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Review: This week’s releases stand up for what’s right (Includes first-hand account)

Bobbleheads: The Movie (DVD)

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Universal 1440 Entertainment

Get ready for a big shake-up when misfit bobbleheads take on trashy humans and a slobbery dog who crash their home with plans to swap a new baseball player bobblehead for a valuable older one. With some guidance from Bobblehead Cher, they find the courage to bobble-up for an outrageous battle of wits and wobble.

The story begins with a fun introduction to a family under a lot of stress as the parents prepare for an important business venture and their eldest daughter is tasked with caring for her infant sibling. The bobbleheads watch from the sidelines, hoping everything will work out for their owners and they can get back to being their happier selves. However, an impromptu family trip leaves the house empty and the toys to fend off duplicitous intruders. That’s where it all becomes a bit muddled. Overlooking the fact that these bobbleheads are conveniently without traditional bases, enabling them to move around more freely, the whole “Home Alone” schtick just falls flat. Cher is undoubtedly the highlight of the film, though her appearance is a bit unusual.

There are no special features. (Universal 1440 Entertainment)

Collateral (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)

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Paramount Home Entertainment

Vincent (Tom Cruise) is a cool, calculating, contract killer at the top of his game. Max (Jamie Foxx) is a hapless cabbie with big dreams and little to show for it. Now, Max has to transport Vincent on his next job — one night, five stops, five hits and a getaway. And after this fateful night, neither man will ever be the same again.

Director Michael Mann is a seasoned creator of tense crime dramas, and this picture is one of his most focused productions. Centred on the unlikely pair of an ambitious taxi driver and a cold-blooded assassin, the events unfold over just a few hours in a single night. While it lacks the ticking time bomb drama of the looming deadline, Max is under constant pressure by the guilt that accompanies each of Vincent’s murders — and the fear that he’ll inevitably turn on him. The story eventually comes full circle in a not entirely unexpected manner, allowing for an action-based climax that delivers a satisfying ending to the hours-long standoff.

Special features include: commentary by director Michael Mann; deleted scenes with commentary; making-of featurette; “Shooting on Location: Annie’s Office”; “Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx Rehearse”; and “Visual FX: MTA Train.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)

The Last Starfighter (Blu-ray)

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Arrow Video

Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is an arcade game whizz-kid whose wildest dreams comes true when he finds himself enlisted to fight in an interstellar war.

While kids were still obsessed with video games in the ‘80s, they were usually standing in front of a large arcade machine trying to get their initials on the high score list. Alex is an expert Starfighter player, spending most of his spare time and spare quarters on the game. After the best game of his life, he receives an unexpected visit from a recruiter… for an intergalactic air force, scouring the galaxy for the best pilots. Alex’s initial reaction is understandable, but it all works out as expected. But one of the things that sets this film apart is it was one of the earliest pictures to extensively use CGI for its special effects. While the scenes are still somewhat rudimentary, it’s quite exciting to see the early rendition of a digital space opera.

Special features include: commentary by star Lance Guest and his son Jackson Guest; commentary by Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast; commentary by director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb; “Maggie’s Memories: Revisiting The Last Starfighter”; “Into the Starscape: Composing The Last Starfighter”; “Incredible Odds: Writing The Last Starfighter”; “Interstellar Hit-Beast: Creating the Special Effects”; “Excalibur Test: Inside Digital Productions”; “Greetings Starfighter! Inside the Arcade Game”; “Heroes of the Screen”; “Crossing the Frontier: Making The Last Starfighter”; image galleries; theatrical and teaser trailers; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Ferguson. (Arrow Video)

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (Blu-ray & Digital copy)

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Paramount Home Entertainment

Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), now in his 60s, seeks to free his family from crime and find a suitable successor to his empire. That successor could be fiery Vincent (Andy Garcia)… but he may also be the spark that turns Michael’s hope of business legitimacy into an inferno of mob violence.

Although no one went back in time to reshoot any of the film, this version improves on some of the most significant issues seen in The Godfather III. While Puzo and director Francis Ford Coppola wanted the third film to be a summation of the previous two pictures, the studio wanted a grand finale — a difference of opinion that resulted in a lacklustre conclusion to the trilogy that satisfied no one. The movie’s runtime is only shortened by about five minutes, but it’s the reordering of scenes and tighter editing that improves the film’s pace and impact. Most notably, different opening and closing scenes change the course of the film and better highlight Michael’s search for penance in his old age, after decades of sins begin to weigh on him. The opening conversation sets the scene, while the ending packs a more powerful punch.

Special features include: an introduction from Francis Ford Coppola. (Paramount Home Entertainment)

Silent Running (Blu-ray)

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Arrow Video

In the not-so-distant future, Earth is barren of all flora and fauna, with what remains of the planet’s former ecosystems preserved aboard a fleet of greenhouses orbiting in space. When the crews are ordered to destroy the remaining specimens, one botanist, Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern), rebels and flees towards Saturn in a desperate bid to preserve his own little piece of Earth that was, accompanied only by the ship’s three service robots.

The ‘70s brought a number of sci-fi environmental films to the screen as people became concerned for the future of nature and imagined the many ways humans could destroy it. A world totally barren of plant-life seems unthinkable… but not entirely impossible. The innovation to create giant biodomes in space is intriguing, though their termination is still a bit of a puzzle. Lowell is an eccentric who feels more comfortable with the plants he tends than his fellow shipmates, so it’s not that difficult for him dissociate himself to save the greenhouse. Reprogramming the service robots to be his companions, it seems they could go on forever. Though the robots don’t have the capacity to show a lot of emotion, their poignant movements are incredibly created by amputees operating the specially designed suits.

Special features include: commentary by critics Kim Newman and Barry Forshaw; commentary by Douglas Trumbull and actor Bruce Dern; making-of featurette; “No Turning Back”; “First Run”; “Silent Running by Douglas Trumbull”; “Douglas Trumbull: Then and Now”; “A Conversation with Bruce Dern”; isolated music and effects track; behind-the-scenes gallery; theatrical trailer; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Arik Roper. (Arrow Video)

Steven Universe: The Complete Collection (DVD)

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

The series revolves around Steven, the “little brother” to a team of magical aliens — the Crystal Gems — who defend the planet Earth. Steven is the son of the Crystal Gems’ late leader, Rose Quartz, and aging aspiring rockstar, Mr. Universe. Steven belongs everywhere and nowhere: he has inherited his mother’s Gem and her magical powers, but also his father’s humanity and charm.

The animated series ran for five seasons, with the addition of a movie that takes place two years after the show’s conclusion and a limited series epilogue, “Steven Universe Future,” that occurs after the movie in the narrative timeline — all of which are included in this boxset. Interestingly, Steven is one of the few animated characters who age throughout his lifecycle, though even that is complicated as his powers cause him to physically reflect the age he feels. The series is a musical comedy that centres on Steven’s adventures with the Gems as they protect the world from other less-friendly Gems. It was the Cartoon Network’s first animated series created solely by a woman, Rebecca Sugar, who based the main character on her younger brother. The award-winning show is colourful and delivers positive messages about love, family and relationships.

Special features include: commentary on select episodes; “Steven Universe Minisodes”; “Steven Universe The Movie: Sing-A-Long”; animatics; and music videos. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Total Recall (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)

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Lionsgate Home Entertainment

It’s the year 2084 and construction worker Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is haunted by dreams of Mars, a place he’s never been. Against his wife’s (Sharon Stone) wishes, Quaid goes to Rekall, a memory-implant company that promises a thrilling virtual trip to the red planet. But what Quaid “remembers” is that he’s a secret agent whose cover has been blown… and that he must return to Mars at any cost.

This is ’80s sci-fi at its best. Outrageous conspiracies, environmental deformities, space colonization and butt-kicking action sequences. Never boring and always taking a new turn in the story, the trip to the red planet (real or imaginary) is a brilliant display of creativity — no matter how strange some of director Paul Verhoeven‘s ideas. Schwarzenegger, in his brawny heyday, took on the role wholeheartedly, buying into every ridiculous element and indulging the opportunity to be (purposely?) over-the-top. While this sounds like typical Arnie material, he makes it work. There are numerous characters and scenes that will remain memorable — and you’ll probably recall them for years to come.

Special features include: commentary by director Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger; making-of featurette; “Total Excess: How Carolco Changed Hollywood” documentary; “Imagining Total Recall” documentary; “Open Your Mind: Scoring Total Recall”; “Dreamers Within the Dream: Developing Total Recall”; “Total Recall: The Special Effects”; theatrical trailer. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

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Written By

Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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