New DVD, Blu-ray and digital release highlights for the week of April 8, 2018
(KUTV) Last week's sparse offerings proved to be the calm before the storm as this week sees the release of numerous top-tier titles including "The Greatest Showman" "All the Money in the World" and the third season of "Outlander."
All the Money in the World
With only a couple of months to go before it was due in theaters, “All the Money in the World,” a film about the 1973 kidnapping of the grandson of billionaire J. Paul Getty, found itself in an awkward position as one of its stars was making headlines when he was accused of making a sexual advance toward a 14-year-old boy. Recasting and reshoots came quickly and director Ridley Scott somehow managed, with the help of newly cast Christopher Plummer, to steer the film into theaters only a couple days late. The fact that the film is also rather good and that Plummer is one of its strongest points makes the accomplishment more impressive.
The Greatest Showman
If there is one thing we learned from this year’s Academy Awards broadcast, it was that “This is Me” should have taken home the Oscar for Best Original Song. Unfortunately, I can’t help but believe that the film’s poor reception from critics factored into the Academy’s vote. I enjoyed the film, but there’s no question that it would have had a warmer reception if it started out on the stage, rather than the silver screen. Like many Broadway productions, the film plays quick and fast with the truth as it repaints P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman in his element) in such a light that the real man might blush at the inaccurate flatteries. But, the songs are fantastic and the art design is second to none, so who cares if Rebecca Ferguson is lip synching or the romance between Zac Efron and Zendaya's characters didn't exist? Michelle William’s character, Barnum’s wife, needs a song in the final act to make Barnum’s redemption work, but since most audiences just want to sing with the cast there’s no real point in dissecting the film’s weaknesses. At this point, you’re either in or you’re out. I’m mostly in.
I’m typically a fan of Jessica Chastain’s work, but I wasn’t nearly as invested in “Molly’s Game,” a film based on the true story of Molly Bloom, a former Olympic skier, who drew the attention of the FBI when she stared running the world’s most exclusive poker game. The film was written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (“The Newsroom,” “The Social Network”) and co-stars Idris Elba, Kevin Costner and Michael Cera. It's a good film, but rarely a great one. Still, it's worth a look if you're a fan of any of the artist involved.
Outlander: Season Three
The third season of “Outlander,” a historical time travel series based on Diana Gabaldon’s writings, covers material found in the “Voyager” and “Drums of Autumn” novels. For those unfamiliar with the series, “Outlander” is essentially a love story spread out over the ages as a nurse from the 1940s finds herself transported to Scotland in the 1740s. There are times when it feels like paperback fiction, rather than high art, but it manages to balance its soap opera elements with a bit of class. It doesn’t hurt that the stars, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, have amazing chemistry.
Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas
If imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, then the animated “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Secret of King Midas” has a massive crush on Indiana Jones and Laura Croft. In theory, putting Croft and Jones together seems like an incredibly good idea, but this film proves otherwise. Maybe it has something to do with the mummy sidekick, which I assume is supposed to be comic relief; it’s anything but relief. Might entertain kids, but it offers little to nothing for anyone outside that demographic.
Elsewhere we have “My Friend Dahmer,” a rather dark look at the teenage years of Jeffery Dahmer as remembered by one of his classmates. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film presents us with a young man who is troubled, obsessed with roadkill and exploited by his peers for a good laugh. It’s a well-made movie, but it is also as dour as film’s get.
“Proud Mary” offers Taraji P. Henson the chance to play a hitwoman, but the film is so incredibly generic that you can’t help but feel like you, along with Henson, were sold a cool idea that was lacking an equally interesting screenplay. I expected a homage of sorts to the action films of the 1970s, but “Proud Mary” just feels like a rejected sequel to 2014's “The Equalizer” that never would have made it into theaters if Henson wasn’t attached to it.
I haven’t seen “The Tribes of Palos Verdes,” an adaptation of adaptation of Joy Nicholson’s novel that stars Jennifer Garner and Maika Monroe, but reviews were generally strong for this exploration of the hidden dysfunctional aspects of middle class life playing out against a surf-culture backdrop.
Genre films include “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds,” a South Korean fantasy that follows a firefighter into the afterlife where he must pass 7 trials before he is able to reincarnate; “Mohawk,” a well-received, albeit bloody, revenge thriller from Ted Geoghegan (“We Are Still Here”) set during the War of 1812 as an American group of soldiers pursues a Mohawk tribe that attacked their camp and “Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay,” the latest film in the DC Animated Universe.
This week’s catalog titles include the Criterion Collection’s Eclipse release “Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years” featuring `six films shot between 1935 and 1940 in Sweden before the actress made her way to Hollywood; Cecil B. DeMille’s 1934 production of “Cleopatra,” “Deep Red,” Dario Argento’s classic story of a musician who witnesses a murder and becomes the killer’s next target and the 40th Anniversary release of the classic comedy, “Cheech & Chong: Up In Smoke,” a drug fueled road trip gone awry.
Lionsgate continues their support for the 4K format with the release of 2009's Alex Proyas’ “Knowing,” starring Nicolas Cage and 2009’s sci-fi “Push” starring Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans. Meanwhile Universal releases its lone entry into Marvel Cinematic Universe “The Incredible Hulk” (featuring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner) to 4K. I haven’t had the chance to see any of these releases, but “The Incredible Hulk” is the best of the lot and it’s not exactly on the upper end of the MCU.
This week’s Digitial releases include the rather good “12 Strong,” a film starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon and William Fichtner that tells the story of the first Army Special Forces unit that was sent into Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks of 9/11; “Cover Versions,” a thriller that finds four members of a band recounting a night of sex, drugs and murder, but their versions don’t line up; “Forever My Girl,” a romantic drama that sees a successful country musician return to his hometown in hopes of winning over his former girlfriend; and “Maze Runner: Death Cure,” the final installment in the cinematic trilogy that finds Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) leading a group into the last city in hopes of discovering the motives behind putting them into the maze in the first place.