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…)
While they’ve been concentrating on plenty of stellar releases featuring characters from the original trilogy, plus more Storm Troopers than you can shake a bushel of sticks at, Hot Toys has turned their sights back on Star Wars: The Force Awakens with a trio of figures that actually comprise only a pair of releases, as two of the figures are bundled in an exclusive two-pack. First up is a character that became legend for her visuals long before anyone saw the film, Captain Phasma (Sideshow/Hot Toys, $249.99). Despite whatever happened with her character in the film, the figure is an imposing realization of her instantly-iconic design, from the chrome armor to the mighty match of actress Gwendolyn Christie’s mighty height. Of course, what would Phasma be without her failed former cadet, FN-2187, who is available in the aforementioned two-pack of Finn and First Order Riot Control Stormtrooper (Sideshow/Hot Toys, $359.99). And really, how could you not get Finn, replete with lightsaber, together with his Stormtrooper sparring partner of the memorable exclamatory “TRAITOR!”, with his unique energized riot control club? That’s right, you simply must, or else be branded a fanboy TRAITOR!
Even if you’re louse at catching Pokemon, you can at least learn to sketch ‘em all with the Pokémon How to Draw Kit (Thinkgeek, $16.99). Not only does it come with the how-to book with detailed instructions, but also the paper, pencils, erasers, and pencil sharpener to sketch with. It’s your all-in-one poke-sketching pokestop.
If Batman V Superman was the absolute nadir of this year’s superhero films, then the pinnacle is Captain America: Civil War (Walt Disney, Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP), a film which managed to juggle a massive cast in a well-established cinematic universe without any of the participants seeming superfluous, in a story that cranks along. Oh, and Spider-Man. It gave us a right and proper Spider-Man. Did I mention Spider-Man? I probably should. Spider-Man. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, a peek at Doctor Strange, a gag reel, and a making-of documentary.
The 5th volume of Fantagraphics’ brilliant Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck: The Don Rosa Library (Fantagraphics, $29.99 SRP) brings to a conclusion his epic “Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck” storyline in a suitably beautiful presentation, fully loaded with supporting materials and insights, plus a pair of stories that fit within Rosa’s output chronology, “Guardians Of The Lost Library” and “From Duckburg To Lillehammer”. The next volume can not come fast enough.
After years of being overlooked and underappreciated by the studio going all the way back to its unceremonious theatrical release, Warner Bros. has finally treated The Iron Giant (Warner Bros., Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$14.97 SRP) as the classic it is, releasing it for the first time in high definition, fully restored, including an alliterate expanded cut. It also includes an audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, and a brand new documentary charting the journey of the film.
If you’re looking for a definitive document of the cultural phenomenon that is the Back To The Future trilogy, featuring interviews with Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and more, look no further than Back In Time (MVD, Not Rated, DVD-$19.95 SRP), a great documentary that does just that.
Tilda Swinton is a rock star vacationing in the Mediterranean whose quiet vacation with her lover is disrupted by the arrival of a former flame (Ralph Fiennes) and his seductive daughter in the potboiler A Bigger Splash (Fox, Rated R, Blu-Ray-$39.99 SRP). Seeing Swinton and Fiennes together onscreen is more than enough reason to give this a spin. Bonus materials include featurettes and the theatrical trailer.
Olive’s deep dive into the MGM catalogue brings up the high definition debut of Cecil B. DeMille’s thought-to-be-lost 1915 silent film The Captive (Olive, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$24.95 SRP), while their stroll through Paramount’s catacombs brings up the pre-Brady Bunch tale of a massive blended family, Yours, Mine And Ours (Olive, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$24.95 SRP), starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda as widowers who bring together their combined 18 kids.
If you’re watching the 13 specials featured within the 6-disc Thanks For The Memories: The Bob Hope Specials (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$59.95 SRP) looking to laugh, you’re going to find genuinely funny jokes and performances few and far between. No, the brilliance of this set is in their time capsule nature, capturing a bygone era of vaudeville relics and old school celebrity, spread across very much of their time spotlights. The best example of this is the painfully unfunny special Joys, which gathers together dozens of celebrities, from Don Knotts to Phil Silvers and Groucho Marx to Charo, for a whodunit that is somehow also a parody of recent hit Jaws, but really isn’t, but is instead a stunning collection of an entire generation’s worth of entertainers. In addition to the specials, the set also contains the gold documentary Shanks For The Memories.
I love jigsaw puzzles. I love The Legend Of Zelda. So, how could I not love Legend of Zelda 550pc Puzzles (Thinkgeek, $9.99), which combines both of those in a single box? The quartet of images currently available include Majora’s Mask, Link on horseback, and a pair of stained glass pictures from Windwaker.
The adult coloring book craze will one day consume all pop culture properties, which means you can now color your way through the Seven Kingdoms and beyond in the Game Of Thrones Coloring Book (Chronicle Books, $15.95 SRP). Be sure to crack out the white crayons, because winter is here.
Having grown up on that base, even seeing the name Quantico (ABC Studios, Not Rated, DVD-$29.99 SRP) piques my interest, and this series, about an FBI recruit framed for a terrorist attack who must try and clear her name while exposing the true traitor within their ranks, is a wild, engaging ride that delivers on that pique. Bonus materials include video commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, and outtakes.
For those curious about where to find deeper scholarship of every nook and cranny of comics history, the best place to turn is two the always unique output of Twomorrows Publishing. Case in point? Their latest tome is The MLJ Companion (Twomorrows, $34.95 SRP), which explores the complete history of the Archie Comics superheroes from the Golden Age up to the present day. Never heard of The Mighty Crusaders? Read on!
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren in The Conjuring 2 (Warner Bros., Rated R, Blu-Ray-$29.98 SRP), a genuinely scary sequel that finds them engaged with the malicious spirits of the Enfield Haunting, known as England’s Amityville. Bonus materials include featurettes and deleted scenes.
While a standalone version has been previously released, the legendary anniversary special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (Time Life, Not Rated, DVD-$79.95 SRP) has been expanded for a brand new collector’s box set that includes an extended version of the concert, over 14 hours of bonus materials across 3 additional discs beyond the original release, and a 48-page collector’s book. With reunions by the Miracles, Supremes, and Jackson 5 to host Richard Pryor, it remains an incredible evening.
The first Michael Bay-produced film was disappointing in myriad ways, but its sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows (Paramount, Rated PG-13, 3D Blu-Ray-$45.99 SRP) manages to eke out even more disappointment just by dint of being, well, boring. Well and truly so. Which is sad, because it manages to bring Bebop & Rocksteady in, and fix some of the first film’s Shredder problems. The turtles themselves still look like steroidal monstrosities, but nothing is unfixable, but it remains unfixed here. Bonus materials include featurettes and deleted scenes.
The folks at Mill Creek continue to make catalogue content available at ridiculously low prices, which means you can now get the first and second seasons of the beloved shows Coach (Mill Creek, Not Rated, DVD-$14.95 SRP) and Friday Night Lights (Mill Creek, Not Rated, DVD-$14.98 SRP each) for far less than their original DVD releases.
This weekend, dive into a clutch of documentaries from the public broadcasting purveyors of premiere programming, PBS, with 9/11: Inside The Pentagon (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP), Nazi Mega Weapons: Season Three (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP), and Frontline: Policing The Police (PBS, Not Rated, DVD-$24.99 SRP).
I think we all knew it was inevitable that even the 80s direct-to-VHS filler from Vestron Video would eventually be seen through enough nostalgia that we’d get high definition releases of those titles (collector’s editions, even!), and the first batch includes the gore fests Chopping Mall and Blood Diner (Lionsgate, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$39.97 SRP each). Bonus features include audio commentaries, featurettes, and archival interviews and trailers.
It’s been many, many years since the death of the much-missed Palisades line of Muppets action figures. Just when fans feared we may never see its like again, the whatnots at Diamond Select made a rainbow connection and gifted us with a brand new line of Muppets Action Figures (Diamond Select, $23 SRP each). The scale is smaller than the Palisades line, but the massive size of those figures is part of what made the line untenable. So, here we get what should hopefully be a more sustainable run, which kicks off with Kermit (with Robin & Bean Bunny), Gonzo (with Camilla), Fozzie & Scooter, Beaker & Bunsen, Statler & Waldorf (with their elaborate theatre box), and Animal (with his drum kit). I can’t wait to see how deep this line will go.
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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