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article imageReview: Some journeys end too soon in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 7, 2020 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an incredible journey into nature; the last chapter in the Skywalker saga; a couple of documentaries about deceased icons; a classic TV family; an action double feature; and a tired dramatic formula.
The Assent (Blu-ray)
VVS Films
After a series of disturbing supernatural events in his home, Joel (Robert Kazinsky), a young single father, comes to suspect that his young son may be possessed.
Over the years, it’s believed many people who were thought to be possessed were actually suffering from mental illness, such as schizophrenia. This movie decides to turn that scenario around as Joel has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but may also be plagued by an evil presence in his home. The priest is tracking a demon that landed him in jail by killing his last victim and he’s determined to prevent it from killing again. As Joel struggles to differentiate between the real and imaginary monsters stalking his waking hours, the priests and their accompanying medical professional try to protect his son from the evil invading their lives. It’s an interesting concept, but it goes off the rails in the final act.
There are no special features. (VVS Films)
Bones (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
The time is 1979. Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dogg) is respected and loved as the neighborhood protector. When he is betrayed and brutally murdered by a corrupt cop (Michael T. Weiss), Bones’ elegant brownstone becomes his tomb. Twenty-two years later, the neighborhood has become a ghetto and his home a gothic ruin. Four teens renovate it as an afterhours nightclub, unknowingly releasing Jimmy’s tortured spirit. It’s thrills and chills when Jimmy’s ghost sets out to get his revenge.
This picture combines horror and Blaxploitation genres in a tale of revenge from beyond the grave. It begins a bit dully with a group of young people entering an abandoned building with the intention of holding a massive party. However, once Bones’ ultimate betrayal is revealed, his bloody return via a large, vicious dog is inevitable. Snoop is suave even as he confronts his killers, scaring them to death before taking their souls to hell. Director Ernest Dickerson has a good grasp of both genres and skilfully blends them. Bones is still a slick looking gangster who talks the talk and walks the walk, but he’s also a ghoul whose body is slowly rearticulated with the blood of his victims. Overall, the practical effects are very well done, particularly the wall of souls that appears at the end.
Special features include: commentary by actor Snoop Dogg, director Ernest Dickerson and co-writer Adam Simon; deleted scenes with optional commentary; “Digging Up Bones”; “Urban Gothic: Bones and it’s influences”; “Building Bones”; “Bringing Out the Dead”; “Urban Underworld”; “Blood N Bones”; “Dogg Named Snoop” music video; and trailers. (Scream Factory)
The Contractor / The Fan double feature (Blu-ray)
Mill Creek Entertainment
The Contractor: Retired marksman James Dial (Wesley Snipes) lives a secluded life on his ranch in Montana. Haunted by his failure to exterminate one of the world’s most notorious terrorists, he is approached by his old employers to finish the job in London, where the terrorist leader has been captured. But everything goes terribly wrong and when double-crossed, his only ally is a 12-year-old girl (Eliza Bennett) who knows the truth behind his betrayal.
The Fan: When the San Francisco Giants pay centerfielder Bobby Rayburn (Snipes) $40 million to lead their team to the World Series, no one is happier or more supportive than #1 fan Gil Renard (Robert De Niro). So when Rayburn becomes mired in the worst slump of his career, the obsessed Renard decides to stop at nothing to help his idol regain his former glory… even murder.
Even though this is a Snipes double bill, he’s only really the star of the first film. As the contractor abandoned by his country and setup to take the fall for an international debacle, he takes the lead in a fight for survival. The fact that he’s aided by a tween who’s almost as good at espionage as him is a fun twist to the otherwise serious betrayal. In the second picture, Snipes takes a backseat to De Niro’s obsessive baseball enthusiast. Gil goes to extremes to get Bobby what he wants, though it somewhat backfires and he grows increasingly agitated when Bobby doesn’t show his appreciation for his unsolicited assistance. One picture may be better than the other, but it’s still a thrilling few hours.
There are no special features. (Mill Creek Entertainment)
Munster, Go Home! (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Herman (Fred Gwynne) inherits a mansion in England and moves the family into an estate full of ghosts and other surprises.
Even though the Addams family became the more enduring kooky family, the Munsters were their friendlier counterparts. They look and act like monsters, but they are sweet and do their best to fit in with their neighbours. In this feature-length movie, the whole family heads overseas where they encounter a family of humans who are far more evil than they could ever be. However, their attempts to scare the Munsters only make them feel more at home, further frustrating the conniving criminals. One of the more exciting moments of this picture is the introduction of the Dragula, Herman’s coffin race car. This release also comes with a bonus movie in which the Munsters’ fame is used for evil and they’re mistaken for violent criminals.
Special features include: commentary by actor Butch Patrick and musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie; bonus television film, “The Munsters’ Revenge”; vintage cast radio interviews; still galleries; radio spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Mystify: Michael Hutchence (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
Michael Hutchence was one of rock's most dynamic and charismatic frontmen who captivated the world as the lead singer of INXS. But underneath it all he was a poetic, multifaceted and intensely sensitive man who struggled with the idea of success and the creative limits of pop. Crafted from an archive of rich imagery and never-before-seen footage, this documentary from director Richard Lowenstein offers a powerfully intimate and insightful portrait of the legendary singer's all-too-brief life and the undying legacy that emerged.
In 1997, the Australian band had released an album that put them back on the charts. Later that same year, Hutchence would unexpectedly take his own life, leaving many questions in his wake. But this documentary’s focus is on the man who’d become an international rock star. Beginning with his childhood as a shy boy who discovered he enjoyed being in front of a crowd at a fashion show, it follows through his adulthood. He had several serious girlfriends, including Kylie Minogue, but eventually married a mother of three who provided him with a ready-made family nearly torn apart by her messy divorce. The film allows fans to learn a little more about the rock idol, but ends as those closest to him recount the hours before his body was discovered, which recreates the lack of closure.
Special features include: additional scenes; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)
Seven Worlds, One Planet (4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray)
BBC Studios
From the depths of the South American jungles to the frozen peaks of Asia, and from the cities of Europe to the vast plains of Africa — the documentary features extraordinary animal behaviour and untold wildlife stories from each continent. We discover how our seven worlds gave rise to the great diversity of life on Earth today, and reveal the challenges now faced by animals in a world shaped by us.
BBC continues to push the boundaries with its incredible nature documentaries that reach the remotest corners of the Earth to capture stunning, one-of-a-kind footage. Audiences watch parents care for their offspring, risking their lives and hunting through injury. Their mating rituals range from seductive dances to hours of nest preparation, while others’ last action in life is to procreate. Each episode illustrates the beauty and brutality of nature. Babies are taken from their mothers, males battle over territory and humans infringing on their habitats force animals to do the unthinkable. At the end of each episode, viewers are invited behind the scenes to see the great lengths the documentarians went to record these amazing scenes of these animals in their natural habitats.
Special features include: “Highs and Lows of Wildlife Filmmaking”; “McMurdo — Would you Dive Below the Antarctic Ice?”; “Fireflies - Behind the Scenes in an Enchanted Forest”; and photo gallery. (BBC Studios)
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Eleventh Season (DVD)
Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Home Entertainment
Enter DoodleBob’s alternate dimension and take a trip to Bubble Buddy’s hometown. Help SpongeBob keep Fred’s leg out of harm’s way, move Bubble Bass out of his mom’s basement, and stop SpongeGar from wreaking havoc all over town. Make new friends, including an imaginary hamster, a sea bunny, the Krusty Krab’s peculiar night crew and Sandy’s nutty nieces. Plus, take a trip to the moon, solve the curious case of the missing clarinet and hear Gary speak for the very first time ever.
SpongeBob and his friends are still up to their zany antics this season. Plankton’s pet amoeba has adorable puppies that turn out to be kleptomaniacs, while SpongeBob takes in an abandoned clown. The Halloween episode is a stop-motion tale of finding the fun in scary things, while the nightshift at the Krabby Patty reveals some unusual customers with creepy cravings. SpongeBob makes an imaginary friend of a giant, fluffy hamster named Cuddle E. Hugs who has ulterior motives to meeting his real-life companions. Patrick also tries his hand at being a horse and running a lemonade stand with a little help from Squidward.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon Home Entertainment)
Standing Up, Falling Down (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
After four years of chasing his stand-up comedy dream in Los Angeles, 34-year-old Scott Rollins (Ben Schwartz) has crashed and burned. Hard. Left with little money and a fledgling at best “career,” Scott has no choice but to regroup, lick his wounds, and return home to his parent’s house in Long Island. While trying to figure out what to do next, Scott pines after his ex, Becky Brookes (Eloise Mumford), a successful photographer who has since married a former mutual friend. On a night out at the bar, Scott strikes up an unlikely friendship with an eccentric dermatologist, Marty (Billy Crystal), who has regrets of his own. Marty and Scott both help each other find the courage to face the failures in their lives.
This tale of two men at a loss in their lives is a common one. They find each other in a bar as they each drown their sorrows. Discovering they have more in common than they’d think, the pair become very close friends before ultimately separating. The acting and script are solid — Crystal is consistently entertaining, while Schwartz holds his own next to the comedic legend — but this formula is a little tired. Small town Scott fails in the big city and returns to find the girl he left behind has moved on with her life, leaving him to pine alone, which in turn pushes him closer to Marty who’s also struggling through the day-to-day. It’s time to move on.
Special features include: commentary by director Matt Ratner and stars Ben Schwartz and Billy Crystal; making-of featurette; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
The conclusion of the seminal Skywalker saga where new legends will be born and the final battle for freedom is yet to come.
The film opens by catching up with each of the main characters, including two major action sequences as they try to complete some aspect of their mission. From a hyper-speed chase through the galaxy to a brutal ground battle that leaves the forest floor littered with casualties, the movie gets viewers’ hearts racing early on. With the final push by the First Order at hand, there are many more confrontations in this picture as everyone is on high alert and Resistance movement of any kind triggers a cavalry. While the plotlines aren’t really surprising, they’re not entirely predictable either. Some time before a major reveal, they begin dropping hints of what’s to come, which is a great way to engage discerning audiences while still delivering jaw-dropping reveals.
Special features include: “The Skywalker Legacy”; “Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase”; “Aliens in the Desert”; “D-O: Key to the Past”; “Warwick and Son”; and “Cast of Creatures.” (Lucasfilm)
What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali (DVD)
HBO Home Entertainment
Experience the extraordinary life of one of the 20th century’s most iconic figures, Muhammad Ali, in this two-part documentary from HBO Sports®. Presented through archival footage and recordings of his own voice, the film explores Ali’s challenges, confrontations, comebacks and triumphs both in and out of the ring.
Muhammed Ali, a.k.a. Cassius Clay, is a household name. While everyone knows he was an accomplished boxer, some know he was an unmatched trash talker, and others know about his high-profile title bouts, most are not aware of his whole history. This three-hour documentary chronicles the athlete’s career from his first win to his last defeat. Most notably, it shows a highlight reel of all his major fights, allowing those who’ve never seen him in the ring to experience his greatness. Though the focus is on his boxing career, it’s impossible not to touch on his refusal to be drafted, his public turn to Islam and his humanitarian efforts. This is an excellent film for any fan or for anyone simply wanting to know more about the legend.
There are no special features. (HBO Home Entertainment)
More about Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker, Seven Worlds, One Planet, Whats My Name Muhammad Ali, The Assent, Bones
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