekend. See ya next week…
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