By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
Black Widow (Action/Spy Thriller)
Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday Sept. 14.
In this action-packed spy thriller, Natasha Romanoff—a.k.a. Black Widow—confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, Natasha must deal with her history as a spy and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Natasha/Black Widow, Florence Pugh stars as Yelena, David Harbour portrays Alexei/The Red Guardian, and Rachel Weisz is Melina.
“Black Widow”—the first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—is directed by Cate Shortland and produced by Kevin Feige.
Fans can enjoy the film in Ultra HD quality and immersive Dolby Atmos audio along with never-before-seen bonus footage, including nine deleted scenes, bloopers and featurettes.
Crazy Fist (Action/Martial Arts)
A mixed martial arts champion is forced out of retirement for one last fight in order to unravel a major conspiracy in the action-packed, boxing-meets-MMA drama “Crazy Fist,” debuting exclusively on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday Sept. 14 from Well Go USA Entertainment.
After an opponent dies mid-match, a prominent MMA champion swore never to fight again, instead retiring to run his family’s international business. However, when his best friend dies under suspicious circumstances during another tournament, he has no choice but to step back in the ring to help uncover the truth.
First time feature film director Guo Qing (who also appears in the film) has assembled a stellar cast, including Dragon Blade-alums Steve Yoo and Wang Wei, plus Collin Chou (“Matrix II,” “Matrix III”), Xiaoming Huang (“Ip Man 2”), Wei Zhao (“Mulan: Rise of a Warrior”) and retired professional bodybuilder Kai Greene (“Stranger Things”). In addition to its original language track in Mandarin, “Crazy Fist” includes an English dub.
“Crazy Fist” will be available on Blu-ray for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $29.98 and on DVD for $24.98 (SRP). It also is available now on the martial arts streaming service Hi-YAH!
Dead Pigs (Comedy)
Before the celebrated “Birds of Prey,” director Cathy Yan revealed her visionary talents with her feature film debut, “Dead Pigs,” which will be available on DVD Tuesday Sept. 14, from Film Movement.
A Sundance award winner for ensemble acting, “Dead Pigs” is a bitingly humorous social satire about the trials and tribulations connecting a disparate group of characters in the midst of a baffling nationwide mystery, based on true events. Shifting between Shanghai and the neighboring provincial town of Jiaxing, the film centers on the intersecting stories of five characters, whose loose connections begin to fatefully intertwine: a down-on-his-luck pig farmer, a feisty homeowner defending her property, a lovestruck busboy, a rudderless rich girl and an American expat pursuing the Chinese Dream. Their fates converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs are found floating down the Huangpu River.
The DVD of “Dead Pigs” includes the bonus short film “limitation of Life” by Renkai Tan. It will be available for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $24.95.
Kubo and the Two Strings and ParaNorman (Animation)
The Laika Studios Editions of “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “ParaNorman” will be released Tuesday Sept. 14 by lauded animation studio Laika and multi-platform entertainment distributor Shout! Factory. The Blu-ray + DVD combos are loaded with exciting new special features, including “Inside LAIKA interviews with the studio’s animation team,” never-before-seen animation test footage, and feature-length storyboards for each film. Both were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Film.
Along with digitally remastered editions of the films, new and existing bonus features, and new, collectible packaging, the Laika Studios Editions feature insightful, commemorative new essays by film critics and scholars.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Laika is known for blending trailblazing artistry with leading-edge filmmaking technology. In making the studio’s first feature, director Henry Selick and the team behind 2009’s “Coraline” brought the film to life with painstakingly handcrafted stop-motion, utilizing an innovative combination of new and existing technology creating a sense of timelessness and securing its place as a modern classic. It was the first stop motion film ever conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3-D, creating a new and thrilling experience for viewers.
The studio continued to innovate with 2012’s “ParaNorman,” the first film to use full color rapid prototype 3D printing of the puppet faces, pioneered by the animation house. The supernatural comedy thriller about a young boy who can speak with the dead, “ParaNorman” was heralded by critics for its handling of complex and sometimes melancholy topics with a touching candor not often seen in family cinema. The supernatural comedy thriller directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler was cheered by fans and extolled by many critics’ groups as the year’s best animated feature.
A heroic adventure set in a mythical feudal Japan, 2016’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” is a tale of courage and the power of storytelling. Inspired by Japanese art and design to create the vibrant world that Kubo inhabits, the production team at Laika was led by studio President & CEO Travis Knight, who directed the film and animated several of the scenes. To bring this breathtaking tale to life, the filmmakers created a 400 pound, 16-foot-high puppet (the largest ever created for a stop motion film), managed thousands of grains of sand for a shipwreck scene, and created more than 48 million possible facial expressions for the Kubo character alone. “Kubo and the Two Strings” won the BAFTA Award and became only the second animated feature in history to receive an Oscar nomination for visual effects.
The films showcase Laika’s s inventive 3D stop-motion and CG hybrid technique. The integrated effects made the characters and their surroundings feel authentic and lifelike, immersing viewers deep into their worlds.
Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog (Animation)
Comedy is unleashed when two of animation’s most lovable canines team up in “Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog,” a full-length animated family film set for release on Digital and DVD Tuesday Sept. 14, by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, the animated feature finds everyone’s favorite teen sleuths in the town of Nowhere, where they meet Courage the Cowardly Dog and investigate what makes Nowhere one of the weirdest places on Earth. The canine colleagues sniff out a strange object in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas, the backwoods hometown of Courage and his owners, Eustace and Muriel Bagge. Soon, the mysterious discovery puts them on the trail of a giant cicada monster and her wacky winged warriors. Fred, Velma, Daphne and Shaggy know that this job is too big for a flyswatter. They’ll need the help of the doggy duo to piece together the puzzle. Can Scooby and Courage overcome their jitters and defeat the insect army before the whole world bugs out?
“Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog” features the familiar voice talents of Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo/Fred Jones, Grey Griffin as Daphne Blake, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy Rogers and Kate Micucci as Velma Dinkley. The film also features Jeff Bergman as Eustice Bagge, Marty Grabstein as Courage the Cowardly Dog and Thea White as Muriel Bagge. The film was produced and directed by Cecilia Aranovich and was written by Mike Ryan.
The release includes three bonus classic “Scooby-Doo!” episodes. “Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo Meets Courage the Cowardly Dog” will be available for $14.99 (SRP) ($19.99 SRP Canada) for the DVD.
Mare of Easttown: An HBO Original Limited Series (Crime Drama)
HBO’s gripping drama, “Mare of Easttown: An HBO Original Limited Series,” will be released on DVD Tuesday Sept. 14, by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and on Blu-ray through the Warner Archive Collection.
Starring Academy Award, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Kate Winslet (HBO’s “Mildred Pierce”) and from creator and writer Brad Ingelsby (“The Way Back”), with all episodes directed by Craig Zobel (HBO’s “The Leftovers” and “Westworld”), the seven-part limited series is focused on family and community. The Blu-ray and DVD include all seven episodes plus four behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Both a critical and ratings hit, the limited series is one of only two in HBO’s history to enjoy week over week growth culminating in a finale episode that was watched by nearly three million viewers, setting a record as the most watched episode of an Original Series on HBO Max during its first 24 hours of availability.
Ingelsby returned to his home state of Pennsylvania to write the series, an exploration into the dark side of a close community and an authentic examination of how family and past tragedies can define our present. Winslet stars as Mare Sheehan, a respected small-town Pennsylvania detective investigating a local murder while also balancing her own personal life, which is rapidly falling apart around her.
“Mare of Easttown” also stars Julianne Nicholson (HBO’s “The Outsider”) as Lori Ross, Mare’s best friend since childhood; three-time Emmy-winner Jean Smart (Emmy-nominated for HBO’s “Watchmen”) as Helen, Mare’s mother; Angourie Rice (“Black Mirror”) as Siobhan Sheehan, Mare’s teenaged daughter; Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”) as Detective Colin Zabel, the county detective called in to assist with Mare’s investigation; Emmy winner Guy Pearce (Emmy winner and Golden Globe nominee for HBO’s “Mildred Pierce”) as Richard Ryan, a local creative writing professor; David Denman (“Outcast”) as Frank Sheehan, Mare’s ex-husband; Joe Tippett (“Rise”) as John Ross, Lori’s husband and high school sweetheart; Cailee Spaeny (“Devs”) as Erin McMenamin, an isolated teen living with her volatile father; John Douglas Thompson (the Max Original “Let Them All Talk”) as Chief Carter, Mare’s boss at the Easttown Police Department; Patrick Murney (“Seven Seconds”) as Kenny McMenamin, Erin’s father; James McArdle (“Ammonite”) as Deacon Mark Burton; Sosie Bacon (HBO’s “Here and Now”) as Carrie Layden, Drew’s mother and Kevin’s ex-girlfriend; and Neal Huff (HBO’s “The Wire”) as Mare’s cousin, Father Dan Hastings.
“Mare of Easttown: An HBO Original Limited Series” will be available on DVD for $24.98 (SRP) ($29.98 in Canada). It also is available now to stream on HBO Max and to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers. The Blu-ray edition will be available through Warner Archive at wb.com/warnerarchive and your favorite online retailer.
Burt Sugarman’s The Soul of The Midnight Special (Music/Live Performance)
“Burt Sugarman’s The Soul of the Midnight Special” is available now in a 10-disc DVD box set, from Time Life.
A collection of 130 live soul performances from 1973-1980 comprise this set. Artists include The Brothers Johnson, James Brown, the Commodores, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, The O’Jays, Billy Preston, Chaka Khan, Barry White and many more singing their hit songs. All are live and uncut performances straight from the heart of soul singing with live musicians in front of a live audience that appeared on this groundbreaking TV show.
The set includes bonus interviews with top soul stars in the collection.
“Burt Sugarman’s The Soul of The Midnight Special” is available for $119.99 (SRP).
Calling all boxing and MMA fans! Front Row Features is giving away a copy of the action-packed film “Crazy Fist” on Blu-ray to three lucky readers. To enter the contest, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 20 for your chance to win. Good luck!