New in Home Entertainment – September 20, 2016

neighbors-2

New in Home Entertainment

September 20, 2016

Neighbors 2
Rated R for crude sexual content including brief graphic nudity, language throughout, drug use and teen partying
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Following up on the events of Neighbors, where a young married couple (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) take on the fraternity house next door, it is now a couple of years later and they want to sell their home. With the fraternity gone this should be no problem, except now a group of rebellious girls wanting to start a sorority take over the old fraternity house. Where the first film was just a standard adult comedy, this new outing is so much more than its surface level. The girls, while making completely horrible neighbors, are also rebelling against the way girls are treated in sororities, college and life in general, making this an impactful feminist manifesto. Sure it’s raunchy, but its thoughtful at its heart which elevates it past other such films in the genre, including the original. B+

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%
Available on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and 4K Ultra HD
This second of the new Ninja Turtles movies finds the turtle brothers at war with a new foe while contemplating leaving their life of secrecy for a world of appreciated heroism. It’s cheesy and the plot is as ridiculous as any other Ninja Turtles movie, but if you are looking for non-stop action, this film does provide in spades. For adults, it’s not the best way I can think of to spend 97 minutes, but kids seem to like it and there are worse forms of mindless entertainment. C

Free State of Jones
Rated R for brutal battle scenes and disturbing graphic images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 46%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
You would think that when you mix famed writer/director Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) with Matthew McConaughey in a Civil War drama, you would be looking down the barrel of an Oscar. But instead, this drama about a defiant southern farmer fighting the Confederacy ends up to be a big mess. Its very downfall is its ambition, making the story more convoluted and complicated than it needs to be. Perhaps if they wanted to provide this much material, it would have been better suited as a television mini-series. The project has great potential but it falls under its own weight. C

Aliens: 30th Anniversary Edition
Rated R
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Available on Blu-ray
While 30 years old, this sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterpiece is still an amazing piece of filmmaking. It works on so many levels including sci-fi, horror, thriller and war drama. The question is, do you really need a new copy? Chances are, you probably already own a previous one. To entice you, the price point is low ($14.99 on Amazon) and it comes with both versions of the film and a terrific new interview with James Cameron about the making of the project. It also has a beautiful new collector’s book and a set of art cards. So if they hadn’t sent me a free one – I would have ordered without hesitation. A

New in Home Entertainment – September 13, 2016

popstar

New in Home Entertainment

September 13, 2016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Rated R for some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77% (Certified Fresh)
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
While Lonely Island is a popular entity on SNL, Universal created zero buzz around this comedy gem before suddenly dumping it in a few theaters over the summer. But this mocumentary, about a breakout pop star (Andy Samberg) who can’t keep his success alive on his second album, is pure comedy gold. The songs from Lonely Island are consistently funny and at 86 minutes, the joke doesn’t have the time to get stale. I laughed so hard I had to watch it again the next day in order to catch what I missed the first time. It is a very hard R so be careful about having the kids around or you may hear some catchy songs coming out of their mouths that could find them in the Breakfast Club. A

Captain America: Civil War
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of violence, action and mayhem
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90% (Certified Fresh)
Available on DVD, Blu-ray,and Blu-ray 3D
This third installment of Captain America is arguably the best yet and really should be considered an all-out Avengers film. As the Avengers take sides due to a United Nations mandate that they have accountability for their actions, a new foe sneaks in to take advantage of the split. It’s a fun super hero romp with lots of suits to excite lots of fans. The plot is strong, the action exciting and while a bit long at 147 minutes, it is a fully engaging piece of entertainment. A-

The Conjuring 2
Rated R for terror and horror violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80% (Certified Fresh)
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
From the stories of real-life demon hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, comes this sequel to the 2013 hit where the couple head this time to London to take on what Ed considers in his book, The Demonologist, to be their most frightening encounter of their career as they attempt to excise a demon-possessed little girl. What makes this one so scary is its authenticity. To make your experience that much more terrorizing they actually play the real recordings during the closing credits to give you extra special nightmares. Good stuff for the horror fans. A-

Movie Monster

New in Home Entertainment

September 6, 2016

Money Monster
Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Jodi Foster directs this high intensity thriller about a Jim Cramer-like figure (played here by George Clooney) whose wacky investor TV show causes an unstable and angry man to take him hostage on live TV due to bad advice given on a previous segment. The movie is a relevant nail-biter with some very good performances, but Clooney is terribly miscast and the screenplay is a mess in regards to believability. It feels like the movie could have been so much more but they settled for way less than its potential. B-

The Ones Below
Rated R for language, some sexuality and some nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This thriller focuses on two expecting married couples living in the same house on different floors. When the couple on the bottom floor loses their baby and blames the couple above, a strange and scary dynamic grows between them. While it’s sold as a horror film, it plays more like a Hitchcock thriller, full of suspense and discomfort. The performances are terrific, providing an authenticity you normally don’t get from a film such as this. It’s a very dark path to the end, but if you like this sort of genre, it will stick with you. B+

Road House
Rated R
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
Available on Blu-ray
In this super cheesy 80’s action pic, Patrick Swayze stars as a bouncer hired to come in and clean up a local bar to make it more respectable. Once he gets into town, he is forced to deal with the local crime lord. While it really is a terrible movie, it still holds nostalgia with me so for that reason I can loosely recommend it. In addition, the new transfer looks and sounds great and there is a lot of new material in the two disc set in case you are a big fan. B-

South Park: The Complete Nineteenth Season
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
It’s hard to believe that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have kept this thing going for as long as they have. It’s even harder to believe that almost 20 years after its first season, they have created their best and most relevant season yet. Here in 19 the boys are still the same age and the town of South Park has been gentrified with a new Whole Foods and other suburban luxuries designed for a thriving middle class. In addition, there is a new frat boy principal (PC Principal) who helps to usher in social consciousness while slamming beers with his bra’s (bro’s in frat speak). It is a fabulous set of episodes, breathing new life into a very long-running series. A

New in Home Entertainment – August 30, 2016

Jungle Book

New in Home Entertainment

August 30, 2016

The Jungle Book
Rated PG for some sequences of scary action and peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Now that technology has somewhat caught up with their imaginations, Disney is able to make some fantastic live action recreations of their classic masterpieces. While not a direct remake of their 1967 animated film based on Rudyard Kipling’s iconic book, the story, about a young boy raised by wolves and left to fend for himself against an evil tiger determined to kill him, is a clever mix of their previous film with more traces of the original prose thrown in. I loved that they used the best songs from the animated film, written by the legendary Sherman Brothers, while still keeping the film largely dramatic rather than musical. It’s a really beautiful film that, while family-friendly, gives everyone an adventure they can truly enjoy. A-

Me Before You
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Me Before You, based on the best-selling novel by Jojo Moyes, follows a young girl (Emelia Clarke, aka Mother of Dragons) who takes a job assisting a young quadriplegic man (The Hunger Games’ Sam Clafin). When she discovers that he intends to be euthanized in Switzerland, she attempts to convince him that his life is worth keeping. While the first act is a contrived mess, the movie evolves into a lovely story, determined to make you use up an entire box of tissues in one sitting. Sure it’s manipulative, but it’s also a gutsy risk by the studio to make a film that doesn’t contort to Hollywood’s typical standards. B-

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Super hero team-ups are all the rage right now and CW’s new DC show is there to capitalize. While they don’t have any heroes or villains I’ve ever heard of, and the plot is convoluted and repetitive, the cast sure is a doozy. Victor Garber splits time with his other CW hit The Flash, while Brandon Routh (Superman from 2006’s Superman Returns) as well as Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller (both stars of Prison Break) join in the fun. I’m not a huge fan of the storytelling, and there are way too many episodes, but the show is watchable if you’re busy multitasking between Clash of Clans and Plague Inc. on your iPhone. B-

New in Home Entertainment – August 23, 2016

Nice Guys

New in Home Entertainment

August 23, 2016

The Nice Guys
Rated R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
While a dud at the box, this film by Lethal Weapon creator Shane Black was a huge hit critically and remains still as one of the best films of 2016 so far. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are two 1970’s detectives who must pair up, regardless of their hatred for one another, to investigate the alleged suicide of a famous porn actress. Just as you’d expect from Black, the action and dialog provide for a funny thrill ride with lots of surprises that have you fully engaged from shot one. An early summer release date surely didn’t help the box office any, but hopefully this gem will find a wider audience at home. A-

The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Rated PG-13 for fantasy action violence and some sensuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 17%
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD
As the first major tentpole dud of the summer, Winter’s War is what happens when you put a major movie in the hands of an untested director who is only know for his visual effects work. Serving as both a prequel and sequel to the moderately successful Snow White and the Huntsman, this new project brings back Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, as a new queen, Theron’s icy sister Emily Blunt searches for the infamous mirror in order to gain new powers. As expected, the special effects are dazzling – especially on the 4K edition if you have that kind of setup. What is not dazzling is the storytelling which is not helped at all by the movie magic around it. While not quite as bad as the critics make it out to be, it’s also not a joy to watch either. C

Maggie’s Plan
Rated R for language and brief sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This little indie from Sony Pictures Classics finds Greta Gerwig as a young New Yorker looking to have a baby without the need for a husband. When she finds the married Ethan Hawke, she changes her tune. It’s an odd little romantic comedy without much comedy but at least it has a nice style to it. Then again, I couldn’t relate to any of the characters as I found them to be very selfish and overly flawed. It’s well enough acted, but my lack of connection made it hard to find engaging. C+

The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
As with all of the other seasons, the zombies are fun – the people are scary. Facing a new foe, the gang finds themselves on the run for their lives, only briefly striking back when opportunity knocks. The end of the season has been hotly debated and many are anxious for season 7 to start in October to determine if they will keep watching. That being said, season 6 is full of action, thrills and nice surprises. B+

Narcos: Season One
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
If you are one of the 10 Americans without Netflix, then I highly advise you check out this new set containing the hit show about Pablo Escobar and his rise to power in the drug world. It’s a fantastic drama with superb acting and writing. Better yet – just subscribe to Netflix – they are creating some of the best shows right now outside of HBO and the monthly price tag is indeed a bargain considering what you get. A-

New in Home Entertainment – August 16, 2016

Raiders

New in Home Entertainment

August 16, 2016

Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
Not Rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
It is now mid August and I’ve only seen two films that I feel with almost certainty will land in my top 10 of the year: Hell or High Water (in theaters now) and Raiders! From Drafthouse Films comes this documentary which follows a group of friends who, during their summers as children and teenagers, attempted to remake, shot for shot, their favorite film in the world: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now, decades later, they come together to finish their film with the last shot they couldn’t afford to film during their youths. For radical movie fans such as myself, this is a movie that is a pure joy to watch and there is a tinge of jealousy that I wasn’t one of their next door neighbors growing up. There are some that have said they wasted their childhood with such nonsense, but I would declare that they had the best of childhoods that will actually deliver them a fascinating legacy. A

The Angry Birds Movie
Rated PG for rude humor and action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K/Blu-ray 3D Combo
I’ll admit that I was a fan of the game for a long while. After all, I’m of Finnish descent and supporting Finland’s number one export by throwing birds at pigs seemed appealing to me. But this movie about birds getting angry at invading pigs is just a huge stretch. The animation is pretty, as to be expected, but the story is as lame as the jokes that miss every time they are flung. Maybe the young ones will enjoy, but I doubt the parents will want to be in the room when they do. C-

Once Upon a Time: Season 5
Not Rated
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
I’m not a big fan of soap operas, but if I was, I would really love this novel prime time soap from ABC which casts all of our favorite Disney (and some non-Disney) fantasy characters as they move in and out of our current time in search for the missing Merlin, who will sort out their Season 5 woes. The show is creative and fun if you love the universe they are in, but the acting isn’t great and the writing is rather immature, almost like a bunch of grade-schoolers playing during recess. B-

New in Home Entertainment – August 9, 2016

hanks

New in Home Entertainment

August 9, 2016

A Hologram for the King
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Tom Hanks stars in this sleeper dramedy about a tech salesman who flies to Saudi Arabia in order to try to convince the king to purchase his company’s hologram technology. Since it is unknown when he will be able to meet with the king, since the king is rarely penned down, he must help his team prepare for the presentation while recuperating from an emergency surgery he was forced to have while there. The film itself almost exists in a dream state where you get the sense that Hanks is in true limbo, waiting for something to force him back onto the right track in his life. It’s well enough acted and crafted, and the story is unique, but it is as dry as the dessert where most of the film takes place. The film attempts to do away with most Americans’ stereotypes of the Muslim world by presenting a people more similar to us than different. But its bland originality won’t make it overly watchable to many audiences. B-

The Lobster
Rated R for sexual content including dialogue, and some violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Colin Farrell stars in this indie about a man who, after his wife leaves him, must move into a hotel where he has 45 days to find true love or else he will be turned into an animal of his choice, in his case – a lobster. At first it just seems eclectic, like a Charlie Kaufman film. But eventually, it starts to get annoying as you tire of deciphering the symbolism. I love the bizarre strangeness of the whole thing, and there is some laugh out loud comedy throughout, but it lies as proof that sometimes there is such a thing as too weird. I have to admit that I will be watching this one a time or two more, at least, because I feel there is something here that I might have missed on the surface. This lobster needs some digging. B

April and the Extraordinary World
Rated PG for action/peril including gunplay, some thematic elements and rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This French animated film from the makers of the beautiful Oscar-nominated Persepolis explores the steampunk world of the artist Jacques Tardi. In it, events have taken place in the world that have prevented modern technology and instead the planet runs on steam. Born the daughter of two prominent scientists, April must hide alone with only her talking cat to keep her company, when her parents die trying to escape an evil regime determined to kidnap all known intellects. It’s a fascinating and creative world with a story reminiscent of a great Miyazaki film. Its target audience seems more teen-friendly than a youngster-skewing animated film, so don’t expect your kiddos to be as taken by it as you’ll be. A-

New in Home Entertainment – August 2, 2016

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Keegan-Michael Key, left, and Jordan Peele in a scene from "Keanu." (Steve Dietl/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

New in Home Entertainment

August 2, 2016

Keanu
Rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and sexuality/nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key (Comedy Central’s Key and Peele) created this fresh comedy about two blerds (black nerds) who must rescue their kitten, named Keanu, from the possession of a dangerous gangster. Full of creative humor and equal parts raunchy, violent and adorable, Keanu takes a single joke to a high level. While there are some fairly stale moments and some random bits that fail to hit, the movie is, for the most part, a rather enjoyable experience from two of today’s best comedians. B

The Bronze
Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout and some drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
I can only image the pitch meeting went something like “what if Kenny Powers from East Bound and Down were a washed up female Olympic gymnast?” Here a young gymnast (Melissa Rauch from The Big Bang Theory) known for her bronze medal in the Olympics that she won while injured, has turned into a bitter and entitled brat in her 20s. Forced to train the next Olympic star from her home town under the promise of money left to her in a will, she attempts to get serious enough to change her ways, at least for the short term. The comedy is rather dark and certainly requires a twisted sense of humor, but I rather liked it and can recommend it to a select audience. B

Lazer Team
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, including references, language, action violence, teen partying and smoking
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Using crowdsourcing to raise $2.5 million, Austin-based film company Rooster Teeth made this relatively high-budgeted indie about four losers who gain super weapons in order to take on an alien foe determined to destroy the Earth. While it definitely has an indie feel to it, the movie looks completely professional in regard to sight, sound and special effects. But it also feels like they were a bit surprised they raised as much money as they did and I’m sure things would have been different in casting and production had they known what they were getting into. Still, you have to admire such an effort, and for mostly that reason the film is worth checking out. B-

Jason Bourne

Bourne

Jason Bourne
Starring Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander
Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief strong language

After a brief hiatus, Bourne (Damon) is back again and this time he remembers almost everything about his past. But when he discovers what brought him to his predicament in the first place, he goes after the person in charge (Jones).

If you are a big fan of the other Bourne films, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It has the same frenetic energy, high octane action and a familiar storyline. The acting isn’t fantastic, but it doesn’t have to be for this. It is exactly what it needs to be to serve the story.

The last couple of Bourne films that Paul Greengrass directed gave me a headache due to the obnoxious camera work. My guess is that the camera work is much the same here, but this time I had a nice Pinot Noir during the movie (thank you AMC theaters) and my nerves were much more able to handle it.

While the movie is entertaining, my biggest complaint is the originality. These Bourne films all seem like the same story to me, just in different locales. Bourne discovers a bit about himself, then he goes after the man responsible. Rinse, wash, repeat. They have deviated so far from the books at this point that it seems impossible to go back, so they just keep giving the audience what they think they want. Maybe it will work and maybe it won’t. At least it is once again a fun ride. After all, I go to Disneyland a lot and ride the same rides over and over again, year after year. Why should my movies be different. B-

New in Home Entertainment – July 26, 2016

barbershop

New in Home Entertainment

July 26, 2016

Barbershop: The Next Cut
Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Taking a decade off from the franchise, Ice Cube and gang are back to cutting hair in his father’s barbershop, and as violence gets worse on the streets of Chicago, he is considering selling the shop to move to a ritzier, and thus safer, location. I’ve always considered this to be a franchise for a black audience, although it was fun to peak into their culture. To me, the first two films were sometimes funny, but with little meaning for me. This time however, the crew takes on real and relevant issues such as violent crime, gangs, poverty and politics. While they have little in the way of definitive answers, the discussions are fascinating and they are asking all of the right questions, all the while spitballing solutions. As a political commentary I found the movie to be quite brilliant. Many consider Ice Cube to be an entertainer that helped usher in the modern gang problem through his rap group NWA, but here he is a father trying to figure a way out, for both his own family and the country. I love a comedy that makes me think more than laugh. I also love it when a movie reminds me of how similar we all are, regardless of our personal cultures and histories. A

Hardcore Henry
Rated R for non stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Told like a first person shooter video game, Henry is a man, reconstructed with robotics, who must go on a killing rampage to stay alive and rescue his girl. It is literally 90 minutes of hardcore action with the most excessive violence I have ever seen in a movie. While I am amazed at the filmmaking aspect and artistry, I honestly don’t think it has a place in our society, especially given so many recent events where killers attempt to take out random victims as quickly and maliciously as possible. C-

The New World: The Criterion Collection
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
While the 172 minutes extended cut of Terrence Malick’s beautiful vision of the John Smith/Pocahontas story has been available for some time now, Criterion has taken the production to a new level with this set which includes the extended cut as well as the original theatrical 135 minute cut and the 150 minute first cut, all remastered in HD. If you haven’t seen this remarkable film, it’s definitely worth a look. Told almost like a dream, this is the first of many films where Malick has teamed up with multiple Oscar winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant), creating a magnificent and poetic story that gives the sense that you are exploring the American landscape with John Smith himself. Loaded with new features, it is also a must have for Malick fans, even if you already own previous versions. A