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article imageReview: This week’s releases mean doing things you didn’t want to do Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 22, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include some classic pictures from a beloved performer; giant rabbits; a less exciting reboot; a sequel with an effective twist; and a strange coming-of-age picture.
Elvis Five-Film Collection (DVD)
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Paramount Home Media Distribution
G.I. Blues (1960): For his first movie after serving in the Army, Elvis Presley found himself back in uniform, playing singing tank crewman Tulsa McLean, who, while stationed in Germany, makes a bet with his buddies that he can woo leggy nightclub singer Lili (Juliet Prowse), and winds up falling for her.
Blue Hawaii (1961): Elvis Presley sings 14 songs and still manages to drive sightseers around the islands in golf carts in this musical. Back home in Hawaii after being discharged from the Army, Chad Gates (Presley) is pressured to work with his father in the fruit business. Instead, Chad takes a much more enjoyable gig as a tour guide with his girlfriend's agency.
Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962): There's also plenty of Elvis! Elvis! Elvis! in this tuneful romp with the King as a tuna fisherman in Hawaii who lands a nightclub-singing gig to try and get his late father's boat out of hock. Along with what the title promises (with Stella Stevens and Laurel Goodwin among the girls), you'll get lots of Songs! Songs! Songs! (including "Return to Sender," "The Nearness of You," and "Song of the Shrimp").
Fun in Acapulco (1963): After a big-top accident leaves him with a fear of heights, trapeze performer Mike Windgren (Presley) heads South of the Border and gets a job as a lifeguard/singer at an Acapulco resort. But will a rivalry with cliff diver Moreno (Alejandro Rey) for the attentions of luscious social director Margarita (Ursula Andress) force Mike to confront his fears? Songs include "Viva el Amor," "No Room to Rhumba in a Sports Car," and "Bossa Nova Baby."
Roustabout (1964): After he's run off the road and his motorcycle is smashed, Charlie Rogers (Presley) signs on as a worker with a travelling carnival run by Maggie Morgan (Barbara Stanwyck) and eventually becomes the show's singing star (performing "Poison Ivy League," "Carnival Time," "One-Track Heart," and more).
Presley was an amazing performer who found his stage presence transferred well to the screen, resulting in a number of popular films starring the handsome crooner. This set collects some of his better-known pictures that contain even more of his hit single songs, which are sung with varied levels of hip swinging and lip curling. The King always got the girl, but there’s usually some hoop jumping involved. Even in the five short years between the first and last movie in this compilation, there’s a perceptible transition in Presley’s style and appearance. His fresh, young features begin to fill out slowly, hinting at the weight gain that would become synonymous with “older Elvis,” as well as his interest in shiny accessories, including a sequined belt. Nonetheless, these movies show the singer at his prime and are still a joy to watch.
There are no special features. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Flower (DVD)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Amy (Zoey Deutch) is a rebellious, quick-witted teenage girl who conspires with her troubled stepbrother (Joey Morgan) to expose a high school teacher’s (Adam Scott) dark secret.
This is a strange movie about outcasts bonding over sexual blackmail, the proceeds of which they use to go on shopping sprees. Amy has a very easy-going mother, played by Kathryn Hahn, who troublingly only becomes concerned when the police show up on their doorstep. Her stepbrother has a variety of issues that make blending their family difficult, but the two find common ground in the most unexpected ways. What follows is a flawed, impulsive, adolescent plan to expose a past wrong for which there will be irreversible consequences. As bizarre and immature as this film is, it’s actually quite entertaining and somewhat unpredictable.
Special features include: commentary by director Max Winkler and actress Zoe Deutch. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Greaser’s Palace (Blu-ray)
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Scorpion Releasing
The story of Christ's sufferings is “updated” and set in the wild and woolly Old West, where a zoot-suited drifter named Jessy (Allan Arbus) performs miracles and attracts a large following. But what he really wants to do is sing and dance! He finally gets a chance to bring his act to the The Palace, a saloon run by the ruthless Seaweedhead Greaser (Albert Anderson), and he's a big hit. But Jessy’s got more miracles to do...like restoring life to Greaser's son, Lamy (Michael Sullivan), who’s been killed by his father, and then contending with Greaser's envious daughter, Cholera (Luana Anders). Meanwhile, an unnamed woman (Elsie Downey) struggles to reach the town after her husband and son are murdered.
Iron Man’s dad, director Robert Downey, had an eclectic film career, creating absurd comedies that were often critically acclaimed. This turned out to be one of his more divisive films and, potentially, one of his strangest. As Jessy wanders the sandy plains, he spontaneously heals people and inadvertently gains an entranced flock of townsfolk. Cholera was the hottest thing in town before he showed up and she doesn’t take kindly to a newcomer stealing her thunder. From miracles to stigmata to crucifixion, this movie reimagines all of Christ’s biggest hits to create a whacky version of his tale that illustrates Jessy can’t escape his fate no matter how hard he may try.
Special features include: interview with director Robert Downey Sr.; and liner notes by Jonathan Demme. (Scorpion Releasing)
Night of the Lepus (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
A hormone intended to alter the breeding cycle of rabbits overrunning Arizona ranch lands ends up turning them into flesh-eating, 150-pound monsters.
There was a period in cinema in which making every day, non-threatening creatures enormous and deadly was a bit of a trend. Most filmmakers used insects, but this picture chose cute, crop-eating bunnies. Many farmers consider the long-eared beasts a scourge, but to most rabbits are simply adorable furballs. Therefore, making them the size of a large dog doesn’t really make them menacing. Nonetheless, these cuddly killers swarm people and leave behind mutilated carcasses. Starring several genre actors, including Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun and DeForest Kelley, they are tasked with keeping the mutant rabbits from spreading to the next town. Using guns, fire, dynamite and anything else they can get their hands on, the townsfolk take a stand against the behemoth bunnies to end their reign of blood-soaked cuteness for good.
Special features include: commentary with author Lee Gambin; commentary with pop culture historian Russell Dyball; still gallery; TV and radio spot; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Ninja III: The Domination [Collector's Edition] (Blu-ray)
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Scream Factory
Aerobic instructor Christie Ryder (Lucinda Dickey) becomes possessed by the spirit of an evil ninja when she comes to his aid after he was shot down. Dominated by the killer's vicious and relentless rage, she sets out to brutally attack his enemies. Her boyfriend, confused by Christie's changing personality and afraid that he might be her next victim, enlists the help of Yamada (Shô Kosugi). In a life-threatening exorcism and ultimate fight to the death, Yamada proves that he is Christie's only chance for survival.
This movie mixes the supernatural and action as the ghost of the ninja propels Christie to do things she wouldn’t even know how to do otherwise. Adopting his camouflaging wardrobe and wielding a very sharp sword, she successfully wipes out several of the deceased’s killers, who just happen to also be cops. In the special features, Dickey describes the training she underwent and its kinship to dance choreography, to which she could better relate. There’s no surprise turns as the narrative follows a standard path of possession, exorcism and potentially fatal ejection. For those not indoctrinated in the ninja’s legend, his origin and motives seem confusing, though eventually their importance wanes in favour of Christie’s intriguing circumstances and possible rescue.
Special features include: commentary by director Sam Firstenberg and stunt coordinator Steve Lambert; “Interview With Actress Lucinda Dickey”; “Interview With Actor Jordan Bennett”; “Interview With Producer And Stuntman Alan Amiel”; audio interviews with production designer Elliot Ellentuck and co-composer Misha Segal featuring isolated tracks from the original score; and theatrical trailer (in HD) with optional commentary with screenwriter Josh Olson. (Scream Factory)
Pacific Rim: Uprising (4K UHD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) is a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father (Idris Elba) gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous Kaiju. Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world to its knees, he is given one last chance to live up to his father’s legacy. Jake is joined by gifted rival pilot Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and 15-year-old Jaeger hacker Amara (Cailee Spaeny).
This film picks up 10 years after Guillermo Del Toro’s original picture. There are a few returning cast members that help maintain some continuity, but it’s a new world with new stars. Where the first film primarily focused on giant robots battling humongous monsters, this movie is centred on the conflicts of the pilots and the politics of protecting the world from future threats. There are a few early reminders of how impressive the Jaeger’s can be, but the real fight is reserved for the final act. The attention to the characters is fine as they’re played by competent actors and the narrative is mostly predictable with one key surprise, but it does lose the cool factor with fewer classic monster vs. robot fights. Nonetheless, there are a couple of interesting scenes that didn’t make it into the film in the bonus features.
Special features include: commentary by director Steven S. DeKnight; deleted scenes with optional commentary; “Hall of Heroes”; “Bridge to Uprising”; “The Underworld of Uprising”; “Becoming Cadets”; “Unexpected Villain”; “Next Level Jaegers”; “I Am Scrapper”; “Going Mega”; “Secrets of Shao”; and “Mako Returns.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Sea Change (DVD)
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Lionsgate Home Entertainment
After the death of her father, 17-year-old Miranda Merchant (Emily Rudd) reluctantly arrives on the shores of Selkie Island to live with her estranged mother, Amelia (Maria Dizzia). As Miranda settles into island life, she finds herself torn between TJ (Keenan Tracey), heir to one of the oldest Selkie families, and mysterious bad boy Leo (Skyler Maxon), who is part of the working-class "townies." When Miranda learns about the Seawalkers ― who, according to local legend, are half-human and half-sea creature ― she begins to believe that they could be real. As she uncovers more about her family's past, Miranda makes a startling discovery about her own connections to the Seawalkers.
This movie feels like a set-up for a prequel that’s unlikely to occur but is required to explain a lot of this picture. The core story is pretty straightforward, even though it takes them a while to explain why Miranda’s mother was estranged — both the lie she’s been told and the truth that tore her family apart. However, nothing about the Seawalkers is clarified, nor Miranda’s connection to them. It’s essentially half a story featuring a group of good-looking young people that in the end doesn’t make a lot of sense as a standalone movie, which is unfortunate since there’s an interesting tale buried somewhere beyond the screen.
There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Tomb Raider (3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the fiercely independent daughter of an eccentric adventurer who vanished when she was scarcely a teen. Now a young woman of 21 without any real focus or purpose, Lara navigates the chaotic streets of trendy East London as a bike courier, barely making the rent. Determined to forge her own path, she refuses to take the reins of her father’s global empire just as staunchly as she rejects the idea that he’s truly gone. Advised to face the facts and move forward after seven years without him, even Lara can’t understand what drives her to finally solve the puzzle of his mysterious death.
Vikander assumes the role Angelina Jolie made famous nearly 20 years ago as the brand gained recognition with people that didn’t even know a video game of the same name existed. It’s a pretty tall order to fill, but filmmakers have altered the tale enough to give the young actress the opportunity to make the character her own. Unfortunately, they forgot to also make the narrative compelling. There are long lulls in which little of any interest occurs, which means this issue could’ve been easily fixed in the editing room — there’s no reason this movie should be two hours long nor is it a great use of 3D. Their final venture into the catacombs is reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film and is actually quite thrilling with a logical and satisfying conclusion. One can only hope they learn their lesson in the sequel and cut out all the unnecessary bits next time (because there’s almost always a next time now).
Special features include: “Tomb Raider: Uncovered”; “Croft Training”; “Breaking Down the Rapids”; and “Lara Croft: Evolution of an Icon.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
The Violence Movie (Parts 1 & 2) (DVD)
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MVD Visual
The Violence Movie: When a deranged killer (David Wilkinson) escapes from prison, he inexplicably invades the home of Joey Hammond (Joseph Shaugnessy) who must fight for his life in order to stay alive. Shot on VHS back in 1988 (with additional footage added in 2003) by a teenage Eric D. Wilkinson (who went on to produce The Man from Earth, Mischief Night, Sparks), the short was passed around on bootleg VHS tapes for years before the term "viral" ever existed.
The Violence Movie 2: Was it real or was it a dream? For some unexplained reason Joey Hammond (Joseph Shaughnessy) returns in this sequel to The Violence Movie. This time the crazed serial killer (David Wilkinson) is relentless in his pursuit of the innocent Joey. It's the sequel in which you will keep asking yourself, "Why?"
These two films are essentially home movies you’d expect to now see at a VHS film festival as they were likely copied and passed around to other horror enthusiasts before the internet made this pastime obsolete. The pictures only combine for a total of 35 minutes and pay homage to the slasher films of the ‘80s, including a brief tribute to Freddy Krueger before embracing their admiration of Jason Voorhees. Thirty years later, the movies have been re-mastered, re-edited and re-scored by legendary Friday the 13th composer Harry Manfredini. The continuity between the two pictures is illogical, but everyone appears to be having a good time while possibly honing their filmmaking skills. Their earnest attempt at producing a horror movie is both admirable and surprisingly entertaining.
Special features include: commentary by writer/director Eric D. Wilkinson and star David Wilkinson; unreleased alternate version of 'The Violence Movie 2' with optional audio commentary; deleted scenes and outtakes; “Violence in '03”; original opening credit sequences for both films; original script; photo gallery; trailer; and reversible artwork. (MVD Visual)
More about Tomb raider, Pacific Rim Uprising, Elvis Five Film Collection, Flower, Greasers Palace
 
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