Here’s a look at a pair of films covering popular mythologies now available in the Blu-ray format.
The Curse of La Llorona (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated R, 93 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $35.99) — Viewers once again returned to the “Conjuring” universe, this time to witness a heavy dose of the supernatural tied to Mexican folklore.
Now available on Blu-ray, first-time feature film director Michael Chaves’ monster movie relays a tale set in Los Angeles in 1973 featuring widowed social worker Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini) battling a malevolent spirit trying to steal her young son and daughter with the intention of drowning them.
The one-trick pony horror film is short on creep and style but loaded with cheap jump scares; dark corridors and slamming doors; and scary reflections in mirrors as La Llorona or the “weeping woman” (dressed in a tattered white wedding dress with a veil covering her demonic face) stalks the family.
The mother finds a former priest (who works well with possessed eggs), recommended by Father Perez (the guy who had trouble with a certain doll named Annabelle), and the battle of good versus evil really begins.
What’s most annoying with the story is the family members come down with a serious case of the stupids that continually allows the ghoul to keep tormenting them.
However, what do I know? Despite the lackluster effort, audiences consumed this horror entry with a passion, delivering a $123 million box office with a reported budget of only a paltry $9 million.
And, actually, the most frightening part of the presentation is watching the short preview of “It: Chapter 2” on the disc that delivered a higher sweaty creep factor in a two minutes than the entire film.
Best extras: A perfunctory set-up bonus content offers a trio of featurettes (roughly 19 minutes in total) covering the legend, the production and the creation of the ghoul La Llorona (played by actress Marisol Ramirez), all backed up by interviews with principal cast and crew.
Additionally viewers get six deleted scenes (with one offering an extended ending) and seven storyboard sequences with two compared next to the actual scene in the movie.
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG, 104 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $35.99) — Perhaps something more startling than a visit from La Llorona is witnessing a computer-animated, live-action version of the Pokémon universe.
Actor Ryan Reynolds, apparently not content with being Marvel’s coolest mercenary with a mouth Deadpool, decided to take on the vocal role of its star, the yellow, red-cheeked, pint-sized pop culture phenom wearing a Sherlock hat.
His presence salvages this nearly Disney Channel style story, loosely based on the major points of Nintendo’s 3DS game.
Director Rob Letterman’s creature-filled opus begins with two king-sized dorky guys Pokémon hunting (the friendly pairing of a live creature with a human) when the one named Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), a junior insurance agent, suddenly finds out his estranged police detective dad Harry was killed in a car accident.
He travels to Ryme City, a place packed with nearly all varieties of Pokemon working with humans, to learn the circumstances surrounding his father’s death and teams up with a fluent Detective Pikachu (Harry’s former partner) and cub reporter Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) to crack the case.
Ah, but evil lurks around the investigation as a purple gas designed by a diabolical tech company threatens the balance of the Pokémon and human harmony.
If creatures such as a Magikarp, Snubbull, Flareon and Greninja put a smile on your kids’ faces, then watching these cuties in action will be quite an experience for the entire family.
I’ll admit to not embracing the whimsy and sometimes darker tone of the movie. However, it has an addictive charm thanks to Mr. Reynolds amusing quips and watching such scenes as the dragon-like Charizard battle Pikachu and a mountain-sized Torterra waking up.
It’s also interesting to note that the movie was shot old school using Kodak 35mm film, a rare event these days for movies loaded with computer-animated effects. The result, upscaled to 2K, is certainly warmer colors throughout and a touch of a noir presentation but not as crisp as one might find using all digital photography.
Best extras: First, hands down the best, watch the movie again with Detective Mode turned on.
Text and video pop-ups abound on the screen covering stats (category, type, size and weaknesses) of most all of the Pokémon; extra trivia nuggets (the first Pokémon games were released in Japan in 1996); director comments (his head appears in a bubble); Easter eggs; production snippets; and Miss Newton commenting on scenes.
The next worthy extra is a five-part, 21-minute-too-brief look at the production hosted by Miss Newton and Mr. Smith that covers the cast and crew gushing about the Pokémon legacy; the key cast talking about their characters; bringing the creatures to photo real life; practically building Ryme City (a mixture of Tokyo and London); and the fun-looking stunt work.
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