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Review: Not everything is as it seems in this week’s releases Special

Posted Jan 17, 2021 by Sarah Gopaul
This week’s releases include a new season of eerie tales; a post-apocalyptic narrative filled with optimism; a frightening story of black magic; a thief who steals hearts and artifacts; and a long-running cartoon.
A scene from  Love and Monsters
A scene from 'Love and Monsters'
Paramount Home Entertainment
Love and Monsters (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Untitled
Paramount Home Entertainment
Seven years after the Monsterpocalypse, Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien), along with the rest of humanity, has been living underground ever since giant creatures took control of the land. After reconnecting over radio with his high school girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick), who is now 80 miles away at a coastal colony, Joel begins to fall for her again. As Joel realizes there’s nothing left for him underground, he decides to venture out to Aimee, despite all the dangerous monsters that stand in his way.
This post-apocalypse movie isn’t as dark as some of its counterparts, either thematically or visually. Beginning with a narrative reminiscent of Zombieland, Joel recounts the monsters’ arrival and describes life underground, which appears to be working for most survivors. However, after a frightening incident, Joel realizes he’s not satisfied with just surviving — he wants to live his happily ever after. Against the advice of his friends, he embarks on a seven-day trek through monster territory to reunite with his love. Along the way, he has multiple near-death experiences and is saved by a lonely dog, and a man (Michael Rooker) and girl (Ariana Greenblatt) who’ve adapted to living topside. The monsters are creative giants based on real-life creatures that can emerge from almost anywhere, though there are a few non-predators as well. The reunification doesn’t go as planned, but probably as expected… but the predictable twist doesn’t fit neatly into the story.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Bottom of the Food Chain”; and “It’s a Monster’s World: Creating a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Lupin III: The First (Blu-ray & DVD)
Untitled
GKids & Shout Factory
The iconic “gentleman thief” Lupin III returns. He and his colourful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that have made Lupin the 3rd one of the most storied animation franchises in the world.
This is an action-packed animated movie with a leading man who shares traits with James Bond, Indiana Jones and Ethan Hunt. Lupin is a charming, cunning and inventive thief who uses all of these assets to wriggle in and out of tricky situations, whether a job or police custody. There is an intriguing background story to this long lost treasure that involves murder, duplicity and Nazis, but the whole picture isn’t immediately made clear. The capers are exciting, filled with chases on land, sea and air as Lupin and his partners try to ensure the Third Reich do not get a second chance at world domination. It’s a very involved narrative for an animated picture, but that and the amusing personalities keep viewers engaged in the puzzle.
Special features include: interviews with director and Japanese cast; CG model gallery; animation breakdown; “Yellow Carpet Premiere”; and theatrical trailers. (GKIDS & Shout Factory)
Spell (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Untitled
Paramount Home Entertainment
While flying to his father's funeral in rural Appalachia, an intense storm causes Marquis (Omari Hardwick) to lose control of the plane carrying him and his family. He awakens wounded, alone and trapped in Ms. Eloise's (Loretta Devine) attic, who claims she can nurse him back to health with the Boogity, a Hoodoo figure she has made from his blood and skin. Unable to call for help, Marquis desperately tries to outwit and break free from her dark magic and save his family from a sinister ritual before the rise of the blood moon.
The early parts of this film may remind audiences of Misery, but there’s something far more sinister happening that harkens back to Get Out. Marquis wakes up in a strange bed with relatively minor injuries, save for a severe foot injury that makes it very difficult for him to move around. Eloise is a very tentative nurse, but her tactics are a bit aggressive and unconventional. Worried about his family — and Eloise’s real intentions — Marquis works on his escape, which becomes increasingly difficult. The Hoodoo in and around the house is powerful, creating steadfast loyalty and endless obstacles. This is a solid horror thriller that relies on isolation to fuel its terror.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “The Nightmare Spell”; “Rootwork: Conjuring Spell”; and “The Art of Hoodoo.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Spongebob Squarepants: The Complete Twelfth Season (DVD)
Untitled
Paramount Home Entertainment
See what happens when SpongeBob and Patrick work on Old Man Jenkins' farm for a day! Don't miss Sandy narrating Gary's nocturnal adventures (and discover the identity of his secret pal). Then Patrick learns something totally new about his own home sweet rock. Plus — why did Patrick get a new job? (For free ice cream. Duh!) And prepare yourself as SpongeBob explores the dreams of his sleeping neighbours.
One might think Spongebob and Patrick would run out of trouble to cause, but they’re still at it in season 12 of the series. The season opens with the pair repaying a debt by creating a larger burden, though with amusing consequences, of course – who gave Patrick a tractor license?! Plankton is more prominent this season and not all his plans revolve around Krab’s recipe, though one of his more amusing ventures involves becoming a ghost to infiltrate the safe. He also becomes a tiny king and an inadequate father. Even Gary has a strange experience when he borrows Spongebob’s limbs.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The Twilight Zone (2019): Season Two (DVD)
Untitled
Paramount Home Entertainment
Executive Producers Jordan Peele and Simon Kinberg's modern reimagining of the classic TV series continues the legacy of socially conscious storytelling. Featuring enthralling narration from Peele and an all-star cast including Tony Hale, Ethan Embry, Billy Porter, Jurnee Smollett, Joel McHale, Christopher Meloni, Jenna Elfman, Damon Wayans Jr., Topher Grace, Morena Baccarin and Gretchen Mol, season two uses introspection and self-exploration to usher viewers into a dimension filled with endless possibilities.
This season delivers another excellent collection of stories that question people’s choices, desires and ethics. When a trinket makes dreams of fame a reality, the wisher begins to second-guess their unyielding popularity. When a man is trapped in a time loop, his pursuit of a singular goal causes him to lose sight of his humanity and the true meaning of love. An intelligent squid turns the tables on its captors and possibly all of humankind. Meanwhile, the first episode about a man who hears voices and a later one about a model town with real-life influence feel like classic narratives that may have appeared in the original series. It will be interesting to see what the next season brings.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Entertainment)