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article imageReview: Evil comes in many forms in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 12, 2017 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a touching true story; an enthralling Chinese martial arts epic; a classic and entertaining double feature; and a new chapter from the tech trenches.
The Bye Bye Man (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
When three college friends (Douglas Smith, Lucien Laviscount and Cressida Bonas) stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, they discover that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don’t think it, don’t say it. But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control, making you see and do the most unspeakable acts committed by man.
This is a version of the Boogeyman, but with much more serious psychological consequences. Once acknowledged, those aware of his existence begin to have terrible visions indistinguishable from reality. While simultaneously trying to spread his name to new victims, he turns those already cursed against each other. The basis of the story is a combination of the legends of the Candyman and Freddy Krueger, but with its own take on the ghoulish predators. Save for one very stupid mistake, this a mostly solid horror movie with relatively competent characters and some interesting twists. Although there isn’t really an emotional investment in any of the personalities, audiences will nonetheless want to see what happens next.
There are no special features. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
House: Two Stories Limited Edition [House 1 & 2] (Blu-ray)
Arrow Academy
In the original House, Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a horror novelist struggling to pen his next bestseller. When he inherits his aunt's creaky old mansion, Roger decides that he's found the ideal place in which to get some writing done. Unfortunately, the house's monstrous supernatural residents have other ideas.
Meanwhile, House II: The Second Story sees young Jesse (Arye Gross) moving into an old family mansion where his parents were mysteriously murdered years before. Plans for turning the place into a party pad are soon thwarted by the appearance of Jesse's mummified great-great-grandfather, his mystical crystal skull and the zombie cowboy who'll stop at nothing to lay his hands on it.
From the creators of Friday the 13th, these pictures are part of a horror style that emerged after the rise of the slasher movie. While still rooted in the horror genre, these films took a slightly less serious approach to the story. Rather than bloody, murderous monsters, the characters are haunted/stalked by weird creatures from other realms much like in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series. These movies are lesser known, but equally fun — particularly the first one. Roger inherits a house in a quiet neighbourhood where he quickly becomes the local weirdo since trying to battle monsters quietly is difficult. However, it’s very amusing to watch him try. The second picture is completely unrelated to the first, except that they are each confined to a single house. The narrative is even more bizarre and is somewhat episodic as the characters are whisked away on interdimensional adventures in three realms, from which they keep bringing back unconventional souvenirs.
Special features include: commentary by director Steve Miner, producer Sean S. Cunningham, actor William-Katt and screenwriter Ethan Wiley; “Ding Dong, You're Dead! The Making of House”; commentary by writer/director Ethan Wiley and producer Sean S. Cunningham; “It's Getting Weirder! The Making of House II: The Second Story”; stills gallery; theatrical trailers; and "The House Companion" limited edition 60-page, hardcover book. (Arrow Academy)
Legend of Bruce Lee: Volume Two (DVD)
Well Go USA
Determined to promote Chinese martial arts in America, Bruce Lee (Danny Chan) establishes a small but popular kung fu school. As he encounters different opponents and their various fighting styles, Bruce envisions a new way of kung fu capable of revolutionizing the world of martial arts forever.
Picking up where the first volume left off, Bruce is trying to repair his reputation and ego after losing to his local enemy. However, the focus of this section is the creation of Bruce’s own brand of kung fu, which he developed by defeating various masters and then convincing them they could both benefit from teaching each other their respective styles. The other key elements of this segment are the re-emergence of Bruce’s most fearsome opponent from China and their life-changing match, as well as the birth of Bruce’s son, Brandon. With the martial artist still perfecting his kung fu, there remains a lot to cover; but in spite of their sometimes exaggerated representations it remains an interesting depiction of the legend.
There are no special features. (Well Go USA)
Lion (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets lost on a train travelling away from his home and family. Frightened and bewildered, he ends up thousands of miles away, in chaotic Kolkata. Somehow he survives living on the streets, escaping all sorts of terrors and close calls in the process, before ending up in an orphanage that is itself not exactly a safe haven. Eventually Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), and finds love and security as he grows up in Hobart. As an adult, not wanting to hurt his adoptive parents’ feelings, Saroo (Dev Patel) suppresses his past, his emotional need for reunification and his hope of ever finding his lost mother and siblings. But a chance meeting with some fellow Indians reawakens his buried yearning. Armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, Saroo sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.
There is a pretty strong division between the two halves of this film as the first depicts the five-year-old’s experiences and the latter takes place in his adulthood. However, due to Pawar’s likeability and his compelling performance, the opening section is much stronger than the subsequent one. First audiences will be enamoured with the adventures he has with his older brother; then they will be engrossed by his ingenuity and loneliness in Kolkata. While Patel is a perfectly fine actor and his interactions with friends and family are engaging, he gradually pushes them away and spends increasing amounts of time alone scrolling through Google Earth — not the most gripping stuff. Nonetheless, this is an amazing, absorbing story with a bittersweet ending that most viewers will appreciate.
Special features include: deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes gallery; and “Never Give Up” music video by Sia. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Monster Trucks (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Tripp (Lucas Till) is a high school senior with a knack for building trucks who makes an incredible discovery — a gas-guzzling creature named Creech. To protect his mischievous new friend, Tripp hides Creech under the hood of his latest creation, turning it into a real-life super-powered monster truck. Together, this unlikely duo with a shared taste for speed team up on a wild journey to reunite Creech with his family.
It’s not often one thinks to take this movie title literally, but it’s actually about giant beasts hiding/living in large trucks. It begins the same way all similar narratives do with the protagonist finding one of the scared creatures lurking in the shadows. Their initial encounters are somewhat hostile, but Tripp eventually realizes Creech is harmless and in need of protection. Then there’s the involvement of a girl from school and a few sympathetic adults, who band together to rescue Creech’s family and return them to their home. Since the narrative is so crazy, it’s not as surprising to see the equally wild car chases around steep mountain roads or high-flying antics to escape their super-aggressive pursuers. The cuteness of the monster makes up for a lot of its silliness, but the combination of these things will undoubtedly appeal to the younger target audience.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Who’s Driving the Monster Trucks?”; “The Monster in the Truck”; “Creating the Monster Truck”; production diaries; and gag reel. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Never Too Young to Die (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
When a top secret agent (George Lazenby) is murdered, his estranged gymnast son Lance Stargrove (John Stamos) teams up with his dad's seductive and deadly associate, Danja Deering (Vanity) to face his father's killer — the fiendish mastermind Velvet Von Ragner (Gene Simmons), the hermaphroditic heel hell-bent on a scheme to poison the city's water supply — and it's up to Stargrove to crush Velvet once and for all.
While the ‘80s produced a lot of weird but fun movies, it also supplied an equal number of just plain weird pictures. This is one of the latter. The film opens with Velvet announcing his plan to wreak havoc on the city in a moment reminiscent of a scene in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and it just snowballs from there. Other than the death of his father and Danja’s allure, Lance doesn’t appear to have any reason (or skill) to take up this fight. Yet, he quickly involves himself in this ridiculous battle for the all-important codes that were too easy to get to start. Simmons clearly fashioned his character on Dr. Frank N. Furter’s, sporting a very similar look and persona… though Tim Curry definitely wore it better.
There are no special features. (Shout Factory)
Silicon Valley: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
HBO Home Entertainment
After last season's shocking ending, which found Pied Piper celebrating legal victory just as Richard (Thomas Middleditch) was ousted as CEO, season three picks up where we left off, with Richard offered the diminished role of CTO and the rest of his team — Erlich (T.J. Miller), Jared (Zach Woods), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) — facing the question of just how far their loyalty extends. With a new, no-nonsense CEO hell-bent on transforming everything from Pied Piper's offices to its business agenda, the guys must find a way to triumph in the war of Art vs. Commerce, maneuvering the many competing interests along the way.
The fate of Pied Piper always seems to be precarious, whether they’re seeking leadership, their next big windfall or a way to get ahead of the competition — and there seems to be a lot more competition this season. In addition to all the usual jests, there’s also a lot of internal strife as the team feels the need to take sides in the battle for CEO-supremacy. The company’s direction is a winding road through some fairly dark terrain, but they always seem to return to the light. Continued improvements and variations on their cutting-edge code lead to a number of developments, but with an ever-changing focus it’s difficult to accomplish any one thing. Nevertheless, the rollercoaster year of trials and failures leads to a pretty unbelievable season finale.
Special features include: deleted scenes. (HBO Home Entertainment)
Sword Master (Blu-ray & DVD)
Well Go USA
A powerful swordsman is haunted by the destructive impact his deadly talents have on others. Weary of the bloodshed and violence from the martial arts world, he banishes himself to the humble life of a vagrant, wandering the fringes of society. But his violent past refuses to let him go quietly. The master swordsman must regain the ability to wield his sword and fight those disrupting the peace he so desperately craves.
The film is created in the classic wuxia style and boasts a captivating narrative. The above description is also intriguing due to its vagueness; the story, to some extent, revolves around three men, to whom it could be referring to a certain degree. The main characters are on three different paths that will eventually converge to reveal various betrayals and alliances. There are also two women at the centre of the tale, both of who have lived tragic lives and one of which is in a hell of her own making. Love, death and honour are the traditional key themes of these films, and they all play important roles in this fascinating and beautiful picture.
Special features include: “Mastering the Sword”; and trailer. (Well Go USA)
Tangled: Before Ever After (DVD)
Walt Disney Studios
After all those years stuck in a tower, everyone’s favorite “barefoot princess” (Mandy Moore) yearns to make up for lost time. With the help of her true love Eugene (Zachary Levi), pals Pascal and Maximus and daring new friend Cassandra (Eden Espinosa), Rapunzel postpones her wedding and royal duties to defy danger and boldly explore life beyond Corona’s walls.
This is an hour-long short that follows events in the feature-length movie. After a brief recap by Eugene recounting how they got here, Rapunzel is seen preparing for her coronation… though years of solitude has made her a bit restless and permanently unkempt. After having just gotten her back, her parents are a little over protective and are once again imprisoning her in the castle, which is roomier but equally confining. Yearning to see more of the world before being tied down by royal duties, Cassandra accompanies Rapunzel beyond the castle walls… except their secret adventure has less concealable consequences, resulting in an unconventional cliff-hanger fpr an animated movie.
Special features include: four Tangled short cuts: “Checkmate”; “Prison Bake”; “Make Me Smile”; and “Hare Peace.” (Walt Disney Studios)
Tank 432 (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Under siege by a mysterious enemy in an apocalyptic, war-torn landscape, a band of mercenary soldiers, hooded hostages in tow, seek refuge inside an abandoned military tank. But their sanctuary soon reveals itself to be a steel-walled prison. As the group succumbs to claustrophobia, paranoia, and increasingly disturbing delusions, it becomes clear that the real threat may lie not outside, but within.
It’s obvious quite quickly that something about this whole mission is not right as the soldiers begin to hallucinate and see things that suggest there’s an ulterior cause of their current circumstances. A perceptibly low-budget picture, there aren’t many sets as the group spends the majority of the movie in the tank that’s closer to a tomb. But even though there’s a “big reveal” at the end and a mid-credit sequence loops it back to the start, it feels as if there could’ve been better hints hidden along the way. Instead, there’s a conveyor belt of clues near the end that point to an obvious conclusion, which is then confirmed within the narrative. The film just feels clunky with little payoff.
There are no special features. (Scream Factory)
More about Lion, Silicon Valley, The Bye Bye Man, House, House II The Second Story
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