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article imageReview: Pride just gets in the way in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 28, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an over-the-top comedy; a Western that defies tradition; a movie that puts a smile on everyone’s face; a musical in high-def; and a gritty but intricate heist picture.
A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo: Two Films by Duccio Tessari (Blu-ray)
Arrow Video
In A Pistol for Ringo, the eponymous hero (Giuliano Gemma) infiltrates a ranch of Mexican bandits to save a beautiful hostage (Nieves Navarro).
In The Return of Ringo, the gunslinger (Giuliano Gemma), now a veteran of war, disguises himself as a Mexican in order to take revenge on outlaws who have stolen his property and taken his wife.
In spite of featuring title characters of the same name, the films are unrelated to each other. In the first picture, Ringo is a bit of a rule breaker enlisted to work with the law to help them recover stolen bank money. The sheriff has an additional stake in the outcome as the bandits have taken over the house of his lover’s father. However, it’s often difficult to know whose side Ringo is on as he infiltrates the criminal group by becoming one of them. In the latter, Ringo “returns” from the war to find his town in the greedy hands of Mexican profiteers. Unrecognizable in a paltry disguise, he penetrates the outlaws’ inner circle. The conclusion is a little far-fetched, but the rest of the picture is adequate with a spot-on soundtrack provided by Ennio Morricone.
Special features include: commentaries for both films by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke; “They Called Him Ringo,” an archival featurette with star Giuliano Gemma; “A Western Greek Tragedy,” an archival featurette with Lorella de Luca and camera operator Sergio D’Offizi; “Revisiting Ringo,” a new video interview with critic and Ringo fan Tony Rayns; gallery of original promotional images from the Mike Siegal Archive; gallery of promotional images; original trailers; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx. (Arrow Video)
All the Money in The World (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
The film follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III, a.k.a. Paul (Charlie Plummer), and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother Gail (Michelle Williams) to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom. When Getty Sr. refuses, Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time that ultimately reveals the true and lasting value of love over money.
Before anyone had even seen this film, it made headlines as director Ridley Scott made the decision to recast and reshoot Kevin Spacey’s part as Getty Sr. amid allegations of his sexual misconduct. Rather than try to sweep the incident under the rug, it’s actually addressed in a dedicated bonus feature (though the accused actor’s name is never mentioned). In any case, the gripping picture takes audiences into the private tug-of-war between Gail and Getty Sr. as the former begs for the ransom to free her son and the latter uses various despicable habits to refuse her. In the meantime, Paul’s captivity is shown to slowly deteriorate as it’s stretched well beyond the expected time period. This intense drama is enhanced by an impressive cast with Williams and Plummer often going head-to-head, and Wahlberg holding his own in a role that didn’t require him to hit anyone.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “Ridley Scott: Crafting a Historical Thriller”; “Hostages to Fortune: The Cast”; and “Recast, Reshot, Reclaimed.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Backstabbing for Beginners (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Based on a true story, the film follows an idealistic UN employee (Theo James) as he investigates the grisly murder of his predecessor and uncovers a vast global conspiracy that may even involve his own boss (Ben Kingsley).
Corruption in world aid organizations is not new or, sadly, surprising anymore. It’s often framed as the only way to do any good, but the efforts to conceal bribery and those who benefit generally make that a hard pill to swallow. James’ character has tried for years to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the UN, naively believing any position would offer the opportunity to contribute to the good fight. The conspiracy he uncovers runs deep and involves the highest-ranking officials; but even though it’s relatively easy to follow, it still could’ve been told better. Kingsley is formidable as always, while James is adequately typical.
Special features include: “The Truth Behind Backstabbing for Beginners.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Cyborg [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Deteriorating from a deadly plague, 21st-Century America is descending into a barbaric nightmare. Only Pearl Prophet (Dayle Haddon), a beautiful half human/half cyborg, has the knowledge necessary to develop a vaccine. But during her quest to gather data and bring the cure to the world, Pearl is captured by cannibalistic Flesh Pirates who plot to keep the antidote for themselves and rule the world. Now, only saber-wielding hero Gibson Rickenbacker (Jean-Claude Van Damme) can rescue her and save civilization.
This is another of Van Damme’s early pictures in which he portrays the reluctant hero with all the skills to save the day, but a resistance to getting involved. Of course he has a grim past that informs his unwillingness, but a young woman forces him to see the futility of his inaction. More than just a survivor who’s learned to traverse this nihilistic landscape, Gibson has real fighting skills and uses the actor’s signature splits for a daring sneak attack. The pirate leader has an abnormally, almost cartoonish deep voice, which makes it very difficult to take his threats seriously; but his hulking, intimidating appearance makes up for it when he’s not speaking. This film is typical of post-apocalyptic, ‘80s genre movies, which is great or dismissible depending on who you ask.
Special features include: commentary with writer/director Albert Pyun; making-of featurette; “Shoestring Fantasy”; extended interviews from Mark Hartley’s documentary; still gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Den of Thieves (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment & VVS Films
The film follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as they plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of Downtown Los Angeles.
This is a gritty heist movie that combines elements of Ocean’s Eleven and Heat. The majority of the picture focuses on the cops tasked with finding the group of thieves committing these sophisticated robberies, while the criminals try to balance family and not getting caught. When a loose end is discovered, both sides try to exploit it for their benefit. This version of cops and robbers is very dangerous as the leaders of each side play like they have nothing to lose. The intricacies of the heist are quite impressive, rivaling that of the aforementioned king of elaborate heist movies; but it ends rather predictably.
Special features include: commentary with director Christian Gudegast and producer Tucker Tooley; deleted scenes; alternate ending; “Alpha Males”; “Into the Den”; “Alameda Corridor”; and outtakes. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment & VVS Films)
Doctor Detroit (Blu-ray)
Shout Select
When fast-talking pimp Smooth Walker (Howard Hesseman) finds himself in hot water with Chicago crime boss Mom (Kate Murtagh), he claims that there's a new player in the game: Doctor Detroit, a cat who's badder than bad... and completely fictitious. In need of a patsy until the heat dies down, Smooth hits paydirt with mild-mannered professor Clifford Skridlow (Dan Aykroyd) — and promptly skips town, leaving his bevy of sexy "employees" in Clifford's hapless hands. Charmed by the ladies and spurred by his dedication to chivalry, Clifford agrees to become their protector and ally, transforming himself from a power-walking professor to a heroic hustler... and throwing down the gauntlet to save his college from financial ruin and the four damsels from the wrath of Mom.
This is a ridiculous comedy in which Aykroyd leads a double life: one is a mild-mannered professor that lives a quiet routine, and the other is a flamboyant pimp with a strange posture and speech pattern. Clifford doesn’t really understand what he’s gotten himself into, but that’s not about to stop him from diving into the deep end. There’s an unusual attempt to sanitize the picture by not calling the women prostitutes or showing them out on “dates” except when they seduce Clifford — apparently because they find him irresistible; instead, their other skills are emphasized, including cooking, party planning and being a good conversationalist. It — and Aykroyd in particular — is completely over-the-top, but that’s what makes it so entertaining.
Special features include: commentary with director Michael Pressman and pop culture historian Russell Dyball; interview with director Michael Pressman; "Radio Free Detroit"; photo gallery; radio and TV spots; and theatrical trailers. (Shout Select)
Forever My Girl (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Country music superstar Liam Page (Alex Roe), left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar, choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown, Liam is torn between his two worlds.
It's amazing the things characters will easily forgive in romance pictures. Liam ghosted everyone and has not spoken to anyone in his town for eight years; instead, he fills his bed with groupies and his body with drugs and alcohol. Even though he receives a cold reception upon his immediate return, a sermon of forgiveness causes everyone, including those he hurt the most with his disappearance, to put out the “Welcome” mats. Suddenly, by little to no effort of his own, Liam is embraced by the community and allowed back into Josie’s life. The theme seems to be that true love lasts forever, but even that should have its limitations. Nonetheless, by the end, these high school sweethearts unsurprisingly (superficially) surmount the odds to become a happy family.
Special features include: photo gallery. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Grease 40th Anniversary Edition (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Go back to high school with Pink Lady Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), leader of the bad-boy T-Birds, Danny (John Travolta), and a rockin' and rollin' all-star cast.
The soundtrack for this film is as iconic as its personalities. Beginning with an amusing animated sequence, the picture jumps to the first day of classes at Rydell High — and senior year for many of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. Using song to express their emotions and dreams, the sexually-charged teens (though most of the actors were well past their adolescence) go to a televised school dance, race souped-up, hand-built cars, and fantasize about ideal love. Everyone has a favourite character and song, and now they can be enjoyed in high-def vibrance. It’s a timeless musical that everyone can enjoy with a catchy soundtrack that has stood up on its own for 40 years, though who didn’t perfect their hand-jive next to Sandy and Danny.
Special features include: commentary by director Randal Kleiser and choreographer Patricia Birch; deleted/extended/alternate scenes; alternate animated main titles and alternate ending; introduction by Randal Kleiser; Rydell Sing-Along; “The Time, The Place, The Motion: Remembering Grease”; “Grease: A Chicago Story”; Grease Reunion 2002 – DVD launch party; “Grease Memories from John & Olivia”; “The Moves Behind the Music”; “Thunder Roadsters”; John Travolta and Allan Carr “Grease Day” interview”; Olivia Newton-John and Robert Stigwood “Grease Day” interview; photo galleries; and theatrical trailer. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Hostiles (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Set in 1892, the film tells the story of a legendary Army captain (Christian Bale) who, after stern resistance, reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to tribal lands. Making the harrowing and perilous journey from Fort Berringer, an isolated Army outpost in New Mexico, to the grasslands of Montana, the former rivals encounter a young widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains. Together, they must join forces to overcome the punishing landscape, hostile Comanche, and ruthless outliers that they encounter along the way.
This is far from a typical Western, even though many of the players are the same. It begins rather typically with the soldiers and indigenous people on opposite sides of the fence, glaring at each other suspiciously and scornfully in spite of having a shared destination. But there are far worse things to confront on their journey than hurt egos or compromised principles. As their journey grows more treacherous, they’re forced to become a singular unit — and the little respect the Army captain and war chief had for each other gradually increases. In spite being a very slow drama set mostly in the undeveloped plains, the narrative captures audiences’ attention with its quiet intensity and explosive confrontations.
Special features include: making-of three-part documentary; “Provenance”; “Removing the Binds”; and “Don’t Look Back.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Man from Earth: Holocene (Blu-ray)
MVD Visual
"John Oldman" (David Lee Smith), the immortal 14,000-year-old "Man from Earth" is now comfortably hiding in plain sight as a college professor in Northern California. His existence comes crashing down when four students discover his deepest secret, putting his life in grave danger and potentially shaking mankind to its very soul.
Unlike the first film, John doesn’t freely divulge the truth of his immortality to anyone. Instead, a group of his current students put together the pieces with the help of a non-fiction book based on his previous confession. If what they suspect is true, the students have dividing opinions on what the next steps should be, including worship, concealment or selective ignorance. The same discussions of faith and truth are had, but they feel more trivial and less profound than they did prior. The confrontation takes a not-so-unexpected turn before abruptly coming to a close. But whereas previously the film simply laid all its cards on the table and walked away, this one raises questions that it doesn’t answer in a way that is more annoying than intriguing.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Richard Schenkman and producer Eric D. Wilkinson; deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary; behind the scenes documentary featuring cast and crew; behind the original score; Dances With Films World Premiere: red carpet interview with writer/director Richard Schenkman; Dances With Films World Premiere: Cast & Crew Q&A; Matt Douglas “Primal Kickboxing” instructional video; posters gallery; and trailers. (MVD Visual)
Paddington 2 (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy’s hundredth birthday, Paddington (voice of Ben Whishaw) sees a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. Hilarity and adventure ensue when the book is stolen and Paddington and the Browns must unmask the thief.
The opening scenes in the film demonstrate the talking bear has become an integral part of the community. He’s friends with all the neighbours and has a daily routine that keeps everyone in good spirits. Unfortunately, all of this is upended when Paddington is falsely convicted; even though it’s somewhat peculiar that he’s not sent to a juvenile detention centre instead. In any case, he quickly learns there are no bedtime stories in jail and most people aren’t interested in making friends… which doesn’t mean it can’t happen eventually. These narratives are absolute fantasy, but they’re also so lighthearted and heartfelt that it’s difficult not to embrace and enjoy them. The films’ intention is to make audiences smile and they do so frequently and unfailingly.
Special features include: commentary by director/co-writer Paul King; “Paddington: The Bear Truth”; “How to Make A Marmalade Sandwich”; music video with Phoenix Buchanan; “The Magical Mystery of Paddington’s Pop-Up Book”; “The Browns and Paddington: The Special Bond”; “Knuckles: A Fistful of Marmalade”; and “The (Once) Famous Faces of Phoenix Buchanan.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
More about Hostiles, Paddington 2, Forever My Girl, A Pistol for Ringo, The Return of Ringo
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