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article imageReview: Lots of dreams of what was or could be in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 7, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a movie who’s reputation precedes it; a relentless comedy; a moving historical drama; a reimagined Western; a heist movie that never stood a chance; and a couple of hypotheticals.
Adrift (Blu-ray)
Untitled
VVS Films
As the two avid sailors set out on a journey across the ocean, Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) couldn't anticipate they would be sailing directly into one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history. In the aftermath of the storm, Tami awakens to find Richard badly injured and their boat in ruins. With no hope for rescue, Tami must find the strength and determination to save herself and the only man she has ever loved.
This story is harrowing, inspiring, heartbreaking and almost entirely true. It begins immediately following the storm when Tami awakens alone below deck. As she takes over boat repairs and navigation, the narrative flashes back to her arrival in a coastal town where she’d meet her would-be fiancé, Richard. Her appetite for adventure and life, and love for Richard are paralleled with her struggle to survive on limited rations and a compromised boat. Woodley and Claflin have excellent chemistry that helps lure audiences into this amazing tale of endurance, which at its core is also a love story. The warmth of their courtship is contrasted with the harsh light of being stranded. The conclusion is hard-hitting, but not entirely unexpected.
Special features include: commentary by director Baltasar Kormákur and Shailene Woodley; deleted scenes; “Survival at Sea”; “Journey Home”; and “Braving the Elements.” (VVS Films)
American Animals (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Determined to escape their predictable suburban lives, Spencer (Barry Keoghan) and Warren (Evan Peters) decide to do something extraordinary: steal some of the world’s most valuable books from a college library. Enlisting two other friends, Spencer and Warren meticulously plot the theft — but their caper takes on a wild life of its own.
People often joke about robbing a bank, but most don’t follow through for fear of the consequences when they’re inevitably caught because they don’t know the first thing about planning a high-risk robbery. Watching movies gives everyone a basic understanding of what a heist of this nature entails (or at least these guys think they do), which when combined with a practical strategy seems like a conceivable task — though audiences are just waiting for them to come to their senses and realize how ludicrous the whole plot is. Scheming is fun, but Spencer keeps waiting for the insurmountable obstacle that will force them to call the whole thing off… and in hindsight, no one knows if they should have believed Warren about anything. The one element that makes this movie even more compelling is interviews with the real-life thieves recounting events that are cleverly spliced throughout the film.
Special features include: commentary by director and cast; deleted scenes; featurettes; and still gallery. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Blast (Blu-ray)
Untitled
MVD Visual
The world’s finest athletes have once again gathered for the summer games. Security is airtight as world leaders set aside global conflicts in order to celebrate the purity of sports. Just before the competition begins, a deadly team of terrorists mounts a precision attack on the swimming complex, holds the women’s’ swimming team hostage and unknowingly traps a janitor (Linden Ashby), within the sprawling compound. The terrorists wire each competition venue with deadly explosives and the uplink to a global satellite to announce their plans to a stunned international audience. Totally unprepared for an assault of this magnitude, a desperate President and the F.B.I. enlists the brilliant Interpol counter-terrorism expert “Leo” (Rutger Hauer), who coordinates his efforts with the trapped janitor to contain this volatile situation.
It’s important to read the writing that flashes onto the screen before the film starts to avoid confusion, because this is a movie about what could have happened had a terrorist plot in Atlanta not been foiled by the FBI. With this in mind, the janitor with a personal connection to the swim team and elite fighting skills that happens to elude the terrorists is a little (more or) less ridiculous. While the action hero takes care of the bad guys inside, the police sit outside waiting for him to aid their breach — at some point, their presence seems almost pointless. Leo is an eccentric character, which is somewhat unusual in this type of film, but Hauer gets his moment in the spotlight too.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Book Club (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Untitled
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Four lifelong friends’ (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen) lives are turned upside down when their book club attempts to shake things up by tackling the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.
This is as much of an excuse to get four amazing actresses together as it is an advertisement for E.L. James’ trilogy. They’re basically the older versions of the Sex and the City characters as each couldn’t be more different from the other, yet their friendship has spanned decades. Fonda plays a sexually active, chronically unattached hotel mogul; Bergen is a divorced federal judge contemplating online dating; Steenburgen portrays a long-time wife wondering where the spark in her marriage went; and Keaton is a recent widow whose kids are ready to put her in a nursing home in spite of her still active lifestyle. The men in their lives are impeccably played by Craig T. Nelson, Andy Garcia, Don Johnson and Wallace Sherman. As the baby boomers age, this type of fun and romantic narrative serves as a reminder that nowadays age is just a number.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes; “It All Started with a Book”; “Casting Book Club”; “Location, Location, Location”; and “A New Chapter.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Boss (Blu-ray)
Untitled
MVD Visual
Boss (Fred Williamson) has "decided to hunt white folks for a change" by becoming a bounty hunter to click the hammer on fugitive outlaws. He and his sidekick Amos (D'Urville Martin) ride into the town of San Miguel, find it has no sheriff, and takes the job himself, much to the displeasure of the racial epithet-hurling townsfolk who must pay $20 each time they use the "n-word." Those $20 fines add up faster than a Texas tornado, as does the posterior kicking of those who try to keep our heroes from instituting "black man's law in white man's town."
This is a cross between the classic Western and a Blaxploitation film. Williamson is an ex-football player with a still daunting stature who towers over his more comical deputy played by Martin. The humour primarily arises from the racial tensions in a town with white business owners who don’t have gun-fighting skills to defend themselves against a bullying thug or an established black man. As each one is given the option of jail or a fine for their slurs, the power noticeably drifts in Boss’ favour. The basic tale of a gunslinger riding into town and saving it from ruin is the same… except that most of the townsfolk would rather let it fall than accept the help of a black man — not that Boss really cares about most of them either, but there’s a bounty to collect.
Special features include: “A Conversation with Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson with Joel Blumberg”; “Jack Arnold Tribute” by Myrl Schreibman; “A Boss Memory” with producer Myrl Schreibman; and original theatrical trailer. (MVD Visual)
Bound (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Olive Films
A chance encounter in an elevator ignites a torrid affair between the two women — Corky (Gina Gershon), a tough-as-nails ex-con, and Violet (Jennifer Tilly) — who soon plot to steal $2 million in laundered mob money and pin the blame on Violet’s mafioso boyfriend, Ceasar (Joe Pantoliano).
Many have heard of this film as its unabashed lesbian love scenes and risqué promotional art created a reputation that preceded actually watching the movie. However, this early picture from The Wachowskis is a stylized, neo-noir thriller reminiscent of femme fatale films from the ‘40s. Violet sees Corky as an opportunity to escape her borderline criminal life and is clearly skilled in using her feminine wiles to get what she wants — but are her feelings for Corky real or convenient? Corky, on the other hand, is the poor schmuck only too happy to have a woman like Violet offer a life of happiness and the skills to make it happen. The dark, contrasting colours, particularly black and red, give this film a very specific look that leaps off the screen in dramatic ways that emphasize the sex and betrayal portrayed in the narrative.
Special features include: theatrical and unrated versions; commentary by writers/directors The Wachowskis; actors Joe Pantoliano, Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon; film editor Zach Staenberg; and technical consultant Susie Bright; “Part and Parcel”; “The Difference Between You and Me”; “Here’s Johnny!”; “Femme Fatales”; “Modern Noir: The Sights & Sounds of Bound”; essay by screenwriter/actress Guinevere Turner (American Psycho, Go Fish); and theatrical trailer. (Olive Films)
Bram Stoker's Shadowbuilder [Special Edition] (Blu-ray)
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MVD Visual
A demon is summoned to take the soul of a young boy (Kevin Zegers), who has the potential to become a saint. If the demon succeeds, it will open a doorway to Hell, blazing a terrifying trail of destruction, possession and mayhem that will destroy humanity. Now the fate of the world hinges on the final outcome of a renegade priest's (Michael Rooker) battle with the soul eating Shadowbuilder.
As Rooker enters the scene, sporting a priest’s collar and wielding a couple of big guns, there’s no question this is going to be an enjoyable ride down a dark road. He fights on the side of God, but his faith was rattled some time ago. Still, he knows all the rules and can use them to his advantage. The boy is sweet, brave and adventurous, and everyone interviewed in the bonus features has nothing but nice things to say about Zegers and his ambitions. Tony Todd also makes a memorable appearance as the town’s crazy outlier who becomes integral in helping them fight the demon. For ‘90s special effects, the CGI actually looks quite seamless, which when combined with the subhuman voice (that is of great contention in the bonus features) creates a very menacing threat.
Special features include: commentary by director Jamie Dixon; making-of featurette; “Shadowbuilder: Visual Effects”; “Shadowbuilder: Kevin Zegers”; theatrical trailer; and collectible poster. (MVD Visual)
Crazy Six (Blu-ray)
Untitled
MVD Visual
The Eastern Bloc has fallen and Communism is dead. In its place has come new opportunity — but not without a deadly price. Powerful Mafia families have emerged from the anarchy to vie for control of the lucrative underground weapons and technology trade. Crazy Six (Rob Lowe) and Dirty Mao (Mario Van Peebles) are the leaders of two rivaling mob families, who agree to form an uneasy alliance in order to overthrow Raul (Ice-T), the head of one of the largest crime cartels in Europe. But when the mission goes awry, the place turns into a deadly battleground with three world class gangsters fighting each other to death.
This movie may sound interesting on the page, but its execution is severely lacking. From confused acid-like trips, constant running around to escape pursuers or in search of a fix, and poorly established relationships, the film never really seems to know what it’s trying to say or do. Crazy Six is little more than a junkie that doesn’t seem capable of leading any sort of coo. Raul, in the meantime, is ruthless and only interested in recovering his stolen property, and Dirty Mao sits around looking cool until he can make an entrance. Then there’s a cop who decides to take sides when he figures out he can’t beat them and a lounge singer with poor decision-making skills. And it all unfolds in under lit, seedy backrooms.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Criminal Minds: Season 13 (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
Nothing can stop the world’s most brilliant profilers from unraveling the darkest crimes committed by America’s most devious psychopaths and sociopaths. This season, the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) faces depraved and cunning killers with the addition of a new colleague, ex-Delta soldier and former International Response Team member, Matthew Simmons (Daniel Henney). With every twisted case, the BAU — David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Jennifer Jareau (A.J. Cook), Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler), Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez) and Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) — proves there’s nobody better to take down the worst of the worst.
This season picks up where last year’s cliff-hanger left the team after a premeditated run in with a big rig. This is followed by some normal but disturbing cases that let the team settle in together before the next disruption — Chief Barnes (Kim Rhodes, taking a break from her Supernatural sheriff duties). She has ambitions of becoming the director and her strategy for climbing the ladder has involved finding efficiencies by disbanding teams. In between trying to prevent the breakup or destruction of their unit, the profilers must find a killer clown, a doomsday cult, a copycat and a photographer supplying morbid fetish photos. Yet, even after 13 seasons, the characters are still endearing and audiences are still learning new things about them — including meeting Rossi’s third wife.
Special features include: deleted and extended scenes on select episodes; “Getting Lucky”; “Bunker Mentality”; “Breaking up the BAU”; “The Table Read: Mixed Signals”; “Thirteen Minds”; “Would You Make a Good FBI Agent”; and pilot episodes of SEAL Team and Bull. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Mind Game (Blu-ray & DVD)
Untitled
GKids & Shout Factory
Loser Nishi (Kôji Imada), too wimpy to try to save his childhood sweetheart from gangsters, is shot in the butt by a soccer-playing psychopath, projecting Nishi into the afterlife. In this limbo, God — shown as a series of rapidly changing characters — tells him to walk toward the light. But Nishi runs like hell in the other direction and returns to Earth a changed man, driven to live each moment to the fullest.
This movie is a psychedelic trip filled with waves of colour, exotic transformations and a lot of time spent in the stomach of a giant whale. The audience is taken into physical representations of Nishi’s hopes and dreams, particularly in relation to his long-lost love. Although the story is not difficult to follow, one can become easily lost in the abstract imagery that permeates the entire film. it’s clear early on that this picture is meant to be experienced more than it’s meant to be understood, which once realized makes watching far more freeing and enjoyable.
Special features include: director’s commentary on select scenes; film animatic; design galleries; and trailer. (GKids & Shout Factory)
Tag (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Untitled
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
For one month every year, five highly competitive friends (Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress and Jeremy Renner) hit the ground running in a no-holds-barred game of tag they’ve been playing since the first grade — risking their necks, their jobs and their relationships to take each other down with the battle cry: “You’re It!” This year, the game coincides with the wedding of their only undefeated player, which should finally make him an easy target. But he knows they’re coming…and he’s ready.
The film is based on the unbelievable true story of a group of middle-aged men who go to great lengths to continue a decades-long game of tag, including elaborate disguises in order to catch their target by surprise. This is a comedy that often seems too over-the-top to be true, until the actual footage of some of the real-life stunts reveals at least some of the more fantastic events unfolded quite similarly. Of course, the groom’s stealthy ninja skills are a work of fiction, but Renner has a lot of fun playing the never-tagged champion. There’s nothing very exceptional about this film, but watching a group of grown men played by actors we know and love try to tag each other is pretty entertaining.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Meet the Real Tag Brothers”; and bloopers. (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Woman Walks Ahead (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
In the 1880s, Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a widowed artist from New York, travelled alone to North Dakota to paint a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes). Her arrival at Standing Rock is met with open hostility by a US Army officer (Sam Rockwell), who has stationed troops around the Lakota reservation to undermine Native American claims to the land. As Catherine and Sitting Bull grow closer, and as their friendship — and his life — are threatened by government forces, Catherine must stand up and fight for what is most important to her.
As much as this is a historical picture, it’s also somewhat of a romance. Catherine exhibits a lot of bravery and integrity in her quest to paint a portrait, though it turns into much more as she tries to help the Natives keep their land. This is a strange period in the legendary Sitting Bull’s life as he’s essentially relinquished his role of leader to become a potato farmer. But as his people struggle and the situation grows direr, his self-exile becomes harder to endure. The abuse Catherine suffers at the hands of townsfolk who abhor her relationship with Sitting Bull is atrocious, which is compounded by the fact that this is not a story with a happy ending. Nonetheless, the actors are excellent and do a great job portraying their real-life counterparts.
Special features include: commentary by director Susanna White; deleted scenes; and making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
More about adrift, American Animals, Book club, Boss, Bound
 
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