SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — 2020 has changed the way that movies are delivered to us. The rise of Premium Video on Demand (PVOD), a service that had primarily been used by independent films, has served as a way for major studios to bring their films to audiences while the majority of movie theaters have remained closed in numerous major markets.
It's made all the more confusing by Disney and Warner Bros. bringing their films to their streaming platforms. It's confusing for journalists. Some films have been given a limited theatrical release, a PVOD release, a available-to-own digital release and then a physical release. This Friday sees "Wonder Woman 1984" shift to PVOD (the film had been available on HBO Max up until the end of January) ahead of its available-to-own digital and physical release.
My head hurts.
That said, this is the first time in months that feels like a non-pandemic release week as major releases step back into the spotlight.
- The Croods: A New Age - Having set out to explore the world beyond their cave, the Croods discover the edge of the world. And walk through it only to discover a lush world cultivated by the Bettermans, an evolved family. "The Croods: A New Age" has been available on PVOD for a couple of months, you can now own the film digitally. Physical copies of the film will be available on February 23, 2021.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
- The El Duce Tapes - The most bizarre release of the week goes to "The El Duce Tapes," a collection of archival footage from the early nineties of Eldon "El Duce" Hoke, the infamous lead singer for shock-rock act The Mentors. Was it all an act? Was Hoke simply stoking the flames? Director Rodney Ascher, the man behind the engrossing "Room 237" and the infuriating and irresponsible "A Glitch in the Matrix," does a remarkable job of sorting through the fiction to find something that resembles the truth.
- Freaky - The morning after being attacked and stabbed by a homicidal maniac, Millie (Kathryn Newton), a high school outsider, wakes up in the body of the Blissfield Butcher (Vince Vaughn), the man who tried to kill her. Newton is fantastic as she chews her way through the scenery. Flawed, but incredibly enjoyable.
- Greenland - Gerard Butler stars as John Garrity, the remorseful husband who is desperate to mend his relationship with his wife Allison (Morena Baccarin) and their fragile son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd) as an asteroid speeds towards Earth. While fleeing the imminent destruction of the world, the trio discover they have been selected to be relocated to a secret subterranean bunker, but become separated before boarding their airplane. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this. I certainly was entertained.
- Jiang Ziya - Based on Chinese history and folklore, "Jiang Ziya" comes to us from the studio behind " Ne Zha," the second highest grossing film in Chinese history. It's a beautiful film to look at, the narrative is a bit convoluted and possibly confusing to those who aren't already familiar with the "Investiture of the Gods" narrative (which has been the source for numerous works of art since it was released in the 16th century. Certainly worth a look.
- Sputnik - This Russian sci-fi/horror hybrid features some fantastic creature design and a narrative that sees a cosmonaut locked away in isolation while a scientist tries to determine the reason behind his strange behavior. The performances are quite good and the Soviet era gives the film a unique atmosphere. It might sound like a film you've seen before. It isn't.
- Major League Baseball World Series 2020 - Relive every moment from 2020's World Series as the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Tampa Bay Rays. If I wasn't a Yankee's fan, I might find more enjoyment in this release.
- Elizabethtown - Cameron Crowe's romantic drama stars Orlando Bloom as Drew Baylor, a failed shoe designer, who returns to his hometown for his father's funeral. Filled with suicidal thoughts, Drew unexpectedly falls for a flight attendant Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst).
- The Little Prince - Originally released in 2015, "The Little Prince" was a massive success in France where the source material, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's 1943 novella, is widely known. I remember looking forward to seeing the movie in theaters. It never happened. The film debuted on Netflix in a time when doing so was rather unusual. It's actually quite good and I'm happy to see that Paramount is finally giving the film a proper home video release. A magical tale that will entertain the entire family.
- Love Story - Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal star in this star-crossed lovers story that topped the box office for 15 weeks and remains one of the highest grossing films of all time.
- The Parallax View - This 1974 political thriller starring Warren Beatty as journalist Joe Frady. Frady is investigating a secretive group known as The Parallax Corporation who are thought to be responsible for the assassination of a presidential candidate. The middle film in Alan J. Pakula's political trilogy that also includes 1971's "Klute" and 1976's "All the President's Men." Overlooked upon release, "The Parallax View" is now regarded as a classic. The juxtaposition montage is legendary and well ahead of its time.