Review: New on DVD for February 21 Special

Posted Feb 21, 2017 by Sarah Gopaul
This week’s releases include a more faithful rendition of a classic fairy tale; an once-in-a-lifetime display of bravery; an unsettling murder-mystery with broader consequences; and a biker gang that discovers the rather simple secret to eternal life.
Andrew Garfield stars in  Hacksaw Ridge
Andrew Garfield stars in 'Hacksaw Ridge'
Elevation Pictures
Beauty and the Beast (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Shout Factory
A struggling merchant (André Dussollier) stumbles upon the magical domain of a fearsome Beast (Vincent Cassel), who sentences him to death for stealing a rose. The merchant's youngest daughter Belle (Léa Seydoux) bravely sacrifices herself and takes her father's place. Once at the Beast's castle, it is not death that awaits Belle, but a strange and fantastical life unlike anything she has ever experienced… and the discovery that her mysterious host is living under a terrible enchantment. As Belle valiantly attempts to release the Beast from his curse, the two discover that a most unlikely bond blooms between them.
This 2014 French adaptation (with an English audio dub) is based on the centuries-old original story and is therefore without Disney’s enchanted furniture and music. Accordingly, Belle has five siblings and the castle is enchanted, but inanimate objects are not anthropomorphised; instead, the palace is occupied by a group of mischievous, long-eared creatures and some sentry garden statues. Cassel’s beastly face is created by CGI and motion capture technology rather than prosthetics and make-up, which gives his appearance a slightly intangible feel. Belle has charming dreams of a human prince and his lovely wife, which are clearly a result of the castle’s magic and an attempt to make her/viewers understand the circumstances. Unfortunately the Beast’s attempts to supposedly woo her are far less amiable and don’t support much of a love story.
Special features include: cast and director interviews; and trailer. (Shout Factory)
Down on the Farm (DVD)
MVD Visual
When a bale of hay goes missing on the farm, mystery-solving Oink the Flying Pig and his know-it-all pal, Boink the Owl, set off on an adventure to discover which of the farm animals is the culprit. In order to discover who took the hay, Oink and Boink have to first learn all there is to know about all the farm animal suspects.
This is a computer-animated picture that spends more time attempting to educate its audience than entertain them. There’s no real reason or explanation for Oink’s ability to fly, other than the farm seems to be unbelievably vast and it allows him to travel alongside Boink. The owl is a flying encyclopaedia that needlessly informs the hog detective about the names of male, female and baby varieties of the soon-to-be-met species, and their habits. The interrogations are generally a revelation of the animal’s eating preferences: carnivore, herbivore or omnivore. The movie is incredibly informative, but it consists of a lot of chatter that grows rather dull over time and may not keep its intended younger audience’s attention.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Five Nights in Maine (DVD)
MVD Visual
After his wife dies in a tragic car accident, Sherwin (David Oyelowo) is called to Maine by his terminally ill and estranged mother-in-law, Lucinda (Dianne Wiest). Grappling with a lifetime of disagreements, Lucinda and Sherwin find themselves forced to cope with their failings and grief.
This is a dramatic story about two people who never liked each other’s company, but feel a need to come together and share their grief. Predictably, their undesirable reunion grates on both of their frayed nerves. Sherwin does his best to be agreeable with the assistance of whiskey and the relief of Lucinda’s nurse (Rosie Perez), but Lucinda doesn’t make it easy. She fails to follow the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”; she can barely say a word to Sherwin without it being adversarial or insulting. Other than their sadness, the one thing they seem to have in common is that they each believe they have a greater claim on their grief for her. Though this film seems to have been released with little fanfare, it contains two excellent actors who deliver expectedly top-notch performances.
There are no special features. (MVD Visual)
Hacksaw Ridge (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Elevation Pictures & Lionsgate Home Entertainment
In Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers, was wounded by a grenade, and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector to ever earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The six-time Oscar-nominated movie is basically divided into two parts: the first half depicts Desmond’s life before the war and his stateside struggle to make it to the front; the second half shows the war Desmond fought so hard to get to in all its mud-caked, bloody glory. This section is incredibly intense because it feels exceptionally realistic. Director Mel Gibson does an excellent job familiarizing viewers with the person before turning him into the invincible hero — knowing he’s just a man doing what he thinks is right causes his feats to hold even greater significance. The filmmaker also has an eye for staging dramatic action, taking audiences into the war via deliberate camera placement and gritty aesthetics. The film rests on Garfield’s shoulders and he draws viewers into the story without ever missing a beat. He is very convincing, though it’s difficult to understand how someone of his (and the real Desmond’s) stature could accomplish all he did on that ridge.
Special features include: deleted scenes; making-of featurette; and “Veterans Day Greeting with Mel Gibson.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Nocturnal Animals (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Susan (Amy Adams) is living through an unfulfilling marriage when she receives a package containing a novel manuscript from her ex-husband, Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). The novel is dedicated to her but its content is violent and devastating. Susan cannot help but reminisce over her past love story with the author increasingly she interprets the book as a tale of revenge, a tale that forces her to re-evaluate the choices she has made, and reawakens a love that she feared was lost.
Writer/director Tom Ford’s second feature is a unique and intense film with two distinct narratives that unfold simultaneously. The enactment of Edward’s novel is undoubtedly the more powerful story since it revolves around a gruesome murder that has a significant impact on Susan. As she recounts her relationship with Edward, the audience is made to understand her interpretation of the book and the personal attack she believes it conveys. In the meantime, Gyllenhaal doubles as the protagonist from his novel who, alongside a crooked police officer played by Michael Shannon, vows to find the murderers and get justice by any means necessary. The film deals in incredibly dark subject matter as both stories come to different yet violent conclusions.
Special features include: “Building the Story”; “The Look of Nocturnal Animals”; and “The Filmmaker’s Eye: Tom Ford.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Psychomania (Blu-ray)
Arrow Video
The Living Dead are a delinquent biker gang, fond of causing havoc on British roadways and making out in graveyards. Gang leader Tom (Nicky Henson) also has a Satanist for a mother and when he discovers the secret of immortality, the name of his motley crew takes on a more literal meaning.
A tale of an undead biker gang in the hands of Americans would be a bloodbath of decaying predators tearing apart unsuspecting citizens; conversely, the British version is rather gore-free. In spite meeting some horrific deaths, their reanimated corpses are flawless. They don’t seem to have a craving for flesh and the only true consequence of their transformations appears to be immortality — their cruel streaks existed long before their hearts stopped beating. Acting luminaries George Sanders and Beryl Reid play the elder keepers of the family secret, but are mostly kept on the sidelines of Tom’s antics. There is a lot of unusual frog imagery scattered throughout the film and its representation of Satanism is tame, but this movie, also known as The Death Wheelers, is still an entertaining piece of horror-lite.
Special features include: interview with star Nicky Henson; “Return of the Living Dead”; “Sound of Psychomania”; “Riding Free”; “Hell for Leather”; “Remastering Psychomania”; theatrical trailer; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by the Twins of Evil; and collector’s booklet containing writing by Vic Pratt, William Fowler and Andrew Roberts. (Arrow Video)