This week is absolutely bonkers for releases and we’ve got the highlights below. There are 17 new features coming your way, meaning you’ll certainly find something of interest listed below. And be sure to click on any links you see to read more about them. So if you can’t make it out to the movies this week, be sure and give one of these titles a try!
Big New Releases!
April and the Extraordinary World – This animated effort from France follows a family of scientists on the brink of a great discovery. When they’re kidnapped, the youngest child goes on a journey to find the group responsible and save the clan. The movie received nearly unanimous positive notices from the press. While a few found the story a bit slight, all found it to be a fun and exciting romp with striking steampunk-inspired visuals that should appeal to all ages. The voices featured include Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine and Jean Rochefort.
Bite – A bride-to-be is bitten by a strange insect while out on her bachelorette party in this independent horror flick from Canada. She slowly begins taking on traits of the slimy insect, not only turning her house into a hive but likely freaking out her groom. Reviews were mixed for this effort, with a few more pans than praises. Some wrote that once it got to the gross stuff, it became an enjoyably goofy B-movie. However, several more stated that the amateurish acting, dialogue and clunky first act prevented them from getting invested in the story. The cast includes Elma Begovic and Annette Wozniak.
The Bronze – 10 years after her retirement, a selfish and egotistical ex-Olympian refuses to move on with her life, choosing instead to live with her dad and continue milking locals for freebees. When she’s coerced into training a promising new gymnast, the jealous protagonist grapples with whether or not to sabotage the athlete’s efforts. This crude comedy didn’t garner laughs from critics, who suggested that despite a few successful gags here and there, much of it falls flat. It stars Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, Haley Lu Richardson and Cicily Strong. To read a full review, click here.
Dough – In this English comedy, a Jewish baker finds his family business on the verge of collapse after a large superstore moves in next door. However, when a new employee accidentally drops an illicit substance into the baking mix, interest (and sales) increase dramatically. Notices were generally positive. A few found the film to be a bit slight and flavorless, but the majority were willing to overlook its flaws thanks to fine work from the performers. They include Jonathan Pryce, Jerome Holder, Philip Davis, Ian Hart and Pauline Collins. You can read more about the movie right here.
High-Rise – A businessman who wants to be left alone buys a fancy condo in an all-inclusive apartment. Unfortunately, he soon gets in the middle of an erupting class struggle between the various residents that ends up devolving into chaos and riots. The ambitious project inspired more positive reactions than negative, although most had issues. As mentioned, most were impressed with the ideas and performances on display, although several described it as unfocused and believe it struggled to keep its themes and elements united. It features Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elizabeth Moss. Read the site’s review of the film here.
Keanu – A man finds an adorable cat on his doorstep and adopts in this wacky comedy. Not long after, his place is ransacked and the feline is stolen. The hero joins forces with his cousin to recover the animal from the criminal underworld and are both mistaken for dangerous hit men. The press greatly enjoyed this comedy, giving it high marks overall. They called it amusingly quirky and bizarre, as well as calling the little cat incredibly cute. I’m looking forward to catching up with this one. The movie stars Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Tiffany Haddish, Method Man and Will Forte.
The Lobster – Here’s an odd one that won’t be for everyone. Set in a dystopian society, a man travels to a “hotel” to find his soul mate. If he can’t find one over the course of his stay, he will be turned into the animal of his choosing. Critics were very positive about this eccentric and very dark comedy. While a select few found it too bleak and off-putting, almost all found it completely bizarre and entirely original. They also complimented the humorous, low-key performances. The cast includes Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, Lea Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw and Michael Smiley. Want to know more? Click here.
Louder Than Bombs – A gallery display of a photographer’s war pictures brings her husband and sons back together under the same roof. The three attempt to reconcile their very different feelings about the family matriarch. This drama received solid, if not exemplary notices from reviewers. A few found it overly laborious and heavy-handed, but more suggested that it was an interesting and introspective feature handling some deep themes. It features Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, Devin Druid and Amy Ryan.
Manhattan Night – Based on the novel Manhattan Nocturne, this crime thriller follows a New York tabloid writer. When the wife of a recently deceased filmmaker convinces him to investigate the death, the story take the journalist into a world of obsession and blackmail. Critics weren’t exactly wowed with what they saw, claiming that the strong cast was let down by pedestrian storytelling techniques and a lugubrious pace. The movie stars Adrian Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Jennifer Beals, Campbell Scott, Steven Berkoff and Linda Lavin.
Meet the Blacks – Reportedly a parody of The Purge movie series, this comedy follows an African-American family who move from Chicago to Beverly Hills. They arrive only to learn they’ll have to fend off attackers during a government sanctioned, twelve-hour crime spree. Apparently, most wrote that the end result was very, very poor. It has been described as a skit stretched out to feature length that delivers a lot of unfunny and wrongheaded gags over the running time. Mike Epps, Charlie Murphy, Bresha Webb, Zulary Henao, Mike Tyson and George Lopez headline the project.
Mother’s Day – Sadly, writer/director/producer Garry Marshall passed away very recently. It’s truly unfortunate is that this holiday-themed comedy was his final big screen effort. The plot follows a group of harried mothers whose stories intertwine during a chaotic day. Reviews were flat-out terrible, calling it the sentiment forced, the humor ineffective and the behavior of the characters out-of-touch with reality. It does feature an all-star cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Timothy Olyphant and Hector Elizondo. If you’d like to read more about it, click here.
Puerto Ricans in Paris – In this independent comedy, a pair of New York cops of Puerto Rican descent travel to France to investigate a counterfeit ring specializing in handbags. These buddy detectives bicker as they attempt to figure out who’s responsible. Unfortunately, reaction to the picture was mixed to negative. While most admitted star Luiz Guzman adds some much needed levity, they called the end result slight, slapdash and not particularly involving. It also features Edgar Garcia, Rosario Dawson and Rosie Perez in supporting roles.
Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues – Based on the fantasy character from Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard and previously brought to schlocky life in the 1985 feature, this animated film about Red Sonja serves as a reboot of sorts. This time out the sword-wielding warrior does battle with her arch nemesis, Dark Annisia. If that means anything to you, then you might enjoy it. This is debuting on Blu-ray and DVD from Shout! Factory so little is known and there are currently no reviews available. Misty Lee provides the voice of the heroine.
Saving Mr. Wu – Released overseas as Jie Jiu Wu Xian Sheng, this Chinese action flick involves a famous actor who is taken hostage by a gang of crooks hoping for some ransom money. This results in a tense stand-off between the criminals and police officers. The feature has received high marks from those who have reviewed it. According to them, the concept is familiar but the unusual execution and shifting timelines create a decent amount of onscreen excitement. Andy Lau plays the title character alongside Ye Liu and Qianyuan Wang.
Traders – This low-budget Irish thriller tells the tale of a successful businessman whose company is about to go under. He and other money-obsessed corporate types become involved in a strange fight club/scheme in which two men liquidate their assets and fight to the death for the spoils. In the UK, it picked up reasonable reviews. While there was criticism that the tale became repetitive as it progressed, several thought the screenplay made some interesting comments about our current economic state. The cast includes Killian Scott, Peter O’Meara and Nika McGuigan.
The Trust – A couple of crooked police officers learn about the secret vault of an underworld figure hidden in the back of a grocery store. The pair decide to pull an elaborate heist, but don’t find what they expect inside the safe. Despite being a B-movie, this action/thriller pulled in more positive write-ups than negative. The press commented that while the darker elements didn’t work as well as they could, they enjoyed watching the game cast make a solid meal out of the tough-guy dialogue. It stars Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood and Sky Ferreira.
Viral – This Blumhouse horror production (responsible for the Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Purge series, among many others) isn’t getting the same push as others of its ilk and is debuting on video-on-demand services and DVD/Blu-ray media. The plot follows a two sisters who are quarantined in their small town during a strange parasitic virus. As the condition spreads, these youngsters struggle to keep themselves barricaded and safe. There aren’t a lot of critics reviews, but the ones that have appeared aren’t good. It’s been called an unmemorable effort that doesn’t generate many chills. The cast includes Sophia Black-D’Elia and Analeigh Tipton.
Blasts From the Past!
That was a lot, but we’re not done yet. There are some great titles from the past arriving in special editions as well. Shout! Factory have a “Collector’s Edition” of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). If you’ve never seen it, this is one of the best remakes out there, perfectly updating the 1956 original and adding new subtext to the story, as well as some standout scares (the new way that these pod people identify humans is memorably chilling and has become iconic). The movie stars Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy and Jeff Goldblum.
As if that wasn’t enough, the has been newly transferred in high definition, suggesting the picture quality will be a significant upgrade over all previous versions. And as you might expect, it comes loaded with bonus features. They include new interviews with cast and crew members, a documentary on the film’s history, numerous and extensive shorts on its production, a previously recorded director’s commentary and many other noteworthy extras. It’s a great picture and this release looks like it’s definitely worth picking up.
If you’re a music buff, you’re probably aware of how difficult it has been to get your hands on The Beatles: Let It Be (1970). Out-of-print and hard to come by, LA Entertainment is finally putting it out on DVD. This documentary on the making of the album offers some great behind-the-scenes footage of the performers recording. For some, the most noteworthy aspect is the palpable tension between band members; they would break up only a year or so later and viewers can easily see the strain and dissention between the performers.
Kino have a couple of classics coming to Blu-ray as well. Both star Tyrone Power. This week’s titles include The Mark of Zorro (1940), in which Power plays Don Diego and his alter ego, determined to stop a villainous dictator. They’ve also got the western Rawhide (1951), in which the actor helps a single woman escape from some nasty bandits.
Finally, VCI Entertainment have The Night Visitor (1971). This well-regarded and hard-to-come-by thriller stars Max Von Sydow as a man who is wrongly locked away in an asylum for a murder that he didn’t commit. However, the inmate knows exactly who is responsible, and sets about orchestrating a twist-filled revenge plot. Apparently, this suspense picture is much better than you might anticipate and has developed a sizable fanbase. Now fans can own it on Blu-ray.
You Know, For Kids!
There’s plenty of kid-friendly options arriving this week, check them out below!
April and the Extraordinary World
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Soarin’ Over Equestria
Octonauts: Slime Time
Peppa Pig: Summer Vacation
On the Tube!
And here are this edition’s TV releases, along with some clips. Enjoy!
9 Months That Made You (PBS)
The Blacklist: Season 3
Blindspot: Season 1
Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper: The Compete 1st Season (Warner Archive)
Heathcliff: The Complete Series
The Girlfriend Experience: Season 1
Key & Peele: The Complete Series
The Knick: Season 2
Murdoch Mysteries: Season 9
Nova: Bombing Hitler’s Supergun (PBS)
Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery
Silent Witness: Season 3
Titanic: The Mini-Series (1996)
When Calls the Heart: Forever in My Heart