New in Home Entertainment – January 31, 2017

New in Home Entertainment

January 31, 2017

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some bloody images, language and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%
In number two of Tom Cruise’s portrayal of the famous character from Lee Child’s best-selling book series, Reacher finds himself being hunted by the military while simultaneously investigating a young girl who might be his daughter. While I hated the first Reacher film, I found this one pardonable, mostly due to the far superior pacing, no doubt provided by director Edward Zwick (Glory). Unfortunately, the screenplay is a mess with a plot that feels like it wants you not to try to figure it out so that you won’t recognize its obvious problems. Full disclosure – I still have an issue with Cruise’s notorious real life which I have to admit gets in the way of my full enjoyment, although I really do try to keep this fair. C+

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 32%
Zach Galifianakis once again plays your average boring guy, who upon falling for a crazy co-worker played by Kristen Wiig, is talked into committing a heist. Director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) does have a unique style, but the story never seems to take off, mostly because it feels like a big pile of been-there-done-that with great comedic actors playing one-dimensional caricatures that aren’t as funny as the writers think they are. This movie was supposed to be released a year before it was and the final product shows why the studio heads tried to find the perfect time to dump it. C-

New in Home Entertainment – January 24, 2017

New in Home Entertainment

January 24, 2017

The Handmaiden
NR (But most likely would have been NC-17 if rated)
Language: Korean with English Subtitles
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Park Chan-wook, the brilliant South Korean director behind Thirst and Stoker, gives us this sexy new crime drama set in Korea under Japanese colonial rule. The story follows a conniving “count” who wants to marry a rich young girl only to have her committed so he can steal her inheritance. To help him with his plan, he hires a fellow con artist to become her handmaiden for some inside assistance. For much of the first act, I began to wonder if Chan-wook has gone Merchant Ivory on us; but alas, once the story gets going, it evolves into one of his most ferociously twisted tales yet, full of multiple unexpected turns, savage violence and extremely graphic sex. That being said, if you are even slightly turned off by the last sentence, you need to leave this one alone. Then again, if you are a Chan-wook fan already or just love great movies of any kind regardless of subject, you might just come to love this one. A-

The Monster
Rated R for language and some violence/terror
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks) is a divorced mother who makes a late night trek to drive her young daughter to live with her father when their car crashes and they are stranded on a desolate highway with a creature that won’t let them escape. While it looks on the outside like an outright monster movie, the film plays surprisingly like an R Rated version of the similarly titled “A Monster Calls,” where the monster may or may not be real, but the pain and coping mechanism very much are. In this case, the mother struggles with alcoholism, which has greatly impacted her daughter. In spite of reasonably good reviews, the film is basically straight to home entertainment, probably because it is too smart for the genre it is pretending to be in. While there is plenty of gore and some decent scares, the film makes you question everything you’ve see – after you see it. B

New in Home Entertainment – January 17, 2017

New in Home Entertainment

January 17, 2016

The Girl on the Train
Rated R for violence, sexual content, language and nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%
Based on the best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, this thriller hit theaters full-steam with great anticipation only to be met with a head-on collision by a disappointing box office. The story follows Emily Blunt as a young woman whose commute has her fixated on the life of a beautiful girl in a neighborhood she passes every day. Of course there is a lot of darkness in her own past that intertwines when she blacks out one night. The film has potential to be a fairly decent mystery but with the script written for the sake of the twist, the story feels mundane rather than innovative. It tries so hard to be Gone Girl but when the fuse burns up, we end up with a dud rather than fireworks. Sorry – I didn’t want to rack my brain for another more fitting train metaphor. C-

Keeping Up with the Joneses
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, action/violence and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 19%
Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher are your average boring couple who are thrust into international espionage when spies Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot move into the house next door. I’m not sure if there is potential for success anywhere near this project, but its execution failed miserably as the movie lacks the comedy and adventure it promises. I love the casting of the four leads, but the missing elements (including script, directing and chemistry) bring the film to Razzie depths. D

Zero Days
Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
If you want an in-depth, and I mean really in-depth, look at cyber warfare, check out this newest doc from Alex Gibney, the Academy Award winning filmmaker behind Taxi to the Dark Side and Going Clear. In this rather frightening film, Gibney shows his prediction of how the next World War will be fought with the real-life examples of the US and Israel meddling with the Iranian nuclear program as well as a whistle-blower describing the devastating effects cyber attacks can (and very well could) possess in the future. If you think this type of warfare ends with hacking an election, this film will give you a sobering look at the reality we don’t really understand yet. A-

New in Home Entertainment – January 10, 2017

New in Home Entertainment

January 10, 2016

Rated PG-13 for thematic material and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
In 1996, British Holocaust denier and Nazi scholar David Irving sued American Historian Deborah Lipstadt (and her publishing company) for libel, forcing her to go on trial in London to prove that the Holocaust actually occurred. This remarkable true story is masterfully acted with Rachel Weisz as Lipstadt and Timothy Spalling as Irving, providing an almost non-fiction feel to the gripping legal drama. It raises important questions such as how, in modern day, can we prove what is true and not true in our history books. And given today’s current political climate and the rise of a white nationalist movement, the film feels incredibly, and painfully, relevant.  A-

The Accountant
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%
Ben Affleck stars in this action thriller about an autistic child who grows up to be a talented accountant and an even more talented assassin. The intriguing parts of the film dwell on autism and how autistic children can assimilate into productive adults. The sad thing about it is the shift to criminal behavior with a story that makes little sense. I can appreciate the plot twist, and Affleck’s performance is decent, but a lot of other great talent is wasted with bad dialog and throw-away parts.  C+

Jerry Maguire: 20th Anniversary Edition
Rated R for language and sensuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Twenty years ago, Tom Cruise showed us the money (more than a quarter billion worldwide) with this sweet and smart romantic comedy about a sports agent who suffers from a paradigm shift. Introducing us to Renee Zellweger and Cuba Gooding Jr. (who won the Oscar for his role), the film turned out to be a truly impactful emotional experience for much of its audience. You probably already own this one, so they’ve included a ton of extras to incentivize you to buy again. The most important of these features is the full soundtrack on CD and a booklet entitled “The Things We Think and Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business” laying out the words of Maguire that got him into such trouble in the beginning of the film.  A