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article imageReview: This week’s releases break the rules Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 20, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a real-life prison break; a trilogy’s long-awaited finale; a globetrotting heist movie; an appealing story about the future of technology; and a couple of horror movies that miss the mark for one reason or another.
Escape at Dannemora (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Based on the stranger-than-fiction prison break in upstate New York, the miniseries follows the story of two convicts (Benicio Del Toro and Paul Dano) who spawned a statewide manhunt. They were aided in their escape by a married female prison employee (Patricia Arquette) who became involved with both men. It’s a bizarre tale filled with twists and turns, yet through it all there’s one thing that unites the inmates and citizens of Dannemora — everyone’s looking for a way out.
TV shows about prisons don’t appear to be going out of style anytime soon and ones about prison escapes can be even more enticing. As this miniseries was based on a true story, viewers with no knowledge of the case can wonder at the ease with which they proceed undetected and where those involved might be today before finally learning their fates in the last episode. The flashback episode feels poorly positioned as the penultimate chapter in the story. It would’ve been better served to know the threesome’s history earlier rather than using it to delay the finale. This tale of clandestine sex and manipulation seems too lascivious to be true, which, alongside the terrific actors, makes the character-driven series very appealing.
Special features include: commentary by director/executive producer Ben Stiller, actress Patricia Arquette and filmmakers; “Primary Sources”; and “Making of Sweat’s Run.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Glass (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), also known as Mr. Glass, finds David Dunn (Bruce Willis) pursuing Kevin Wendell Crumb’s superhuman figure, The Beast (James McAvoy), in a series of escalating encounters. Price, armed with secrets critical to both men, emerges as a shadowy orchestrator.
The most exciting part of this type of trilogy is getting everyone into the same room, so M. Night Shyamalan doesn’t waste a lot of time getting to at least one of the more anticipated meetings. However, this isn’t just an attempt to appease audiences — it’s part of a larger strategy that gives viewers what they want early on so the director can tell the story he wants for the next hour. As they reunite in a mental health facility, the psychiatrist’s job is to convince each man he is ordinary. In the meantime, the audience is presented with theories of comic books having real-life origins and the historical existence of superhumans. Both are convincing, but only one can be right in this narrative. Jackson, McAvoy and Willis each seamlessly pick up the baton for the final lap, even though two of them haven’t portrayed their characters for almost 20 years. Once the final act starts to unfold, viewers will perk up in their seats and their renewed interest is rewarded with an intense, action-packed conclusion with unexpected consequences.
Special features include: alternate opening; deleted scenes; “A Conversation with James McAvoy and M. Night Shyamalan”; “The Collection of Main Characters”; “Bringing the Team Back Together”; “David Dunn vs. The Beast”; “Glass Decoded”; “Breaking Glass: The Stunts”; “Connecting the Glass Universe”; “M. Night Shyamalan: Behind the Lens”; “The Sound of Glass”; “Enhancing the Spectacle”; “Raven Hill Memorial”; and “Night Vision.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Golden Job (Blu-ray)
Well Go USA
A group of former mercenaries reunite to plan an epic heist: boosting a truck full of medicine held by a foreign intelligence agency to supply a refugee camp in need. But when they find the truck is actually filled with stolen gold, the band of brothers realize they’ve been double-crossed by one of their own — and putting the situation right will be all out war.
This is an American-style heist movie, but with Chinese actors. The film was shot on location in Mongolia, Hungary, Montenegro and Japan as each country plays host to a significant development in the story and a major action sequence. Lion is the leader of the self-appointed brothers who’ve known each other since they met in foster care as children. They’ve always been loyal to each other and their adopted father, but one man’s greed ruins their futures. The narrative is fast-paced with a lot of high-intensity scenes, from city street chases in race cars to shootouts on busy highways to a compound breach with lots of explosions and gunfire. The actors playing the brothers are also engaging, which keeps audiences invested in the story.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; “Action and Location”; “Brotherhood”; animated poster; music videos; and trailers. (Well Go USA)
The Manitou (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
What surgeons thought to be a tumor growing on the neck of patient Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg) is actually a fetus growing at an abnormally accelerated rate. But when Karen reaches out to former lover and phony psychic Harry Erskine (Tony Curtis), she discovers that she is possessed by the reincarnation of a 400-year-old Native American demon. Now with the help of a modern-day medicine man (Michael Ansara), Erskine must survive this ancient evil’s rampage of shocking violence and forever destroy the enraged beast known as The Manitou.
This story was apparently inspired by a news article from the ’60s in which a tumour was also discovered to be a fetus — of course this tale of supernatural horror goes much further than that. It’s virtually impossible for Curtis to be on-screen and not be the centre of attention. His inherent charm makes him the perfect conman, which consequently makes watching him sweat when things get too real is a treat made of karma. The surgeon is obviously in over his head, but it’s more shocking the accelerated growth of the appendage doesn’t cause more harm to Karen. The ending is one extended psychedelic trip with starscapes, shooting lights, lasers and an angry monster floating in the centre, which turns out to be a fitting ending for an already absurd movie.
Special features include: commentary by film historian Troy Howarth; interview with author Graham Masterson; “Producing Girdler”; still gallery; TV spots; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Replicas (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
William Foster (Keanu Reeves) is a neuroscientist on the verge of transferring human consciousness into a computer when his beloved wife (Alice Eve) and children are tragically killed in a car crash. Desperate to resurrect his family, William recruits a fellow scientist (Thomas Middleditch) to help secretly clone their bodies and create replicas. When William learns that he can only replicate three of the four family members, he makes a decision with fateful consequences.
This movie takes a real-life concept, expands the technology and takes a step into a potential future. The tech is so advanced, it currently only exists in someone’s imagination, but they never feel the need to discuss how we might get there — it just is. Although filmmakers do discuss the challenges of portraying futuristic equipment in a manner that seems credible in the bonus features. To that end, audiences need to accept what they’re seeing and not ask too many questions in order to enjoy this movie. Reeves certainly chose an interesting and complex movie with which to return to the science fiction realm. There are the typical moral dilemmas with this kind of research, as well as some unexpected action sequences that makes this a solid genre picture and worthy watch.
Special features include: commentary by director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and executive producer James Dodson; deleted scenes; and making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Superstition (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Something horrible is happening at the old house on Mill Road. A series of ghastly accidents have occurred near the site where a witch drowned centuries earlier. But when an alcoholic minister and his family move into the cursed residence, an idealistic young priest (James Houghton) and a cynical police detective (Albert Salmi) start their own investigation into the unexplained violence. Has the daughter of Satan returned for a rampage of vengeance? Will the laws of the Church be strong enough to cast out this demon? And if evil has truly found a new home, is the entire neighborhood headed straight to hell?
This is one of those ‘80s horror movies that fails to realize its concept in a manner that’s entertaining for audiences. It has the typical elements of a slasher movie with a lot of people dying bloody deaths at the hands of a murderous monster, but the characters’ lack of common sense when it comes to avoiding the danger is a bit hard to swallow — especially when the deaths occur in two groups, the latter of which could’ve been prevented. The title is also a bit misleading since the threat has little to do with superstition and more to do with local history. Overall, this picture doesn’t leave much of an impression on viewers.
Special features include: “That Crazy Witchcraft”; “Lake of Fire”; TV spot; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
More about Glass, Replicas, Golden Job, Escape at Dannemora, The Manitou
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