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article imageReview: Horror comes in many flavours in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 19, 2017 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a chance to revisit a hero’s adventures; the crazy adventures of two funny women; a thoughtful exploration of beliefs; a well-crafted mystery thriller; and one of the best horror movies of last year.
Ali: Commemorative Edition (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Muhammad Ali (Will Smith) thrilled the world as the wildly outrageous heavyweight champion. At the same time, he did battle with a political establishment aggressively opposed to his political positions while he was grappling with a tumultuous romantic life.
Ali is undoubtedly one of the greatest boxers to ever step into the ring — he was fast, strategic and could throw a punch. He beat Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman, holding and regaining the world heavyweight title. Most notably, he did all of this even though the best years of his career were stolen by a government that insisted on making an example out of him. The film also chronicles his relationship with the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X, which were often contentious. However, although it doesn’t focus on his promiscuity, it doesn’t attempt to hide the fact he was an imperfect man and husband. Smith is truly transformed in this role, skillfully adopting the legend’s persona. The new footage of Ali on set is really heartening as it shows how much he enjoyed watching the film being made.
Special features include: making-of featurette; new featurette, “On Set with The Greatest”; and theatrical trailer. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Bride of Re-Animator (Blu-ray)
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Arrow Video
It’s been eight years since the Miskatonic massacre. Unperturbed by the disastrous outcome of his previous meddling with the dead, Dr. West (Jeffrey Combs) continues his research into the phenomenon of re-animation; only this time, he plans to create life — starting with the heart of his young protégé, Dan’s (Bruce Abbott), dearly deceased, Meg Halsey. Surely nothing could go wrong.
This sequel to the H.P. Lovecraft tale of bringing the dead — or just their dead parts — back to life is even more outlandish than the first film. Beginning in Nicaragua, West is acting as an army doctor in order to have access to fresh specimens. Upon returning home, Dan just happens to bump into an attractive reporter he met abroad, reigniting West’s jealousy and pushing him to experiment further behind Dan’s back. In the meantime, a police lieutenant is determined to catch them red/green handed and Dr. Hill is even more committed to getting his revenge. The result is some great special effects work from a number of different artists that create the reanimated bride and a number of other abominations made from leftover parts.
Special features include: commentary by director Brian Yuzna; commentary by director Brian Yuzna, star Jeffrey Combs, visual effects supervisor Tom Rainone and the effects team including John Buechler, Mike Deak, Bob Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George; commentary by stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott; deleted scenes; “Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-animator”; “Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-animator”; and “Getting Ahead in Horror.” (Arrow Video)
Broad City: Season 3 (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Season three brings back TV's baddest BFFs for a whole new set of adventures. Join Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer and a lineup of special guests as they find true love (or one-night stands), get high on life (among other things) and show New York City how it's done.
The pair’s latest adventures live up to the craziness of previous seasons, while remaining grounded in some bizarre version of reality in which viewers can actually relate to at least some of the experiences depicted. The first episode opens with this silly montage of what the girls do in their bathrooms, which ranges from the usual to the disgusting to the odd good idea. It goes on to one of the best episodes of the season as Ilana’s massive bike chain is locked around her waist and causes her to become stuck to a number of things. In other stories, they work together to dupe a food co-op with expectedly poor results; they attempt to both list their apartments on Airbnb, which backfires for at least one of them; and they battle a New York rat that’s nesting in Ilana’s apartment. The art show in the bonus features is an unexpected highlight and further proof audiences appreciate their hijinks.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes; “Hack into Broad City”; “Behind The Scenes: Match of the Century”; and “NOMO FOMO: An Art Show About Broads In The City.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Come and Find Me (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
David (Aaron Paul) and Claire’s (Annabelle Wallis) idyllic relationship comes to an abrupt and mysterious end after Claire disappears without a trace. Devastated but incapable of letting go, David follows her trail down a frantic and increasingly dangerous path. Shocked at discovering that Claire was living a double life, he’s forced to risk everything if he ever wants to see her again.
This is one of those stories in which a regular guy fashions himself a detective and circumvents the police to try and find his girlfriend… or, even more perilously, her killer, if she’s dead. He discovers she’s at the centre of some sort of conspiracy or espionage when so-called friends show their true colours and guys in suits try to convince him to stay out of it. He, of course, eventually takes a beating for his troubles, but manages to escape an assassin before ultimately discovering the truth. In between his dogged search, there are numerous flashbacks to before Claire disappeared that he often uses to put together the next piece of the puzzle. Paul is more than adequate in the role of loving boyfriend-turned-reckless-investigator and the story is woven quite skillfully — it’s just lacking in originality.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Zack Whedon and producer Chris Ferguson; and “Unravelling the Mysteries of Come and Find Me.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Death Race 2050 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
It’s the year 2050 and America is controlled by an all-powerful corporate government ruled by The Chairman (Malcolm McDowell). The masses have been brainwashed with violent virtual-reality entertainment. The event of the year is the Death Race, in which a motley crew of violent drivers compete in a cross-country road race, scoring points for shamelessly running people over and driving each other off the road. The reigning champion and fan favourite, Frankenstein (Manu Bennett), who’s half-man, half-machine, wants to take the crown, but his rebel spy co-pilot threatens his legacy.
This updated version of Death Race 2000 is simply an excuse to create crazy new cars and blow stuff up — but with Roger Corman’s permission. The core storyline remains the same as Frankenstein hopes to use his notoriety for the greater good, all the while running people over to rack up the highest score. However, if possible, this remake is even more ridiculous, which tends to be a hazard when trying to recreate an already absurd social commentary. The characters are so over-the-top with one woman essentially the leader of a cult, another trying to further her rap career, and a man who sees himself as an Adonis. If all you’re hoping for are some wild looking cars, gory kills and fantastic costumes, this movie delivers; for anything else, go back to the original.
Special features include: deleted scenes; making-of featurette; “The Look of 2050”; “Cars! Cars! Cars!”; and “Cast Car Tours.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
The Girl on the Train (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Rachel (Emily Blunt), devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house her train passes every day. Everything changes when she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.
This is an incredibly intriguing mystery based on a book by Paula Hawkins. As the audience finds out more about Rachel, her mental health and innocence is further called into question. Her interest in this couple is borderline obsessive and quite unhealthy as she idealizes their relationship and contrasts it with the one she lost. While the narrative progresses, audiences also learn more about Rachel’s past and how she got to where she is now — an alcoholic daydreaming on the train. Nonetheless, the reveals that occur throughout the story become increasingly shocking as more pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The cast is very convincing and really do well in keeping the audience guessing, regardless of the size of their contribution.
Special features include: commentary by director Tate Taylor; deleted and extended scenes; “The Women Behind The Girl”; and “On Board The Train.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Keeping Up with the Joneses (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Fox Home Entertainment
An ordinary suburban couple (Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis) find it’s not easy keeping up with the Joneses (Gal Gadot and Jon Hamm) — their impossibly attractive and ultra-sophisticated new neighbours — especially when they discover Mr. and Mrs. Jones are covert spies embroiled in international espionage.
The story begins as the typical rival neighbours’ tale when it appears the seemingly perfect couple may displace the ordinary one as the most revered. However, that evolves into unusual bonding sessions involving snakes and lingerie, which may actually lead to them being best friends rather than competitive enemies. Everything about this film is exaggerated, but undeniably enjoyable. The cast is perfectly suited for each of their roles and all four have excellent chemistry, which makes watching them converse over coffee or during a high-speed shoot-out very entertaining. And although the situations in which they find themselves is absurd, it rarely transitions from spy comedy to slapstick; instead, the film relies on the strengths and charm of each of the actors to appeal to audiences and bolster their characters.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Spy Games”; “Keeping up with Georgia”; and gallery. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Ouija: Origin of Evil (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
It was never just a game. In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother (Elizabeth Reaser) and her two daughters (Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson) add a new stunt to bolster their séance scam business and unwittingly invite authentic evil into their home. When the youngest daughter is overtaken by the merciless spirit, this small family confronts unthinkable fears to save her and send her possessor back to the other side.
This is a pretty conventional horror movie with few surprises, which is quite disappointing considering the potential displayed in writer/director Mike Flanagan’s earlier films. He may have gotten in the odd effective jump scare, but the seasoned genre fan won’t experience too many shocks in this picture. Although there’s definitely one aspect of the presence’s relationship to the family that many may find unsettling even outside of the context of the film as it channels “Big Brother” to add an extra element of creepy to the tale. However after all the effort put into trying to create an interesting story, the last act relies too heavily on special effects. That’s not to say they don’t look great, but it just becomes a little worn-out and seems somewhat lazy after all the relatively good script work. This also applies to the exposition that painstakingly describes the cause of the disturbance, rather than employing a more film-friendly flashback or vignette.
Special features include: commentary by director/co-writer/editor Mike Flanagan; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; “Home is Where the Horror Is”; and “The Girl Behind Doris.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Resident Evil (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
A team of paramilitary commandos must battle flesh-eating undead, killer mutant dogs and a supercomputer’s deadly defenses before an unleashed virus consumes humanity in this adaptation of the hit video game series.
This was one of the first major and successful adaptations of a horror video game to the big screen, inspiring many others as well as a series of sequels. It also introduced film audiences to Alice (Milla Jovovich), whose red dress and ass-kicking abilities would make her an action icon for years to come. In addition to satisfying fans of the game, who could appreciate the inclusion of a number of different characters and monsters, it was the start of a zombie franchise that would always bring something new to the table, no matter how over-the-top. Trying to escape through a maze of booby-trapped corridors controlled by the “Red Queen” and passages filled with the undead keeps the characters and audiences on their toes.
Special features include: cast and filmmakers commentary; visual effects commentary; alternate ending with director Paul W.S. Anderson’s video introduction; 12 featurettes; and Slipknot’s “My Plague” music video. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Resident Evil: Extinction (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Survivors of the Raccoon City catastrophe travel across the Nevada desert, hoping to make it to Alaska. Alice (Milla Jovovich) joins the caravan and their fight against the evil Umbrella Corporation.
Having survived the crash at the end of the first sequel, Alice emerges a changed and more powerful woman. She’s separated herself from her friends, afraid her newfound and unstable abilities could unintentionally harm them. However, when the caravan finds themselves under attack from a new threat, her special powers are the only thing that can possibly save them. Before the reunion, audiences are introduced to new key characters, including young K-Mart (Spencer Locke) and caravan leader, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). However Umbrella is not ready to give up on Project Alice, which leads to both their salvation and downfall. Alice’s discovery at the end of this installment sets up an interesting scenario for the beginning of the next.
Special features include: commentary by director Russell Mulcahy, writer/producer Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt; deleted scenes; four making-of featurettes; and “Under the Umbrella: Picture-in-Picture Experience.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Resident Evil: Afterlife (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
After a one-woman assault on the Umbrella Corporation’s fortress, Alice’s (Milla Jovovich) superhuman abilities are neutralized. Now, fleeing the undead masses created by the T-virus, Alice reunites with Claire Redfiled (Ali Larter) and her brother, Chris (Wentworth Miller). Together they take refuge with other survivors in an abandoned prison, where a savage zombie mob stands between them and the safety of “Arcadia.” Escaping these bloodthirsty mutants will take an arsenal. But facing off with Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and Umbrella will take the fight for survival to a new level of danger.
This chapter of the series more-or-less lives up to the bar set by its predecessors, while dialing back the scale of the confrontations. Alice is as deadly as ever and they don’t dwell too long on the opening gimmick, which allows the concept to remain interesting for the brief amount of time it lasts. In spite of the confined setting, the film is still action-packed and relatively suspenseful. It also introduces a new villain familiar to game players —Axeman — effectively mimicking a video game battle; and although it somewhat interrupts the narrative flow, it looks cool enough to be forgivable. Once again changing the location and mission of the main characters, as well as their composition, helps the fourth feature in the franchise stay moderately fresh and entertaining.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson; seven featurettes; and “Undead Vision: Picture-in-Picture.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Resident Evil: Retribution (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus is spreading across the globe, transforming ordinary people into legions of undead. Headed for extinction, the human race has just one hope: Alice (Milla Jovovich). She’s on a mission, fighting through cities and across continents, all inside the Umbrella’s prime research facility. Old friends become new enemies as she battles to escape and discovers that everything she believes may not even be true.
Following a massive assault after what should’ve been a reassuring victory, Alice is once again in Umbrella’s grip and must try to escape. Only this time she’s not alone as she’s unexpectedly aided by Wesker’s trusted assassin and a fully-equipped rescue team. However getting away requires them to go through Umbrella’s fully controlled environments in which they can release any manner of monster their labs have created, including a creature the size of a small building. Almost more disturbing is the parade of eerily returned characters with varying personalities, including Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr, who take on more domestic roles this time around. Of course the end is never the end in these pictures and this one sets up the soon-to-be-released Final Chapter.
Special features include: filmmaker and cast commentaries; deleted and extended scenes; six behind-the-scenes featurettes; “Drop (Un) Dead — Creatures”; “Project Alice: The Interactive Database”; and outtakes.
Sad Vacation: The Last Days of Sid and Nancy (DVD)
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MVD Visual
The documentary explores Sid and Nancy’s fateful trip to New York in 1978. It is a film that is dedicated to presenting the real facts, told as it happened by their friends and those who witnessed it; a film about the dynamics of Sid and Nancy’s tumultuous relationship, and how it all ended in Room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel.
The names “Sid and Nancy” are infamous thanks to their badass owners, but beyond descriptions like “the real-life Bonnie and Clyde” many may not know much about them. Essentially divided into three acts, filmmakers first explore who they were before they met and lead up to Nancy’s momentous trip to London. The recollections of their coupledom are not pleasant as most of their friends lament her influence on him, which they believe turned a sensitive, ambitious young man into a distant junkie completely under Nancy’s control. The descriptions of the night Nancy died provide more details, but not any definitive answers as those will never really be had. The story appropriately ends with Sid Vicious’ unfortunate accidental overdose — and those interviewed also share their opinions about his mother’s involvement. With no real archival footage, the documentary relies almost entirely on the candid interviews of those who knew Sid and Nancy along the way, but their big/interesting personalities fill the void rather well.
Special features include: bonus interviews; music video; and trailers. (MVD Visual)
Star Trek: Enterprise: The Complete Series (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) pilots the Earth’s first Warp-5 capable ship, Enterprise NX-01, on a long-range mission of research and discovery beginning in the year 2150. During his command, Captain Archer and his crew will face life-threatening challenges from the Xindi, an enemy bent on annihilating humanity via a planet-destroying super weapon, and from Terra Prime, a human terrorist group — as well as a host of problems stirred up by the ever-present Romulans.
Following in Star Wars’ footsteps in more than just a storyline, this series is positioned as a prequel to the original one featuring Captain Kirk and his crew. However after meeting many of these aliens in a different context, it can be difficult to wrap one’s head around them being hostile or outright enemies. Moreover, the basic aesthetic is so far improved from the original, it’s a challenge to imagine it occurred before the show from the ‘60s. Archer’s chief engineer (Connor Trinneer) and the doctor (John Billingsley) are the most entertaining members of the crew, while the rest seem to just be going through the motions. The new aliens, on the other hand, have some creative abilities and appearances that help draw audiences into the stories.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
The Story of God: Season One (DVD)
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Fox Home Entertainment
Today, for better or worse, the power of religion touches all of our lives, no matter what our faith. This is Morgan Freeman's journey to discover how our beliefs connect us all. This is the quest of our generation. This is the Story of God.
Regardless of your beliefs or lack thereof, this is a fascinating series that examines similar concepts in multiple religions. From death rituals to the afterlife to the concept of good and evil, Freeman travels the world to find out how these ideas are treated by different religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, ancient Mayan beliefs and more. Though the episodes tend to interweave interviews from the same locations, each has a specific theme that it’s addressing and provides a greater understanding of the similarities and differences between various beliefs. There are also discussions regarding the place of science in religion with some interesting perspectives. The web series in the bonus features present interesting and even more varying points of view, particularly the “man on the street” interviews.
Special features include: “Q&A with Morgan Freeman and Talent”; “Web Series: Man on the Street”; and “Web Series: Walks into a Diner.” (Fox Home Entertainment)
Surf’s Up 2: Wavemania (DVD & Digital copy)
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cody Maverick (Jeremy Shada), hungry for a new challenge, convinces an infamous big wave riding crew known as “The Hang 5” (voiced by WWE Superstars John Cena, Undertaker, Triple H, Paige and Vince McMahon) to let him join them on their journey to a mysterious surf spot known as The Trenches, where legend has it, they'll find the biggest waves in the world. Cody soon discovers that the life he left behind might be more heroic than what any death-defying wave has to offer.
If you like animated movies and are a fan of the WWE, this is an amusing combination of the two. Cody and his pals are still doing their surf thing with the rivalry between him and Tank as strong as ever. However after sacrificing his win to save a friend, Cody is definitely feeling a little regret as he imagines what could have been. Everything is kicked up a notch though when The Hang 5 show up and offer each of the surfers a shot at joining their crew. They are entertaining representations of their wrestling personalities with the Undertaker surprisingly being the most comical throughout the story. Their adventures are somewhat ridiculous, but enjoyable for the same reason.
Special features include: “Chicken Joe’s Extreme Slaughter Island Tour”; “How to Draw Your Favourite Characters with Henry Yu”; “Inside the Music with Composer Toby Chu”; “Behind the Mic: Hanging with the Dream Team”; and bloopers. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Train to Busan (Blu-ray)
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Well Go USA
When a mysterious virus breaks out across the country, the infected turn into the murderous undead. A few terrified travellers find themselves trapped on a bullet train from hell, fighting for their lives as hordes of the living dead crash towards them, crawling closer with every stop. Suspicion is rife and tensions run high as some will do anything to survive and make it to the safe zone.
This is definitely one of the best zombie films — nay, horror films — of 2016. The South Korean action-movie breathes new life into an often deservedly berated genre. While exploring traditional concepts of drama and fighting to stay alive, filmmakers deliver a whole new way of presenting this age-old story. Seeking help at various train stations results in predictable disaster, but the gradual reveals and epic chases exceed expectations. Moreover, the capacity for both compassion and selfishness throughout the narrative are impressive. It’s the country’s first picture featuring zombies, but their skills in their horror department are already renowned and writer/director Sang-ho Yeon delivers an impeccable first try.
Special features include: “That’s a Wrap”; and behind-the-scenes featurette.
(Well Go USA)
More about Keeping up with the Joneses, the girl on the train, Resident evil, Ali, Bride of ReAnimator
 
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