New in Home Entertainment – January 27, 2015

the-interview-sony-pictures

 

New in Home Entertainment

January 27, 2015

The Interview
Rated R for pervasive language, crude and sexual humor, nudity, some drug use and bloody violence
Available on Netflix and VOD. DVD and Blu-ray coming February 17
I’m so relieved. I finally got to watch The Interview last night on Netflix and I’m still alive. I’m even more relieved that I liked the movie. This raunchy comedy follows James Franco and Seth Rogen as they attempt to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. A month ago the film got more press, good and bad, than perhaps any other holiday project in history. But when theater chains across the country decided to chicken out of showing the movie, Sony was forced to exhibit in smaller chains and VOD only. As of this week, the film is available for Netflix subscribers. While its not the most hilarious thing you’ll see this year, it does have some very big laughs. Sure Franco is a little miscast and many of the jokes aren’t particularly funny, but overall the movie is entertaining and politically savvy. B

The Judge
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In this newest courtroom drama, Robert Downey Jr plays a big city attorney who upon returning home for his mother’s funeral, is forced to defend his father (Robert Duvall), who happens to be the town’s judge, for killing a local man. Wanting so hard to play like a Grisham movie, Judge might overreach at times, but the acting is excellent from the talented cast, and any misgivings of the script or story are ultimately forgivable. If it weren’t for the 141 minute running time, the film might have been a bigger hit than it ended up being. B

Coherence
Unrated
Available on DVD
This warped little ensemble piece follows a group of dinner guests who, on the night of a comet passing, discover that their neighborhood is full of houses full of the same exact guests, having the same dinner party. It is an unusually complex film that you just kind of try to forgo logic and just sit back, hoping you are still sort of with them at the end of the ride. At ninety minutes, the weirdness doesn’t rot your brain and honestly, its pretty fun. It might be even more fun with a couple glasses of wine on board. B+

Kill the Messenger
Rated R for language and drug content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Based on a true story, Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) stars as Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist Gary Webb, who upon uncovering CIA secrets about drugs in South America and the U.S., puts his career, himself and his family in danger for messing with the wrong people. I really loved the first half of the movie. Watching the little guy go against the powers that be and win is a rush. But then the powers that be make their move and the rest of the film gets long and absolutely depressing. It becomes such a challenge to watch that you just want to give up. While the truth can make for great stories, it can also be quite miserable as well. While I feel this story does need to be told, I have to think there is a better way to tell it. C

New in Home Entertainment – January 20, 2015

lucy

New in Home Entertainment

January 20, 2015

Lucy
Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images and sexuality
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This unexpected box office hit from Fifth Element writer/director Luc Besson follows Scarlett Johansson as an unfortunate young woman who is accidentally given an overdose of a powerful drug which allows her to go from using 10% of her brain to 100%. As you’d expect from the visionary French director, the film is highly stylized and full of fun action. But also as expected, the film is full of scratch your head moments that could have been easily fixed had Besson just done some simple research or had a better advisory team. I don’t mind a filmmaker using a little creative license here and there, but there are way too many moments that have the ability to take you out of the film, which I personally find inexcusable. If you find yourself saying too many times, “that wouldn’t happen like that” or “why would she possibly do that?” then there is too much distraction to make this a solid piece of entertainment. C+

Annabelle
Rated R for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
One of the side stories of the wonderfully frightening 2013 horror film The Conjuring was that of a doll named Annabelle, which is based on a real doll, still located in the Warren’s home today. Here the story goes back to the early seventies where a young couple are haunted by a doll after a cultist bleeds her soul into her. While a bit hair raising at times, Annabelle remains largely unscary and unfortunately a bit dull. Unlike The Conjuring, the film lacks the authenticity it needs to make it a horrifying experience. Whereas a lot of these types of films just make poor decisions which lead to failure, the poor decision here is making the movie. I really don’t think there’s a story worth telling and that the whole project is a desperate attempt to capitalize on the success of its predecessor. D

The Boxtrolls
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
This stop motion animated gem follows a group of trolls who wear boxes (thus the name) and the little boy they adopt when his life was in danger. It’s a nonsensical adventure set in a crazy universe, and it absolutely works. Sure it’s ugly to look at, but it’s a marvelous ugly that you can’t take your eyes off of. It might be a little much for the young kids, but for older children and adults it is terrific little fantasy. While it didn’t get much love at the box office, it did latch onto an Oscar nomination – something The Lego Movie could not accomplish. A-

Jimi: All is By My Side
Rated R for language including sexual references, sand some drug content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
I’m not sure what exactly happened to the theatrical release of this biopic following the life of famed rocker Jimi Hendrix, but after watching this blu-ray, I was quite confused about the its lack of traction. So many biopics have been released throughout the last few years, and yet so many of them miss the boat. Not this one. Writer/Director John Ridley creates here a terrifically entertaining flick that really spells out what it must have been like to have been around Jimi in the early days of his career. It is thrilling, funny, touching and completely engaging. OutKast’s Andre Benjamin is amazing as the rock god and he should have gotten a lot more love for this role than he did. My only gripe is that the movie cuts off before Jimi heads to America to become the legend we know today. A

Rudderless
Rated R for language
Available on DVD
William H. Macy directs this Once-like musical about a man whose life is torn apart after a tragedy involving his son. Years after going off of the grid, he discovers a box of demo tapes his son made and attempts to get to know him better through his music. Overall, I really like the idea of the film. The music is really good, and the story is touching. The story could have been so much better though had it just been tweaked in a few areas. Also, while Billy Crudup and Anton Yelchin do a great job, Felicity Huffman phones it in and Selena Gomez’s character should have been cut entirely. B-

New in Home Entertainment – January 13, 2015

Gone Girl

New in Home Entertainment

January 13, 2014

Gone Girl
Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content, nudity, and language
Available on Blu-ray and DVD
Based on the best-selling novel by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl follows the world of a husband (Ben Affleck) who is under suspicion for killing his wife (Rosamund Pike) when she goes missing. Twisted and sadistically funny, Gone Girl is masterfully directed by David Fincher and written for the screen by Flynn herself. What I loved most about Gone Girl is that I KNEW which direction the film was going in, until I discovered how wrong I really was. When a film takes you completely by surprise and then blows you away, its hard not to fall in love with it, even when the material is this dark. A

The Two Faces of January
Rated PG-13 for some violence, language and smoking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst are a couple traveling through Greece in the 60’s when they run across a young, semi-distrustful tour guide played by Oscar Isaac. When Mortensen gets in trouble at his hotel, Isaac comes to the rescue to help them try to escape Greece. While I enjoyed the production, or rather their reproduction of 1960’s Greece, the film is one of the least thrilling thrillers I’ve seen this year. One of the biggest problems is that its hard to feel empathy for any of the characters, so when bad things happen, who cares? It’s a shame too, because all three of the actors are fantastic and worthy of much greater material. C-

Men, Women & Children
Rated R for strong sexual content including graphic dialogue throughout – some involving teens, and for language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
One of my favorite writers/directors in recent years is Jason Reitman, who has come on the scene strong with Juno and Up in the Air. This time around he takes on relationships between a host of deeply flawed characters living in a world of social media. Starring an impressive ensemble cast, the movie ultimately fails due to their not being a likable character in the entire script. While some are better than others, pretty much everyone is a turd in the punchbowl, and I for one quickly grew thirsty for something else. D

Black Sails: The Complete First Season
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Some of my favorite guilty pleasures from recent years have come from television shows based on historical bad guys like gladiators, vikings and now pirates. This ambitious and well-crafted show from Starz creates a fun world based on pirates of old that is as naughty as it is violent. While I’m assuming its not in the least bit realistic, it is a lot of fun watching the action-packed drama unfold. And it doesn’t hurt that the production values are first rate. I can’t wait to see how they continue things in season 2, starting January 24. B+

New in Home Entertainment – January 6, 2015

xxhawke 1

New in Home Entertainment

January 6, 2014

Boyhood
Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
For twelve years, Texas filmmaker Richard Linklater filmed a fictional movie about the life a young boy (played by newcomer Ellar Coltrane) who we get to watch as he grows up to be a man. Not only is the movie a brilliant portrayal of a life’s journey, but it also serves as a wonderful vision of growing up in Texas. Filmed around Houston, Austin, San Marcos, Big Bend and other familiar spots to most of us, the film serves as great nostalgia both for our childhoods and our state as we are given points of reference most of us will easily recognize. While it was probably the most talked-about movie in Hollywood in 2014, it is surprising that it took in only about 24 million at the box office. Then again, its disc and streaming take should be a significant improvement, especially after it brings home a bucketful of awards this coming season. A+

Get on Up
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In his followup to his multiple Oscar-nominated film The Help, Tate Taylor tells the story of the notorious R&B artist James Brown. Zipping back and forth around time periods in Brown’s life, the film is easy enough to follow, but tends to meander quite a bit and fails to make interesting any character besides Brown himself. That being said, Chadwick Boseman is dynamite as Brown and its hard to imagine a better performance of the iconic figure. It’s a performance worth watching, even if the rest of the film is not. B-

The Trip to Italy
Unrated
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This sequel to 2010’s The Trip once again follows actors Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan as two friends, this time traveling around Italy discussing its unbelievable cuisine. Three of my favorite things in the world are travel, good food and laughter and this film makes for the perfect combination. It is a joy to watch the extremely cynical and sarcastic duo let loose, although some of the drama I found extremely distracting. For example, while probably realistic, the infidelity introduced into the script makes the characters, who are playing themselves mind you, almost too fallible. I wish they had toned much of drama from the scripted portions of the movie and just left us with more Italy, food and laughter. A-

The Guest
Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and a scene of sexuality
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
While highly praised by critics and audiences, this indie slipped into and out of theaters with little fanfare. Unfortunately the poster only shows a good-looking actor (Dan Stevens) wearing a backpack and holding a gun, and doesn’t give a clue about what the audience should expect. Once you get watching you discover that this is a demented Bourne Identity-like tale with a twisted edge and a lot of bad behavior. Sure it’s a total B movie with good production values, but it’s also well-crafted and a lot of fun, in spite of its story-telling flaws. And Stevens is terrific as the good guy/bad guy houseguest with questionable intentions. B

Dinosaur 13
Rated PG for mild thematic elements, language and brief smoking
Available eon DVD and Blu-ray
I have been extremely impressed with CNN’s launch into the feature documentary market over the last couple of years and this newest entry, while not perfect, is unforgettable. Exploring the discovery of Sue the dinosaur and the controversial events following her excavation, Dinosaur 13 is an upsetting yet enlightening view of modern paleontology and the U.S. government’s overreach and abuse. While it does have a made-for-tv feel to it, that doesn’t make it any less powerful. B+

The Best and Worst of 2014

The Best and Worst of 2014

By Danny Minton

I have heard from a lot of people that 2014 was a great year for movies. While I usually agree with that statement on any given year, I will admit that 2014 was a bit of a disappointment for me. Typically, my top 10 is full of films I really loved and there would be many in my honorable mention category that I had to toil over to not include in the big list. This year I liked a lot of movies, but I can’t say I’m completely head over heals with any but a few. That being said, I think that should you check out any of the films in this list, you will be glad you did. They are an entertaining bunch indeed. For my list, I tend to include the films I enjoyed the most, and not necessarily the intellectual best from the year.

whiplash

1) Whiplash (in theaters). Music has always been a passion of mine and as a former jazz musician myself, I have an understanding of what separates the good from the great and the great from the legendary. In Whiplash, J.K. Simmons (who will win the Best Supporting Oscar for his role) is a jazz instructor who sees potential in a young drummer played by Miles Teller. In an attempt to try to create a legendary drummer, he proceeds to break the kid down bit by bit, driving him to the point of insanity. By doing this he breaks the audience down as well as we become the young prodigy, hoping desperately to overcome and satisfy the teacher. This is masterful filmmaking with performances that will be talked about for years.

guardians-of-the-galaxy

2) Guardians of the Galaxy (available on DVD and Blu-ray). This relatively little-known Marvel title surprised the world this summer, becoming the top-grossing film of 2014 and creating a new franchise for us to fall in love with. The newest addition to the A-List actor community, Chris Pratt, leads a team of unlikely galactic heroes, including a talking raccoon and a walking tree, to fight a power that could threaten the entire universe. The film is so well-written it is scary and is as funny as it is exciting. To top it off, it is fairly kid-friendly to boot.

The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel

3) The Grand Budapest Hotel (available on DVD and Blu-ray). Wes Anderson has always been one of my favorite filmmakers. His light and airy yet richly complex style sparks a creativity in me like no other filmmaker does today. In his newest creation, his typical all-star cast is led by Ralph Fiennes who plays an Eastern European hotel concierge from days long past who is wanted for murder and on the run from the cops. While darker than his usual fare, the journey is pure bliss from start to finish. While Rushmore is and probably always will be my favorite Wes Anderson film, this one is a close second.

boyhood

4) Boyhood (Available on DVD and Blu-ray January 6, on iTunes now). If I had to guess who will be the big Oscar winner this year, I would place my bet on Richard Linklater and Boyhood. For 12 years Linklater filmed a story about the life of a young boy, played by newcomer Ellar Coltrane, for a couple of weeks at a time. When he finished, he had a sprawling epic narrative where you literally get to watch a young man grow up before your very eyes. Helping to put our own lives in perspective, Boyhood is more of an experience than a movie.

gone-girl-1

5) Gone Girl (available on DVD and Blu-ray January 13). I love it when I think I know exactly the direction a film is going to take, to the point where I’m even internally cocky about it, and then I discover that I am incredibly wrong. This movie, based on the book by Gillian Flynn and directed by David Fincher (Fight Club) humbled me in that way. Telling the story about a beautiful and intelligent wife (Rosamund Pike) who goes missing and the husband (Ben Affleck) who is accused of her murder, Gone Girl throws you for one loop after another until you are exhausted and eerily satisfied.

nightcrawler

6) Nightcrawler (in theaters). Handsome leading man Jake Gyllenhaal turns creepy in this film about an ambitious young man who attempts to capture violent footage as a freelance reporter for a local Los Angeles televisions station. This is a gritty and dark tale with a twisted sense of humor and a relentless breach of moral and ethical standards. It’s like a modern day 1970’s film.

How to Train

7) How to Train Your Dragon 2 (available on DVD and Blu-ray). I really loved the first Dragon and was excited to see where writer/director Dean DeBlois and his talented team of animators would take Hiccup and Toothless. In this newest journey, Hiccup and his childhood friends are young adults faced with a malicious dragon master who wants to steal their dragon cohabitants and destroy their village. While the first film was big, this one pulls out all of the stops and throws in a mind-boggling amount of action and plot. And the animation is a real step forward, providing some of the most amazing cinematography we’ve seen in theaters this year.

blue ruin

8) Blue Ruin (available on DVD and Blu-ray). Since the rise of independent filmmaking we’ve trained ourselves to expect less of micro-budgeted films. We expect, with good cause many times, that a film with an ultra-low budget won’t look good, sound good, or have reasonably good acting. But every once in while you get a film like Blue Ruin which tells the story of a man who is desperate to seek revenge on the man who killed his mom and dad, but lacks the skill or mental capacity to carry out that revenge and the subsequent consequences. The beauty of the film is that the hero is so easy to empathize with that we become quickly hooked and glued to his plight.

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

9) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (in theaters). Now that Peter Jackson has taken us all the way to the end of the tale of Bilbo Baggins and his quest to help the dwarves reclaim their mountain home, I for one am glad he took on us on this long but well crafted journey. I was one of the many questioning why we needed three films, but this exceptional third chapter shows that Jackson knew what he was doing all along and audiences will be the better for it. We have been there and back again and well-entertained in the process.

Big-Hero-6

10) Big Hero 6 (in theaters). Frozen left some big shoes to fill but Disney Animation Studios put their best foot forward and created this fantastic super hero genesis story from another relatively little-known Marvel comic. While formulaic in story, there is an original twist on the genre that is exciting to watch. And Baymax has to be one of the most lovable characters to ever be introduced into the Disney universe. Ultimately, Disney once again knocks it out of the park with another family-friendly hit.

Honorable Mention: American Sniper, Belle, Big Eyes, Birdman, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Life Itself, Noah, Selma, St Vincent, Theory of Everything, The Trip to Italy

The Worst

1) Blended. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore re-team in this awful excuse for a romantic comedy set in South Africa. Contrived and poorly conceived, this is proof that Sandler is trying to dare us to go see his movies.

2) Tammy. Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon star in this comedy that gets so depressing that it forgets to be funny. It’s just a sad road trip movie mislabeled and miserably produced.

3) Think Like a Man 2. Think Like a Man was bad enough, but this sequel, centered around a Sin City wedding, is something I wish had just stayed in Vegas.

4) Need for Speed. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul competes in a cross-country car race to avenge a friend’s death. Never has a racing movie been so tedious and unexciting.

5) Transformers: Age of Extinction. At first you’re like “oh cool, dinosaur transformers,” and then you realize that that’s just kind of stupid. Of course you have to wait two hours to see them before you can come to this realization. Had the film been an hour shorter it might have been considered a guilty pleasure. At its almost three hour running time, this is just one excessive mess and a monumental waste of time.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

hobbit

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage
Directed by Peter Jackson
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images

     I’ve read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, maybe not as many times as some, but enough to know that the story is about a group of dwarves, along with a wizard and a hobbit, who try to take back a mountain full of gold from the Dragon known as Smaug. But a huge battle? Well, in the book there is only a glimpse of it, so for me, after the removal of Smaug, this storyline didn’t seem like a necessary diversion and central focus for an entire film. And yet it fits.

     In this last chapter, after Smaug is defeated, King Thorin’s heart becomes possessed by the riches of the mountain. When the elves and men come to claim their rightful portion of the treasure, Thorin refuses to share and a large battle seems eminent when suddenly a vast orc army enters to complicate the situation. It’s a grand war full of unexpected outcomes.

     This is where a trust in Peter Jackson needs to be placed. He and his team felt that the story just wasn’t complete leaving it as is and so a huge embellishment was needed, and now that I’ve seen it, I’m glad he was in charge. This is not at all like The Hunger Games or Twilight where two films were made instead of one as a pure money grab. Here, this story felt like it needed to be told and like the overall film wouldn’t have been served correctly without it.

     Production-wise, this film is, as expected, first class. It appears that no expense was spared to make everything look and sound perfect. The special effects, while not as showy as in the second installment, were flawless and exhilarating. The acting was superb by the entire cast, making the entire world seem alive. And once again, Howard Shore created a new and innovative score that doesn’t just remind us of old themes, but rather livens up the movie with fresh and beautiful music.

     As an aside, while I was never bothered by the tremendous lengths of the Lord of the Rings and other Hobbit films, it will be comforting to some that this newest installment is the shortest Middle Earth film yet clocking in at only 144 well-paced minutes.

     I guess what I’m most enthused about with this final Hobbit film is that beforehand I wasn’t excited to watch it but afterward I was extremely excited to talk about it. I love a good surprise and this film made me remember why I love Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth so dearly. It is a masterful creation and a terrific way to close out what I think will be considered to be one of the most underrated and under-appreciated sagas in cinematic history. A

New in Home Entertainment – December 16, 2014

The Skeleton Twins

 

New in Home Entertainment

 

December 16, 2014

 

The Skeleton Twins
Rated R for language, some sexuality and drug use
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Saturday Night Live alums Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader star in this dark comedy about estranged twins whose lives are brought back together after a suicide attempt. While the drama is well crafted and the actors are more than capable, the film unfortunately is so full of poison that it is not an entertaining watch. It’s hard to go for a movie like this when you just can’t like any of the characters, even if you love the actors who play them. C+

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
In an attempt to make a better-looking CG-driven Ninja Turtles movie, Battle Los Angeles director Jonathan Liebsman and producer Michael Bay deliver this pseudo-genesis story about the vigilante mutants and their fight against the evil Shredder. I can admit that the look of the film is a nice touch and at about 100 minutes, its a fast-paced mindless action flick that doesn’t have you constantly looking at your watch. For adults, the film is a bit of a letdown and honestly a waste of time. Children though will enjoy it and even though it is PG-13, it is still pretty kid-friendly. C+

This is Where I Leave You
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This is Where I Leave You is yet another dark comedy starring a bunch of folks we love. In this case, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda and a largely talented ensemble head home after the passing of their father, only to be forced to live under one roof and suffer each others’ company for a few days. While there are some somewhat funny moments, most of the film is just a drag to watch. The script is well-acted, but not well-written and the attempt to recreate a familial Big Chill fizzles quickly. C

New in Home Entertainment – December 9, 2014

 

XXX GUARDIANS-GALAXY-MOV-JY-0704.JPG A ENT

New in Home Entertainment

 

December 9, 2014

 

Guardians of the Galaxy
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
This summer was a bit of a disappointment until this unexpected gem of a sci-fi/superhero film popped out its head. Taken from the pages of a relatively little-known Marvel comic, Guardians tells the genesis story of how a rag-tag group of galactic misfits join together to, well, guard the galaxy. Chris Pratt plays the leader of the gang Peter Quill, who wishes to be known as Starlord, and together with a green princess named Gamora (Zoe Saldana), muscle-bound brute Drax (Dave Bautista), a talking raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and a walking tree (Vin Diesel), surprised the planet as it has become one of the biggest moneymakers in recent years. While it is most definitely an epic science fiction film, what wins audiences over is the playfulness it exudes. While it starts out a bit on the sad side, it lets on immediately that we are here to have fun and it is truly one of the best times I have had in a theater all year. A

Dolphin Tale 2
Rated PG for some mild thematic elements
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In this second installment of the Dolphin Tale saga, Winter, the dolphin who lost her tail, has lost her tank partner due to old age and is now depressed and in need of a new pool mate. Compared to the first film, this one is far cheesier, but it still manages to throw in a decent amount of magic as well. Honestly, I’m glad they are making these films, even if the quality of the writing and acting isn’t always up to snuff. To have positive live-action family films again is a good thing to add to the mix, considering the large amount of family-unfriendly films we see too much of in theaters. This is a decent enough film to entertain adults while at the same time inspiring children. B

Frank
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Let me tell you upfront – Frank is weird. Really weird. Frank tells the story of an eclectic alt band led by Frank (Michael Fassbender), a man who goes through life wearing a giant mask like you might see at a creepy amusement park. Told through the eyes of a new bandmate (played by Domhnall Gleeson) who quits his day job to play keyboards for the band, the story meanders through rehearsals to recordings to performances culminating in a crazy pinnacle at SXSW in Austin, TX. While it might seem like experimental filmmaking, and it kind of is, it also turns out to be a fascinating fantasy about mental illness, creativity and art. Let me reiterate, Frank is very weird, but it is definitely never boring and most thoroughly interesting. B+

The Jeffersons: The Complete Series
Available on DVD
Finally getting a nice DVD release is this classic television show that ran from 1975-1985 about a black couple who upon starting a successful business, move into a fancy white apartment in New York City. For much of white America, and I’m included in this group, this was a first exposure to modern black culture. Looking back it at now, it is relevant and still very funny. I’ll admit, I only made a small dent in the 74 hours of content on the 33 DVDs, but I am looking forward to enjoying more over the holidays. A-

New in Home Entertainment – November 25, 2014

 

Expendables-3-Footage-3

New in Home Entertainment

 

November 25, 2014

 

The Expendables 3
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language. Also includes unrated edition.
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Sylvester Stallone’s third soiree into the 80’s action memory lane arena brings back most of the cast from the first two films and adds in Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas. You cannot argue that the casting on this thing is tremendously impressive. While the story isn’t nearly as good as the second outing, there is still a lot of fun to be had. Throwing a young and unknown team of actors into the mix might not have been the best idea (honestly – there is such thing as too much), but one of the biggest mistakes was a PG-13 rating that really feels out of place for such a project. This home release includes the “unrated” edition, but a few more F-bombs and blood splatters isn’t the remedy for what ails it. If you are in the need for a truly mindless action film with a lot of familiar faces, and you can manage to put down a couple of drinks while watching, it might be an entertaining experience for you. B-

What If
Rated PG-13 for sexual content including references throughout, partial nudity and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Daniel and Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan star in this sweet, innocent, and unnecessary romantic comedy that plays Radcliffe as a bloke who is in love with a girl with a boyfriend and is willing to become friends with her in the hope of something more. It’s not a horrible film, but the dialog isn’t as clever as it thinks it is and the whole thing is quite boring. One of the things that probably didn’t help the project is that many of the beats felt completely contrived. I got the feeling that writer Elan Mastai found a theme and then tried so hard to revolve everything around it that he forgot to create a credible and natural story. But while the story doesn’t really work that well, I really like Radcliffe and Kazan and would love to see them in a better rom com. Both have a wonderful comic sensibility and a more than decent chemistry is seen regardless of the words coming out of their mouths. C+

New in Home Entertainment – November 18, 2014

22-jump-street-theatrical-trailer

 

New in Home Entertainment

 

November 18, 2014

 

22 Jump Street
Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity and some violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Beginning where 21 Jump Street left off, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum move onto college to solve another drug investigation. I have to admit that I loved 21 Jump Street. I found it to be fresh, wildly creative and extremely funny. That being said, I liked this adventure even more. The comedy is pretty broad here and really anyone can enjoy the hijinx, but for those that understand screenwriting and movie formulas, the film is extended to new heights. Here they essentially take the Romantic Comedy handbook and attempt to recreate the beats, all the while telling you they are doing it. Personally I found this to be both clever and intellectually stimulating, neither of which is a word I would have ever thought could describe a Jump Street film. It knows it is stupid, and revels in it. It parodies not only other buddy, college and rom com films, but finds a way to parody itself at the same time. This makes for one heck of an entertaining farce. A-

Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For
Rated R for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity, and brief drug use
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s second outing into the Sin City universe follows heroes both old and new in violent and somewhat filthy adventures about the mythical city’s underworld. Out of place is the title character, played by Jessica Alba, who is just not sordid enough to be playing this kind of depraved character. On the other hand, Eva Green is perfection as the conniving and manipulating witch that takes on more than she can handle. I really liked the first Sin City but honestly, this one just feels like more of the same. What I did really love here was the 3D which looked amazing in the theater and pops even better at home. Visually, this movie has got it going on. C+

The Dark Half
Rated R for violence and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Twenty-one years ago Night of the Living Dead director George Romero took on Stephen King’s twisted book The Dark Half and it is finally making its blu-ray debut this week. Timothy Hutton is Thad Beaumont, best selling author of horror books he has written under the name George Stark. When he decides to kill off Stark as a publicity stunt, Stark literally comes to life in an attempt to take over his own fate. To this day this is still one of the scariest books I’ve ever read and although I haven’t revisited the movie since it was in theaters a half of my lifetime ago, I still find it a chillingly good time. A-

It Happened One Night: Criterion Collection
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Only three films in history have won the top five Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay): 1975’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, and this little gem from 1934 directed by Frank Capra starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in one of the first and still one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. While it’s nice to have some of the new special features you would expect from a Criterion release, what matters most is the beautiful 4K digital restoration. The loving spit and polish applied here gives a magnificent version of the film like you’ve never seen it before. It almost makes it hard to believe that the movie is eighty years old. A+