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Review: The unusual and the acclaimed cross paths in this week’s releases Special

Posted Jan 11, 2017 by Sarah Gopaul
This week’s releases include some very strange and fantastic adventures; an Oscar nominee; an understated action film; and a series of lessons wrapped in cuteness.
Anna Kendrick and Ben Affleck star in  The Accountant
Anna Kendrick and Ben Affleck star in 'The Accountant'
Warner Bros. Entertainment
A War (Blu-ray)
Untitled
VVS Films
Company commander Claus Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men are stationed in an Afghan province where they face the relentless pressure of fighting the Taliban while trying to protect the local civilians. Meanwhile back home, Claus’ wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) is trying to hold everything together with a husband at war and three children missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for him — and his family back home.
This Academy Award nominee is not a typical war film as only the first half takes place in the field, while the latter half is decided in a courtroom. The film combines the ethical dilemmas of drone/air strikes with the split-second decision-making required when under fire. Prior to the gunfight, Pedersen also makes other difficult choices regarding his own men and locals threatened by the Taliban, illustrating some of the other challenges that arise when deployed. Using the rules as a guideline, he does his best to make the right decisions though they don’t always have the best results. The audience is placed in a tough spot as they attempt to choose sides in a very complex debate, which garners authenticity from the excellent performances.
Special features include: behind-the-scenes featurette. (VVS Films)
The Accountant (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Untitled
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian un-cooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.
This is a solid action film that probably won’t receive much attention in spite of its excellent cast and compelling script because it's somewhat slow-burning and doesn't have explosions at regular intervals. Yet it’s incredibly intriguing, and puts a rare and surprisingly captivating spotlight on mathematicians. It all starts with a room he manically and methodically covers in debits and credits in order to resolve the case of the missing millions. But his efficiency sets off a deadly cover-up, which requires quick thinking and matched force if he and the innocent clerk are to make it out alive. Thus audiences watch as Affleck, a.k.a. Batman, effortlessly disarms and kills his opponents… and Kendrick proves the toilet lid is still a great weapon in a pinch. This is a notable addition to the killer-with-a-moral-code thriller genre with an even better final twist that’s nearly impossible to predict (not the one you can see coming long before the reveal — the *last* one).
Special features include: “Inside the Man”; “Behavioral Science”; and “The Accountant in Action.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)
Bubba the Redneck Werewolf (DVD)
Untitled
MVD Visual
Cracker County is under attack and lovesick dog catcher Bubba Blanche (Fred Lass) has been transformed into a ferocious, cigar-smoking werewolf just in time to save the day. But first he’s got to conquer a beer or two… and maybe a plate of chicken wings.
Based on a comic book series, this bizarre tale borders on the edge of outlandish and comedic. Bubba is a ne’er-do-well that lacks the ability and ambition to do better in life, which inevitably results in the loss of his out-of-his-league girlfriend, Bobbie Jo (Malone Thomas). Conversely, werewolf Bubba is assertive and willing to stand up for his community. The arrival of the Devil (Mitch Hyman) wreaks havoc on the small town as people are grossly disfigured in their efforts to make their deprived dreams come true. Meanwhile the red, horned man remains upbeat as his job is made remarkably easy by the many foolish townsfolk. This movie is packed with a lot of weird that some will find obnoxious and others will find amusing, depending largely on personal tastes.
Special features include: making-of featurette; deleted scenes; werewolf and devil make-up process videos; “The Ballad of Bubba” behind-the-scenes music video; blooper reel; and official trailer. (MVD Visual)
Homeland: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Fox Home Entertainment
Now working at a private security firm in Berlin, Carrie (Claire Danes) is trying to start a new life — but she soon discovers she can’t escape her past. Blindsided by stunning betrayals, and without Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Quinn (Rupert Friend) to rely on, Carrie must uncover a deadly conspiracy that puts thousands of lives at risk, including her own.
To say Carrie is alone is somewhat of an understatement as her former contacts remain loyal and she’s almost always able to call in a favour or reconnect with someone useful from her past. This season pits the Germans, Russians and Israelis against each other with Syria at the centre of their conflict. Saul finds himself unwittingly drawn into a treasonous plot that could upset his personal life as well as his professional one. Meanwhile, Quinn is sent on an unexpected mission that reunites him with an old flame. However their reunion is cut short when he makes a difficult decision, which inadvertently causes him to fall in with a dangerous crowd. By the end of the season, many betrayals are revealed and plots are foiled, resulting in numerous deaths and but a slightly safer tomorrow.
Special features include: “The Evolution of Carrie Mathison”; and “Homeland in Berlin: Beyond the Wall.” (Fox Home Entertainment)
The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands (DVD)
Untitled
Walt Disney Studios
Kion and his diverse group of friends celebrate unity within the Circle of Life and protect the Pride Lands in five episodes also featuring Simba, the spirit of Mufasa, and Timon and Pumbaa.
Once again the Lion Guard is protecting their home turf while learning valuable lessons in these standard Disney-quality animated episodes. In one, Beshte the hippo befriends an endangered okapi on the run from a hungry leopard. The okapi’s strange appearance and affinity for hiding makes this the funniest chapter of the set. A recurring story includes a greedy crocodile that threatens to upset the natural order of things by taking more than his share. Another tale centres on thievery and trust as a young jackal seeks refuge in the Pride Lands, while Kion learns the consequences of losing his temper when being the keeper of the roar. These fun and cute episodes entertain while also delivering messages of friendship, the importance of bathing and, in at least one instance, the circle of life.
Special features include: two music videos; and six “It’s UnBungalievable!” shorts. (Walt Disney Studios)
The Monkey King 2 (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Well Go USA
Fast forward 500 years after the Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) wreaked havoc in heaven. Newly freed from his confines under the Five Finger Mountain, the Monkey King vows to protect the innocent from a demon seeking immortality as he accompanies a young monk on an epic journey to the West.
This is one of the strangest two-hour movies as the variety of characters and contents of their missions become increasingly unusual as the narrative progresses. The Monkey King’s first task upon escaping is to fight a giant white tiger on the crumbling debris of the mountain that imprisoned him. He then conquers a dragon and befriends two other supernatural beings — one blue, the other with the face of a pig. The secondary story revolves around a villainous woman who steals people’s souls and is occasionally accompanied by a group of scantily clad demon women. The storyline is not difficult to follow, but it does grow ever more fantastic and exponentially more difficult with which to remain completely engaged.
Special features include: making-of featurette. (Well Go USA)
Phantasm: Ravager (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Well Go USA
After battling with the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) in the fourth film, a battered Reggie (Reggie Bannister) wanders through the desert in search of his missing friend, Mike (A. Michael Baldwin). After recovering his 1971 Hemi ‘Cuda, Reggie is targeted by two of the Tall Man’s Sentinel Spheres. He awakens suddenly to find himself sitting in a wheelchair pushed by none other than the elusive Mike. Although overjoyed by their reunion, Reggie is in this alternate dimension an aged and weary patient in a psychiatric ward… and only he remembers their battled and bloodied past with the Tall Man. Reggie must travel between dimensions and discern what’s reality in order to confront the mysteries at the heart of a decades-long struggle against evil. He is met with new and familiar faces along the way as an epic showdown on the Tall Man’s home world awaits.
The characters have a come a long way since the first film, though there’s something to be said for the original four actors being repeatedly willing to return for sequel after sequel. This is the fifth and final installment before Scrimm passed away, most probably ending the prolific franchise. His role and that of some of the others are minimal as the focus is Reggie and his reunion with Mike, as well as the classic props and effects they pull out of retirement one more time. The blending of possible and improbable realities becomes a little too convoluted as it gets to a point where none or all the dimensions seem real, with them often bleeding into each other and spontaneously coming to the forefront. The one thing that can’t be denied is the actors’ love of and commitment to their characters, which is confirmed in the behind-the-scenes bonus feature.
Special features include: commentary by director David Hartman, writer and producer Don Coscarelli; deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurette; and “Phuntasm: Bloopers & Outtakes.” (Well Go USA)