New DVD, Blu-ray and digital release highlights for the week of February 20, 2018
(KUTV) Hits, misses, documentaries, catalog horror releases and a mighty batch of digital titles make this week’s DVD, Blu-ray and digital release schedule one of the more interesting collections of early 2018.
Daddy's Home 2
How do you follow up a successful comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg? You add Mel Gibson and John Lithgow to the narrative, apparently. Unfortunately, that combination makes “Daddy’s Day 2” less enjoyable than “Daddy’s Day” as the war competition between a father and a step-father takes a new turn to include both party’s fathers. Similarities to “A Bad Moms Christmas” has more to do with a bankruptcy of ideas, rather than any sort of plagiarism. Still, I know that there are many who enjoy the mindless nature of the comedy. That said, the 4K version of the film is surprisingly strong with vast improvements in detail and color over the traditional Blu-ray release (which doesn’t look bad in its own right). I have to admit I scoffed at the idea of giving “Daddy’s Day 2” a UHD release. It just didn’t make much sense to me. It makes sense to me now. They’ve also released the first film in 4K. It’s not nearly as impressive as “Daddy’s Home 2,” but there is a general improvement in detail and color. If you going to pick either of these titles up, I do recommend the 4K versions over the standard Blu-ray.
The Florida Project
The central narrative of “The Florida Project” follows Moonee (Brooklynn Kimberly Prince), a young girl, and her friends as they run wild in the poverty ravished sections of Orlando, Florida. Willem Dafoe, who has received an Academy Award nomination for his work, co-stars as the manager of the rundown motel where Moonee and her strung-out mother live. He serves as something of a father figure to the wild youth, but he has issues to work out with his own son.
Yes, there is darkness in the shadow of Walt Disney World and director/co-writer Sean Baker has crafted a decidedly different kind of character drama that explores the impact of poverty through the eyes of children. Working with children can be tricky, but Baker pulls terrific performances out of his cast and gives the film a grounded sense of realism that makes the story feel all the more dangerous.
Same Kind of Different as Me
Greg Kinnear stars as Ron Hall, an art dealer, whose marriage to Deborah (Renée Zellweger) is hanging by the thread. Deborah volunteers at a local soup kitchen where she meets a disturbed homeless man known as “Suicide” (Djimon Hounsou). Realizing that she has seen this man in her dreams, Deborah sets out to help the troubled man just before life takes a turn for the worse. Those looking for a faith-based drama will find “Same Kind of Different as Me” to be edifying. Those who aren’t in the choir will probably find the movie to be a little heavy-handed and overly simplistic.
The story of Christ’s birth as told from the perspective of a donkey, a sheep, a dove and a camel who embark on a song-filled slapstick journey and play an unheralded role in the beloved tale. “The Star” will entertain younger audiences and the most forgiving of adults who simply want to distract themselves and their young ones with a little animated song and dance. Just don’t expect an instant classic that will become a family tradition for years to come.
DVD releases this week include "In His Own Home," a horrific documentary that explores police brutality and the ability for the University of Florida community to come together in the wake of a disabled student being shot in the face by campus police in his own home; “Line 41,” an incredible documentary that follows Natan Grossmann, a Holocaust survivor, as he returns to the Lodz Ghetto in Poland in hopes of learning the fate of his missing brother, “The Nine Lives of Marion Barry,” an HBO documentary from 2009 about the life, career and controversies of the popular Washington D.C. politician; “Paradise,” a Russian drama that explores the relationship between a man and a woman who find themselves opposing each other when one becomes a Nazi and the other a member of the French Resistance; “Steve McQueen: American Icon,” the story of the legendary actor’s search for meaning through Christianity; and “The Vanishing Black Male,” a 2005 documentary that explores the possible extinction of African American men because of incarceration, homicide and death rates.
Catalog: The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection brings "The Criterion Collection brings "An Actor's Revenge" and "The Hero." "An Actor's Revenge" is an experimental 1963 film from Japanese director Kon Ichikawa about a kabuki performer who looks to revenge the deaths of his parents who were driven to suicide by a trio of corrupt men. “The Hero” was released in India in 1966 and was written and directed by Satyajit Ray. The film stars Uttam Kumar as a celebrity who while riding on a train to accept an award befriends a journalist and offers an impromptu interview that finds the star revealing his darkest secrets.
On the horror front this week sees the release of “The Gate II,” a 1990 follow up to the 1987 hit about two young boys who accidently open a gate that allows a group of demons in to our world. The sequel strays into Faust territory as wishes are made with dire consequences. If you enjoyed the first film, there’s probably just enough in the sequel to hold your attention. Also this week is the release of “The Night Walker,” a William Castle film with Barbara Stanwyck about a woman who is haunted by nightmares thought to be connected to the fiery death of her husband; and “Scalpel,” a 1977 film from John Grissmer starring Robert Lansing as a sociopathic plastic surgeon who attempts to collect an inheritance by transforming a disfigured stripper into his runaway daughter.
Coming to digital this week is “The Breadwinner,” a fantastic animated film about a 11-year-old young girl who poses as a boy to support her family when her father is taken by the Taliban; “The Disaster Artist,” the ridiculously entertaining story behind the making of “The Room,” a film widely considered to be among the worst of all time; “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” a look at Charles Dickens as he writes his famed tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim; “Murder on the Orient Express,” Kenneth Branagh’s amusing star-studded adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel; “Novitiate,” a drama set in the 1950s about a 17-year-old girl who decides she wants to be a nun and “Thor: Ragnarok,” the comedy-filled Marvel film that, oddly enough, finds Asgard on the verge of destruction.