Headsup: Laughter, Tears, and Terminators

Forrest Gump 4KWinner of six Academy Awards (including Best Picture), Forrest Gump remains an iconic film that is beloved by old and new fans alike. Tom Hanks plays the endearing title character, whose incredibly sweet disposition and loyalty to family and friends more than compensates for his intellectual shortcomings. A rockstar roster of actors fills out the main cast as their stories of love and loss weave together against the backdrop of some of the most notable events of the twentieth century. The film is now out in a new 4K HD / Blu-ray set packed with special features. Bonus content includes multiple commentaries from the production team, featurettes on the production processes, special looks at the film’s innovative visual special effects and sound design, the historical significance of the film’s music, screen tests, and more. (It is important to note that several of these bonus featues mirror those on the film’s 2009 Blu-ray release, so if you already have that on the shelf, do some comparison before jumping into this new set to make sure you know what you’re getting.) The new 4K HD / Blu-ray is currently avaiilable on Amazon for $25.78.

Terminator Genisys 4KOn the other end of the character spectrum is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the Terminator in Terminator Genisys, the newest installment of the epic film franchise. The story follows resistance member Kyle Reese, who in the year 2029 goes back in time to protect Sarah Connor from the assassin Skynet sent to kill her. When it becomes apparent that unforeseen events have changed the past (and subsequently threaten the future), Reese joins forces with Sarah and the Terminator to save mankind. The film is now out on 4K HD / Blu-ray (an upgrade which may be especially significant for fans who love the graphic future war battle scenes.) The set boasts multiple extras, including featurettes about the story and characters, the international cast, what it was like to shoot in New Orleans and San Francisco, tactical gear, and more, as well as multi-angle scene breakdown looking at the pre-visualization, on the set, and final film composite. The last release of Terminator Genisys was the Blu-ray set put out in 2015, which only included two of the current bonus features (meaning that this new set not only gives the viewer more advanced visuals but significantly more extras as well). Fans wishing to grab the 4K HD / Blu-ray set can do so on Amazon for $18.09.

Orange is the New Black Season FiveTurning from heroes to heroines, we have the fifth season of Orange is the New Black, the breakout dramedy from Netflix that helped to establish the streaming service as as serious provider of original content and has since become its most-watched original series. The story revolves around the lives of inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, a women’s minimum security prison in upstate New York. Season Five sees chaos erupt as an emotional standoff at the prison escalates into a full-fledged riot, with friendships and long-held loyalties no longer a certainty. In addition to the heavy-hitting core cast, Lori Petty, Laverne Cox, and Samira Wiley add some extra spice as guest stars. The season is available on DVD and Blu-ray, with both sporting a gag reel, a featurette on stories of the season, and two episode audio commentaries in the way of extras. Orange is the New Black: Season Five is currently available in both formats on Amazon, with the DVD currently priced at $17.99 and the Blu-ray at $19.99 (you can, of course, get access to the season as part of a Netflix subscription, so if you’re already a member it’s worth considering if the handful of extras or having it in hard copy is worth the money.)

Acrimony Blu-rayAnother woman who doesn’t take things lying down is Melinda Gayle, Taraji P. Henson’s character of a betrayed wife in Acrimony. The thriller follows Melinda as she takes matters into her own hands and metes out her own brand of extreme justice to her philandering husband. Starring alongside Henson are Lyriq Bent, Crystle Stewart, Ajiona Alexus, and Antonio Madison. Tyler Perry wrote, directed, and produced the film, which will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 26th. A featurette (“Unleashing Acrimony”) is the sole bonus feature; it would have been nice to have some more content in there (even just an audio commentary from Henson and / or Perry), but maybe the studio is waiting for a future release to flesh out the bonus content. The Blu-ray and DVD versions of Acrimony are available for pre-order on Amazon for $14.96 and $19.96, respectively.

Coming to America Anniversary Blu-rayTrading Places 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-rayOn the lighter side, we have the new Blu-ray release of two classic Eddie Murphy films directed by the fabulous John Landis. In Trading Places (celebrating its thirty-fifth anniversary), a petty con artist (Murphy) and stock brokerage firm darling (Dan Aykroyd) are unwittingly thrown into a betting game between two richie-rich brothers with hilarious results. Bonus features include a making-of featurette, a special about costumes, a deleted scene with optional commentary by executive producer George Folsey Jr., trivia pop-ups, and even an industry promotional piece (it’s important to be aware, however, that these are the same bonus featues included on the 2007 Blu-ray release, so if you have that one on the shelf, this version isn’t giving you anything new.) Trading Places: The 35th Anniversary Edition is currently on Amazon for just $9.59.  Also out now is the new Blu-ray of Coming to America, the story of an African prince who plays the pauper in America in order to find a bride he can truly love. Co-starring are Arsenio Hall as the prince’s put-upon best friend and the incomparable James Earl Jones as his domineering father the king. Coming to America‘s thirtieth anniversary is this year, and the celebratory Blu-ray includes featurettes on the costumes, music, makeup, and more, along with a conversation with Murphy and Hall and a photo gallery. As with Trading Places, these are the same bonus features included in the 2007 release of Coming to America, so note that before making any purchasing decisions. Coming to America: the 30th Anniverary Edition is available on Amazon for $7.96.

Death of StalinRounding out the comedic end of things we have The Death of Stalin, the dark comedy parody about the aftermath of Joseph Stalin’s death that was banned in Russian cinemas. The crazy-talented cast includes Emmy and Golden Globe winner Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough, Jason Isaacs, and Michael Palin. Bonus features are limited to a behind-the-scenes special (“Dictators, Murderers, and Comrades….Oh My!”) and some deleted scenes, which I think borders on criminal– just imagine the audio commentary you could have gotten from that cast, writer/director Armando Iannucci, or even a couple of historians. It would be epic. In the place of bonus features, make sure you check out Widge’s Wayhomer on the film. The Death of Stalin is out now on DVD and is available for $14.99 on Amazon.

            

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