New On Blu-ray: 'Avengers: Endgame', 'Detective Pikachu', 'The Curse of La Llorona', 'Alita: Battle Angel'

Our latest Blu-ray round-up includes the biggest, most epic blockbuster film of the year. That’s right: Detective Pikachu. Oh, and Avengers: Endgame is here too, along with The Curse of La Llorona and Alita: Battle Angel. These are the new Blu-ray releases you should check out this week.

Avengers: Endgame

When you strip away the hype; the decade’s worth of build-up; the endless promotion – does Avengers: Endgame hold up? Actually…yes. I’ll confess to not being the biggest Marvel Cinematic Universe fan (some of the films are good! others are not!), but even to a Marvel skeptic like me, Endgame works. The key to the film’s success is that it feels like it has an actual conclusion. So many MCU films have endings that are intentionally vague and non-committal in order to set up sequels and crossovers. Endgame shirks this to bring a 10-year saga to a satisfying conclusion. Once again, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have to deal with Thanos – while also using a hefty dose of time travel. The time travel element allows Endgame to take a greatest hits approach, and revisit scenes from previous movies – only to turn them on their heads. It works! It helps that for all the doom and gloom that prevails throughout Endgame, the movie is ultimately a hell of a lot of fun. The ending battle may be full of winking fan service – but that’s okay. If any movie has earned the right to some fan service, it’s Avengers: Endgame.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Let’s be honest: if you’re a reader of Slashfilm Dot Com, you’re going to own Avengers: Endgame. It’s almost like an obligation at this point. The good thing is that the Blu-ray release is the film looks great on Blu – especially 4K. As digital projection in movie theaters grows worse and worse, the key to getting a truly crisp, clean picture increasingly lies within 4K releases. While Endgame still has a wealth of that drab parking lot color palette that Marvel loves, there’s plenty of bright colorful action that pops as well. In addition to that, the Endgame Blu comes stacked with the usual so-so Marvel features. We get featurettes focused on Thor – specifically Chris Hemsworth’s transformation into a much heftier God of Thunder; Black Widow; and Captain America. There are two featurettes that double as tributes: one is devoted to the late Stan Lee, with a clip show of all his MCU cameos. The other focuses on Robert Downey Jr. – who is still alive, but hey, his contract is up so let’s give him a hand!

Special Features Include: 

  • Remembering Stan Lee – Filmmakers and cast honor the great Stan Lee in a fond look back at his MCU movie cameos.
  • Setting The Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr. – Hear the tale of how Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark in the original “Iron Man” — and launched the MCU.
  • A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America – Trace the evolution of Captain America with those who helped shape the look, feel and character of this compelling hero.
  • Black Widow: Whatever It Takes – Follow Black Widow’s journey both within and outside the Avengers, including the challenges she faced and overcame along the way.
  • The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame – See how Anthony and Joe Russo met the challenge of helming two of the biggest films in cinematic history … back-to-back!
  • The Women of the MCU – MCU women share what it was like to join forces for the first time in an epic battle scene — and be part of such a historic ensemble.
  • Bro Thor – His appearance has changed but his heroism remains! Go behind the scenes to see how Bro Thor was created.
  • Six Deleted Scenes – “Goji Berries,” “Bombs on Board,” “Suckiest Army in the Galaxy,” “You Used to Frickin’ Live Here,” “Tony and Howard” and “Avengers Take a Knee.”
  • Gag Reel – Laugh along with the cast in this epic collection of flubs, goofs and gaffes from set.
  • Visionary Intro – Intro by directors Joe and Anthony Russo.
  • Audio Commentary – Audio commentary by directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

 

Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu brings the world of Pokémon to vivid life…with mixed results. The world-building on display in Rob Letterman’s film is a huge success: we’re fully engrossed within this universe where Pokémon exist side-by-side with humans, and best of all – the movie avoids constant exposition dumps to explain what the hell is going on. It simply trusts the audience to figures things out. Then there’s Detective Pikachu himself. While the CGI-creation of the character is always apparent, he still seems real. He’s also cute as hell, even with Ryan Reynolds‘s wise-cracking voice coming out of his mouth. In short, everything involving Pokémon in this movie works. Sadly, the Pokémon have to take a back-seat to the human characters…who are kind of boring. Justice Smith is Tim Goodman, a former Pokémon trainer looking for his missing father. His only lead is his dad’s partner – a Pikachu. And while humans and Pokémon aren’t able to verbally communicate normally, Tim inexplicably understands everything Pikachu says. The duo set out to find out what happened to Tim’s pop, and get caught up in a dull mystery involving genetics and evil corporations. It’s not very exciting. But the world is so fully-realized that it’s hard not to get wrapped up. Cinematographer John Mathieson shot Detective Pikachu on film rather than digital, and the grainy stock mixed with the neon all about provides a sharp, visually distinct look that makes the flick stand above the usual CGI-enhanced franchise fare. Now if only the plot were better…

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

As you might expect, a film with this much world-building has a wealth of featurettes devoted to…well, building that world. These featurettes are hosted by Justice Smith and co-star Kathryn Newton, who set up each brief (no longer than 3 minutes, tops) clip and then let ‘er rip. There’s a lot of talk here about “grounding” the world to make all the fantastical elements seem perfectly natural. You’ll also get featurettes like “Mr. Mime’s Audio Commentary.” As you might have guessed, this “commentary” is completely silent. It’s also not for the entire film – just for the Mr. Mime scene. The character first comes out, and mimes-out his introduction, and then we get to watch his scene in question with “silent” commentary. Get it? Jokes! While these features aren’t show-stopping, the overall Detective Pikachu package is well put together. Also, with Blu-ray, you can fast-forward through all the boring human scenes. Win-win!

Special Features Include: 

 

The Curse of La Llorona

The Curse of La Llorona is a Conjuring Universe movie in disguise. The marketing went out of its way to not play-up the Conjuring angle, but it’s right there in the movie – albeit in a quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it form. So what gives? Were the Conjuring folks unhappy with the film, and thus requested it distance itself from their brand? There’s no proof of this, but I wouldn’t be surprised. The Curse of La Llorona is one of the weaker Conjuring-related entries, about on the same level as The NunLinda Cardellini is a child services caseworker who accidentally incurs the wrath of La Llorona, the ghost of a woman from the 1600s who drowned her own children and now seeks to murder other children as well. She’s kind of a jerk. The end result is a series of scenes where La Llorona pops-up and screams her damn head off at people. It’s a strictly by-the-numbers affair, but there are a few set pieces to make things interesting, like when La Llorona keeps appearing then disappearing when viewed through the plastic of a transparent umbrella. Non-discerning horror fans looking for a quick jump scare will probably find plenty to like here. Anyone looking for something deeper might want to re-watch the two main Conjuring films instead.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

Are you a Conjuring completist? If so, I guess you should probably pick this bad boy Blu up. I’ll be honest: this isn’t the most must-have disc of the month, and the special features included are boilerplate. But The Curse of La Llorona is the type of movie you can throw on in the background as you go about your business, occasionally checking in to watch Linda Cardellini shriek and run around in the dark. That’s something, right?

Special Features Include: 

  • The Myth of La Llorona
  • Behind the Curse
  • The Making of a Movie Monster
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Storyboards

 

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita: Battle Angel is one of those unapologetically geeky and earnest sci-fi films that will turn-off some, and excite others. It’s big and bold and kind of stupid – and that’s okay. There’s also a lot of rollerblading for some reason! Rosa Salazar – enhanced by CGI – is Alita, a cyborg suffering from amnesia, because apparently, that’s a thing. Rescued from a junk heap by scientist Christoph Waltz, Alita slowly begins to realize her true ass-kicking potential. The story is wonky and often hard to follow, almost as if director Robert Rodriguez and producer James Cameron were less interested in the plot and more interested in throwing a bunch of expensive, high-tech mayhem up on the screen. The result is a world full of fleshy faces hovering above weird clunky metal bodies, and action sequences that push the limits of reality. The key to making all of this work isn’t so much the VFX, but rather Salazar. Even though the actress is significantly altered by CGI, her actual performance comes through and helps to make Alita seem real.

Why It’s Worth Owning on Blu-ray: 

You’re going to need to block out a full day to get through the exhausting amount of special features included on this disc. As you might expect, much of the featurettes involved here focus on the special effects. There’s also a cooking school from director Robert Rodriguez in which he teaches you how to make chocolate. Not just any chocolate either – we’re talking chocolates loaded with fillings comprised of tequila, honey, caramel and more. I’m not even that big of a chocolate fan, but I’ll confess to being entranced by this featurette and immediately wanting to try to recreate this stuff myself. What does any of this have to do with the movie? Well, Alita loves chocolate. So…that’s it. Is that enough? Sure it is.

Special Features Include: 

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