New in Home Entertainment – October 27, 2015


New in Home Entertainment

October 27, 2015

Rated R for language throughout, and some violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Training Day director Antoine Fuqua gives us his take on a boxing movie with this drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a champion heavyweight who faces an unimaginable tragedy which takes him from being on top to spiraling down to the very bottom. While boxing movies are very formulaic, and this one is no different, Southpaw beats the audience up with darkness, bringing you down to the depths felt by its hero. It’s a tough and challenging film to watch but the performances by Gyllenhaal and Forrest Whitaker, elevate the film to a perch where you can at least breath while you’re waiting for something positive to happen. Some of the film isn’t the most authentic, such as the time it takes for both his world to fall apart and the climb back, but this is a very solid movie for the subgenre and very much worth the journey. One final note, pun lovingly intended, this is one of the last scores by Oscar-winning composer James Horner who died in a recent plane crash. It’s a really great piece of music that adds a huge amount of emotional depth to the picture. B+

Rated PG for action violence, peril, brief language and some thematic elements
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Growing up I had an overabundance of dog adventures to keep me busy, such as those from Lassie, Benji, and even Rin Tin Tin, but it seems like its been decades since we’ve had a good one hit theaters. With Max we get a German Shepherd whose master is killed in a skirmish in the Middle East and then sent to live with his master’s brother back stateside. While there, a dangerous adventure unfolds putting everyone’s life at risk. I actually expected more of a kid film here, considering its rating and trailer, but I would suggest not letting young kids see it as it takes a violent turn towards the end that was completely unexpected. That being said, that turn creates a different kind of film that I actually found enjoyable. While Hollywood veterans Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church play the adult leads (not that great I might add), its the dog, named Carlos in real life, who steals the show. I was amazed and inspired as they turned Max into an action hero. B

Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive comments
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
Adam Sandler is back at his dumb-movie best as a former child video game champion who must save the planet when aliens attack the Earth in the form of 80’s video games like Galaga, Centipede and Pac-Man. If the premise isn’t bad enough, the lack of laughter pushes this one over the edge. I think the filmmakers, led by Harry Potter director Chris Columbus, thought that several big-budget set pieces connected by whatever plot they could dig up would be enough. But its not and the film ultimately stagnates with mediocrity. D

Mulholland Drive: Criterion Edition
Rated R for violence, language and some strong sexuality
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
It makes sense that Criterion would take on this 2001 thriller by David Lynch about a women with amnesia (Laura Harring) who befriends a young actress (Naomi Watts) staying in her aunt’s home in beautiful but gritty Los Angeles. While the film has its dramatic and engaging moments, it leaves you with a sense of oddity that is rather difficult to piece together. This Criterion collection has new special features that try to help you have a better understanding of what you are watching, but I’m not sure if it is worth your time. C

New in Home Entertainment – October 20, 2015


New in Home Entertainment

October 20, 2015

Jurassic World
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
Likely to hod the 2015 box office record until Hunger Games and Star Wars come down the track, Jurassic World was the surprise box office smash of the summer and a very pleasant diversion from some other deeply disappointing tentpoles. Taking place years after the disasters of the first three films, the park Jurassic World is now open to the public and entertaining millions of visitors per year. Since people have become somewhat bored with it though, the scientists at the park create a new dinosaur named Indominus Rex who unleashes chaos and havoc throughout the island when it escapes from its compound. While much of the plot is ridiculous and counterintuitive, the film itself just plods along knowing the audience won’t care and will have a blast by the end. It helps having a lead like Chris Pratt who I will credit almost 100% of the film’s success to. He is a dynamic and likable hero who has the potential to be one of the biggest stars of his generation. But credit must also go to the phenomenal creative team who put together a two-hour roller coaster ride that you want to get back onto the second you get off. B+

Rated R for language, drug content, sexuality/nudity, and some violence – all involving teens
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This Sundance favorite tells the story of young black nerd named Malcolm who dreams of going to Harvard but must face the reality of growing up in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles. When a party goes wrong, Malcolm discovers a large amount of drugs in his backpack and he and his friends must decide what to do to not end up dead or worse, in jail. While the plot sounds like an extreme drama, it is actually an absolutely hysterical comedy unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It tears apart stereotypes while at the same time giving them credibility. It is a movie that makes you laugh, cheer, cry and think, all in the span of less than two hours. It’s the kind of film that people for years to come will be talking about with great admiration. A

Z For Zachariah
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
After what we can assume was a devastating nuclear war, a young girl who thinks she’s all alone in the world (Margot Robbie) discovers another survivor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) near her farmhouse. As the two begin their relationship as the last couple on the planet, a strapping young survivor (Chris Pine) enters the scene to disrupt their harmonious relationship. While interesting, the film ultimately feels like it is missing something. I’m not sure how they could have improved it but the whole project seems like its waiting for something to happen that never occurs. That being said, it is well acted and believable given the circumstance. It’s just not very enjoyable. C+

Testament of Youth
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including bloody and disturbing war related images
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Based on the best-selling memoir by Vera Brittain, Testament tells the tale of brilliant young women (Alicia Vikander) who is determined to get into Oxford when World War I hits and changes her entire life. I’m actually surprised this film didn’t get more attention upon release. It’s a lovely period drama with good flow and some rather great acting by a young and talented cast. It has a strong message about seeking and finding meaning in life without thumping you over the head with the message. And between Ex Machina and this, Vikander will definitely be on my short list for a best actress nom this year. A-

Billy Elliot The Musical Live
Not Rated – but would be an R due graphic language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Winner of both the Tony and Laurence Oliver for Best New Musical, Billy Elliot is a great example of taking a very good movie and turning it into a beautiful stage production. With music by Elton John, the songs and drama are stirring and intelligent and the story becomes so much more than just a boy who wants to dance. My only problem is that while I’d love to watch it with my own young son, I can’t due to the extremely harsh language throughout. While I’m sure it’s organic in nature, it’s the one reality of the show I wish they could have made a little less real. A-

New in Home Entertainment – October 13, 2015


New in Home Entertainment

October 13, 2015

Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In the hopes of giving life to a theme park attraction, Disney created the huge tentpole Tomorrowland and threw one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, George Clooney, into the mix with a story about a young girl on a mysterious journey to find the future. While full of lush and beautiful special effects, the film’s plot, or lack thereof, kills any chance of keeping its audience engaged during the adventure. It’s not horrible but it is a mess. C

San Andreas
Rated PG-13 for intense disaster action and mayhem throughout, and brief strong language
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
Dwayne Johnson stars in this new disaster pic that asks “what would a huge earthquake along the San Andreas fault would actually look like?” While visually interesting, the story is quite insane. Where most disaster films will follow many storylines, San Andreas essentially has two. The first is Paul Giamatti plays the scientist who discovers the earthquake will occur as it occurs, which makes him quite useless. And then The Rock plays a determined copter pilot who attempts to fly from L.A. to San Francisco to rescue his daughter, who he assumes will be the only human to escape the disaster. So if you are going to watch, turn off your brain, multitask with a game on your iPhone, and you might be able to pull off a little enjoyment. C-

Mad Men: The Final Season, Part 2
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Rather than letting Mad Men ride into the 1970s and beyond, AMC decided to do a very brave thing with one of America’s most loved shows: kill it before it dies. The last season doesn’t tie up all of the loose ends but it does give us a reprieve from watching Don Draper (Jon Hamm) crash and burn, and you get to leave knowing that almost everyone will be just fine without you watching. When you compare the last episode to that of AMC’s other hit drama which recently ended, Breaking Bad, it is clear to see that the network has put an emphasis on going out on a true high note. A

Dexter: The Complete Series
Rated TV-MA
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Dexter is just your mild-mannered forensic expert for the Miami police department by day who by night transforms into a serial killer who only kills the bad guys who escape justice. While the show started out great, it unfortunately lasted two seasons too long. That being said, the first six seasons here are really worth watching and believe me – they are easy to burn through. B

New in Home Entertainment – October 6, 2015


New in Home Entertainment

October 6, 2015

Insidious Chapter 3
Rated PG-13 for violence, frightening images, some language and thematic elements
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
There have been so many of these types of movies lately that I’ve completely lost track of which is which. I remember kind of liking Insidious 1 and hating number 2, but darned if I can remember any sort of plot. The good news is that this newest chapter is a prequel and apparently has little to do with the first two chapters. The story revolves around a young girl who, in an attempt to track down her dead mother in the afterlife, brings back a vengeful and rather scary spirit, leaving Elise, the psychic from the first two films, to try to save her life. While the story isn’t anything new, the scares are plentiful and not forced. This is a genuinely creepy movie with many hair-raising moments throughout. And while I usually make the claim that PG-13 does not a decent horror movie make, this one proves that thought somewhat wrong.  B

We Are Still Here
Not Rated – but would be very Rated R if it was
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Ahhh. October. Tons of horror films coming to home entertainment. This week I’m covering three but the choices are plentiful. We Are Still Here is a little indie horror flick from Dark Sky Films that centers on a husband and wife who move into a new home after the death of their son only to discover that there are evil spirits living in the house and a knowledgeable town who will do anything to keep the spirits appeased. Some truly terrifying moments lurk throughout the film and while the acting is pretty poor at times, the scares are first class with some incredibly well-conceived and imaginative monsters.  B+

Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Rated R for sexuality and horror violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This doesn’t feel like classic material yet, but believe it or not, it’s been 23 years since Francis Ford Coppola’s horror masterpiece hit theaters, and this newly remastered version looks and sounds even better than I remembered from a half-lifetime ago. This lushly produced retelling of the famous novel about the first vampire is expertly crafted and the talented cast provide for a wonderful fright night experience. This film really set the stage for all modern monster movies that have followed.  A-

Road Hard
Not Rated but again would be very Rated R if it was
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Looking for something other than horror this week? Check out Adam Carolla who stars as a version of himself, trying to eke out a living on the road as a stand-up comedian while desperately attempting to get back into the world of television. While the first half feels almost too personal, the second half turns rather sweet as Carolla’s character puts his life into perspective. Luckily the whole film is filled with some great little stories that I’m sure were inspired by real life scenarios.  B-