It’s time for another look at new releases arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. While this week isn’t overloaded with new material, there are a few notable discs arriving. 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!
Brawl in Cell Block 99 – An out-of-work ex-boxer is forced to work as a drug runner and is sent to prison after a deal goes wrong. Once there, powerful forces kidnap his wife and threaten to do harm unless he kills a maximum security inmate for them. The lead encounters incredible brutality as he attempts save his wife from the inside. This bloody, grindhouse-style action picture earned strong notices from reviewers. While some suggested it was a bit too slow-moving for its own good, most found the lead performance compelling and suggested the flick completely delivered the midnight-movie goods. It stars Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter and Don Johnson.
Flatliners – This remake of the 1990 thriller tells the story of a group of medical students who get a little too obsessed with investigating near-death experiences. They begin experimenting on themselves, stopping their own hearts for a period of time in order to see what lies beyond. After coming out of their medically-induced states, the protagonists begin experiencing supernatural phenomena. Critics were not impressed and almost uniformly panned the film. They referred to it as bland, dim and poorly-executed, even failing to match the not-so-beloved original. The cast includes Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev and Kiefer Sutherland.
Jeepers Creepers 3 – The monstrous “Creeper” returns in this horror sequel. Set between the first and second films, the story follows the beast during a 23 day feeding frenzy on his human victims. Desperate to stop the carnage, the police set out to destroy it. Of course, the task is much harder than initially anticipated. The feature played as a special event in theaters for one night some months back and is now premiering on disc. Reaction wasn’t all that strong from those that saw it. The consensus was that this effort was the weakest in the series and lacked scares. It features Stan Shaw, Gabrielle Haugh, Brandon Smith, Meg Foster, with an appearance by the first film’s lead, Gina Philips.
Killing Gunther – Contract killers are the main characters in this action/comedy. They force a film crew to document them as they set off to hunt down the world’s most dangerous hit man. Naturally, the hunters become the hunted when their target turns the tables on them. The press were split on this independent feature. Half didn’t feel there was enough in the script to justify a full feature and suggested it only provided a sporadic laugh or two. The others claimed the cast appeared to be having so much fun hamming it up that their efforts became infectious. It stars Taran Killam, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bobby Moynihan, Cobie Smulders, Hannah Simone and Allison Tolman.
Mayhem – An employee at a corporate business headquarters is fired, only to find that the building has come under quarantine. He discovers that a strange virus has been released, making those infected act out their wildest impulses. The hero teams with a co-worker to fight off their bosses and escape the building. This small, independent horror/action picture received decent notices. A few found that the violent events became too repetitive, but most thought it delivered the B-movie goods and liked seeing the nasty corporate heads meet their ends in spectacular fashion. Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Steven Brand, Caroline Chikezie, Kerry Fox and Dallas Roberts headline the feature.
The Mountain Between Us – This romance/drama involves a plane crash that strands its two survivors in the snowy wilderness. Alone on a mountainside, the pair realize their only choice in finding safety is to trudge hundreds of miles through the elements. Overall, more critics disliked the film than enjoyed it. There were a few who thought the stars were likeable and charismatic enough to keep them engrossed. However, more thought the movie really lost its way as it reeled into melodrama. They suggested it ended up feeling like a Hallmark made-for-cable movie. Now viewers can make up their own minds. The cast includes Idris Elba, Kate Winslett, Beau Bridges and Dermot Mulroney.
The Recall – In this low-budget sci-fi thriller, a group of college-age kids decide to visit a cabin in the woods. Bad idea, because an alien presence arrives immediately, setting out to kidnap as many humans as it can. The leads ask the assistance of a rugged mountain man who claims to know about the otherworldly beings and their sinister plot. This film received a very limited release and was reviewed by few members of the press. They were not taken with what they saw. Almost all wrote that it was incredibly dopey and the only enjoyment came from the over-the-top performance of the most recognizable cast member. Wesley Snipes, RJ Mitte, Jedidiah Goodacre and Laura Bilgeri star.
Revolt – Here’s another alien invasions picture. This one involves a US solider and a foreign aid worker stationed in the African countryside. Together, they must fend off a UFO attack and search for safety as the planet comes under assault. Once again, this effort didn’t get much of a release and received little in the way of write-ups. The ones that have popped up complain that while the action is reasonably well-handled for a low-budget feature, events quickly became tiring and there wasn’t much that was memorable about what followed. The cast includes Lee Pace, Berenice Marlohe and Jason Flemyng.
Blasts from the Past!
It’s a bit of a quieter week for classic releases, but Universal are debuting a few older titles on Blu-ray. The first is perhaps the best of the bunch with the Steve Martin film-noir spoof, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982). Martin plays a private investigator attempting to get to the bottom of a strange murder involving a scientist and discovers an elaborate, evil plot behind the killing. The big novelty is that the movie reuses classic film footage and incorporates the actor alongside the likes of Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney. The feature comes from director Carl Reiner (who also worked with Martin on The Jerk and The Man With Two Brains). While it’s all a bit of a gimmick, it’s a fun one and the high energy lead performance make it a zippy, entertaining ride.
They also have Fletch Lives (1989). This is the sequel to the popular 1985 comedy, Fletch. Chevy Chase returns as a sharp-witted news reporter who uses plenty of disguises to get to the bottom of a mysterious murder. This follow-up doesn’t come close to measuring up to the original, which (if you ask me) is one of the performer’s best flicks. Still, it’ll provide a couple of chuckles here and there for fans.
Additionally. there’s now a Blu-ray of the Tim Allen/Kirstie Alley comedy, For Richer or Poorer (1997). In it, they play a wealthy couple who go on the lam from an IRS agent and hide in an Amish community. Finally, Universal have The Paper (1994), which stars Michael Keaton and an all-star cast as reporters at a New York tabloid. The movie was well-received in its day, so it’ll be interesting to see how it holds up.
You Know, For Kids!
Sorry, kids, you’ll have to make due with what you already have.
On the Tube!
And here are the week’s TV-themed releases.
Acceptable Risk: Series 1
Frontline: Fight for Mosul (PBS)
NOVA: Secrets of the Forbidden City (PBS)
The Sultan and the Saint (PBS)