New Blu-ray Releases

(Welcome to Not Dead Yet, a feature dedicated to new Blu-ray releases and what special features you should be excited about. Because yes, some of us still like to own physical copies of our movies.)

If you’re looking for the latest in physical media, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re looking for the Orange Julius, it’s on the third floor. This week’s Blu-ray round-up includes the bombastic sequel Pacific Rim Uprising; the acclaimed comedy Blockers; the indie horror-drama The Endless; Steven Soderbergh‘s iPhone thriller Unsane; and the surprisingly excellent Chappaquiddick.

Here are the new Blu-ray releases and their special features you should check out this week and beyond.

Pacific Rim Uprising

Pacific Rim Uprising takes Guillermo del Toro’s above-average monster movie Pacific Rim and dumbs it down, with mostly entertaining results. The end product is nowhere near the level of del Toro’s film, but there’s a certain smash-em-up charm to this film about big-ass robots fighting other big-ass robots. Best of all, Uprising is a showcase for John Boyega, who brings considerable charm playing the son of Idris Elba’s character from the first film. Ten years have passed since the Kaiju invasion from the last film. Humanity has rebuilt, and only improved on the design of their Jaegers – giant mind-controlled robots. Sure enough, a new threat presents itself, and our Jaeger-riding heroes must battle to cancel the apocalypse yet again. If you liked the first Pacific Rim, you’ll probably like this film, even if it’s not as colorful and inventive as what del Toro created. There’s also a third-act twist that’s so off-the-wall that you can’t help but appreciate it.

Special Features to Note:

The featurette “Hall of Heroes” features John Boyega talking about the Jaegers in the movie. He goes through the Jaegers in the film one by one, and he clearly is not overly-enthused about it. Beyond that, we get something called “Bridge to Uprising”, which is all about the making of the film. Director Steven DeKnight talks about setting the film 10 years after the first, which gave them a chance to upgrade everything, while also preserving the spirit of the first movie. “It’s a coming together of the world, and putting differences aside,” says DeKnight, and talks about the international cast. “The Underworld of Uprising” focuses on the plotline in the film about areas that have yet to fully recover after the war from the last film, where people sell Jaeger parts on the black market.

Surprise Villain” has Charlie Day discussing his character’s big twist: turning from a goofy comic relief character in the first film to a full-fledged villain in this.”It was exciting for me to see the switch in the character,” Day says. DeKnight discusses how Day’s character is addicted to drifting with the Kaiju brain he has, like a drug. “Mako Returns” has interviews Rinko Kikuchi discussing her character Mako Mori. DeKnight says he wanted to have strong female characters in the movie, specifically because Mako was so important in the first film. He goes so far as to call her the “emotional lynchpin” of the movie. Jon Jashni, one of the producers of Uprising, calls the film a “murder mystery”, with the characters trying to find out “Who killed Mako?” This will no doubt annoy fans of the character – why did anyone have to kill Mako? Why couldn’t she have been in the movie more? 

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Steven S. DeKnight
  • Hall of Heroes – John Boyega takes us through the awesome weaponry and cutting-edge enhancements of the latest generation of Jaegers featured in the film.
  • Bridge to Uprising – The cast and crew discuss how the world of Pacific Rim has changed in the ten years since the events of the original film.
  • The Underworld of Uprising – Humanity won the Kaiju War, but every war has casualties. John Boyega and Steven S. DeKnight give a tour of the coastal “Relief Zones.”
  • Becoming Cadets – Step into the Shatterdome, and learn the grueling physical and mental preparation required of the young actors who portrayed the PPDC cadets.
  • Unexpected Villain – Learn the secret reason that turned one of the most beloved heroes of the original film into a villain obsessed with humanity’s destruction.
  • Next Level Jaegers – The cast and crew discuss the amazing technological advances of the Jaeger program in the years since the events of the original film.
  • I Am Scrapper – Actress Cailee Spaeny shares the backstory of Scrapper, Amara’s incredible self-built Jaeger and its many unique abilities.
  • Going Mega – Filmmakers take us through the technical and creative challenges of creating the most deadly threat the Pan Pacific Defense Corp has ever faced: the Mega Kaiju!
  • Secrets of Shao – Meet the woman behind Shao Industries. Actress Tian Jing shares her insights on the enigmatic tech tycoon Liwen Shao.
  • Mako Returns – Actress Rinko Kikuchi and director Steven S. DeKnight explain the significance of Mako Mori’s return and her importance to the events of Pacific Rim Uprising.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Steven S. DeKnight

 

Blockers

I avoided Blockers in theaters, mainly because the trailers made the film look look atrocious. But buzz on the film was overwhelmingly positive, with many praising the film for being one of the best comedies of the year. Now that I’ve finally seen it, I can report that Blockers…is fine. Look, Blockers’ heart is in the right place. And when the film settles down to allow some character moments, it’s actually quite good. But the bulk of the film is comprised of the kind of loud, scream-heavy humor that tends to turn me off. The premise: a trio of parents (John Cena, Leslie Mann and Ike Barinholtz) learn their daughters (Geraldine ViswanathanKathryn Newton, and Gideon Adlon) are planning to lose their virginity on prom night. Cena and Mann’s characters freak out about this, and plan to stop it from happening. Barinholtz’s character has a different reason for tagging along – one I won’t spoil, but is actually the best element of the movie. What follows is a serious of gross-out gags, over-the-top humor and many scenes of Cena playing against type. It has moments of real humor, and, better still, pathos. At the same time, Blockers is too overblown to be truly enjoyable. Still, if you can tune out the heavy-handed stuff, you might find a film worth embracing. At the very least, Blockers’ script, by Brian Kehoe and Jim Kehoe, is a lot smarter than a film with this premise should be.

Special Features To Note:

The features here are very light and amusing. We’re treated to quick behind-the-scenes featurettes, and snappy interviews with the cast and crew. “Line-O-Rama” features alternate takes and lines. Lots and lots of riffing and improv-ing. “Rescue Mission” is a brief look at the plot of the film. In this featurette, there’s a discussion about how the parents are all taking their own emotional problems out on their kids, which is one of the film’s strengths. “Prom Night” is more about the plot of the movie, as well as the message. Director Kay Cannon talks about how the film is about young women embracing adulthood, while it’s also about parents being terrified over the idea of their kids growing up.

The History of Sex with Ike Barinholtz” is exactly what it sounds like: an amusing 2-minute featurette in which Barinholtz breaks down the “history of sex.” For instance: he talks about how the first condom, the legalization of contraception, and so on. It’s brief and not as funny as it could be. “Chug Chug Chug” is all about the infamous scene in which John Cena “butt-chugs” some beer at a party. Director Kay Cannon turns to the camera at one point and says, “I have a Master’s degree, but I’m here to tell you John Cena is going to put a tube up his butt and chug beer.” “I don’t know why anyone would do this,” John Cena adds. Cannon goes on to say she would bring up YouTube videos of people butt-chugging during production meetings.

Last but not least is a featurette on the creation of the projectile vomit used in the film. Fun! 

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel – The entire cast contributes to these on-set flubs.
  • Line-O-Rama – The laughs continue after the take!
  • Rescue Mission – Being a parent isn’t easy, as Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena make abundantly clear. Hear them and director Kay Cannon discuss parental mistakes and lessons learned. They even top it off with a good old-fashioned car explosion!
  • Prom Night – Filmmakers and cast discuss how they achieved the perfect prom look and also share some of their own personal prom stories.
  • The History of Sex with Ike Barinholtz – Ike Barinholtz explains the origins of human sexuality and its evolution through time.
  • John Cena’s Prom Survival Kit for Parents – John Cena shows off a survival kit filled with items that will help parents survive the most stressful time of year – prom season!
  • Chug! Chug! Chug! – The film introduced the world to the concept of “butt chugging.” Hear cast, crew, and butt-chugger John Cena discuss how they handled this standout scene.
  • Puke-a-Palooza – One memorable scene involves copious amounts of projectile vomit. See what cast, filmmakers, and crew went through to make sure the puke was as authentic as possible.

 

The Endless

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have done it again. The duo behind Resolution and Spring have crafted another emotional, unique horror-drama hybrid that shows how you can do so much with so little. In The Endless, two brothers (played by Benson and Moorhead) are drawn back to the cult they escaped from so many years ago. Life in the cult seems a lot more pleasant and welcoming than they remember, but there’s something lurking beneath the surface. Something dangerous and otherworldly. To say more would be a great disservice to the film, but just know that Benson and Moorhead unfold their story at a gradual pace, slowly revealing more and more shocking moments, drawing the audience in to the point of no return. In the middle of it all is a surprisingly poignant story about brotherly love that might just catch you by surprise.

Special Features to Note:

In a lengthy making-of featurette, Benson and Moorhead walk us through the production of The Endless. They talk about the origin of the film: they had started to shoot a comedy series while they were on the film festival circuit for their previous film Spring. This series was about two guys left behind from a UFO cult (because everyone in the cult hated them). From there, the story blossomed into something more serious. The duo also talk about how the film is a continuation of their first film Resolution. There’s discussion about how ideas for the film grew out of practical limitations – they could only shoot on locations they had easy access to; they could only create special effects that were easy to create.

Unlike their previous two films, which were self-financed, The Endless was financed by an indie distributor. We get to see behind-the-scenes footage, as well as rehearsal. Benson and Moorhead say they love rehearsal because it helps keeps things seeming natural but also shaves the edges off of things. As a bonus, the UFO cult comedy that inspired the film is included as well. A VFX breakdown reveals how some of the film’s eerie, mind-blowing special effects were created – lots of green-screen and practical stuff. There’s nothing in-depth here, just a fun montage where we see the effects being added to shots without them.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Breaking the News; Benson and Moorhead pull a practical joke on actor Vinny Curran
  • Casting Aaron; Benson, Moorhead and producer Dave Lawson audition for the role of Aaron
  • Casting Smiling Dave; Lawson auditions for the role of Smiling Dave
  • VFX Breakdown
  • UFO Cult Comedy; improvised short film made whilst Benson and Moorhead were on the festival circuit
  • Vinny’s Story; a behind-the-scenes documentary filmed on-set by Curran
  • Michael Felker; a tongue-in-cheek featurette referencing The Endless’s editor
  • Seven deleted scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Theatrical Trailer

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