Blu-ray Highlights: Week of September 1st, 2019 – Time to Hit the Books Again

Summer may not officially end for a couple more weeks according to the calendar, but the week after Labor Day marks the start of the school season for most American kids. For our purposes here, it also means that more summer movie leftovers make their way to home video.

Which Blu-rays Interest You This Week (9/3/19)?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

New Releases (Blu-ray)

Men in Black: International – Can we be honest here for a second and admit that Men in Black was never a particularly great film franchise? The first movie was only sort-of OK and the sequels were pretty bad. The series still has name recognition value, however, which means that it’s time for Sony to reboot the thing and try again. New stars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson take over for Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, with Fate of the Furious director F. Gary Gray at the helm. By most accounts, the changes are only superficial and all the jokes still feel stale. Reviews were poor and the spinoff faltered at the box office. If you remain a fan, Target has an exclusive (Blu-ray only) with a book. I’ll discuss the 4k options below.

Booksmart – I’ve been told that calling actress Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut “Superbad for girls” is reductive and inaccurate, but that’s exactly what it looks like and nearly every review I’ve read makes the comparison. Critics had a lot of love for the R-rated coming-of-age comedy anyway. Although it wasn’t quite the breakout success that Fox may have hoped, its low $6 million budget means that it didn’t take much effort to turn a profit. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever play a pair of high school overachievers who try to cram in four years’ worth of missed fun before graduation.

Ma – More high school escapades are in store when a lonely middle-aged veterinary technician (Octavia Spencer) tries to make friends with a bunch of teens by buying them alcohol and letting them party at her house. This one’s no comedy, though, and things turn dark when the old lady snaps. Mixed reviews couldn’t stop the Blumhouse horror thriller from pulling in a bunch of money, but something tells me that Spencer won’t be winning another Oscar for her reunion with The Help director Tate Taylor.


The only of this week’s day-and-date titles to score an Ultra HD edition is Men in Black: International. Best Buy has a SteelBook, while Walmart has a collector’s set with some Funko Pop! figurines.

Nearly ten months after the first three movies in the franchise, Lionsgate finally upgrades Sylvester Stallone’s 2008 Rambo sequel to 4k in time to promote the impending fifth entry.

Also serving as a sequel tie-in, Warner Bros. reissues the 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s It in a new SteelBook for those who missed getting one the first time around.

Catalog Titles

Not to be confused with the 2017 remake (or, perhaps trying to cause some confusion about it), Warner Bros. also has a SteelBook reissue of the 1990 TV miniseries called Stephen King’s It. This one’s just in 1080p, though; no 4k.

Next, Warner celebrates the 80th anniversary of the Dark Knight with a Batman: 18-Film Collection comprised of the character’s DCU animated movies, from 1993’s Mask of the Phantasm to 2018’s Batman Ninja. The more recent Batman: Hush and Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do not appear to be included. In fact, I don’t think this set is necessarily intended to be comprehensive.

Criterion sticks its Fists in the Pocket for a 1965 Italian drama that the label describes as having “coolly assured style, shocking perversity, and savage gallows humor.” What more could you ask for in a movie?

Now that he’s achieved some mainstream recognition with The Favourite, Kino brings director Yorgos Lanthimos’ darkly comedic Dogtooth and Alps to Blu-ray.

After that, Kino licenses a trio of classic comedies starring Alec Guinness from the famed Ealing Studios: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), and The Man in the White Suit (also 1951). Be warned that, despite boasting new 4k restorations, early word has it that all three movies are actually sourced from older HD transfers dating back to around 2010 or 2012. This may be a matter of rights owner Studio Canal erroneously supplying the wrong masters, because a recent Blu-ray release of Kind Hearts and Coronets in the UK is said to be much better than the Kino disc.

A label called RLJE Films has scheduled a Blu-ray release for the 1988 cult horror comedy Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. This comes ahead of news that Arrow Video will also bring last year’s UK Blu-ray edition to the U.S. later this year. I don’t know that source the RLJE copy comes from, but I have to assume that it isn’t Arrow’s 4k master. Fans will likely want to wait for the Arrow copy in order to best appreciate star Cassandra Peterson’s… uhh… talents.


The third season of HBO’s True Detective was a big rebound after the disappointing second. I can’t speak to how the second season of the Big Bang Theory spinoff Young Sheldon fares.

Grab some Scooby Snacks and settle in for a groovy binge as Warner Bros. brings the complete run of classic cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! to Blu-ray in a limited edition box set shaped like an old mansion. I expect that a less expensive version in simpler packaging will be released later.

My $.02

Booksmart looks like a fine movie to Netflix someday. I’m interested in the Ealing comedies but may wait to see whether Kino is able to correct the issue with the video masters. Dogtooth will go on my wish list.

Have you booked anything for a purchase this week?


  1. ChrisB

    Nothing for me this week. Although I loved the first season of TD and am a big fan of Jeremy Saulnier who directed a bunch of episodes during the season. I’ll see it eventually, but wait for the eventual price drop.

  2. Clark

    Wasn’t “Booksmart” an A24 release? Why does it say here it’s from Fox? If it is, it won’t be on Netflix, but on Disney+ or Hulu.
    By the way, I quite liked this film. It’s funny enough (way, way better than “Long Shot” and every other comedy this year).

      • Josh Zyber

        Hmm, IMDb says:

        United Artists Releasing (2019) (USA) (theatrical)

        According to Variety, “United Artists Releasing” is the new name for the joint Annapurna/MGM venture:

        “Annapurna Pictures and MGM have doubled down on their joint distribution venture, rebranding the operation as United Artists Releasing. MGM has long owned the storied UA label, which turns 100 on Tuesday.

        The newly named entity will proceed with its planned slate, led by the 25th installment in the James Bond franchise — in theaters next year — as well as Richard Linklater’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” and a contemporary reboot of the killer-doll franchise “Child’s Play.” The venture also seeks to offer a third-party distribution alternative to the major studios and streaming companies, in the vein of projects like the upcoming Hugh Jackman family film “Missing Link” from the stop-motion studio Laika.”

        Then to really muddy the waters:

        “MGM’s releases through the joint venture are currently being released on home video by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, with the exceptions of the 2018 remake of Death Wish, which was distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Creed II, which was released by Warner Home Video due to the film being a co-production between MGM and WB. Annapurna and Orion’s home video releases as well as MGM’s pre-UAR catalog are handled by Fox.”

        Ultimately, it looks like Booksmart was one of those Annapurna productions given to Fox for home video.

  3. Horror of horrors, I bought ‘Booksmart’ on Vudu last night (in UHD) instead of waiting until today for Blu-ray. I’d bought episodes of TV shows before, and I’ve rented several movies digitally, but I’m pretty sure this was my first outright movie purchase this way.

    I was sent ‘Ma’ to review, which I’m thankful for since it turns out I would’ve regretted buying it.

    The only arrival for me this week looks like it’ll be the recent Star Trek trilogy since Amazon has a UHD box set for cheap.

  4. For starters, getting this out there, fuck you Amazon. I preordered the Scooby Doo discs, and they shipped them to me in a simply bubble mailer. This is a very thick set and the exterior is a hard plastic shell. Needless to say, it arrived broken in several places. Despite having a relatively low number in the collector’s edition set, I have to send it back. But when I get to thinking, It’s still $75 for very little content, so I guess I will get a refund and get the simpler set later. All I can say is, a box would have prevented this whole mess. I won’t say IDIOTS, I have heard enough Amazon warehouse stories to know they have extreme quotas to meet. But that still doesn’t excuse the lame shipper they used. I will be getting the Rambo 4K set to complete the set. I have interests in the MIB series, but might want to watch it first, no blind buying. I am anxious to see the early reviews of the Elvira disc as well. Other interests… Interviews with Monster Girls, Kakuriyo B&B Pt 2, Night Sitter, The Wind: Demons of the Prairie. Ultimately everything is on a which list except maybe Rambo.

    • Shannon Nutt

      This is my biggest worry with the Twin Peaks Z to A set from Amazon. They screw it up and I’m unlikely to find it elsewhere (short of paying extra on Ebay).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *