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article imageReview: What you see is not always what you get in this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 28, 2018 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include an upgraded scary classic; a new take on a comic book standard; a couple of movies that take unexpected paths; another chapter in a cutthroat saga; and an origin story no one knew they wanted.
American Psycho (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a young, well-to-do man working on Wall Street at his father's company, kills for no reason at all. As his life progresses, his hatred for the world becomes more and more intense.
Based on Bret Easton Ellis’ somewhat controversial novel, the film is about a young yuppie who is obsessed with his image and being liked in the mid-80s. Thus, he strives to be the best in all things because to him everything is a competition. Writer/director Mary Harron and Bale do an excellent job capturing Bateman’s obsessiveness and awkwardness from describing his daily routine in detail to his extensive knowledge of Phil Collins and Huey Lewis and the News that he likes to impart in social situations. The movie spawned a cult following for its bizarreness and arresting images, which include a clear raincoat and naked chainsaw operation. The fairly recognizable cast also includes Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto and Willem Dafoe.
Special features include: new and previously recorded commentary with writer/director Mary Harron; commentary with writer Guinevere Turner; deleted scenes with optional director commentary; “The ‘80s: Downtown”; and “American Psycho: From Book to Screen.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Billions: Season Three (DVD)
Paramount Home Media Distribution
Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) and Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) are in a world that has shifted on its axis. Both men are still determined to destroy the other, but must also battle for their own survival amidst new forces and powerful enemies. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), Chuck's wife and Axe's performance coach, is all in for both of them, an uneasy and dangerous position for her, and one that ultimately puts her to a decision that could alter the direction of her life irrevocably.
These men do not give up… but they will alter their game plans with the introduction of new information and players. While Chuck’s and Bobby’s objectives are clear, there are forces working around them that muck up the works and cause them to drastically change their strategies. Before the dust can settle, Bobby sticks his foot in it again with someone else, making an enemy he’ll regret, and Chuck decides it’s his way or the highway going forward. Confidently at both men’s sides is Wendy, who counsels them separately but now has her own interests at the forefront since taking a backseat in previous seasons. The season finale promises an intriguing next chapter that will deliver on what fans always expected and more.
Special features include: Billions decoded; and “Axe’s Penthouse Tour.” (Paramount Home Media Distribution)
East West 101: Series 3 (DVD)
In the final series, Detective Zane Malik (Don Hany) hands in his resignation and is determined to start a new, danger-free life with his family. But when his wife and son are involved in a hit-and-run accident, Malik becomes obsessed with finding the culprit. He connects the crash to the sophisticated robbery of an armored vehicle that left four dead. As the police, led by Superintendent Patricia Wright (Susie Porter), investigate the robbery, Malik clashes with former army officer Neil Travis (Matt Nable). Travis is quick to blame the attack on Muslim extremists, but Malik suspects there is more to the case.
The final six episodes of the series has everyone on edge. The too-well-organized robbery is creating a lot of suspects and bringing some dangerous people to the surface. While trying to keep everyone in check, Sonny is also trying to keep a family friend out of jail for the sake of the young man’s mom; and Renee is walking a dangerous line with her new lover. Malik is like a dog with a scent and once he hones in on the potential criminals, there is no pulling him away regardless of the risk. Some team members don’t really seem to comprehend how the unit operates, while also going rogue for personal reasons, leading to other conflicts that complicate the already complex investigations.
Special features include: deleted scenes; and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Acorn)
The Gifted: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Fox Home Entertainment
The series tells the emotional story of a suburban couple (Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker) whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family seeks help from an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.
Set in the X-Men universe, this series takes place in the absence of the comic book superheroes. Some members of the mutant underground knew Xavier, but their time is past and there are new threats with which to deal. The children are afraid, but each have a unique means of protecting themselves and their curiosity of their abilities often overpowers their anxiety. Their parents, on the other hand, are terrified of this world, particularly since the father was part of the system that sought to quell mutants. The characters don’t share powers with their Marvel counterparts, making this a fresh take on a classic narrative. The episodes are often intense and the danger that plagues them increases as they learn more about the government program and themselves. It’s an excellent first season that indicates a promising second.
There are no special features. (Fox Home Entertainment)
Gotti (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
The film follows infamous crime boss John Gotti's (John Travolta) rise to become the “Teflon Don” of the Gambino crime family in New York City. Spanning three decades, and recounted by his son John Jr. (Spencer Lofranco), it examines Gotti's tumultuous life as he and his wife (Kelly Preston) attempt to hold the family together amid tragedy and multiple prison sentences.
This was Travolta’s passion project, so it’s unfortunate to see it executed so poorly. Gotti was a fascinating figure because in spite of being a crime boss, he was beloved by much of the neighbourhood for keeping its residents safe. He was in and out of jail quite often, but never so long as to lose his place in the world or his family. All of this is conveyed in the film, but it’s like watching a series of vignettes that never stays in one place long enough to really get a feel for the characters. The movie is composed of snippets from Gotti’s life, which are presented as flashbacks while he serves his final jail term, making it one of the least effective ways to tell this story. Travolta is passable as the crime boss, but the performances aren’t the problem.
There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Halloween (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
On a black and unholy Halloween night years ago, little Michael Myers brutally slaughtered his sister in cold blood. But for the last 15 years, town residents have rested easy, knowing that he was safely locked away in a mental hospital — until tonight. Tonight, Michael returns to the same quiet neighborhood to relive his grisly murder again...and again...and again. For this is a night of evil. Tonight is Halloween!
In 1978, writer/director John Carpenter created a new brand of horror that featured a faceless monster and off-screen violence. Opening by making audiences view the scene of a teenaged girl being butchered through the eyes of the killer only to reveal the perpetrator was a six-year-old boy in a clown costume was unique if not shocking. Michael Myers has slashed his way through a number of movies since then, but the first will always stand above the rest. Though the character himself is menacing, Dr. Loomis' (Donald Pleasence) assessment of the evil that inhabits Myers is spine-tingling. It established Jamie Lee Curtis' career as a scream queen (a crown that she quickly returned) and was a major contributor to launching the "final girl" theme in horror movies. The music, composed by Carpenter, is iconic and the theme can fittingly be heard on most Halloween holiday soundtracks. Though the initial concept for Michael portrayed him as an evil but human man, his ability to survive typically fatal injuries suggested something unnatural and thus earned him the moniker, “the boogeyman.”
Special features include: commentary with writer/director John Carpenter and actor Jamie Lee Curtis; “The Night She Came Home”; “On Location: 25 Years Later”; TV version footage; TV and radio spots; and trailer. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Hot Summer Nights (DVD)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Set in Cape Cod over one scorching summer, the film follows Daniel (Timothée Chalamet), a teenager who gets in over his head dealing drugs with the neighborhood rebel (Alex Roe) while pursuing his new partner’s enigmatic sister (Maika Monroe).
It’s hard to know what to expect from this film, but what viewers get probably isn’t it. This is somewhat of a film noir set in the ‘80s, mostly because it worked better in that period. Filled with bad reputations, gangsters, a woman that spells danger and hazardous ambition, the movie has grit and intrigue. Without cellphones or social media, the characters rely on payphones and word of mouth to carry information, which effects its speed and efficiency — qualities that are crucial in certain situations. Daniel is sent away for the summer because he’s becoming weirder holed up in his room all the time, but no one expected him to come out of his shell and set everything on fire. Elijah Bynum’s directorial debut is purposely stylistic, while keeping the characters grounded in a real but seedy summer destination.
Special features include: commentary with writer/director Elijah Bynum and actor Emory Cohen; and making-of featurette. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory
Riot grrrl rocker and shameless hot mess, Izzy (Mackenzie Davis) wakes up hungover AF to find out that her ex-boyfriend is celebrating his engagement to her ex-best friend tonight at a bougie party across town. Enraged and desperate, Izzy embarks on a frenetic quest across Los Angeles to break up the party in order to fulfill what she believes to be her destiny before it’s too late.
This is almost a road trip movie, minus the car or travel companions… but Izzy does encounter a lot of eccentric personalities on her journey to what she believes is her destiny. She’s a confounding character who sets off on a life-changing adventure without even changing out of her severely stained catering uniform after emerging from a one-night stand. Lamenting everything she’s lost and is about to lose, this may be her last chance to get a little piece back regardless of the havoc that may be left in her wake. Haley Joel Osment is a lovesick man that employs Izzy as his Cyrano; Alia Shawkat is the undeserving object of his affection; Annie Potts is a lonely woman who does what she needs to get by; and Carrie Coon is Izzy’s former bandmate, sister and overall unkind person. There’s three endings to the film, but each one feels more complete (and insane) than the one before it, which makes it okay.
Special features include: commentary with writer/director Christian Papierniak and director of photography Alexandre Naufel; deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurette; and theatrical trailer. (Shout Factory)
Occupation (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
A town is suddenly plunged into darkness. In the sky, a fleet of spaceships appears. The aliens have been watching Earth for centuries; now they have arrived to seize control of our planet. As alien storm troopers cut a deadly swath through the countryside, a ragtag group of townspeople realize they must band together for a chance to strike back at the invaders.
This film feels a lot like Red Dawn, but in Australia. The town is invaded by aliens instead of communists, but the basic premise remains the same. A small group escape capture and form a militia, stealing supplies, killing the enemy and plotting the rescue of their families. Unfortunately, it’s so similar that it’s difficult to stay engaged in this story without frequently flashing back to the other. Aliens, of course, bring their own obstacles, but they’re not that different from a human army. The last act finally differentiates itself from the other picture with the final standoff putting them face-to-face with the invaders on their territory, which is the most science fiction aspect of the whole film.
There are no special features. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Punisher (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
When his family is killed, FBI agent Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) vows vengeance and becomes "The Punisher."
This film was made in 2004 before superhero movies were allowed to be really dark. As a result, Castle is more of an action hero avenging the deaths of his family rather than the antihero from a compelling comic book. The violence has a touch of absurdity, but not the typical blood splatter seen on the page. From a guitar playing assassin to a giant Russian, Castle is being hunted as much as he's hunting his own prey. Targeting the entire Saint family and their associates, his revenge is carefully planned to inflict the worst possible emotional wounds before their deaths. Jane is definitely the main attraction in this picture, though John Travolta has always been a good bad guy.
Special features include: commentary with director Jonathan Hensleigh; deleted scenes with optional director commentary; “Keepin’ It Real: The Punisher Stunts”; “Army of One: The Punisher Origins”; “War Journal: On the Set of The Punisher”; “Drawing Blood: Bradstreet Style”; and “Step Up” music video performed by Drowning Pool. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Punisher: War Zone (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Continuing his crusade to punish violent criminals in America, former FBI agent Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) arrives in New York to take on a scarred villain who plots to take control of the underworld.
In the new imagining, the Punisher’s ruthless method of dispatching criminals is firmly intact. Bodies are exploded mid-air, heads are used as springboards, and lots and lots of blood splatters the set. Furthermore, the look is very gritty, providing a visceral and authentic adaptation of the Garth Ennis comic. On the other hand, the inept attempts at infusing the story with emotion are marred by the dialogue as much as the performances. Yet, the villains are outstanding. As Billy, Dominic West appears to be lacking something — but when he’s transformed into Jigsaw, his persona is a perfect fit. Additionally, Doug Hutchison portrays just the right kind of crazy for Looney Bin Jim. When he is finally unleashed near the end, his performance surprisingly reaches another level through illogical physicality. This adaptation is much closer to a comic book version of the story than its predecessor. The fantastic acts of violence and colourful villains make the distinction quite clear; but the stiffness of his brooding attitude leaves the dark, layered character wanting.
Special features include: commentary with director Lexi Alexander and director of photography Steve Gainer; making-of featurette; “Meet Jigsaw”; “Weapons of The Punisher”; “Training to Become The Punisher”; and “Creating the Look of the Film.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
RLJ Entertainment
Edgar (Thomas Lennon), recently divorced, returns to his childhood home where he finds a nefarious looking puppet in his deceased brother’s room. He decides to sell the doll for some quick cash at a small-town convention celebrating the 30th anniversary of the infamous Toulon Murders. All hell breaks loose when a strange force animates the puppets at the convention, setting them on a bloody killing spree that’s motivated by an evil as old as time.
This reboot of the franchise makes the dolls even more sinister than they were before. The new legend shows their creator was a Nazi cooperator who trained the puppets to eliminate undesirables for the regime. Dark and disturbing images of the toys murdering innocent people are etched throughout the film and now they’re doing it again. The fact that they are no longer unique personalities is a little disappointing, but it certainly increases the carnage. This film is definitely more gruesome than its predecessors, but there is still some humour in the deaths. The conclusion is the most ridiculous and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but then there’s no logic in killer puppets either.
Special features include: “The Cast”; “Puppets: From Concept to Creation”; and “Lightning Girl Comic: From Sketch to Final.” (RLJ Entertainment)
Scream for Help (Blu-ray)
Scream Factory
Terror invades an upper-class, New York community as 17-year-old Christie Cromwell (Rachael Kelly) cleverly uncovers her stepfather's (David Allen Brooks) horrifying plot to murder her wealthy mother (Marie Masters). She's on to him, yet no one will believe her because she's just a kid: smart, imaginative, maybe she's just taken a crazy idea to the limit. Suspense builds when a series of shocking events confirms her worst fears. Alone, afraid and helpless, terrified Christie and her mother are held prisoner in their own home at the mercy of ruthless killers.
This movie shares its plot with Stepfather, though writer Tom Holland is quick to point out that his movie was released three years earlier. Christie is one of those annoying teens that’s only one step above the star of an after-school special, sporting the height of ‘80s fashion — a pink jogging suit. Her stepfather isn’t exactly subtle about his plans, making it pretty easy for her to figure them out… and pretty surprising that her mother didn’t catch on that he was up to something. In the bonus features, Holland also claims large chunks of dialogue were cut from the script, which is believable considering the strange shifts in plot and motive. Rather than a thriller, this picture is campier and even ridiculous at times.
Special features include: commentary by Justin Karswell (Hysteria Lives!, The Slasher Movie Book) and Amanda Reyes (Are You In The House Alone? A TV Movie Compendium); “Stepfather Of The Year,” an interview with actor David Allen Brooks; “Cruel Intentions,” an interview with writer Tom Holland; and theatrical trailer. (Scream Factory)
Solo: A Star Wars Story (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Lucasfilm & Walt Disney Studios
The film explores Han Solo’s (Alden Ehrenreich) first encounters with future friend and co-pilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and notorious gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), as well as his adventure-filled past alongside fellow street thief Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and career criminal Beckett (Woody Harrelson).
One of the key concerns in the making of this picture is it features two beloved characters from the original trilogy with very distinct personalities: Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Now, younger versions of the same characters are being played by new actors who have the weighty responsibility of portraying the unique characteristics of these individuals. However, somewhat surprisingly, Ehrenreich and Glover deliver exceptional performances, flawlessly capturing the well-defined personas and mannerisms of their counterparts. The other element that makes this movie a success is it’s genuinely fun. A mix of a Western and a heist movie, the film evokes the same kind of haphazard excitement that viewers experienced watching A New Hope. And when they’re not engaged in some form of adrenaline-inducing activity, they’re trading amusing quips or wise words. And most importantly, in spite of being unrelated to any of the main storylines, it is firmly situated in the Star Wars universe.
Special features include: deleted scenes; director and cast roundtable; “Team Chewie”; “Kasdan on Kasdan”; “Remaking the Millennium Falcon”; “Escape from Corellia”; “The Train Heist”; “Becoming a Droid: L3-37”; “Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso”; “Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run”; and “The Millenium Falcon: From Page to Park.” (Lucasfilm & Walt Disney Studios)
More about Solo A Star Wars Story, The Gifted, Hot Summer Nights, Halloween, american psycho
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