This Week in Home Video
Billionaire Ransom Is the Toy Soldiers Remake We’ll Never See
Pick of the Week
What is it? Kyle is the son of a very wealthy man, but he acts like life has been nothing but trouble. His behavior finally crosses a line that sees him in real legal trouble, and in order to avoid jail time his father agrees to send his son to an exclusive island retreat for spoiled, trouble-making brats. Cut off from the rest of the world, the teens find themselves targeted by a heavily armed group of terrorists looking for a hefty payday.
Why see it? Thee’s nothing about the film that redefines action cinema, but this is instead just a solid little movie that delivers fun thrills and deserves more eyeballs. Fans of 1991’s Toy Soldiers — and really, who isn’t ‐ will appreciate the setup and journey that sees troublemakers forced by circumstance into thinking about others for the first time. The fights and stunts are enjoyable including one wickedly cool beat involving an exposed bone fracture turned into a weapon. It’s simple entertainment, but sometimes that’s all you need.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
What is it? Reinhard Heydrich is the main designer behind Hitler’s “Final Solution,” but as he leads German forces into Czechoslovakia two members (Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan) of the resistance move forward with an impossible mission. Operation Anthropoid is the plan to assassinate Heydrich.
Why see it? History buffs are well aware of this true story, but the rest of us will probably be surprised to learn of the mission and its outcome. The film does a great job creating the world and its characters, and both Murphy and Dornan shine as men who know they’re in over their heads but doing their best all the same. Much of the film is drama , but the final thirty minutes is one terrifically tense and exciting sequence after the next as everything comes to a head.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, storyboards]
What is it? Reynholm Industries is a massive and powerful corporation, but while their success stands tall as a high-rise their dark secret sits hidden in the basement ‐ the IT department. Moss (Richard Ayoade), Roy (Chris O’Dowd), and Jen (Katherine Parkinson) work together but spend most of their time with banter, trouble-making, and exploration of the corporate world above.
Why see it? All four seasons of this very funny British sitcom are collected here along with the previously unavailable series finale “The Internet Is Coming.” The show is fast-witted enough to appeal to everyone, but as a past IT tech I find special joy in its skewering of office workers and bosses alike. O’Dowd and Ayoade obviously went on to bigger careers, but everyone here is doing great work delivering plenty of laughs.
[DVD extras: Commentaries, deleted scenes, featurettes, outtakes, interview]
What is it? Uncle Nick (Brian Posehn) is not the most beloved family member thanks to a crass sensibility and an indifference to anyone else’s needs, wants, or feelings. When he arrives at his brother’s house for holiday dinner he finds new ways to upset the comfortable norm.
Why see it? Think Bad Santa without the complication of plot, and you’ll have an idea what to expect from this crass and frequently funny comedy. Posehn is a wellspring of insults and bad behavior, and those looking for a holiday film that goes against the sweetly saccharine nature of most Christmas entertainment will be happy to unwrap this gift.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, outtakes, featurettes]
What is it? Amy (Mila Kunis) is a wife, mother, and successful career woman, but her attempts to balance it all often leave her frustrated, angry, and covered in food or drink. The pressure is immense, so along with two other struggling moms (Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn) she decides to just stop worrying about being so damn perfect.
Why see it? The three leads bring more than a few laughs and therefore make the movie worth a watch, but the script doesn’t do any of them any favors. Characters and situations are exaggerated to annoying degrees, and the film suffers when ever plot is introduced. The third act in particular is a mess as inane conflicts boil over into happy but dull endings across the board.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel, interviews]
What is it? The villains of Gotham City ‐ the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, and the article-free Catwoman ‐ join forces to defeat Batman by hitting where it hurts. They spritz him with a spray that turns him bad and watch with joy as he uses their own toy to duplicate himself and take over the city.
Why see it? The big draw here is the fun of hearing Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar return to voice their most famous creations. It’s odd hearing Ward’s creaky voice speaking dialogue about being a teen boy, but the appeal overcomes the weirdness. The story is suitably goofy, and they find some good laughs throughout.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
What is it? A young woman’s (Ashley Bell) visit to the bank goes to hell when a pair of robbers hit the place and take her hostage. Captivity is bad enough, but the trio soon finds something even worse when a murderous sniper takes aim on them in a remote part of the desert.
Why see it? Mickey Keating’s (Darling) latest is something of a stylized thriller pitting a female victim against men who seek to do her harm. The stylized nature of it mostly comes through in the film’s look, but it plays somewhat into the criminal antics as well. At 80 minutes (with credits) it’s a fast ride, and the thrills it offers along with the cast (also including Pat Healy and Alan Ruck) make for a fun and gritty watch.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze [Warner Archive]
What is it? Doc Savage is a genius, a scientist, an action hero, a millionaire, and the leader of a team tasked with saving the world.
Why see it? Kenneth Robeson’s bestselling book series is long overdue for an cinematic update from Shane Black, but until we get that we’ll have to settle for this campy, cheesy romp from the ’70s. It’s a playful take on familiar tropes, and while there’s fun to be had the low-budget hurts the action and drama.
[Blu-ray extras: None]
What is it? FBI Agent Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe) has proven himself at taking down Muslim extremists, but he finds his most challenging case when he’s tasked with going undercover to infiltrate a white supremacist terrorist cell.
Why see it? The film is very much a thriller, but it at times touches on the more character-based elements of the similar (and superior) 1988 film, Costa-Gavras’ The Betrayed. Nate finds some of the humanity within these terrible people, but the vast majority are simply “bad guys.” There’s not much effort to understand them leaving them strictly as generic bad guys. It’s still a solid-enough thriller with a couple moments of genuine suspense.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, interviews]
What is it? Judge Archer is a man assigned to arbitrate very specific disputes. He’s the one in charge of preventing bigger conflicts between martial arts schools. His latest case involves an unpunished murder, but the opposing counsel have a fierce defender of their own.
Why see it? The story and characters get something of a short-shrift here as the former never fully gels and the latter are paper thin, but the action offers enough fun thrills to let it slide for the film’s ninety minute running time. The female fighter in particular is a joy to watch in action although too many of the fights are cropped tighter than I’d like.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? Camryn was the only survivor of a madman’s rampage that left her friends disemboweled in the woods, and five years later she’s still suffering. Nightmares, hallucinations, and a general anti-social attitude are her daily friends now, but when she decides to try and live again she finds more horror awaits.
Why see it? This is a strong short film that unfortunately runs a full ninety minutes. The setup is solid, and the finale is well done albeit somewhat obvious, but far too much of the middle grows increasingly redundant and dull. It’s clear where it’s going an hour before it gets there, and we’re stuck waiting through repetitive sequences. Final girl fans will want to give it a watch though for a look at just what might happen to our favorite heroines after the credits roll.
[DVD extras: Commentaries, making of, gag reel, featurettes]
What is it? War rages across China, and one general decides to tilt the odds in his favor by bringing the country’s greatest warrior (Donnie Yen, obviously) to his side. The problem is that the fighter is also best friends with the general’s greatest enemy. Unfortunately for him, the general thinks kidnapping the warrior’s lady is a smart motivator.
Why see it? As period action films from China go this is certainly one of them. That’s not to say it’s bad ‐ it isn’t ‐ but there’s little here to captivate outside of Yen. This is a 2010 film, and he shows the tremendous action chops of his prime alongside the assistance of wire-work. Watch it for Yen, and forget about it immediately after.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? Bill (Nick Kroll) lives in his brother’s shadow for reasons both typical and unusual. Robbie (Adam Scott) is a popular over-achiever who’s constantly undertaking various sports challenges to the delight of everyone around him, but he’s also blind. And a dick. Bill feels obligated to him though because it was his goading as a teen that led to Robbie’s blindness. He’s let the dick thing slide for years, but when all bets are off when a woman (Jenny Slate) comes between them.
Why see it? The biggest reason to see this otherwise slight comedy is the lead trio of actors who deliver some great laughs throughout. Scott’s in prick mode, something he plays incredibly well, and while the film occasionally threatens to cross a line with its blind-related comedy it manages to remain both funny and respectful (enough).
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None?]
What is it? Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is a wealthy workaholic who typically puts his job ahead of his wife (Jennifer Garner) and daughter, but he’s about to learn the hard way the error of his ways. He gives his daughter a cat for her birthday… and magically gets transplanted inside the furry creature!
Why see it? This probably would have been more fun if Spacey was implanted into the feline Fantastic Voyage-style, but instead we’re left with him voicing what amounts to a grumpy cat knock off. The main takeaway here is that Garner needs a better agent.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, featurette]
What is it? Michelle Yeoh is a master assassin on a mission that doesn’t involve killing. It instead requires her to transport the dead to a final resting place, but there are those who want the monk’s ashes for their own reasons, and soon she’s forced to fight once again.
Why see it? Yeoh is always worth a watch, but this 2010 release sees her a bit less active on the action front. She’s still fights, and she’s still a joy, but most of the catchier action is left to the less charismatic male characters. John Woo produced the film, thus explaining the ridiculous back-cover copy saying it’s Face/Off meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
[DVD extras: None]
What is it? Arthur (Matthew McConaughey) is a depressed and broken man who heads to Japan’s fabled “suicide forest” to end his life. His effort is interrupted by another lost soul (Ken Watanabe), and together they wander the forest in search of an exit and a reason to want one.
Why see it? Gus Van Sant’s latest is something of a dour, woe is me kind of journey towards redemption, and while its heart is in the right place its structure hurts any hope for real emotion. It moves back and forth between the past and present as a way to increase effect but ends up having the opposite effect as we grow more distant. That said, both McConaughey and Watanabe give good performances.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]
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