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article imageReview: This week’s releases take justice into their own hands — part 1 Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jan 30, 2019 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include a unique condition; an unlikely alliance; a new chapter in a complex revolution; a compelling comeback; an animated, drunken odyssey; a newly imagined fantasy; the toughest cop; and an uncommon look at addiction.
Cobra (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Lt. Cobretti (Sylvester Stallone) is a one-man assault team whose laser-mount submachine gun and pearl-handled Colt .45 spit pure crime-stopping venom. The trail of bodies leads to not one murderer, but an army of psychos bent on slashing their way to a "New Order" — and killing a witness (Brigitte Nielsen) along the way. Fortunately, her protector is Cobra, a man who delivers vigilante justice like no other.
Stallone once again picked up the pen for this one, adapting the screenplay as well as starring in the film. Cobra is part of the “zombie squad,” which means he gets called into cases no else wants. The “Night Slasher” is making news headlines almost every day with a new victim, but no one can figure out the motive since they don’t target a particular type of person. Real people are always scarier than imaginary monsters and Brian Thompson’s unique look enhances the character’s menace. This is probably Stallone’s coolest role of his career, including a fancy, personalized gun, a custom 1950 Mercury Monterey Coupe and a permanent five-o'clock shadow. He’s tough on the outside, soft on the inside and serves his own justice.
Special features include: commentary by director George P. Cosmatos; featurette; “Stalking and Slashing,” an interview with actor Brian Thompson; “Meet The Disease,” an interview with actor Marco Rodriguez; “Feel The Heat,” an interview with actor Andrew Robinson; “Double Crossed,” an interview with actress Lee Garlington; “A Work Of Art,” an interview with actor Art LaFleur; still galleries; and trailers. (Scream Factory)
Humans 3.0 (Blu-ray)
One year after synths around the globe gained consciousness, human distrust of synths is at an all-time high, and both populations struggle to cope with the fallout. Human lawyer Laura (Katherine Parkinson) fights for synth rights at a high-profile government commission, while Mia (Gemma Chan) and Max (Ivanno Jeremiah) run a settlement for sentient synths. But Max is torn between his new role as leader and helping his friend, human-synth hybrid Leo (Colin Morgan). When a bomb blast at a synth-friendly bar inflames already high tensions, Niska (Emily Berrington) searches for the perpetrator, and what she finds will have monumental consequences for humans and synths alike.
This season explores humanity as the synths start to show more of it than the humans who are persecuting them. One of the most interesting questions asked is how people can condone synth violence when they look so much like us. Laura goes on a stressful journey into the inner sanctum of the lawmakers, while Max struggles to make the right decisions for all the synths who now rely on his judgment. Niska continues to go it alone and resolve problems her own way, though there is something greater lighting her path. Mia has one of the most evolving seasons as she demonstrates exceptional bravery to further the synth cause and pave the road to acceptance.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette. (Acorn)
Hunter Killer (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Deep under the Arctic Ocean, American submarine Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) is on the hunt for a U.S. sub in distress when he uncovers a secret Russian coup threatening to dismantle the world order. With crew and country on the line, Glass must now assemble an elite group of Navy SEALs to rescue the kidnapped Russian president and sneak through enemy waters to stop WWIII.
This film has three primary shooting locations, two of which are very restricting. Being in the confines of a submarine for an extended period of time requires complete dedication from the actors and they carry the responsibility well. In spite of the limitations, this movie maintains audience’s attention with a compelling plot and non-stop dangers. Between the politics, espionage and rebellion, there is a lot to navigate even without the underwater mines. Most interestingly, claustrophobia and boredom are staved off by a camera that’s constantly in motion. The film also has an unexpected cast, including Gary Oldman, Common, Linda Cardellini, Michael Nyqvist and Toby Stephens.
Special features include: commentary by director Donovan Marsh; and “Surface Tension: Declassifying Hunter Killer.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Jonathan (Blu-ray)
Well Go USA
The film follows two brothers living very separate lives — inside the same body (Ansel Elgort). Previously content to live life in shifts with one another, their delicate balance is ruined when they become emotionally involved with the same woman (Suki Waterhouse).
This is a fascinating narrative that primarily stays with the body’s daytime occupant, Jonathan, while interacting with his brother, Jon, via daily videos they leave for each other. It’s a unique condition that’s been managed by their doctor, though it’s not without its hiccups. One of the most significant problems they’re currently experiencing is a desire for an impossible, independent existence. The demand on Elgort is lessened since Jon is only briefly present some of the time, but he still creates two distinct, recognizable personalities. Based on their mutual feelings for Waterhouse’s character, viewers may expect the story to go in a particular, shared direction — instead, it opts for the more complicated path with unexpected results. It’s an unusual drama with an equally unpredictable conclusion that’s moving and appropriate.
There are special features. (Well Go USA)
Judgment Night (Blu-ray)
Warner Archive Collection
On their way to a boxing match, four young men (Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Stephen Dorff and Jeremy Piven) in a state-of-the-art RV take a wrong turn and witness a gang murder. Now, the killers’ boss (Denis Leary) cannot let them live, and starts hunting the friends down through Chicago’s meanest streets.
Amid rampant gang violence in the ‘90s, they began to make “fear the ghetto” films in which someone would make a wrong turn and find themselves the prey of previously unknown thugs. To this movie’s credit, the gang in pursuit is white but the premise hasn’t changed. The group of friends used to be troublemakers in their world, but in this one they’re just mice on the run. Each of these actors was well-known, making the movie a thriller with familiar faces the audience could immediately identify with and root for. The persistence of Leary and his associates is remarkable-bordering-on-ridiculous, but he’s such a great bad guy you wouldn’t want him to lose interest either.
There are no special features. (Warner Archive)
Kidding: Season One (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Jeff (Jim Carrey), a.k.a. Mr. Pickles, is an icon of children’s television, who for the last three decades has been a beacon of kindness and optimism to both children and adults alike. But when his family life starts to unravel, Jeff discovers that keeping it all together isn’t as easy as 1-2-3. The result: a kind man in a cruel world, facing a slow leak of sanity that begs the question — how can you be good when everything has gone so bad?
After taking a sojourn from the screen, Carrey is back with a series that feels like a reflection of his own life to some extent. Jeff isn’t just the kindest man on television, he’s also the nicest guy in real life, which creates some interesting challenges. He insists on being able to address some of the difficult topics that may plague kids on his show, but the producer/his dad refuses to air his episodes about death or gender. In the meantime, his family begins to make contingency plans for when Jeff inevitably snaps so their legacy can continue without him. This is undoubtedly one of the most compelling dramas on TV as Carrey takes audiences on a journey of self-discovery and potential self-destruction. It also has a great cast, including Frank Langella, Judy Greer and Catherine Keener.
Special features include: “Meet Mr. Pickles”; “Meet the Pickles Family”; “Shooting Shaina’s Sequence”; and “How Kidding Came to Be.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
Men Must Fight (DVD)
Warner Archive Collection
In the early days of World War I, Nurse Laura Mattson (Diana Wynyard) enjoys a tryst with Lt. Geoffrey Aiken (Robert Young), who is mortally wounded on his first mission. Pregnant and alone, Laura accepts the marriage proposal of soldier Ned Seward (Lewis Stone) who promises to raise her child as his own — a child Laura swears will not know war. A generation later, Ned, now Secretary of State, desperately tries to negotiate peace with the increasingly belligerent country of Eurasia, while Laura’s grown son, Bob (Phillips Holmes), gets engaged to Peggy Chase (Ruth Selwyn). The forces of history coalesce to tear Laura’s family apart as drawing room differences come up against technological terrors and treachery most foul.
This is a pretty predictable narrative, though it’s still an entertaining watch. Although Laura and Ned agree Bob will never go to war, when push comes to shove his resolve is certainly weaker than hers. Raised on his mother’s ideals, Bob abhors war even though he’s gained two skills coveted by the military. In the meantime, Peggy is a nice match for Bob though she doesn’t do much thinking for herself. Everything unfolds rather quickly as war with a mysteriously aggressive nation is suddenly at their doorstep and important decisions need to be made immediately. The film adeptly highlights two distinct perspectives about conflict as the women demand peace and the men rush to battle. Everyone sticks to their guns, but eventually someone is bound to surrender.
There are no special features. (Warner Archive)
Check out the rest of this week's reviews in part two.
More about Cobra, Kidding, Humans, Jonathan, Hunter Killer
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