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article imageReview: Bad decisions lead to worse outcomes in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 17, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include the revival of sci-fi masterpiece; a new take on an endless day; an awkward situation of a man’s own making; a case of mistaken identity; and a twisted but amusing comedy.
68 Kill (Blu-ray & DVD)
Shout Factory
Trailer-dwelling, sewage-pumping Chip (Matthew Gray Gubler) may not lead the most glamorous life, but he’s got one thing going for him: he’s head over heels infatuated with his girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynne McCord). He’s more than willing to overlook her wild streak — the fact that she’s hooking up with their landlord, her rather extreme mood swings — so when she proposes a plot to steal $68,000, he goes along with the plan. But what was supposed to be a simple heist turns into an off-the-rails, blood- spattered crime spree, and Chip learns the hard way just how deranged the love of his life really is.
From the twisted minds of Troma, this is the story of a really nice guy that allows himself to become wrapped so tightly around a woman’s finger that he’d do absolutely anything for her. Early on in the film, Chip’s co-worker tries to warn him about not thinking with his head but he ignores the advice. Later he chastises himself for the same error, appearing to have been left alone, penniless and naked. The movie takes audiences on a vicious ride filled with crazy people who like to kill and torture other people. But in addition to being outlandish, it’s also unconscionably funny.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
Alibi (DVD)
Neurotic businessman Greg Brentwood (Michael Kitchen) throws an extravagant anniversary party for his wife, Linda (Phyllis Logan), at their English country home. One of the caterers, Marcey (Sophie Okonedo), quietly admires the couple’s love for each other — until she sees an intimate moment between Linda and Greg’s business partner, Martin. When Marcey later returns to the house to retrieve her handbag, she walks in on a frightening scene: Greg moving Martin’s lifeless body. After the initial shock, Greg assures her it was an accident and Marcey offers to help him dispose of the corpse. As the police investigate the death, Greg becomes increasingly anxious, while Marcey urges him to remain calm. But as she starts to uncover the Brentwoods’ darkest secrets, she begins to wonder what she has gotten herself into.
The core elements of this plot are so bizarre as these two strangers become embroiled in a cover-up, mostly at the behest of Marcey who interrupted the alleged crime. Beneath the surface, she seems to have some of the qualities of a compulsive liar and busybody who seizes the opportunity to become entangled in something scandalous. In the meantime, Greg, the accidental killer, is falling apart and only too glad to have someone else make sure they’ve covered their bases. Even more strangely, as they continue their collusion, they uncover actual motive for the murder that would look very damning if the police were to discover it, which consequently makes the need to maintain the ruse even more necessary.
There are no special features. (Acorn)
The Apartment (Blu-ray)
Arrow Academy
C.C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a lowly Manhattan office drone with a lucrative sideline in renting out his apartment to adulterous company bosses and their mistresses. When Bud enters into a similar arrangement with the firm's personnel director, J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), his career prospects begin to look up... and up. But when he discovers that Sheldrake's mistress is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the girl of his dreams, he finds himself forced to choose between his career and the woman he loves.
Bud is just a regular Joe that no one would’ve noticed if he hadn’t stumbled onto this opportunity to get in the good graces of several executives. Unfortunately, the whole thing is pretty inconvenient for him as he’s forced to avoid his home by staying late at the office, and accommodate even the most unreasonable requests for “a room” in order to appease these powerful men and secure a promotion. Of course, being 1960, nothing is really said about the husbands regularly cheating on their wives — until a secretary outs one of the men to his wife. Fran is a very charming girl and most likeable elevator operator in the building; but while most of the men just want to get her in bed, Bud wants something more permanent. Unfortunately, she’s stuck in a less-than-ideal situation that takes its toll on everyone involved, including Bud.
Special features include: commentary by film producer and historian Bruce Block; select scene commentary by film historian Philip Kemp; “The Flawed Couple,” a new video essay by filmmaker David Cairns on the collaborations between Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon; “Billy Wilder ABC,” an overview by David Cairns on the life and career of the filmmaker; “Inside the Apartment”; “Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon”; original screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond; theatrical trailer; special collector's packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick; and collector's 150-page hardcover book featuring new writing by Neil Sinyard, Kat Ellinger, Travis Crawford and Heather Hyche, illustrated with rare stills and behind-the-scenes imagery. (Arrow Academy)
Blade Runner 2049 (Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & Digital copy) (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Three decades after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.
When Ridley Scott announced they’d return to the famed futuristic metropolis he created 30 years ago, many people were skeptical. Denis Villeneuve’s film serves as much-delayed sequel to the first picture, set in an even more advanced future in which replicants are still hunted and terminated for becoming too human. When K begins to question his reality, he embarks on an independent investigation to answer questions about his own origins as well as possibly uncover a long held secret that changes everything. Deckard has grown a little surlier over the years, but he’s still a wily old man. The landscapes of this sci-fi future are still magnificent, enveloping viewers in 3D or mesmerizing them in high-def. While the film will likely always be dwarfed by its predecessor, it’s still an entrancing picture.
Special features include: “Blade Runners”; “The Replicant Evolution”; “The Rise of Wallace Corp”; “Welcome to 2049”; “Joi”; “Within the Skies”; “Designing The World of Blade Runner 2049”; “To Be Human: Casting Blade Runner 2049”; “Prologues: 2036: Nexus Dawn”; “Prologues: 2048: Nowhere to Run”; and “Prologues: 2022: Black Out.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Icarus Films
Multi-award winning director Nikolaus Geyrhalter delivers stunning images from inside the immense Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest laboratory for particle physics, operated by world-renowned research organization CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Including interviews with the leading experts who operate and maintain this gigantic Big Bang machine, the film provides fascinating insights into not only this complex experimental research institution, but the quirky geniuses behind the scenes.
Last year, the researchers at CERN made a significant breakthrough related to its work on antimate. Although some may have a base level understanding of what occurs at the facility, most are probably unaware of the size and scope of the project. Though most of the footage is restricted to the confines of the lab, the outside is described as a mini-city in which the thousands of employees live. Speaking with a select number of the workers (i.e. scientists, engineers and an administrator), viewers are given a superficial understanding of what happens in the building via talking heads, as well as silent tours of the miles of tunnels and tubes that house their experimentation equipment. The documentary is a little dense, but still quite fascinating for anyone with a cursory interest in CERN.
There are no special features. (Icarus Films)
Crooked House (Blu-ray)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of a wealthy patriarch is investigated by spy-turned-private-detective Charles Hayward (Max Irons), who is lured by his former lover to catch her grandfather’s murderer before Scotland Yard exposes dark family secrets. On the sprawling estate, amidst a poisonous atmosphere of bitterness, resentment and jealousy in a truly crooked house, Hayward encounters three generations of the dynasty, including a theater actress (Gillian Anderson), the old man’s widow 50 years his junior (Christina Hendricks), and the family matriarch Lady Edith de Haviland (Glenn Close).
This is one of Agatha Christie’s most twisted tales, yet it’s the first time it’s been performed for the screen. Charles is certainly out of his depth, not necessarily regarding the murder investigation but in relation to the familial politics he must navigate to find answers. However, with everyone in the same house, his job is made slightly easier and definitely more interesting. As with most wealthy families, almost everyone can be said to have a motive for killing the old man and it’s generally related to money. Then again, that solution would be too simple for a writer of Christie’s calibre. Instead, the conclusion is somewhat shocking if not entirely unexpected.
Special features include: “Agatha Christie: A Timeless Fascination”; “Whodunnit? — The Characters of Crooked House”; and “Elegance & Innovation: The Design of Crooked House.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Flatliners (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Five medical students, hoping to gain insight into the mystery of what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring and dangerous experiment. By stopping their hearts for short periods of time, each triggers a near-death experience. As the investigation becomes more and more perilous, they are forced to confront the sins of their pasts, as well as contend with the supernatural consequences of trespassing to the other side.
In this reboot (sequel?) of the ‘90s cult favourite, Ellen Page leads a group of her colleagues in an experiment. However, as each member of their death-defying team takes the plunge, they each fail to share the strange occurrences that plague their revival. While their transgressions are generally not as dark as the first students’, their hauntings are more severe making the film closer to a horror movie with ghouls and jump scares. While this deviation from the original is acceptable, the narrative’s biggest problem is it doesn’t follow-through on one of the key plot points it introduces — the idea that they’re adventures to “the other side” opened a door that allowed “something” to return with them. The fact that this idea, which actually helps explain some of the other events, is simply forgotten in favour of a lame conclusion is unforgivable. Moreover, bringing back Kiefer Sutherland yet not linking his character to the one he played in the first film is also a wasted opportunity.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes; “Reviving a Cult Classic”; “Making the Rounds”; “Just What the Director Ordered”; and “The Ultimate Question.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Happy Death Day (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Tree is a blissfully, self-centred co-ed (Jessica Rothe) who is doomed to relive the day of her murder unless she can identify her masked assailant and hopefully stop the madness. If she can’t, she will be stuck in an insane loop, reliving a ghoulish nightmare that has become her death day.
In the first day preceding Tree’s initial death, audiences are introduced to a young woman who most people wouldn’t be surprised someone wants dead. However, after multiple murders and re-awakenings, she gradually becomes aware of how awful she treats people; and in true Groundhog Day tradition, Tree eventually has some fun with the situation, including a nude romp across campus. Her one constant is a nice guy named Carter (Israel Broussard), who unknowingly helps make her a better person. In the meantime, the death montage is entertaining as is her Valley girl approach to investigating suspects. This is a rare instance in which reimagining the repeated day storyline actually turns out very well.
Special features include: alternate ending; deleted scenes; “Worst Birthday Ever!”; “Behind the Mask: The Suspects”; and “The Many Deaths of Tree.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar (DVD)
Walt Disney Studios
"The Lion Guard" continues the epic storytelling of Disney's "The Lion King" and follows the adventures of Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, and his diverse group of friends — Bunga, a fearless honey badger; Fuli, a confident cheetah; Beshte, a friendly and good-spirited hippo; and Ono, an intellectual egret. Together, Kion and his friends make up the Pride Lands' fiercest, bravest, fastest, strongest and keenest of sight.
The first double episode of this collection is by far the most interesting as it relates the story that inspired the DVD’s title. Rafiki’s new apprentice is a bit flighty, but she means well; however, her fondness for chatter allows some of the Pride Lands’ secrets to fall into the wrong hands and gives the hyenas the potential to revive Scar. Unfortunately, the story isn’t resolved in any of the subsequent episodes collected on the DVD. Though audiences are treated to tales of a cowardly cheetah, cute little galagos, Kiara taking charge, and Scar’s family’s attempt at revenge.
There are no special features. (Walt Disney Studios)
Macon County Line (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
Louisiana, 1954: Brothers Chris and Wayne Dixon (Alan Vint and Jesse Vint) are joyriding through the South before enlisting in the Army. When the wife of a local sheriff is brutally killed by a pair of psychotic drifters, Chris and Wayne are mistaken for the murderers. Far from home, on the run and out of time, they find themselves hunted by the crazed lawman in a tragedy of rage and revenge that explodes in a shocking climax ... once they cross Macon County Line.
There isn’t a lot to this story, yet it’s stretched out so that a lot seems to happen. The Dixon brothers are just out raising hell everywhere they go, bedding men’s wives, stealing what they can’t afford and having as much fun as possible before they report to duty — however, they’re unfortunately at the wrong place at the wrong time and the sheriff isn’t interested in asking questions before shooting. All of this seemingly pointless gallivanting and bonding leads to a final act that’s a big, tragic mess in which no one wins, especially if one takes the epilogue into consideration. But if you’re interested in the origins of the story, be sure to watch the retrospective featurette for some insightful tidbits.
Special features include: commentary by director Richard Compton; interview with editor Tina Hirsch; “Macon County Line: 25 Years Down the Road”; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)
The Snowman (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
When an elite crime squad’s lead detective (Michael Fassbender) investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the cop must connect decades-old cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.
Without having read the book on which the film is based, it seems as if the movie is missing bits that would have better drawn-in audiences. The detective clearly has a complicated relationship with his ex and their son. The serial killer very obviously has a troubled past that stems from tragic events. The new recruit’s purpose is primarily to help the detective on his way to solving the case. However, each of these elements feels incomplete and therefore fails to really captivate audiences. Moreover, even though Fassbender is competent in any role, he seems a bit ill-chosen for this particular character.
Special features include: “Cast of Characters”; “Creating Jo Nesbe’s World”; “The Snowman Killer”; “Norwegian Landscape”; and “Stunt Files: The Sinking Lake.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
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