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Here’s a look at a pair of films new to the ultra-high definition disc format.
God Told Me To (Blue Underground Home Entertainment, not rated, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, 91 minutes, $49.95) — Filmmaker Larry Cohen’s 1976 sci-fi horror cult classic gets an ultra-high definition restoration to give a new generation of B-movie enthusiasts an odd story packed with police procedure drama.
The film starts with an all-too-familiar, even sadly in this day and age, mass shooting as a sniper kills 15 humans in New York City and before jumping to his death admits to his crimes and says, “God told me to.”
That intriguing premise takes viewers on a journey with cheating devoted Catholic, New York City Police Department Detective Peter Nicholas (Tony Lo Bianco) as he investigates the sniper attack and more murders with killers mumbling the same directive, and the only clue being the connection to a mystery man with long blond hair (creepy villainous character actor Richard Lynch).
Cohen’s narrative dances between the tenants of religious fanaticism and a fascination with extraterrestrials but will cause a brain freeze with the stilted acting and conspiracy-slathered plot threads that lead to a very unsettling ending.
Perhaps the film will also be most remembered for the surprising supporting cast including comedy legend, Andy Kaufman, as a killer cop; Sylvia Sidney as the mother of a special child (fondly remembered as the afterlife caseworker Juno in “Beetlejuice”); and Academy Award winner Sandy Dennis as Nicholas’ wife.
The restoration, completed in 2015 from the original camera negative, really brings the near 50-year-old visuals to life.
Although one will see some slight grain in the blue skies over New York City, the overall presentation is deep, crisp and hue-balanced.
Especially notable is a St. Patrick’s Day parade offering plenty of costume color and clarity and only slightly muted colors, as well as a finale bathed in yellow light that still maintains strong detail of the characters.
Best extras: Blue Underground overloads with digital goodies for the quirky film. The 4K disc offers an archival optional commentary from 2003 with Cohen and producer William Lustig, and a brand new track with film historians Steve Mitchell (director of the documentary “King Cohen”) and Troy Howarth (European cult cinema specialist).
Both have some comment duplication but are equally worthy of listening to for the abundance of history on the film and production nostalgia.
The included Blu-ray disc of the film (also restored version) also has both commentaries as well as all of the extras from the 2015 release.
They include interviews with special effects artist Steve Neill (10-minutes, Mr. Lo Bianco (12 minutes) and a pair of vintage entertaining Q&A sessions (30 minutes total) with Cohen from New York’s Lincoln Center and Los Angeles’ New Brewery Cinema.
The Lost City (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 112 minutes, $34.99) — Actress Sandra Bulloch’s latest action romcom directed by the brothers Adam and Aaron Nee earlier this year moves to the 4K realm while offering a forgettable retread of familiar cinematic territory.
The tale, also co-written by the brothers, focuses on a widowed, best-selling fantasy romance novelist, Loretta Sage (Ms. Bullock), out of inspiration, getting kidnapped into a real-life adventure by an eccentric billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) looking for a treasure in a real lost city.
Thick as a brick cover model from her books, Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), with a crush on Loretta, enlists the help of ex-military tracker Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) to rescue her while tagging along.
The rescue almost works but turns into a fight for survival for Alan and Loretta as they attempt to escape evil minions in the jungle and ultimately stumble upon the legendary Crown of Fire.
The film has its moments relegated early on with Trainer on the job and a later misty dawn motorcycle chase, but the flirty hijinks from Mr. Tatum and Ms. Bullock are lacking chemistry and are not as potent as when she twinned with Ryan Reynolds in 2009’s “The Proposal.”
The ensemble cast also struggles to help ignite the slightly tired “Romancing the Stone” narrative knock-off. It’s one-and-done viewing for home theater audiences and no need to add to the disc library.
The 4K presentation excels at highlighting the forested panoramic tropical island settings complete with waterfalls, vines, cliffs, caves, inlets, mountaintops a volcano and the ruins of the lost city, all set against Loretta wearing a purplish-pink sequined jumpsuit.
Best extras: Viewers get an unnecessary collection of seven featurettes lasting almost 40 minutes that pound home the brilliance of the production while covering topics such as actor chemistry, challenges when shooting in real, tropical locations, stunts, the jumpsuit, 30 feet of charcuterie (food), the villains and building the lost city.
• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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