WASHINGTON — Here’s a look at two of the latest entertaining movies now available in the Blu-ray format. Namely, Little Women and 21 Bridges.
Little Women (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 135 minutes, $19.96)
The latest cinematic adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s seminal novel, Little Women, offered director Greta Gerwig’s vision of the complicated lives of the March family and their four mischievous daughters in this coming-of-age period drama.
The classic story finds the sisters Josephine (Saoirse Ronan), Margaret (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Elizabeth (Eliza Scanlen) growing up during Civil War America in Concord, Massachusetts. They accomplish this, of course, with help from their mother Abigail (Laura Dern), Aunt March (Meryl Streep) and a local rich kid named Laurie (Timothée Chalamet).
The siblings eventually head off on different adventures in America and Europe. But we also see them reuniting during times of both joy and sadness. We get backstory glimpses of their lives as the film progresses. Often exposed via flashbacks, these biographical vignettes flesh out each character’s key experiences as well as the bonding experiences of the entire family.
Miss Gerwig’s empowering effort embraces the source material quite faithfully. In so doing, this film will certainly entrance younger female viewers, as it equally explores themes of struggle, family and perseverance.
The welcome arrival of Little Women in high definition video format not only allows home theater audiences to appreciate the performances in a clear, screen-filling format. It also showcases Jacqueline Durran’s Academy Award-winning costumes as well as the film’s rich mid-1800s production design.
Lest we forget, extras in the package include 38 minutes on the making of Little Women. The creators of this package break this material into five featurettes. They cover the cast, the director’s vision, production design, costuming, hair and make-up, and the impact of the original book on the finished product.
And, best of the bunch, viewers get a 10-minute historical look at Alcott’s life at Orchard House in Concord. This feature includes words from the executive director of the Massachusetts property, Jan Turnquist.
21 Bridges (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 100 minutes, $34.98)
New York City police Detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is known for taking a “Dirty Harry” approach when stopping criminals. He’s tasked in 21 Bridges with hunting two cop killers. This by-the-book thriller comes to us from director Brian Kirk.
Specifically, the loss of eight officers after a drug theft gone bad results in an intense, roughly four-hour manhunt. The pursuit of the bad guys involves a total lockdown of Manhattan, including all of its 21 bridges. In the process, the film also unravels a much deeper problem than the effort to catch a pair of dangerous, murderous crooks.
21 Bridges get plenty of help from a few heavyweights in the case. These include J.K. Simmons as Capt. Matt McKenna and Sienna Miller as Detective Frankie Burns (attempting a miserable approximation of a New York accent). The resulting mildly entertaining and somewhat violent crime drama allows Mr. Boseman to hone his tough-guy acting chops and take a welcome breather from his more famous role as Black Panther.
Often more interesting than the story: the gritty shots of the Big Apple by day. Through movie magic, the filmmakers transform these scenes via high definition into gloriously panoramic nighttime postcards of the city that never sleeps.
Finally, extras in this package include a nonstop, optional commentary track with Mr. Kirk and editor Tim Murrell. The running commentary often focuses on story and character minutiae.
The pair frequently comment a bit too much on otherwise self-explanatory action in 21 Bridges. But they also manage to offer brief overviews of the filmmaking process and production detail. These should prove more interesting for most film fans.
— Headline image: Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller star in “21 Bridges.” “21 Bridges” and “Little Women.”
Both now available on Blu-ray. (Fair use of images in film reviews.)
• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.