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


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


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

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-