New DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD release highlights for January 2, 2017

New DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD release highlights for January 2, 2017 (Photo: Fox Searchlight/Universal)

(KUTV) We kick of 2018 with a fairly slow release week, but don't overlook "Battle of the Sexes," the Criterion Collection's release of "The Breakfast Club" or the digital release of "Happy Death Day" and "Wonderstruck."

American Made

I really don’t know what to make of Tom Cruise these days, but I was expecting more from “American Made.” Mostly because it saw the actor working with Doug Liman, the director of “Live Die Repeat” (which was called “Edge of Tomorrow” during its theatrical run). Sadly, “American Made” was nowhere near as smart or interesting as it tries to make a comedy out of the true story of Barry Seal, a pilot who was a drug-runner for the CIA in the Iran-Contra Affair. The problem is that Seal isn’t a character that earns the audience’s empathy. At best you’ll feel apathetic, which makes him a rather rotten protagonist. If you can tune out the details, or forget that the film is based on real events that ruined numerous lives, you might be able to find enjoyment in this hapless romp.

Battle of the Sexes

This year has seen numerous films based on historical events that have taken on extra meaning due to the political and social environment that we currently find ourselves living in. “Battle of the Sexes,” the story behind the legendary tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King , was meant to be a celebration about how far we’ve come as a society. Instead it became a condemnation of how little we’ve changed in the past 40 years. The film itself is an enjoyable experience that features a lighthearted tone, great performances from Steve Carell, Emma Stone, Andrea Riseborough and Sarah Silverman.

Brad's Status

Brad’s Status,” follows Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) and his son, Troy (Austin Abrams), as they embark on a tour of colleges that his son is interested in attending. Brad is essentially a good guy, he runs a non-profit, but can’t help by feel like a disappointment when compared to his college classmates.

For more than half of the film I struggled to enjoy “Brad’s Status.” It reeked of privilege and didn’t appear to be aware enough to address Brad’s inability to step back and see that his life, while not perfect, was something that he should celebrate rather than feeling ashamed of.

Then, in a wonderful monologue, Brad is torn apart and the film, while still flawed, suddenly was a lot easier to stomach.

Breathe

Actor Andy Serkis directs Andrew Gerfield and Clair Foy in “Breathe,” the true story of Robin and Diana Cavendish. At the age of 28, Robin is given only months to live when he is diagnosed with polio. Not wanting to live the rest of his life in a hospital, Robin, despite being confined to a wheelchair, sets out to live a life as normal as possible for however long as possible.

The Stolen

The Stolen” is set in New Zealand during the gold rush in the 1860s. The film stars Alice Eve as a mother who desperately sets out to find her kidnapped son. There’s an interesting story buried here beneath a script that just isn’t written well enough to keep the film interesting from start to finish.

Elsewhere we have "The Adventurers," a somewhat underwhelming Hong Kong action film starring Andy Lau and Jean Reno that pits a group of thieves against a French detective. One of the highlights of the week is the Criterion Collection’s release of the classic John Hughes film “The Breakfast Club.” This release features the same excellent 4K transfer and digital restoration that Universal put out a handful of years ago. What sets this release apart is the wealth of bonus features. Included are interviews, both recent and from 1985, an archival documentary, a commentary, the original electronic press kit and nearly an hour of extended and deleted scenes. Shout! Factory gives us "Hell Night," the 1981 cult classic starring Linda Blair ("The Exorcist"). The film is built around a night of hazing for a fraternity hopefuls who are sent to a dilapidated estate where a series of murders were committed 12 years earlier. While hardly a masterpiece, "Hell Night" is better than it was initially given credit for.

Digital HD Highlights

This week's digital releases include "Breathe," the feature debut of Andy Serkis (mentioned above); "Chavela," a documentary about Mexican singer Chavela Vargas; "Happy Death Day," the surprise horror hit from producer Jason Blum that is built on a "Groundhog's Day" premise; "Hell Night," a 1981 slasher starring Linda Blair; "Lucky," the acclaimed final film from Harry Dean Stanton that finds the actor playing an aging atheist who goes in search of meaning; "The Snowman," the disastrous adaptation of Jo Nesbø's crime thriller about a detective hunting down an elusive serial killer and "Wonderstruck," an enchanting family film based on Brian Selznick's ("Hugo") novel about two children born fifty years apart who go searching for their lost parent.

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