New in Home Entertainment – May 24, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

May 24, 2016

Rated PG-13 for Biblical violence including some disturbing images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
From Sony and Waterworld director Kevin Reynolds comes this faith based Biblical epic about a Roman Tribune (Shakespeare In Love’s Joseph Fiennes) who is tasked by Pontius Pilate to investigate the disappearance of the body of Jesus shortly after his crucifixion. While the story of Christ has been told many different times and in many different ways, none has ever been approached from the point of view of the Romans left to try to put the pieces together. It’s a brilliant take on the greatest story ever told and the project was expertly executed. While the budget was modest, the film sure doesn’t look it. The production is top notch and the majority of the cast are made up of very solid actors. Overall I just loved that Fiennes was placed to be our eyes and ears, witnessing an event that was on its way to reshape the world. The whole thing is an enlightening experience to anyone who wants it to be one. As an aside, I’ve always thought that most Christian or faith-based films are made exclusively for Christians and are usually lower in quality productions with poor in-your-face scripting and even worse acting. That is not the case with Risen where the script, production and acting are all on a much higher level and the film can be watched, interpreted and appreciated by Christians and non-Christians alike. A-

The Finest Hours
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In 1952 a daring Coast Guard crew set out on a rescue mission to bring back a group of men whose ship was destroyed in a blizzard. It is one of the most famous rescues in Coast Guard history and in this family-friendly rescue film from Disney, the tale is immortalized with Chris Pine and a talented group of actors behind it. Unfortunately, even though the film is less than two hours, it feels much, much longer. The back story and personal life of the hero feels forced and the sequences with the crew on the destroyed ship aren’t nearly developed enough, giving you the feeling that a lot of time is wasted. You get the sense that a great rescue took place but I lost interest long before it did. C

How to Be Single
Rated R for sexual content and strong language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
The latest in the multiple story comedy sub-genre is this tale of four single women in various life stages living single in NYC. Starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann and Alison Brie, the film has some very funny moments but the project pales in comparison to the far superior Sex and the City and Girls franchises which serve up much better images of practically the same tales. C+

Zoolander 2
Rated PG-13 crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 24%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
15 years after the events of the surprisingly good Zoolander, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell are back for another round of fashion thriller comedy madness. This time out, Derek Zoolander (Stiller) comes out of hiding and is forced to team up with his former partner/now rival Hansel (Wilson), to once again stop the evil plot of the fashion uber-villain Mugatu (Ferrell). I’m not sure anyone was screaming for another Zoolander film but one was churned out anyway only to be met with a lousy box office and rightfully lousy reviews. The jokes are stale (fifteen years stale to be exact), and the whole movie is completely irrelevant with hardly a laugh to be found anywhere.  F

New in Home Entertainment – May 17, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

May 17, 2016

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray
Ever since the short appearance of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in the awful 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, fans have been screaming for the famous dead super hero to get his own stand alone film. It took a lot of bravery from the folks at Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox to give the fans what they wanted, and even more guts to not kidify it by making it a very hard R. This first in what will no doubt be a multi-film franchise tells the genesis story of urban mercenary Wade Wilson who, upon getting a very short cancer death sentence, signs up to have a secret agency turn him into a mutant. Of course the agency doesn’t do so in a nice way and he eventually dies and comes back as Deadpool, hell-bent on getting revenge. From the amazingly funny opening credits to the Ferris Bueller tag, the film proves itself to be one of the most audacious and creative films of the year – and more than that – lots of fun. To say this is the best work Ryan Reynolds has ever done is an understatement. He is one of the most talented actors working in Hollywood today but his film choices, for the most part, have been dismal. This, however, was the role he was born to play and he is spectacular in it. The second viewing isn’t as good as the first and the lack of budget shows, but overall this turns out to be one of Marvel’s best super hero films to date and the start of what will hopefully be a thriving franchise full of quirks and surprises. A-

The Witch
Rated R for disturbing violent content and graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Welcome to my very first non-review. Out today is apparently one of the scariest films in years, but honestly I just couldn’t force myself to watch it. As part of its marketing strategy, the studio releasing the film, A24, decided to hold several screenings with the help of The Satanic Temple (an atheist group that follows the teachings of Satan – still not sure on that one) after they came out fully endorsing it. I’m sure A24 thought that this co-marketing might attract some into the theater with the illusion of authenticity but I stayed very much away. The film follows a Puritan family in the early 1600s who experience evil events on the frontier. In my mind there are some things that you can’t unsee and apparently this film is full of those moments. I never want to put myself in that position. So rather than ignore – I thought I’d put out this non-review as a warning. As a critic I have to weed through a lot of garbage and while occasionally I enjoy a good scary movie, I purposefully don’t subject myself to certain films. So many people these days just go to Red Box and pick a movie because of its cover, not knowing what they are getting into until it’s too late. At least if you’ve read this you will have some context of what lies within the box.

New in Home Entertainment – May 10, 2016

Where to Invade

New in Home Entertainment

May 10, 2016

Where to Invade Next
Rated R for language , some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
The title of Michael Moore’s latest documentary gives the immediate thought that he will be tearing into America’s obsession with acting as world police, but what we get here is very different. Moore goes to countries all over the world and finds one thing they do better than the U.S., explores the subject, and then claims that one thing in the name of America. It is a smart, observant, touching and patriotic film – or as many would like to call it: liberal propaganda. When he ties it all up at the end, he makes an extremely convincing argument which will bring many to tears. A-

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
This being one of my favorite films of 2015, I was shocked to see its icy reception from critics and awards groups. This highly stylized biopic from David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) has Jennifer Lawrence starring as QVC and Home Shopping Network queen Joy Mangano and the struggle that took her from rags to riches. It is an absolutely fantastic example of what it takes to be a woman entrepreneur in America and the story and the way it was told had me deeply inspired and empathetic. The performances are terrific from this wildly talented cast including Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper and the amazing score and soundtrack, which they didn’t even campaign for, drove the film forward with a crazy yet clear progression. Again, I am shocked that this film wasn’t a major winner at the box office and a player in last year’s award race and I hope it finds a better home on peoples’ televisions. A

New in Home Entertainment – May 3, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

May 3, 2016

East Side Sushi
Rated PG for brief violence, suggestive content and mild language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Available on DVD
Ultra low-budgeted films, most of the time, feel like ultra low-budgeted films, but every once in a while a great little indie project comes out to remind us that terrific films don’t just come from the Hollywood machinery. This little film that could takes a working-class Latina single mother who jumps head first into the world of sushi – a cuisine dominated by Asian, primarily Japanese, men. While the film doesn’t throw any real surprises at you and is largely a feel-good crowd pleaser, it sure does hit the right chords as it progresses through the motions. And as pure food porn it must be effective because I have eaten sushi now three times since watching it last week. A-

Unrated, but would be an R
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
The very beautiful and talented actress Sarah Bolger heads into creepy horror film mode as Emelie, a babysitter with evil intentions, in this latest low-budget horror flick. The film succeeds at giving you pause at who you leave your children with. But ultimately it fails at providing a convincing narrative. There are so many great places this film could have gone but instead it feels like the filmmakers just wanted to upset their audience rather than give them a compelling reason to keep watching. The good news is that the film comes in at only 80 minutes, making it much less torturous than it could have been. C+