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article imageReview: This week’s releases find its characters in crisis Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 27, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a woman determined to get what she deserves; an LGBTQ-friendly teen romance; a stunning and twisted thriller; and the inaugural season of a fan-favourite character.
Acrimony (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Melinda (Taraji P. Henson), a faithful wife, is driven over the edge when it becomes clear she has been betrayed by her devious husband.
Tyler Perry’s thriller chronicles the mental deterioration of a woman who becomes obsessed after she feels her husband betrayed her. As Melinda describes their marriage, she gave him absolutely everything before deciding she had no more to give. There’s no way she could’ve known finally standing up for herself would be the start of a nightmare from which she cannot wake. While there are some hints of Fatal Attraction — Henson even calls this role her “Glenn Close moment” in an interview — the primary focus is on how she gets to that point, which is actually pretty relatable. While her reactions may be extreme, what drives her to insanity would make anyone a little mad. Henson is excellent as she uses her facial expressions and eyes to convey Melinda’s true feelings even when her demeanour is calm and non-menacing.
Special features include: “Unleashing Acrimony.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Curse of the Cat People (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) is now remarried, living in idyllic Tarrytown, New York, and is the father of six-year-old Amy (Ann Carter). When Amy becomes withdrawn and speaks of consorting with a new "friend," Oliver worries that she may be under the influence of the spirit of his first wife. Is it just Amy's imagination that has manifested the enigmatic Irena (Simone Simon), who long believed herself to be descended from a race of Cat People?
This is the sequel to Val Lewton’s classic horror thriller, which brings back Simon albeit in a lesser capacity. Amy is the focus of this picture — a little girl with a wild imagination that ostracizes her from her would-be playmates. Oliver practically demands she get her head out of the clouds and make friends, but those she does make are not the ones he expected. The first is an elderly woman who lives under the watchful eye of her daughter and the other can only be seen by Amy… but that doesn’t mean she’s not really there. Unfortunately, the aesthetic is not as striking as it is in the original picture since the cat people are not a central aspect of the story even though Irena does return in some manner. Instead, it’s more of a ghost story fuelled by Oliver’s desire to conceal the truth about Amy’s mother.
Special features include: commentary with author/historian Steve Haberman; commentary with historian Greg Mank with audio interview excerpts with actress Simone Simon; “Lewton’s Muse: The Dark Eyes Of Simone Simon”; audio interview with Ann Carter, moderated by Tom Weaver; still gallery; and theatrical trailers. (Scream Factory)
Doctor Who: Tom Baker Complete Season One (Blu-ray)
BBC Studios
The Fourth Doctor’s classic inaugural season, comprised of 20 newly restored episodes.
Baker was the Fourth Doctor, serving the role from 1974-1981, and he is remembered as one of the most fun versions of the time traveller (though he may have overstayed his welcome). His signature was a very long, striped scarf, which he frequently used to thwart enemies or aid in escape plans, and a fondness for jelly beans. Each of the story arcs in this season takes four to six episodes to complete, using the serial format to tell engaging stories without simple solutions. He battles alien bugs, tries to prevent Davros from creating Daleks, and is then accosted by Cybermen immediately afterwards. In addition to providing fans the opportunity to re-watch this fantastic season, the bonus features are also especially enjoyable. “Behind the Sofa” allows various actors and crew involved with the series to provide commentary from the comfort of a couch where the audience can see their reactions. There’s a also a feature in which Baker personally reflects on a clips taken from various episodes.
Special features include: “Behind the Sofa”; new making-of documentaries; “Tom Baker in Conversation”; immersive 5.1 surround sound mixes for “The Ark In Space and Genesis Of The Daleks”; optional brand new updated special effects for “Revenge Of The Cybermen”; “Genesis of The Daleks - Omnibus Movie Version”; and “The Tom Baker Years.” (BBC Studios)
Jack Reacher (4K UHD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
When an unspeakable crime is committed, all evidence points to the suspect in custody who offers up a single note in defense: “Get Jack Reacher!” The law has its limits, but ex-military investigator Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) does not when his fight for the truth pits him against an unexpected enemy with a skill for violence and a secret to keep.
Cruise is no stranger to the action mystery, but this character is different from many of those he's played — though he does get to utilize his years of screen fighting experience. Reacher is a straight talker who doesn't hold back, particularly when he's trying to get under someone's skin. He doesn't care if he's liked, just that he gets the job done. Many of the things Reacher says or does is meant to be shocking or aggravating, reminiscent of ‘80s anti-heroes. While Cruise's good-guy history wouldn't make him the first choice for the role, he makes it work. Casting Werner Herzog, on the other hand, is unexpected but cool. The mystery is typical of quality entries into the genre, though it's a little drawn out.
Special features include: commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and Cruise; “When the Man Comes Around”; “You Do Not Mess with Jack Reacher: Combat & Weapons”; and “The Reacher Phenomenon.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Love, Simon (Blu-ray)
Fox Home Entertainment
The film follows the life of 17-year-old Simon (Nick Robinson), a closeted gay teenager trying to navigate high school life while balancing his family, friends and a complicated love story: he hasn’t come out yet and doesn’t know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s falling for online.
This is an adolescent romance story that happens to feature a gay teen as the narrative lead — something that shouldn’t be extraordinary but is vastly uncommon. Finding love online is a fairly regular occurrence now as people fall for someone often before they’ve even had the opportunity to meet in person. The unfortunate part of this tale is Simon is so desperate to keep his secret, he betrays his best friends to satisfy a blackmailer. As Simon speculates which of his classmates could be his mysterious pen pal, he makes a lot of bad decisions… though his desire to remain hidden is supported by several instances of his family, friends and peers poking fun at homosexuality. Nonetheless, it has the feel-good ending one expects while following the familiar formula for a teen love story.
Special features include: commentary by Greg Berlanti, Isaac Klausner and Isaac Aptaker; deleted scenes; “The Adaptation”; “The Squad”; “#FirstLoveStory Contest Winner”; “Dear Georgia”; “Dear Atlanta”; gallery; and theatrical trailers. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Sheikh Jackson (DVD)
MVD Visual
An Islamic cleric (Ahmad El-Fishawi) has a crisis of faith when he hears the news that his childhood idol, Michael Jackson, has died.
This is a movie about a man who experiences a significant change upon learning his teen idol has passed away. Through therapy sessions with a woman who doesn’t adhere to the same rules, he reflects on an adolescence marked by great loss as well as an obsession with Michael Jackson that was linked to an attractive girl. He’s become distracted and insecure in his faith, tracking his good and bad deeds throughout the day as if one’s piousness can be measured on a scorecard. There are some unexpected curves in the road in both his past and present, but overall it’s an engaging tale that tells a relatively simple story.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette; and photo gallery. (MVD Visual)
Smash Palace (Blu-ray)
Arrow Academy
The film concerns itself with the marriage of former racing driver Al (Bruno Lawrence) and French-born Jacqui (Anna Jemison). The pair had met when she nursed him back to health following a career-ending injury. They married, returned to Al's native New Zealand to take over his late father's wrecking yard business — the Smash Palace of the title — and had a daughter named Georgie (Greer Robson-Kirk). But over time stagnation has set in, Jacqui's resentment of Al has grown, and things are threatening to spill over.
This is the tale of a marriage that doesn’t end on mutual terms, which leads to irrational decisions on both sides before Al reaches a boiling point and goes over the edge. The beginning of the movie shows why Jacqui has become disenchanted with Al’s antics as he places his impractical dreams over the looming reality that can no longer be avoided, which in turn causes him to brood and threaten his family’s safety. After the separation, both of them are unreasonable when it comes to sharing Georgie and the consequences of their pig-headedness are extreme. Luckily the actors are all excellent, genuinely conveying the very raw emotions that fuel their bitter actions.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Roger Donaldson and stunt driver Steve Millen; making-of featurette; theatrical trailer; and reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips. (Arrow Academy)
Terminal (Blu-ray)
RLJ Entertainment & VVS Films
In the dark heart of a sprawling, anonymous city, the film follows the twisting tales of two assassins (Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons) carrying out a sinister mission, a teacher (Simon Pegg) battling a fatal illness, an enigmatic janitor (Mike Myers) and a curious waitress (Margot Robbie) leading a dangerous double life. Murderous consequences unravel in the dead of night as their lives all intertwine at the hands of a mysterious criminal mastermind hell-bent on revenge.
Robbie once again takes on the role of a mischievous woman who seems to have her fingers in the goings-on of everyone around her. The part isn’t much of a stretch from Harley Quinn, but the actress does it so well there’s little to complain about either. The rest of the notable cast are essentially puppets in her game, though no one is certain about what she’s playing. The film’s key attraction is the absolutely stunning aesthetic which mixes dark, industrial noir with neon lights and iridescent cinematography. The contrasts, which also incorporate Robbie’s costume design, are exceptional and reminiscent of another striking movie adaptation: Sin City.
Special features include: “The Cast of Terminal”; “Building the World of Terminal”; “From Concept to Creation”; and photo gallery. (RLJ Entertainment & VVS Films)
More about Love Simon, Acrimony, Terminal, The Curse of the Cat People, Doctor Who
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