New in Home Entertainment – October 18, 2016


id4-resurgenceNew in Home Entertainment

October 18, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and destruction, and for some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 31%
When Independence Day hit theaters 20 years ago, it was a fun, brainless exercise in entertainment that was more guilty pleasure than fine movie-making. With jaw-dropping special effects (for their time) and a fun cast of big movie stars like Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Harry Connick Jr., the movie was released at the perfect time, making it a big hit. But this newest attempt at franchise building seems dull in comparison. 20 years later, humans have stolen the technology of the aliens, but now the aliens are coming back with a vengeance. The story isn’t all that bad, but the execution is lousy. They brought back most of the old characters (Smith was wise enough to turn them down) without even thinking through if we even needed them, and we didn’t. The special effects are as good as you’d expect for a film such as this, but they don’t do anything to help make the film special. And the lousy box office results are another example of how audiences sent Hollywood a big message this last summer that spending all that money on familiar tentpole projects isn’t exactly the best investment. C-

Ice Age: Collision Course
Rated PG for mild rude humor and some action/peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 13%
In this fifth installment of the franchise that keeps on going whether or not we like it, Scrat the squirrel’s acorn quest sets off a chain of events that sends the regular crew on a new adventure into new lands. In a year where animated films will be vying for the top spots on many a top 10 list, this film solidly holds up the rear. It’s lack of humor or any semblance of good writing gives the audience more to cringe over rather than cheer for. Even my six-year-old, who loves anything animated, left the theater saying “it was okay.” It was not okay. The only saving grace are the Scrat interludes, which while not as original as their Oscar-nominated predecessors, still charm while they make you chuckle. D+

New in Home Entertainment – October 4, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

October 4, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
While the X-Men First Class trilogy had been moving along nicely, director Bryan Singer made a humongous error with this final chapter, posing Oscar Isaac as the all-powerful Apocalypse, a seemingly immortal villain capable of doing pretty much anything. While there are some enjoyable moments and dazzling special effects, the story bogs down while trying to throw too much fuel into fire behind a villain that turns out to be quite dull. The only good news is that all three films are being released in 4k Ultra HD, for those with the ability to watch them, and the visuals are stunning, making the experience (for this newest film at least) far better than the movie deserves. C

Mike and Dave need Wedding Dates
Rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36%
Two brothers (Adam Devine and Zac Efron) put up an online ad to get wedding dates for their sister’s wedding in Hawaii and two uncontrollable girls (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) try to manipulate their way into the free trip. The plot isn’t bad, but the execution is awful. It had a feel like they were improvising their way through the entire picture and the result is an unfunny mess that makes the very talented cast look like hacks. So far this is my worst movie of 2016 and it could be hard to beat. F

Into the Forest
Rated R for a scene of violence involving rape, language and some sexuality/nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
Set in the near future, two sisters (Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page) who have moved off the grid must figure out how to stay alive after an apocalyptic event takes place. As intense as it is creative, the project is a true nail biter, that, while tough to watch at times, is worth a view. The performances are both believable and mesmerizing as the struggle to survive becomes more and more intense for the siblings. B+

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
Rated PG-13 for fantasy violence and action throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 13%
Set as a prelude to the upcoming Final Fantasy video game release, Kingsglaive follows the war between two magical cities in a plot that has something that feels Shakespearian with huge demons tagging along. Honestly, after watching I still don’t know what the plot is exactly. It’s very downfall is how confusing it will be to the average Joe. It looks as if the ambition is fully engaged, but maybe too much so. The artistry is unique and worth a look, but by the end it just isn’t an easy tale to comprehend or enjoy. C

The Last King
Rated R for violence and a scene of sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%
Game of Thrones actor and Wyndham Hotels spokesman Kristofer Hivju stars in this Norwegian true story about a team of soldiers who, in 1206, try to save a baby from being assassinated when it is discovered that the child is the heir to the throne of the recently killed king. It’s a fairly predictable action pic but well done still. My biggest shock came from how well the Norwegians must have been able to ski 800 years ago. B-

New in Home Entertainment – September 27, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

September 27, 2016

Central Intelligence
Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, some nudity, action violence and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
As a younger teenager, Dwayne Johnson was an overweight bullying victim who Kevin Hart stood up for in high school. Now on the eve of their class reunion, Hart is approached by Johnson who is now a musclebound spy trying to recruit him to help with an important mission. The CIA story doesn’t really work that well but it does throw out some decent action. What does work is the comedy, especially in the first act. Both Hart and Johnson have great chemistry on screen together and I found myself laughing a lot throughout. What it lacks in credibility and authenticity, it more than makes up for in entertainment value. B

Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%
When I was playing WOW before my son was born (I had to give up my addiction in order to at least try to be an effective father) I was excited about the potential Warcraft movie on the horizon. Now, almost a decade after first hearing about, the buzz is long gone. But apparently there are still millions of Warcraft players and this movie is pretty much just for them. Following an insane plot, based mostly on the original Warcraft game than the interactive World of Warcraft, the movie follows a group of humans who must fight a group of orcs when each discovers the existence of the others’ world. While its fun to see the universe come to life, and the special effects are gorgeous, especially on a large 4K set, the movie still fails to deliver anything other than a brawny, brainless melee. C+

Neon Demon
Rated R for disturbing violent content, bloody images, graphic nudity & seven of aberrant sexually, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%
Set in the world of Los Angeles modeling, Sixteen year-old Elle Fanning is the pinnacle of aesthetic loveliness in the ugly underworld of beautiful people. Having the looks but not the cunning, she attempts to survive in a society that wants to eat her alive. At first fascinating, by the end the film takes a perverse turn that is hard to understand and even more difficult to digest. There are scenes here that you can’t unsee, no matter how hard you try. So beware. The film was lucky to get an R and if you don’t lose sleep, you still might lose your meal. C

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including violent content, and for some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Set in the New Zealand countryside, a curmudgeonly old farmer who has fostered a young troublemaker with his wife, is threatened with losing the boy when his wife suddenly passes. Through a series of comedically tragic events, the two end up on an adventure through the wilderness, putting their relationship to the test. It’s a charming and unusual film, filled with some terrific surprises and unexpected quirky humor. While the director, Taika Waititi, is not a known entity yet, he should become more of a household name upon the release his next film, the mega tentpole Thor: Ragnarok. With Thor and Hulk in his hands, you will see from this film a hint of what we should expect in 2017. B+

City of Gold
Rated R for some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold loves Los Angeles and what it brings to the culinary world. This terrific little documentary follows him around LA to present the case that the City of Angels is one of the foremost dining Mecca’s in the world. But more than just a 90 minute visual buffet, the film shows what it’s like to be a journalist at the top of your game, doing something that you love, and that makes a major difference in the lives of those you write about. A