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article imageReview: This week’s releases show you can never really know a person Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Oct 18, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a missing timeline in the MCU; a classic sci-fi picture; two epic series collections; an attempt to discover a celebrity’s true self; and the true story of caustic survivor.
The Affair: Season Four (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Long past the secrets that brought them together and tore their lives apart, Noah (Dominic West) , Alison (Ruth Wilson), Helen (Maura Tierney) and Cole (Joshua Jackson) are on separate journeys with the promise of new relationships and a fresh start. But as the past continues to surface, they question what they’re holding on to as their lives keep crashing back into one another.
At the start of this season, everyone is quite separate from each other. Therefore, there are fewer instances of watching the scene from two different perspectives. However, their lives are seemingly forever intertwined so there is still plenty of interaction between exes regarding their kids and shared business ventures. Noah and Helen are both beginning anew in California. While the former has a bit of a bumpy start at his new teaching gig, the latter runs into a life-changing issue no one anticipated. In the meantime, Alison has thrown herself headfirst into her psychiatry studies, and Cole is struggling with making a fresh start via his new wife and a business deal. However, the last few episodes of the season take an unexpected turn with some still unresolved consequences.
Special features include: “Sink Back into the Future”; and character profiles. (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Anna Karenina (DVD)
After a train journey to Moscow, married aristocrat Anna Karenina (Helen McCrory) encounters dashing soldier Count Vronsky (Kevin McKidd), and the two begin a passionate affair. With gossip rife among society’s elite, Anna’s husband (Stephen Dillane) discovers their indiscretions, setting off a fateful chain of events.
This 2000 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s romantic tragedy is a pretty faithful version of the story, though the same couldn’t be said about the characters. Everyone’s heart is broken at one point or another, either by infidelity or its long-lasting consequences. The actors’ training is evident as they adeptly portray the players in the period piece, astutely capturing the intonations of their speech and implications of their words. McKidd’s Vronsky is especially notable for his determination and charm, while McCrory captures Anna’s audacity and imprudence. The lengthy story is told over four one-hour episodes, each concluding at an appropriate part of the narrative.
There are no special features. (Acorn)
Ant-Man and The Wasp (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Marvel Studios
Still reeling from the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is enlisted by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) for an urgent new mission. He must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) as they join forces to uncover secrets from the past.
As far as excuses go for not joining the big fight, Scott appears to have had a pretty good one. Luckily Wasp is a very competent partner, in some small part due to her suit’s enhancements over Ant-Man’s. Ghost is equally fascinating as her exceptional ability is paired with pitiful sorrow and terrible pain, both physically and emotionally. Yet, her involvement in any of the action sequences elevates it another notch as the pace quickens and the moves become necessarily more complicated and less predictable. Hannah John-Kamen is excellent, creating a well-rounded character that can both appeal to and repel audiences depending on her mood. The humour is still effortless and the action sequences will draw viewers to the edge of their seats. It feels a little stretched at almost two hours, but the fun audiences have watching this installment more than makes up for it. Moreover, this Marvel picture includes one of the most jaw-dropping mid-credit sequences in the studio’s history.
Special features include: director’s intro by Peyton Reed; deleted scenes; making-of featurette; and gag reel and outtakes. (Marvel Studios)
Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), the chainsaw-wielding, wisecracking antihero of the legendary The Evil Dead films, is back for more gore-filled adventure in this complete 30-episode collection of the “Ash vs Evil Dead” TV series. Follow Ash’s journey as he returns home to Elk Grove, Michigan, meets his long-lost daughter, and unites with former enemy Ruby (Lucy Lawless) and fellow demon fighters Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) for a final blood-splattering stand to save the world!
Fans waited for Ash’s return for decades, regardless of the size of the screen it would occupy. Luckily, it turns out the war against evil is very well-suited for the small screen. Over three seasons, Campbell and company manage to recapture the goofy horror that made the films so popular. Ash is still a confident screw-up, only now he has amusing sidekicks, Kelly and Pablo. Together, they fight the monsters with whatever is at hand, while trying to find a way to close the once-again foolishly opened portal. Lawless is also a great addition to the cast, appearing a few episodes in as the still-kickass enemy with the grossest compass and a less-than-ideal plan for the world. The special effects are excellent, especially when they’re completely over-the-top.
Special features include: commentaries; “Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead”; “How to Kill a Deadite”; “Best of Ash”; “Season 2 First Look”; “Up Your Ash”; “Women Who Kick Ash”; “Puppets Are Cute”; “Dawn of the Spawn”; “Bringing Henrietta Back”; “The Delta”; “How to Kill a Deadite”; “Fatality Mash-Up”; and “Season Overview.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Black Sails: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
The action begins in 1715 on New Providence Island, lawless and overrun with history’s most notorious pirate captains. The most feared among them? The complicated, driven Captain Flint (Toby Stephens). Joined by Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), a smuggler’s beautiful daughter, Flint schemes to win the ultimate prize and keep his adversaries at bay. But enemies abound, in the form of the infamous Captain Charles Vane (Zach McGowan), the Royal Navy, Flint’s fellow cutthroats, his own inner demons, and an exiled legend whose name brings on the shivers — a man called Long John Silver (Luke Arnold).
Bahamas is notorious as a former port for pirates — the island even has a museum dedicated to its sordid history. This show illustrates what life at the trading post/rest stop was like, complete with murder and pervasive prostitution, as well as how they were perceived in England, Spain and Boston. Captain Flint was initially introduced in Tom Sawyer’s Treasure Island as the pirate whose booty Long John Silver seeks. This is the tale of how the captain gained the fortune, ironically with Silver’s help. It’s quite brutal in its depiction with more than enough blood and violence as the pirates raid other ships for their cargo, killing everyone that stands between them and it. The women with recurring roles are not all sex workers and have varying levels of power that they wield strategically, from entrepreneur to pirate to concubine. The show becomes gradually darker, revealing dangerous desires, pitiful histories and tragic fates, not all of which are anticipated — particularly Flint’s path to piracy.
Special features include: “Inside the World of Black Sails”; “Dressed to Kill”; “Pirate Camp”; “Folklore Is Finished”; “A Place in History”; “Building the Behemoth”; “Man O’War”; “Expanding Worlds”; “High Seas Action”; “History’s Influence”; “Season Two Recap”; “Blackbeard: An 18th-Century Pirate”; “The Storm”; “A Pirate’s Last Words”; “Woodes Rogers”; “Creating the World”; “Roundtable: Women in Piracy”; “Roundtable: The Legends of Treasure Island”; and “Roundtable: Fearless Fans.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) has a lust for life, a talent for off-color jokes, and a drinking problem. When an all-night bender ends in a catastrophic car accident, the last thing he intends to do is give up drinking. But when he reluctantly enters treatment — with encouragement from his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and a charismatic sponsor (Jonah Hill) — Callahan discovers a gift for drawing edgy, irreverent newspaper cartoons that develop an international following and grant him a new lease on life.
Based on the true story and adapted from Callahan’s autobiography, the film doesn’t shy away from the fact that he isn’t always likeable, especially when he’s drinking. Rather than telling a linear story, the narrative goes back and forth between John’s sobriety, alcoholism, rehabilitation and accident. It’s not always easy to tell at which stage of his life the movie is currently and there’s absolutely no way to determine a timeframe. However, in learning more about John in the bonus features, it becomes a little a more difficult to accept Phoenix as a twenty-something in spite of his excellent delivery. Hill, conversely, is completely unrecognizable save for his familiar blue eyes, which allows his performance to emerge unhindered, while Jack Black appears in an uncharacteristic serious role. Director Gus Van Sant has long been attracted to these types of narratives and he once again produces an intriguing film about addiction while also using Callahan’s actual artwork to illustrate his emotions.
Special features include: “Inside the Accident”; and “Inside the Hospital.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Down a Dark Hall (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Kit Gordy (AnnaSophia Robb), a difficult young girl, is sent to the mysterious Blackwood Boarding School when her heated temper becomes too much for her mother to handle. Once she arrives at Blackwood, Kit encounters eccentric headmistress Madame Duret (Uma Thurman) and meets the schools’ only other students, four young women also headed down a troubled path. While exploring the labyrinthine corridors of the school, Kit and her classmates discover that Blackwood Manor hides an age-old secret rooted in the paranormal.
This story is a bit of a stretch that requires audiences to proclaim, “Sure, why not?” in order to proceed. The unusual school for troubled teens isn’t a new setting for young adult thrillers, though this does take the threat to an interesting place. The small number of girls and preference for artistic endeavours does trigger some immediate alarms, but people will ignore a lot under duress. The purpose the young women serve is intriguing, even though they don’t really fulfill it because it would have made the discovery of the nefarious plot too difficult. Thurman is adequate as the headmistress, but someone more menacing with a larger presence may have been more effective.
Special features include: deleted scene; and “Welcome to Blackwood: Venturing Down a Dark Hall.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Blu-ray)
Olive Signature
Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is a doctor in a small California town whose patients are becoming increasingly overwrought, accusing their loved ones of being emotionless imposters. They’re right! Plant-like aliens have invaded Earth, taking possession of humans as they sleep and replicating them in giant seed pods. Convinced that a catastrophic epidemic is imminent, Bennell, in a terrifying race for his life, must warn the world of this deadly invasion of the pod people before it’s too late.
This is unquestionably one of the best science fiction films of the ‘50s with minimal but effective effects and an unsettling storyline. Bennell initially brushes off accusations that people are not themselves, particularly as the first is made by a child and the second by an elderly woman. However, by the time he sees the evidence himself, he may already be too late to launch a crusade to save mankind. The clones are briefly permitted to explain their intentions, but it’s an argument that’s long been rejected by humanity. Like most sci-fi pictures of the era, the film wasn’t just to be taken at face value — it’s also a commentary on the dangers of conformity, paranoia, and mass hysteria that was so prevalent at the time.
Special features include: commentary by film historian Richard Harland Smith; commentary by actors Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, and filmmaker Joe Dante; "The Stranger in Your Lover's Eyes"; "The Fear is Real"; "I No Longer Belong: The Rise and Fall of Walter Wanger”; "Sleep No More: Invasion of the Body Snatchers Revisited"; "The Fear and the Fiction: The Body Snatchers Phenomenon"; 1985 archival interview with Kevin McCarthy hosted by Tom Hatten; “Return to Santa Mira"; "What's In a Name?"; gallery of rare documents detailing aspects of the film's production, including the never-produced opening narration to have been read by Orson Welles; essay by author and film programmer Kier-La Janisse; and original theatrical trailer. (Olive Signature)
My Little Pony: 35th Anniversary Edition Collection (Blu-ray & DVD)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
My Little Pony: The Movie (1986): When the witch, Hydia, and a strange purple goo threaten Ponyland, the Little Ponies must fight to save their home.
My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): When a dark force threatens Ponyville, the Mane 6 go on a journey beyond Equestria to save their beloved home and they meet new friends and exciting challenges along the way.
Even though they were made more than 30 years apart, the films not only share a name but a general premise. In both instances, the Ponies and their homes are threatened by an evil that they must defeat to survive; but unable to do it alone, they each seek the help of another fabled pony. The original movie is a little uneven, but it embodies the spirit of the series that inspired it as well as cute characters. In remaking the film for a contemporary audience, the Mane 6 venture into the world outside of Equestria where they meet a variety of new characters — many of whom are voiced by well-known actors, such as Emily Blunt, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Peña, Zoe Saldana, Liev Schreiber and Sia; Taye Diggs’ smooth-talking cat is particularly captivating and reminiscent of the con artist that tricks Pinocchio. The toys and these films are forever intertwined, while their adventures are centred on friendship and learning.
Special features include: delete scene; “Equestria Girls” short; “Baking with Pinkie Pie”; “Making Magic with the Mane 6 and Their New Friends”; “The Journey Beyond Equestria”; “I’m the Friend You Need” music video sung by Taye Diggs; and “Hanazuki: Full of Treasures.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
In the drug war, there are no rules — and as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the U.S. border, federal agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) calls on the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), whose family was murdered by a cartel kingpin, to escalate the war in nefarious ways. Alejandro kidnaps the kingpin’s daughter to inflame the conflict — but when the girl is seen as collateral damage, her fate will come between the two men as they question everything they are fighting for.
There was a very specific attraction to the first film that revolved around its authenticity and grit, literally and figuratively. Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) faces a serious dilemma with regards to Graver’s tactics in the original picture, but even though they may have been illegal they at least seemed plausible. In spite of also being written by Taylor Sheridan, this movie doesn’t have those qualities — and one of the key differences is the horrors of the original picture were based on reality, while this narrative is only loosely connected to the new border policies introduced under the Trump administration. The high-intensity action sequences are still present, but they don’t carry the same gravity; instead, they feel like shootouts for the sake of incorporating a gunfight. Moreover, the fate of one of the characters feels inconsistent and is then predictably contested. Brolin and Del Toro resume their roles seamlessly, though Graver’s choice in sandals has somewhat improved since the last movie.
Special features include: making-of featurette; “From Film to Franchise: Continuing the Story”; and “The Assassin and the Soldier: The Cast & Characters.” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Whitney (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Seven consecutive U.S. no. 1 singles. 200 million+ albums sold worldwide. Whitney Houston was a music sensation who starred in several blockbuster movies before her brilliant career gave way to erratic behavior, scandals, and death at age 48. Using never-before-seen archival footage, exclusive demo recordings, rare performances, interviews, and audio archives, this film from Oscar® winner Kevin Macdonald reveals the truth behind the superstar’s meteoric rise and tragic fall.
This is a documentary that surprisingly interviews some of the people closest to Houston, including her family members, security and former husband, Bobby Brown. It describes her rise from church choirs to a record deal on her terms to becoming one of the most notable singers on the planet. However, it also describes recreational drug use at a young age that spiralled as she got older, shocking sexual abuse allegations and disastrous public displays. Macdonald doesn’t set out to blame anyone, but instead just tries to see how Houston got to that place that motivated her to take her life. The film is both inspiring and sad, but an informative picture for those who want to try to understand who Houston was and who she became.
Special features include: commentary by producer Simon Chinn and director Kevin Macdonald; and motion photo gallery featuring images courtesy of the estate of Whitney E. Houston. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
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