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Review: Laughter comes in many flavours in this week’s releases (Includes first-hand account)

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (Blu-ray & Digital copy)

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Lionsgate Home Entertainment

When Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) discover that Hollywood is rebooting an old movie based on them, it’s game on, as the clueless duo embark on another cross-country mission to stop the madness all over again.

As the characters and actors shamelessly point out in the movie and special features, respectively, they’ve already made this movie once before. But where that movie embedded the duo with a group of thieves, this is more of a road trip movie in which their route is lined with all their friends. Beginning at the Quick Stop, they pause to get some advice at Brodie’s Secret Stash — and explain to audiences the differences between a remake and a reboot — before embarking on the cross-country journey to Chronic-Con, where they hope to ambush executives and stop the movie from being made. However, even though there are some new faces joining the View Askew universe, this picture was made for the fans that have followed Smith’s filmmaking career and can appreciate the many cameos of actors reprising beloved characters or playing new ones. However, if you’re not the target audience, it’s just a mess of sketches and a lead vehicle for Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith.

Special features include: cast interviews; Kevin & Jay interview cast & crew; bloopers; and hair reel; (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)

The Knight of Shadows (Blu-ray)

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Well Go USA

Pu Songling (Jackie Chan), a legendary demon hunter, is asked to investigate the mysterious disappearances of young girls from a small village. When he discovers evil forces are kidnapping the girls to feast on their souls, he sets out to save humanity from the inhuman invasion, journeying through hidden worlds and colorful dimensions.

This is a classic Chinese fantasy comedy in which Pu Songling is considered the town’s drunken fool, but in reality he’s an adept demon catcher who travels the world capturing destructive spirits and surrounding himself with good ones. His companions are very imaginative creatures, ranging from a small flying mushroom-like spirit that can influence memories to a tree-like man who can manipulate his form to suit the occasion. However, this is also a complicated love story between a man and demon woman who can’t bear to kill each other, but also can’t continue to live in the same world. The effects are captivating, bringing to life the imaginative spirits as well as the many confrontations sprinkled throughout the film, including an amusing fight with a mirror demon. Chan still appears to be doing most of his own stunts, though this movie is definitely more lighthearted and fanciful.

Special features include: trailer. (Well Go USA)

Krypton: The Complete Second and Final Season (Blu-ray & Digital copy)

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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

As the series’ final season opens, Kandor is under the control General Dru-Zod, who’s on a ruthless mission to rebuild Krypton and secure its future by conquering the universe. Faced with this bleak outlook, Seg-El, the legendary Man of Steel’s grandfather, along with space-and-time traveler Adam Strange, attempts to unite a dispersed group of resisters in an effort to defeat Zod and restore hope to Seg’s beloved home planet. But DC Super-Villain Brainiac infiltrates Seg’s world in a very personal way. And trying to bring together Lyta-Zod, Nyssa-Vex, Val-El, Kem, Jayna-Zod and Dev-Em as dedicated Rebellion fighters is no easy feat. Ultimately, Seg is destined to confront Zod himself… as father and son.

This prequel series is set some 200 years before Superman would take to the skies, allowing for new characters and storylines that may have eventually set the path for the Kryptonian hero everyone knows today. Unfortunately, it may have proved too difficult for creators to lure back fans for a second, improved season after the less-than-satisfying first and the show was cancelled. While the opening season felt too confined for a sci-fi venture, this one takes viewers to many new locations while Zod and the rebels try to fortify their ranks. This chapter also marks the first live-action appearance of the bounty hunter, Lobo, who brings his signature brand of humour to the story. Several characters are killed over the course of the season, but as in the comics, some find a way to continue their journey… though this show’s journey ends here.

Special features include: “Villains: Modes of Persuasion”; and “The Fate of Superman.” (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment)

Maid in Manhattan (Blu-ray & DVD)

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Mill Creek Entertainment

Marisa Ventura (Jennifer Lopez) is a struggling single mom who works at a posh Manhattan hotel and dreams of a better life for her and her young son (Tyler Posey). One fateful day, hotel guest and senatorial candidate Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes) meets Marisa and mistakes her for a wealthy socialite. After an enchanting evening together, the two fall madly in love. But when Marisa’s true identity is revealed, issues of class and social status threaten to separate them. Can two people from very different worlds overcome their differences and live happily ever after?

This is Lopez’s own Cinderella story in which the prince, in this case a high-profile politician, is romantically linked to a woman he believes is a socialite but is actually a maid. Consequently, Chris’ platforms on poverty and revitalization are put to the test when he finds out his love does not share his social standing and actually belongs to the class of people he promises to lift up if elected. Though the inevitable reveal is expectedly ugly, everything before and after is charming. Marisa is incredibly likeable and it’s obvious Chris would be lucky to have her — and her son, who is strange in a good way. While class is certainly an issue in their relationship, it’s addressed throughout the narrative as Marisa strives to rise above her station on her own merits in spite of the many naysayers above and below her on the corporate ladder.

There are no special features. (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Reservation Road and Return to Paradise (Blu-ray)

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Mill Creek Entertainment

Reservation Road: A story of anger, revenge and great courage, this film follows two fathers (Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Ruffalo) as their families and lives converge after the events of one fateful night.
Return to Paradise: Lewis (Joaquin Phoenix), Sheriff (Vince Vaughn) and Tony (David Conrad) are three friends vacationing in Malaysia. Sheriff and Tony eventually leave to pursue careers in New York, but Lewis stays behind to work with orangutans. Two years later, Sheriff and Tony learn that, because of their past actions, Lewis was arrested for drug possession. With Lewis facing a death sentence, the friends are left with a difficult decision: return to Malaysia and split Lewis’ sentence, or let him die.

This is a Phoenix double bill, though in the second title his character’s screen time is limited and his performance is overshadowed by Vaughn. In the first movie, both Phoenix and Ruffalo play characters under a terrible strain. One is dealing with the unimaginable grief of a murdered child and the other is contemplating losing his child if he accepts the consequences of his mistake. The way their stories continue to intersect is intriguing as it leads to an inevitable confrontation. In the second feature, Vaughn delivers an impressive performance as a man who’s asked to voluntarily enter a sentence in a third world prison to save the life of a man he knew for a few weeks two years earlier. It’s an interesting exploration of guilt and morality as Sheriff and Tony wrestle with the decision. The film then ends on a shocking and somewhat ambiguous note.

There are no special features. (Mill Creek Entertainment)

Sliding Doors [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)

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Shout Select

London publicist Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) is effortlessly sliding between parallel storylines that show what happens if she does or doesn’t catch a morning train back to her apartment. Love. Romantic entanglements. Deception. Trust. Friendship. Comedy. All come into focus as the two stories shift back and forth, overlap, then surprisingly converge.

Rather than a time travel narrative, this film explores the potential of alternate timelines based on seemingly trivial decisions and occurrences. A few seconds alter Helen’s entire life, leading to one that’s back-breaking and miserable and another that’s exciting and hopeful. Since they couldn’t use a Band-Aid on Helen’s forehead to tell the women apart forever, they opt for an easier solution: different hairstyles. This small variation makes it easier for audiences to follow the parallel storylines, though filmmakers describe a lot of hesitant studios who feared the script was too complicated. Paltrow pulls off both roles seamlessly – even with the English accent — while John Hannah is as charming as ever. In some ways, it ends the only way it can, but that doesn’t make it any more satisfying.

Special features include: commentary by writer/director Peter Howitt; “The Sliding Doors Moments”; “A Stroll Through Sliding Doors London With Peter Howitt”; and trailers. (Shout Select)

Summer Days with Coo (Blu-ray & DVD)

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GKids & Shout Factory

One day, Koichi Uehara, a fourth-grader living in the suburbs of Tokyo, picks up a fossil that looks like a large stone while on his way home from school. To his surprise, he has picked up a baby Kappa (a Japanese mythical water creature), who has been asleep underground for the past 300 years. Koichi names this baby creature “Coo” and brings him to live with his family, and soon the two are inseparable friends. However, trouble abounds as Coo struggles to adjust to modern life, and begins to miss his family, leading Koichi and Coo to embark on a summer road trip adventure in search of other Kappa.

This is somewhat of an E.T. tale in which a boy finds a mythical creature — possibly the only one of its kind – that must be hidden from the world in order to protect it. Coo experiences a terrible trauma that has a significant effect throughout the narrative, but he’s also just a kid looking for a family and a place to belong. They don’t exactly treat Coo as a pet since he’s clearly an intelligent being, though he is primarily a playmate for Koichi whose younger sister is as jealous as a child might be of a new baby. In spite of their best efforts to make Coo comfortable, he yearns for the natural habitat he’s used to so he and Koichi travel to neighbouring rural areas in search of other Kappa. Once people learn of Coo’s existence, the family is hunted by paparazzi and driven towards an inevitably tragic conclusion.

Special features include: theatrical trailers. (GKids & Shout Factory)

Terry Pratchett’s The Color of Magic and Hogfather (Blu-ray & Digital copy)

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Mill Creek Entertainment

The Color of Magic: Inside a magical realm known as Discworld, a naive tourist (Sean Astin) is on holiday until a terrible fire breaks out, forcing him to flee along with an incompetent wizard (David Jason). Now, as the clueless pair set out on a magical journey across the disc, neither realizes that they are merely pawns in an elaborate board game being played by the Gods. After encountering a pair of barbarians, they take a trip to an inverted mountain housing dragons that only exist in imagination, survive a fall off the edge of the disc during a perilous visit to the country Krull, and attempt to beat the wizard’s former classmate (Tim Curry) to a collection of eight spells that could save Discworld from total destruction.
Hogfather: It’s the holiday of Hogswatch, the night when kids anticipate presents from the beloved Hogfather. But someone wants the Hogfather out of the way. Now it’s up to the most unlikely of heroes to get the holiday back on track.

Pratchett has the uncanny ability to create whole fantastical worlds for his characters that are strange, but fascinating. Then there’s the characters themselves who are unique, often unlikely companions, that embark on adventures that amuse audiences while introducing them to the wondrous people and places of his imagination. However, since there are so many personalities with somewhat complex connections, it’s important to pay attention as things can become confused rather quickly. Both films are presented in two parts, each running the length of a full feature. The first picture has a similar vibe to A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a space tourist becomes involved in a magical coo by befriending the keeper of a very powerful spell. The second movie is a peculiar take on a Christmas-like holiday that raises the tooth fairy to fame and requires a young woman to guide the inept forefathers in the right direction.

There are no special features. (Mill Creek Entertainment)

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Written By

Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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