New On Blu-Ray: 'Speed' 4K, 'Raya And The Last Dragon', 'Last Action Hero' 4K, 'Big Fish' 4K, 'Minari', And 'The Father'

It's time again to dive into the wonderful world of Blu-rays. This latest round-up is overloaded with titles, many of which have arrived on 4K for the first time. Check out some worthy new Blu-ray releases below!

Speed 4K

Speed isn't really that old – it came out 27 years ago, which I guess does sound like a long time ago – but I'm tempted to say, "They don't make 'em like this anymore." This is a perfect action movie and a perfect distillation of the concept of popcorn entertainment. It's fast, funny, and thrilling. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, not in some metaphorical sense, but literally – there are action sequences here that you can't help but lean towards the screen during, even if you've seen this thing a dozen times already.

You know the story, right? Keanu Reeves is a hotshot bomb squad cop who learns that a terrorist (Dennis Hopper, having a grand old time) has planted a bomb on a bus. If the bus goes above 50 miles per hour, the bomb is armed. If the speed drops below 50, the bus explodes. Of course, the bomb is armed right before Reeves can get on the bus, and now he has to deal with a perpetual motion machine on wheels. An accident leads the normal bus driver to be taken out of the equation, at which point a passenger – played by Sandra Bullock in her star-making role – takes the wheel. Will Reeves and Bullock fall for each other? You better fucking believe it. Will the bus keep speeding through Los Angeles, smashing into stuff along the way? Oh yes. Will you love every minute of it? How could you not?

I don't want to make myself sound like an old fart, but I don't think a movie like Speed could be made today. It's a solo adventure, an original idea, not based on a comic book, or a TV show. And while they made an ill-advised sequel to this, there was no attempt at world-building or franchise-making here. It's just one story told extremely well, with practical effects that feel real, even when we know they're not.

Own or Rent?

You're going to want to own Speed on 4K, folks. This new 4K release makes the film look like it just came out yesterday. There's no reason to not scoop up one of the masterpieces of '90s action cinema right now.

Special Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary by Jan de Bont
  • Audio Commentary by Graham Yost and Mark Gordon
  • Action Sequences
  • Bus Jump
  • Metrorail Crash
  • Inside Speed
  • On Location
  • Stunts
  • Visual Effects
  • HBO First Look: The Making of Speed
  • Extended Scenes
  • Jack Shoots Payne in the Neck
  • Payne Lives/Cops Party
  • Annie's Job
  • After Helen's Death
  • Ray's Crime
  • Cargo Jet Explosion: The Airline Version
  • Speed Music Video by Billy Idol

Raya and the Last Dragon

At the heart of Raya and the Last Dragon is an admirable, but naive message: we should learn to trust one another at all costs, no matter what. I wish this were true, but it's not – not in our world. But hey, Raya and the Last Dragon isn't set in our world, so maybe we can let this one slide. This fantasy epic is set in the land of Kumandra, where dragons once existed many years ago. There are no dragons around anymore, but there are a whole bunch of tribes who don't trust each other.

Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) is the daughter of Chief Benja of the Heart Tribe, and after catastrophe hits, she ends up on an adventure to find Sisu, the titular last dragon, voiced by Awkwafina. From here, Raya is constantly moving, with Raya and Sisu traveling from one location to the next and assembling a rag-tag team in the process. Story-wise, this feels weirdly lacking. And yet, Raya gets by with its charming characters and its absolutely gorgeous animation (there are landscape shots here that look 100% like real places).

Own or Rent?

Raya and the Last Dragon is coming to Disney+ in June, and I'm talking about normal Disney+, none of this Premier Access crap. So if you haven't seen this one yet and are only vaguely curious, maybe wait for it to stream. But I think Raya is worth owning.

Special Features Include:

  • An Introduction to "Us Again" – Director Zach Parrish takes you behind the scenes of the Walt Disney Animation Studios short.
  • "Us Again" – An elderly man and his young-at-heart wife rekindle their passion for life on one magical night.
  • Taste of Raya – Dine along with Kelly Marie Tran and the film's creative team–virtually–over a Southeast Asian menu inspired by the countries that influenced the film as they discuss their experiences creating the world of Kumandra.
  • Raya: Bringing it Home – When the global pandemic of 2020 hit, production of "Raya and the Last Dragon" moved to the houses of over 450 people. We open a window into their lives and learn how they overcame massive obstacles to make an animated feature from home.
  • Martial Artists – Get a kick out of learning about the martial art forms and weapons used in the film as co-screenwriter Qui Nguyen and visual anthropologist Dr. S. Steve Arounsack share the inspiration behind the film's action-packed elements.
  • We are Kumandra – Meet members of the Southeast Asia Story Trust and discover the cultural influences that inspired the film...and how important this representation in a Disney animated film is to the people of the region.
  • Outtakes – Step into the homes and behind the mics of the cast of "Raya and the Last Dragon" as they experience voice-over sessions in closets and shaky internet connections, which made recording this film unlike any other.
  • Fun Facts & Easter Eggs – Take a look at some of the hidden surprises and behind-the-scenes secrets of "Raya and the Last Dragon."
  • The Story Behind the Storyboard with John Ripa – Co-Director John Ripa invites you to get an inside look at his thought process as he pitches a storyboard sequence from the film and talks about his amazing career with Disney Animation.
  • Deleted Scenes:
  • Introduction – Head of Story Fawn Veerasunthorn introduces deleted scenes from "Raya and the Last Dragon."
  • The Bridge – Raya confronts an early version of the Druun in this deleted storyboard sequence.
  • Escaping Namaari – See an early version sequence of an introduction to Namaari as an adult.
  • Dragon Blade – Discover an early version of Raya's sword, when it used to have magical powers.
  • Meet Boun – Meet an early version of Boun before he was a chef and shrimp boat captain.
  • The Heart of the Dragon – Co-Director John Ripa introduces a deleted scene which brought the theme of hope into the film.

Last Action Hero 4K

When Last Action Hero arrived in 1993, there was an assumption within the halls of Sony Pictures that any movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger was a sure thing. To be fair, that was a somewhat safe assumption – Schwarzenegger was on top of the world at the time, coming off a string of hits. But the belief that Arnold and Arnold alone could save the picture was a mistake, and rather than address script problems, Last Action Hero soldiered on, ballooning its budget and opening with a whimper rather than a bang. The film was a flop, and critics weren't much kinder.

Now, some 28 years later, Last Action Hero has arrived on 4K, and you know what? Time has been kind to the movie. Don't get me wrong – the film has some big problems. But Last Action Hero is also a lot better than its reputation suggests. The story – about a kid who gets sucked into the world of his favorite action movie star via a magic ticket from Houdini himself – is nonsense, but that's okay. The real draw here is the way Last Action Hero parodies action movie genre tropes. While he's not comfortable with the comedic elements, director  John McTiernan obviously knows how to shoot action, and the action here looks great. And the glue holding it all together is Schwarzenegger, who is really trying hard here. The fact that Schwarzenegger was so willing to examine, dissect, and even mock his career and celebrity while he was in his movie star prime is notable and even admirable. And while Austin O'Brien is insufferable as the kid who gets sucked into the movie world, other cast members are solid, especially like Charles Dance, who is clearly having a lot of fun (or at least pretending to) as the film's baddie.

Own or Rent?

Last Action Hero has never looked better than it looks on this 4K disc. The original camera negative was used, and the first few moments of the film – which drop us right into the action movie world – look downright stunning. If you've avoided this film based on its reputation, or haven't seen it since it arrived, I suggest buying this and giving it another shot. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Special Features Include:

  • Newly remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative, with HDR10
  • All-new Dolby Atmos audio + the original theatrical SDDS mix presented as 5.1 + original theatrical stereo audio
  • Audio Commentary with Director John McTiernan
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes (presented in 4K with HDR10)
  • Alternate Ending (presented in 4K with HDR10)
  • "Big Gun" Music Video by AC/DC
  • Original Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
  • Theatrical Teaser

Big Fish 4K

One of Tim Burton's last good movies (his last great movie is Ed Wood), Big Fish is a colorful, dreamy, melancholy meditation on life, death, and telling stories. Billy Crudup is a man who has grown to resent his tall tale-telling father, played by Albert Finney. But now that Finney's character is nearing his death, Crudup wants to cut through the bullshit and learn the truth about his father. Yet sometimes, a story is better than the truth.

While I've always felt that Ewan McGregor is slightly miscast here, playing Finney as a younger man, Big Fish still holds up, although some of it – like the sequence in which McGregor's character courts the girl of his dreams (Alison Lohman) in a manner that could easily be classified as "stalking" – has aged a touch poorly. Ultimately, though, Big Fish serves as a nice reminder of the age when Burton hadn't become a full-blown parody of himself.

Own or Rent?

Another 4K release on this list, and another title that's definitely worth owning – provided you're already on board with the film. I hadn't seen it in years, and was worried that revisiting it would make me realize the film was never good to begin with. But that didn't happen – while I noticed more flaws this time than I did when I was a younger viewer, Big Fish still holds power, and is a worthy addition to your library.

Special Features Include:

  • Newly Remastered in 4K resolution from the original camera negative, with HDR10
  • All-new Dolby Atmos audio + original theatrical 5.1 audio
  • Feature presented in HD, sourced from the new 4K master
  • Tim Burton Audio Commentary, Moderated by Mark Salisbury
  • The Character's Journey
  • Edward Bloom at Large
  • Amos at the Circus
  • Fathers and Sons
  • The Filmmaker's Path
  • Tim Burton: Storyteller
  • A Fairytale World
  • Creature Features
  • The Author's Journey
  • Original Cast Interviews & Behind the Scenes
  • Easter Eggs
  • Theatrical Trailer

Minari

One of the best movies of last year, Lee Isaac Chung's deeply personal Minari follows a Korean family that moves from California to Arkansas. The patriarch, Jacob, played by Steven Yeun, dreams of making it big as a farmer. But his wife, Monica (Han Ye-ri), is uncomfortable with their new life, and their new residence – a mobile home. This is seen primarily through the eyes of their young son David, played by Alan Kim. Their daughter, Anne, played by Noel Kate Cho, is present too.

When the family needs help watching the children, Monica's mother (Youn Yuh-jung) comes to live with the family, something doesn't react very well too – at first. Chung's film unfolds in its own time – this is not a film in a hurry. That deliberate pace keeps us invested in the family and their troubles, and we come to feel like we genuinely know them, which makes their frequent problems all the more emotionally affecting. The end result is a truly beautiful, gentle film. Lee Isaac Chung claimed he was ready to quit filmmaking after Minari, and he wasn't expecting it to find the audience it did. Here's hoping that Chung keeps on working now, because we need more films from him.

Own or Rent?

Buy this and cherish it. You won't regret it. You could wait for it to show up on a streaming service – probably Amazon, where most A24 movies go. But I truly think this is the type of film worth owning.

Special Features Include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Sowing Seeds: Making Minari
  • Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Lee Isaac Chung and Actress Yuh-jung Youn

The Father

I'm embarrassed to admit I ignored The Father last year. I assumed it was going to be generic Oscar bait, and I didn't bother to look much further into the matter. Of course, The Father did go on to have a good awards season, and also surprised everyone when lead Anthony Hopkins took home Best Actor at the Oscars when everyone (even the ceremony's producers) thought the prize would go to the late Chadwick Boseman.

But here's the thing: The Father is something of a masterpiece. It is a devastating, unique film, and Hopkins gives one of the best performances of his storied career. Hopkins's character is suffering from dementia, and writer-director Florian Zeller makes the fascinating choice to tell this entire story via Hopkins's point of view. As a result of this, things are constantly changing. One minute, Hopkins's daughter Anne will be played by Olivia Colman. But in the very next scene, Anne will be played by Olivia Williams. It confuses the audience just as it confuses the main character, and it effectively puts us in his fractured mindset. It also makes The Father feel like a thriller at times, because we're constantly on edge, waiting to see what confusing change is about to occur next and throw our sense of balance off.

As you might guess, such material is bound to be emotionally taxing, and there are moments here that are so wrought and painful that they may be too damn much for some viewers. But if you can push through the sadness you will find a gem.

Own or Rent?

This is a little tough. While I maintain that this is a fantastic movie, I also understand that it's a bit of a bleak movie as well, and not everyone is going to want to own something like that. So perhaps you should rent The Father first to try it out. But trust me – this is a film worth seeing.

Special Features Include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Homecoming: Making THE FATHER
  • Perception Check: Portrait of THE FATHER