Welcome back to another Blu-ray and DVD roundup. Just because the holidays are here, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t a number of interesting new releases. You’ll find them all listed below. As always, click on any links you see to read 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!
31 – The latest from musician/filmmaker Rob Zombie is another gritty grindhouse effort. It follows a group of carnies in the 1970s who are kidnapped by maniacal killers, taken to a remote location and forced into a deadly game of survival. Reaction was extremely split for this effort. Those who didn’t care for it hated the film, calling it vile and nasty. Others who liked it complimented the grimy, disturbing aesthetic and uncomfortable scenarios. It stars Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcolm McDowell, Meg Foster and Elizabeth Daily.
The Disappointments Room – This ill-named terror flick involves a young family who move into an old mansion and discover a hidden room. Unfortunately, the extra square footage isn’t a desirable feature – it plays tricks and tests the sanity of the new residents. Reviews were horrid for this flick. They sympathized with the solid cast and criticized the filmmakers for the movie’s derivative plotting and a distinct lack of scares or suspense. It features Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Lucas Till and Gerald McRainey.
The Great Gilly Hopkins – A foster child desperate to be reunited with her birth mother concocts all kinds of schemes to escape her suffocating adopted family. Unfortunately, her elaborate plan is set off just as she begins to appreciate her new home. This small, family-friendly comedy/drama based on a young adult novel earned reasonable notices during its limited release. It has been described as an uneven but generally warm and likable effort bolstered by its supporting cast. The movie stars Sophie Nelisse, Kathy Bates, Octavia Spencer, Glenn Close, Julia Styles and Billy Magnussen.
Hitchcock/Truffaut – Here’s a title that may be of interest to narrative film and documentary fans alike. It contains highlights from a week’s worth footage shot in 1962 featuring conversations between the two filmmakers in which they discuss movie-making techniques. This non-narrative feature also includes interviews with directors whose work has been impacted by the two subjects. Critics called it excellent and stated that it was an engaging and revealing examination of the craft of cinema. Besides the archival footage of Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut, David Fincher, Martin Scorcese, Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson also appear.
The Magnificent Seven – This remake of the 1960 classic (which was itself a remake of an Akira Kurosawa film) tells the tale of a group of morally questionable gunmen who are hired to protect a town under attack. The new update earned a few more positive reviews than negative ones. It has been described by some too simplified and lacking in the nuance of the original film. A few more suggested that it was a decent enough western with plenty of moments. The cast includes Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee and Peter Sarsgaard. To read more about it, click here.
Oasis: Supersonic – If you remember the music of the 90s, then you’re no doubt familiar with the band Oasis, led by brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher. This documentary chronicles their rise from a bunch of arrogant kids in Manchester to arrogant superstars whose infighting eventually led to the group’s demise. The press liked the film. While many thought the group’s stardom could have been put into a more cultural context and that the perspective needed more separation from the band itself (who were heavily involved), most thought fans would be excited by the backstage shenanigans.
Storks – This animated family film from Warner Bros. focuses on the winged creatures and their fictional history. Once baby-carriers, the birds have moved on to delivering packages. One day, they discover a newborn needing transport. Reviews were okay, with a few more recommendations than pans. Some suggested that it was fine for kids but was very generic and forgettable, although others opined that enough of it worked to earn it a pass. The voice talent includes Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammar, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.
Sully – Clint Eastwood directs this true story about Sully Sullenberger, the pilot famous for the incident known as the “Miracle on the Hudson”. It depicts the US Airways emergency landing in as well as the events that followed. The critics generally enjoyed this biopic. While some commented that it strained to create drama following the event itself and didn’t go into as much depth as it could have, the majority wrote that it was a well crafted an affectionate tribute to the bravery of all involved. It stars Tom Hanks, Laura Linney, Aaron Eckhart, Anna Gunn and Mike O’Malley. Read a full review of the film here.
Blasts From the Past!
It looks like there has been a slight delay in two of the Arrow Video Blu-rays that were scheduled to arrive last week; now there here. Creepshow 2 (1987) is the follow-up to the 1982 anthology horror hit that features new tales of the macabre. The disc comes with plenty of cast and crew interviews as well as other notable extras. You are advised to read all about this one here.
The second is the Hellraiser: The Scarlet Box Limited Edition Trilogy. It contains new, high definition transfers of the first three films in the Hellraiser series. Frankly, you really don’t need to watch any more after the third. This includes Hellraiser (1987), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992). That’s a whole lot of different kinds of Hell. All have audio commentaries and there are so many other extras (including an unrated version of III and lengthy documentaries and interviews about the production on all three films) that there’s just too much to list here. There’s even a bonus disc with extras about series creator Clive Barker.
You Know, For Kids!
Here are this week’s titles that are kid friendly.
The Great Gilly Hopkins
On the Tube!
Finally, here are some TV-themed releases.
30 for 30: Season 2
Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (TV-movie)
Nature: My Congo (PBS)