While I've known a father who was ungrateful for a new tie, another shaving kit or a grill accessories, a little escapism can go a long way. Here are some movie, television and book releases that will help dad kick back and relax for a change.
If the box office numbers are any indication, you'd have a hard time finding a father who doesn't enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. "Captain Marvel" (available June 11) takes audiences back to the 1990s when VHS was king, Nine Inch Nails were breaking their way into the mainstream and Nick Fury had two eyes.
Fathers with a love for gritty crime thrillers will be smitten with Nicole Kidman's performance as a damaged LAPD detective who looks to right the wrongs of a blown undercover assignment in "Destroyer."
Dwayne Johnson produced and appears in "Fighting with My Family," a surprisingly accessible comedy based on WWE wrestler Paige's life story. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, which at first seemed like an odd inclusion until I saw that it was written and directed by the brilliantly funny British comedian Stephen Merchant (co-writer and co-director of the "The Office" series, but you might know him from his dramatic turn as Caliban in the X-Men film "Logan.")
Father's looking to spend some time with kids (or who are kids at heart) would appreciate "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World," the third film from the critically acclaimed animated series or "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," a sequel that is better than it is given credit for and was underappreciated during its theatrical run.
"The Upside" was a surprise hit earlier this year. A remake of the French film "The Intouchables," which was based on the true story of a quadriplegic man who hires an unqualified man to be his caregiver. The English language version stars Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart with Nichole Kidman in a supporting role.
"Valentine: The Dark Avenger" is a different kind of superhero film as a young waitress is offered the opportunity to play a masked vigilante in a movie. but there's nothing scripted about the fight she's about dive into. This foreign oddity has been dubbed into English and has the look and feel of a classic drive-in or basement festival favorite.
Robert Venditti ("X-O Manowar," "Green Lantern") and Kevin Maurer team for this World War II set graphic novel about the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division who accidentally parachute deeper behind enemy lines than intended during the D-Day assault. Andrea Mutti ("Batman Eternal") provides the imagery for this engrossing, obscure and true story.
For those fathers who have made the leap to 4K, the past few weeks have seen some impressive catalog titles come to the new format including Ridley Scott's excellent drama "Black Hawk Down" about a group of U.S. soldiers fighting for their lives on the streets of Somalia when their helicopter is shot down; the beloved "Forrest Gump" from director Robert Zemekis and actor Tom Hanks celebrates its 25th anniversary with a new 4K transfer; Kevin Costner's baseball fantasy "Field of Dreams" has never looked or sounded better; the classic "Backdraft" was recently given a direct-to-video sequel that's worth a look, but it pales to this fantastic new transfer that makes the well-received Blu-ray release from 2011 look incredibly bland; "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" was a gorgeous fantasy with a wicked sense of humor and the new 2160p release looks as good as anything being produced today and serves as a sad reminder that the Hellboy franchise had so much untapped potential; and a new transfer for the 1984 classic "The Karate Kid" is warmer and more detailed than I ever.
2019 marks the 80th anniversary of Batman's first appearance. To celebrate, DC Comics are releasing "Batman: Detective Comics #1000 ," a landmark release collects a variety of Batman stories that trace the origins of the character and point to a future for the world's most popular vigilante. The hardcover Deluxe Edition is scheduled for June 18, but if dad loves Batman, he'll forgive you for the late-arriving gift.
As part of the Batman celebration, Warner Bros. is releasing a 4K "30th Anniversary Edition" of Tim Burton's classic 1989 adaptation with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson and its three sequels on June 4th. A box set is scheduled for September, but some of us would be perfectly happy owning "Batman" and "Batman Returns" and forget that "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin" that ever existed. Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Trilogy" is also available in breathtaking 4K .
Other classic catalog titles with recent re-releases include the 4K version of Robert Redford's classic baseball film "The Natural," "Fast & Furious: 8-Movie Collection" a complete collection of the Fast & Furious films in 4K and the Criterion Collection's excellent Blu-ray release of the classic Jackie Chan films "Police Story" and "Police Story 2."
Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "South Park" sees the release of its twenty-second season this week and the equal-opportunity offenders have yet to see a topic that they couldn't turn into a spirited spectacle. This season features some scathing comedy as Cartmen and friends tackle school shootings, political correctness and social anxiety.
On the opposite side of the animated world is the complete collection of "Adventure Time," arguably the best series to ever be inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, set in a post-apocalyptic world and feature a talking dog. The many tales of a boy and his dog is the strange and wonderful mutated version of "Peabody's Improbable History" if their time travels went terribly wrong somewhere along the way. Safe for children, still entertaining for adults.
If dad is a fan of "Broadchurch," "The Killing" or dramas with a psychological twist (and punch) "Blood" is a celebrated Irish series that comes highly recommended. The plot follows a small-town doctor and his daughter who believes that the accident that killed her mother was actually a fine-tuned plan executed by her dad.
Tom Clancy's popular character Jack Ryan gets revamped for this self-titled television series with John Krasinski taking over the title role. Initially Krasinski seemed like an odd choice, but time has proven that the actor is far more talented than his work on "The Office" suggested. Heading into its second season, the show is still finding its legs, but the potential is there.
"London Kills" is a British mystery drama from Paul Marquess ("Suspects," " Hollyoaks") featuring a skilled detective who can solve any case except for the disappearance of his wife.
"The Toys that Made Us" is a fantastic documentary series that looks at the stories behind the creation of famous toy properties like Barbie, Star Wars, LEGO, Transformers, He-Man and Hello Kitty.
Based on the Dr. Tony Hill character from Scottish writer Val McDermid, "Wire in the Blood" offered a journey into the dark side of a clinical psychologist who uses his expertise to help detectives track and catch serial killers. This collection contains all 24 episodes from the six seasons.
For dad's with a taste for documentaries, art house films and cinema classics I'd recommend the excellent documentary "Apollo 11," a look at mankind's leap to the moon using archival footage and audio transmissions from ground control; the 1971 adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel "The Andromeda Strain," a sci-fi drama that sees all the inhabitants of a New Mexico town die after a government satellite crashes near by; a Buster Keaton double-feature from the Cohen Film Collection featuring the classic silent films "The General" and "Steamboat Bill, Jr.;" the improbable "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote," a film from visionary director Terry Gilliam that took 17 years to make (his failed attempt to make the film with Johnny Depp in 1998 is captured in the great documentary"Lost in La Mancha") that sees Gilliam returning to form with a strange and wonderful tale that feels like a thematic extension of his 1988 film "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen;" "Swing Time," a classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical comedy from 1936 featuring some of the duo's best dance routines; and "Tickled," a strange documentary that looks at the strange world of "competitive endurance tickling" that quickly turns into a truly bizarre mystery with more twists than a Hitchcock feature.
For dads who still love to slip away into a good book, my favorite book publisher The Folio Society has released a new batch of illustrated hardcover editions this spring that include the fantasy novel "Anansi Boys" from Neil Gaiman ("American Gods") where a unexceptional Londoner sees his life turned upside down when he discovers that his recently deceased father may have been an incarnation of the West African spider god, Anansi. This special edition includes illustrations by award-winning artist Francis Vallejo.
Sticking with the genre theme we also have Ray Bradbury's classic 1962 novel "Something Wicked This Way Comes." The narrative follows two 13-year-old friends who are enchanted by a traveling carnival and its charismatic leader known as "Mr. Dark." Bradbury mixes horror tropes with a touch of fantasy that is as bewitching and as terrifying as the journey our two protagonists find themselves on. The film adaptation was particularly chilling when I was young, but it pales to the intensity of its source material. This edition features art from Tim McDonagh, a British artist who's credits include Lucasfillm and Nike.
To say that Philip K. Dick has written some of the most influential novels and short stories in the science fiction genre would be something of an understatement. "Ubik" is one of the author's more celebrated works, but seemingly also one of his lesser known as it has yet to be adapted into a film (not for a lack of trying). The story is set in 1992, a not-so-near future when the book was published in 1969. Mankind has evolved and psychic abilities creating an industry of anti-psychics who help to safeguard the secrets of corporate entities. "Ubik" is psychedelic sci-fi, a gateway hallucinatory world where reality is slipping away. I'm particularly fond of the design of this release, the die-cut slipcase being a visual cue as to the experience that exists beneath the cover.
As someone who has a deep interest in history, particularly World War II, I was thrilled to see Cornelius Ryan's "The Longest Day" join The Folio Society's collection. Not because I had read it, but because I had seen the film and fully intended on diving into the book. Ryan interviewed hundreds of soldiers and citizens who were on both sides of the gunfire as as D-Day unfolded.
"Catch 22," Joseph Heller's novel makes for an odd bedfellow with "The Longest Day," but the anti-war satire is intelligently presented as Captain Yossarian, a US Air Force bombardier, looks to reason his way out of the insanity of war, but is constantly thwarted by a contradictory system that suggest the only way to escape the reach of death is to die. Heller's ability to build the madness of war brick by brick is truly amazing. Hulu released a six-part adaptation of the novel in early May featuring George Clooney as both an actor, producer and director.
Italo Calvino's "Italian Folktales" caught my eye because it includes a preface by film director Guillermo del Toro and the description references the work of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Del Toro is as well read, particularly when it comes to eclectic tales imbued with a sense of wonder and otherness. Folktales have a magic of their own, a mythology that evolves with the culture that surrounds it. For all their uniqueness, these stories eventually remind that at our core, despite where we are born, we're all essentially the same. I find that reassuring.
And here, at the end, we find ourselves looking at Game of Thrones. I realize that for some the magic has passed, but for those still deeply invested, The Folio Society is set to release the first volume of George R. R. Martin's"A Song of Ice and Fire" series in July with artwork by Jonathan Burton who also worked on The Folio Society's edition of George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four." You can pre-order a copy of the first printing, which is likely to come and go as quickly as they can pull copies from the presses.
There's also a nice selection of collectibles ranging from Funko figures, enamel pins, framed art, screen-worthy crowns and jewelry. Take a stroll through the HBO shop and you'll find that the gifting options are almost limitless.
Regardless of what you give or are given, I hope there's time this month to love and celebrate those fathers (related or otherwise) who are closest to us.