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article imageReview: This week’s releases cannot escape the hands of time Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 15, 2020 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a fairy tale expanded; an absurd zombie outbreak; an action movie that calls for double-duty; a request that sounds easier than it is; a seemingly impossible adaptation; and a classic comedy trilogy.
Beverly Hills Cop 3-Movie Collection (Blu-ray)
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Paramount Home Entertainment
The heat is on in this collection of comedies starring Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, the street-smart cop from Detroit. Tracking down his best friend's killer in Beverly Hills Cop, Axel smashes through the local barriers in a high-speed pursuit of justice. In Beverly Hills Cop II, he's deep undercover investigating a gang of international munitions smugglers. The third instalment, Beverly Hills Cop III, finds Axel at the centre of a roller coaster thrill ride at the Wonderworld amusement park.
There’s a bit of irony in these films as it adopts the fish-out-of-water police story usually centred on a cop from a foreign agency seeking a fugitive in another country; instead, this movie features a police officer from Michigan who follows his killer to California, suggesting the states are two different worlds. Murphy brings some of his stand-up comedy into the pictures, regularly making jokes and talking quickly. Once Axel is in Beverly Hills, his faithful sidekick is played by Judge Reinhold, who never really gets a solid grasp of his tough cop persona. As is typical of the genre, the villains in each picture are connected to large organizations with a lot of fire power, resulting in plenty of mass shootouts. Of course, in the end, Axel always gets his man, the girl and, in one instance, a giant balloon.
Special features include: commentary by director Martin Brest; deleted scenes; “Beverly Hills Cop — The Phenomenon Begins”; “A Glimpse Inside the Casting Process”; “The Music of Beverly Hills Cop”; “Location Map”; isolated audio track; “BHC Mixtape ‘84”; and theatrical trailer. (Paramount Home Entertainment)
Brewster’s Millions [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)
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Shout Select
Minor league baseball pitcher Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) gets the surprise of his life when he learns a rich, distant relative has died and left him his entire fortune. But there's a catch: he must spend $30 million in 30 days as a condition of receiving his real inheritance of $300 million. And to complicate matters, he can't tell anyone why he's "throwing away" all that cash ... or he will forfeit everything! With the help of his pal Spike (John Candy), he sets off on a frantic spending spree the likes of which would bring any self-respecting accountant to their knees.
Pryor was a master of comedy, and he and Candy make a great pair in this picture. Brewster and Spike still share dreams of the majors, though it’s obvious to everyone else they’re nearing the end of their careers. This windfall presents an opportunity to make at least a version of their dreams come true, but it turns out spending that much money is much more difficult than it seems — especially when you keep making more money without even trying. Brewster slowly descends into a kind of madness and depression as spending every last penny alienates his friends and makes him a public pariah. Pryor’s portrayal is flawless as he maintains a sullen sense of humour through it all. Though it’s not widely known the film is a remake of a 1945 movie of the same name, it’s a true bonus to have the original picture included in this release.
Special features include: commentary with film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold, hosts of the podcast “Critically Acclaimed”; interview with screenwriter Herschel Weingrod; 1945 version of the film; still gallery; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Select)
Gemini Man (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Paramount Home Entertainment
Retired hitman Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is forced on the run and finds himself hunted by his ultimate adversary — a younger clone of himself.
It’s not the first time an assassin on the verge of retirement has found himself in the sights of a gun hired by their former employer. However, it’s not often the person firing the weapon is an exact replica of the target. This action movie adopts a bit of a sci-fi element as it uses cloning technology to ensure the government maintains its greatest killer. Consequently, pitting two expert hit men against each other results in some fast-paced, action sequences, including a high-speed motorcycle race that turns the bike into a weapon in itself. The reasoning for this international chase is pretty flimsy, though it does allow the film to showcase some attractive locations in Budapest and Cartagena.
Special features include: alternate opening; deleted scenes; “The Genesis of Gemini Man”; “Facing Your Younger Self”; “The Future Is Now”; “Setting the Action”; “Next Level Detail”; and “The Vision of Ang Lee.” (Paramount Home Entertainment)
The Limits of Control (Blu-ray)
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Arrow Academy
An enigmatic loner (Isaach de Bankolé) arrives in Spain, instructed to make contact with a series of strangers in different locations throughout the country, each of whom provides a cryptic clue which propels him further towards his mysterious goal. But who is the Lone Man? Why is he here? And how does the recurring figure of an alluring femme fatale (Paz de la Huerta) fit into the puzzle?
While some of director Jim Jarmusch’s films are more accessible than others, they’re all still arthouse movies to some degree. This one tips the scale a bit more with limited dialogue, and a focus on the architecture and scenery of urban and rural Spain. Everyone the loner meets confirms he cannot speak Spanish before commencing a one-sided conversation in one of several languages spoken in the film. The stranger reveals intimate details about themselves and the pair exchange encrypted messages that presumably give the loner his next instructions. The connections are comprised of cameos by notable actors, including Tilda Swinton, Gael García Bernal, John Hurt and Bill Murray. The role of the femme fatale is more mysterious than usual as her presence generally produces more questions than answers.
Special features include: “An American in Europe”; “The Rituals of Control”; “Behind Jim Jarmusch”; “Untitled Landscapes”; theatrical trailer; and reversible sleeve featuring two choices of artwork. (Arrow Academy)
Line of Duty (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Frank Penny (Aaron Eckhart) is a disgraced cop looking for a shot at redemption. When the police chief’s 11-year-old daughter is abducted, Frank goes rogue to try and save her. But to find the girl, Frank will need the help of Ava Brooks (Courtney Eaton), whose live-streaming news channel is broadcasting Frank’s every move. While a city watches, Frank and Ava race against time to save the girl.
This is a ticking-clock narrative that takes a pretty far-fetched approach to the story. Frank is a good cop that unknowingly makes a bad call and jeopardizes an investigation. Determined to fix his mistake, he goes on a scavenger hunt to find the clues that will lead to the girl… and he takes a novice online reporter along for the ride. This generates a mix of traditional and first-person camera angles that follow Frank as he’s pulverized by a shady weightlifter, held at gunpoint by his fellow officers and crashes vehicle after vehicle. Ava’s tech acuity and occasional pleading comes in handy sometimes, but it’s generally just weird that she’s tagging along on this dangerous pursuit. Ben McKenzie plays the bad guy whose commitment to getting his revenge is quite impressive.
Special features include: commentary by director Steven C. Miller; and making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Little Monsters (Blu-ray)
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VVS Films
A washed-up musician (Alexander England) teams up with a teacher (Lupita Nyong'o) and a kids show personality (Josh Gad) to protect young children from a sudden outbreak of zombies.
In spite of its seemingly dire plot, the movie has a dark sense of humour that makes for a very entertaining horror comedy. Dave is your basic ne’er-do-well who is a terrible influence on his nephew, who he’s now living with since finally breaking up with this girlfriend. But Miss Caroline appears as a ray of sunshine in his life and he’s determined to impress her, though his slacker, foul-mouthed personality may get in the way. Teddy McGiggle is a bit more predictable — he’s a child celebrity that hates kids and has a lot of non-PG vices. Their strategies for avoiding the hordes of undead is one not seen before, particularly as it often goes against one of the cardinal rules about staying quiet. The military is not especially helpful during the attack, though no one bothers to comment on the poor planning that put a family-friendly petting zoo next to a government test site.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; and cast and crew interviews. (VVS Films)
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Disney Home Entertainment
Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) and her goddaughter Aurora (Elle Fanning) begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies, and dark new forces at play.
Picking up five years after Maleficent proved not to be the villain in the story, her and Aurora's relationship has blossomed into a motherly bond. In the meantime, Aurora and Prince Philip grew more madly in love, which was apparently all part of Queen Ingrith's (Michelle Pfeiffer) plan. In this tale of black vs. white, the latter isn't necessarily indicative of good. However, the most impressive part of the film are the enchanted forest's many fabled creatures, as well as the greater origin story of the Dark Fey. The bonus features include a look at how Maleficent’s wings are used to express her emotions and how the multiple flying scenes were shot. Unfortunately, even though it's very well executed, much like its predecessors, the movie just never really feels right.
Special features include: extended scenes; “Origins of the Fey”; “Aurora’s Wedding”; “If You Had Wings”; VFX reel; “You Can’t Stop The Girl” music video; and outtakes. (Disney Home Entertainment)
Slaughterhouse-Five (Blu-ray)
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Arrow Video
Upstate New York, 1968. Mild-mannered Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks) finds himself "unstuck in time". Traveling back and forth across the entire span of his existence, he experiences key events of his life in a random order, including his formative years, the firebombing of Dresden and finally, at some undefined point in the future, his surreal adventures on a distant planet.
Based on Kurt Vonnegut’s acclaimed novel that adeptly mixes genres, including war drama and science fiction, the film successfully adapts the fairly complex narrative. Billy frequently moves between time periods, purposely causing the audience to feel as “unstuck in time” as he does. These non-linear visions are confusing at first, but they gradually start to make sense as viewers piece together Billy’s history of traumatic events. The narrative is darkly satirical and partially autobiographical as it’s based on Vonnegut’s own experiences during the war. Sacks portrays Billy’s many states with ease, authentically capturing the moments in which he suddenly jumps from one moment to another. The film, much like the book, requires the viewer’s attention, but it’s worth it.
Special features include: commentary by author and critic Troy Howarth; video appreciation with author and critic Kim Newman; “Pilgrim's Progress”; “Only on Earth: Presenting Slaughterhouse-Five”; “Unstuck in Time: Documenting Slaughterhouse-Five”; “Eternally Connected: Composing Slaughterhouse-Five”; theatrical trailer; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley. (Arrow Video)
The Turkey Bowl (DVD)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Patrick Hodges (Ryan Hansen), a former small-town high school quarterback — now a high-powered Chicago businessman engaged to a politician’s daughter — hasn’t returned to his tiny Midwestern town in years. But his old friends have lured him back for Thanksgiving to force him to finish the legendary Turkey Bowl — a football game that was snowed out 15 years ago. Patrick must risk his future to lead his ragtag team against their bitter crosstown rivals, ultimately realizing how much he misses the simpler life and the girl that got away.
This movie is as formulaic and predictable as they come. A rom-com set during the holidays proves to a man he’s made the wrong choices in life, but it’s not too late to correct them. Though they have to trick Patrick into returning, he falls back into old habits pretty quickly. Of course, the girl he left behind when he fled is still there, as are his nostalgic friends and neighbours who are still harping on the incomplete game from more than a decade ago. Their characters are typically quirky and eventually Patrick comes to his senses to realize everything he ever wanted is still in this town and his big-city lifestyle is all a sham. Unfortunately, this realization is delivered with understated drama.
Special features include: commentary by director Greg Coolidge and co-writer Kirk Ward; and deleted scenes with commentary. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
More about Maleficent Mistress of Evil, Little Monsters, Gemini Man, Beverly Hills Cop, Brewsters Millions
 
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