Another busy week with loads of new releases; read about all of the highlights below. As always, you can click on any links you see to check out full reviews. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure to give one of these titles a try!
Big New Releases!
Alien: Covenant – This sequel to 2012’s Prometheus introduces a new crew heading out to colonize a planet on the far reaches of the universe. They encounter a distress call and head out to investigate the signal. Once there, they come under attack from a menacing and familiar force. The movie earned generally positive reviews with some caveats. Several stated that it couldn’t quite decide if it wanted to be a Prometheus sequel or a straight up scary Alien film, leading to some tonal issues. However, most thought it was impressively made and that it provided the icky goods to horror fans. It stars Michael Fassbender, Kathleen Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demian Bichir and Carmen Ejogo. To read the site’s review, click here.
Blind – A novelist who loses his wife and his vision in a terrible car crash falls for the neglected wife of a local businessman. This woman enters his life while doing community service after her husband is incarcerated for fraud. Feelings arise and two embark on an affair. However, when the lady’s spouse is unexpectedly released, conflict arises. Critics weren’t impressed with this drama. While they found the two leads compelling, most complained that the screenplay was sappy and the situations increasingly absurd. The cast includes Demi Moore, Alec Baldwin, Dylan McDermott and Viva Bianca.
The Case for Christ – An atheist who works as a news editor struggles at home with his wife and feels compelled to prove her religious leanings wrong in this faith-based drama. After investigating information from the Bible, he makes a discovery that could change his perception of life. Obviously, this movie was made for a very specific market. Still, reviewers weren’t all that hard on it; calling it a well-acted, sensitive and more effectively made effort than most films in its genre. It features L. Scott Caldwell, Erika Christensen, Robert Forster, Faye Dunaway and Frankie Faison.
Chuck – This biopic is about the real-life character who inspired the Oscar-winning film, Rocky. Chuck Wepner was a New Jersey liquor salesman and part-time boxer who ended up earning the right to square off in the ring against Muhammad Ali. The eccentric’s rise and eventual fall is retold in this little sports drama. It earned solid notices from the press. The consensus was that while the underdog story was familiar and in some respects clichéd, the compelling lead performance helped it go the distance and win over viewers. It stars Liev Schreiber, Jim Gaffigan, Elizabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, Pooch Hall and Michael Rapaport.
Everything, Everything – Teenage romance arrives with this drama about a young woman who is allergic to the world and is confined to her home. The girl’s situation improves and romance blooms when her new next-door neighbor introduces himself and takes an interest in her life. But can their love endure her condition? Reviewers were roughly split on the end results. Half critiqued the plot as a cheesy rehash of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, while others forgave its melodramatic elements and complimented it as a sweet and likable teen flick. The cast includes Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose and Ana de la Reguera.
Hickok – The legend of the real-life figure “Wild Bill” Hickok is updated in this western. The story follows the gunslinger as he attempts to escape his troubled past. When he’s offered the job of sheriff in a small town, he accepts and comes face to face with a group of nasty outlaws out to fill him with lead. Reaction was mixed towards this indie flick. Some found it old-fashioned but efficiently made with a couple of decent confrontations. The remainder believed that it was all by-the-book and didn’t do enough to differentiate itself from other westerns. Luke Hemsworth, Trace Adkins, Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern headling the feature.
How to Be a Latin Lover – When an aging gigolo is kicked to the curb by his 80-year old lady-friend, he is forced to move in with his sister’s family. Desperate to return to his old lifestyle, he attempts to win the affections (and finances) of the grandmother of one of his nephew’s friends. This small comedy was an unexpected success at the box office, although it only earned mixed reviews. There were some who found that the movie was amusingly goofy and earned enough smiles to warrant a recommendation. The rest described it as too broad and uneven to earn a passing grade. It stars Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Raphael Alejandro, Rob Lowe, Kristin Bell, Raquel Welch, Linda Lavin and Rob Corddry.
Once Upon a Time in Venice – After his dog is stolen by a gang, a private investigator with a troubled history searches through the streets and underworld of Los Angeles. Apparently nothing will stop him on his quest; he even teams up with a rival gang leader to take revenge on the party responsible. Notices were poor for this little action/comedy. A few actually were entertained by its sheer strangeness and eccentricities, but most slammed it for wasting the considerable talents of its cast and never settling on the right tone. Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Thomas Middleditch, Famke Janssen and Adam Goldberg lead the cast.
Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter – This low budget, science-fiction B-movie is set in the future after artificial intelligence has risen and taken over the planet. A group of human survivors escape on a ship, determined to collect and return with a weapon that can destroy the threat. Of course, she’s chased the entire time by killer machines. This one is a direct-to-disc effort, so there’s aren’t any reviews detailing its quality online… or perhaps, the lack of information is all part of the beginning of a real robot uprising! The cast includes Tracey Birdsall and William Kircher.
The Wall – Two soldiers in a remote area within Iraq are pinned down by gunfire from a lone assassin. Hiding behind a small wall in the heat with no supplies, they must attempt to figure out how to survive their ordeal. This intimate movie comes from Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Edge of Tomorrow) a director known more for his big-budget efforts. Reaction was good overall. Some did criticize the film for being too lengthy to maintain tension over the running time, but the majority complimented the anxiety raised and its attempts to show the physical and psychological hardships of battle. It stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena and Laith Nakli.
Blasts From the Past!
Arrow Video have a couple of interesting releases arriving on Blu-ray. Genre fans can pick up Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972). It’s an oddball Italian giallo thriller from Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond) about a mysterious killer who actually quacks like a duck before he strikes. There are a lot of crazy zooms into photos of Donald Duck as well… I’m not kidding. It’s certainly a strange one, but some horror fans consider it one of the director’s best and most disturbing flick. The disc is being released as a Blu-ray/DVD and comes with loads of bonuses, including a film historian commentary track, critic video discussion, a featurette with more analysis, previously recorded interviews with the late director, as well as the cinematographer, star, assistant editor and one of the make-up artists. So if you like the movie, you’ll enjoy this package.
They also have an extra-filled Blu-ray for the Robert De Niro action picture, Ronin (1998). This one follows a group of professional thieves in Paris who pull a heist and then find that someone has taken the goods. The disc features an all new 4K transfer of the film supervised by the cinematographer, an audio commentary from director John Frankenheimer, a documentary on star De Niro, archival interviews with just about everyone involves in the film, an alternate (and grimmer) ending, promotional materials and other bonuses. It’s an excellent action movie with some great stunt car driving, and this release really looks impressive.
Not to be outdone, Kino have some excellent titles coming this week. They include Blu-rays of the big-budget epic western Duel in the Sun (1946) and a 50th Anniversary 2 disc special edition of the Clint Eastwood classic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1967). They are also releasing the hard-to-get but not half-bad horror picture One Dark Night (1982). It stars a teenage Meg Tilly as a high school student trapped in a mausoleum with a scary, supernatural presence. Adam West also appears in a supporting role.
Like Chuck Norris movies? Shout! Factory are putting out Missing in Action (1984) this week. The Collector’s Edition Blu-ray arrives with a new audio commentary from director Joseph Zito and new interview with the film’s writer.
Criterion have a new, 2K digital restoration of the comic thriller Hopscotch (1980) The film stars Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson and involves spy shenanigans. It includes 2002 interviews with the director and writer, a Dick Cavett interview with Matthau from 1980, a family-friendly TV cut of the movie and trailers. They also have the Mike Leigh feature Meantime (1984), which depicts the difficulties faced by public housing residents during the Thatcher-era. Phil Daniels, Tim Roth, Marion Bailey and Gary Oldman are prominently featured. The release a new conversation between director Leigh and musician Jarvis Cocker (from the band Pulp), a Marion Bailey interview and more.
Another movie that was slated to come out weeks ago ended up delayed. Shakes the Clown (1991) is finally hitting Blu-ray this week courtesy of Mill Creek. It stars Bobcat Goldthwait as a drunken clown causing havoc wherever he goes. After his rival scores a big TV job, Shakes becomes completely unhinged. It’s an amusing unique feature and something of a cult item. This disc includes a new commentary with Goldthwait, as well as co-stars Julie Brown and Tom Kenny (as well as a cameo from Robin Williams). I’m definitely curious about revisiting this one.
You Know, For Kids!
Here are some titles the kids might enjoy.
The Day Henry Met…?: Season 1
Mickey and the Roadster Races: Start Your Engines
Molang: Season 1
Powerpuff Girls: The Last Donnycorn (Cartoon Network)
Revolting Rhymes (Based on the Classic Stories by Roald Dahl) (PBS)
Spy in the Wild 2 (BBC Earth)
On the Tube!
And you’ll find all of the week’s TV-themed releases listed below
Billions: Season 2
The Blacklist: Season 4
Bull: Season 1
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2
Descendants 2 (Disney TV-movie)
Food Wars: Premium Box Set
The Middle: Season 8
Molang: Season 1
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 10
NCIS: New Orleans: Season 3
Police Story: Season 2
Rhoda: Season 4
Rhoda: The Final Season
Riverdale: Season 1
Sheena: Queen of the Jungle Collection: The Movie (1984) and TV Series (2000-2002)