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New DVD, Blu-ray and digital release highlights for the week of April 4-11, 2021

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Earwig and the Witch (Photo: GKids)

It's a surprisingly slow week for DVD, Blu-ray and digital releases. Thankfully there are some interesting titles to make up for that.

  • Earwig and the Witch - The latest film from famed Studio Ghibli is a computer animated adaptation of the Diana Wynne Jones children's novel of the same name. The narrative follows Earwig, an orphaned girl, who, despite her own objections, is adopted by the odd couple Bella Yaga and Mandrake. The couple tell Earwig that she's a witch and if she'll help with the duties around the house they'll teach her magic.
  • Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar - Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo reteam for this decidedly absurd affair that sees two middle-aged women from Nebraska vacationing in Florida. It's not nearly as coherent, raunchy or as funny as the duo's "Bridesmaids" but its non-stop pace and the chemistry between the actors make it a breezy watch.
  • Death Has Blue Eyes - An early film from Nico Mastorakis, a somewhat notorious Greek filmmaker ("Island of Death," being his best-known release) that sees two con men hired as bodyguards for wealthy woman and her daughter who has psychic abilities that make her a target of local gangsters. It's trashy, crazy and almost incoherent. It's perfect for those looking for a quintessential B-movie experience. That doesn't necessarily make it good.
  • The Reckoning - Director Neil Marshall ("The Descent") teams with co-writer and actress Charlotte Kirk for a stylish plague-era horror about a woman recovering from the suicide of her husband who is accused of being a witch after rejecting her landlord's advances. There are aspects to the art design that are quite good and the era, an age full of death and speculation, feels like the perfect setting for a witch hunt. The film itself isn't on par with Marshall's early work. I didn't actively dislike it (something I can't say for 2019's "Hellboy.")
  • Thundarr the Barbarian: The Complete Series - "Thundarr the Barbarian," a fantasy cartoon with wizards, werewolves and the like set against a post-apocalyptic backdrop, ran for two seasons on ABC in 1980 and 1981. The 21 half-hour episodes were then shown on NBC in 1983. The legendary Jack Kirby worked on some of the design elements of the show. Somehow this wasn't on my radar as a child (or I've forgotten it). Feels like the sort of show that I would have devoted all my time to. Particularly since "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" didn't arrive until 1983.