'Beauty and the Beast,' the biggest hit of the year so far, is on video
Posted June 8
The year’s biggest movie hit (so far) is on home video this week, along with a variety of other recent theatrical films.
“Beauty and the Beast” (Disney, 2017, PG, three versions, deleted scenes, featurettes, music videos, trailers). Not much needs to be said about this blockbuster live-action musical remake of the popular 1991 cartoon about young Belle (Emma Watson) and her taming of the Beast (Dan Stevens). There’s still a lot of animation in this occasionally chaotic and completely unnecessary effort, but there’s no denying its popularity. The three versions here include the theatrical film, a “premiere cut” that includes an overture, and a sing-along variant with subtitled lyrics.
“Logan” (Fox, 2017; R for violence, language, nudity; theatrical and black-and-white versions, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurette). In Hugh Jackman’s third solo outing as Marvel Comics’ Wolverine (aka “X-Man” Logan) he is caring for Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Allegedly Jackman’s final outing as the iconic character, he was a driving force behind the R rating, to more brutally depict Logan’s violent abilities. Included is “Logan Noir,” a black-and-white version of the film.
“Before I Fall” (Universal, 2017, PG-13). A high school senior (Zoey Deutch) is in a time loop, reliving Valentine’s Day repeatedly until she figures out her part in a tragedy-in-the-making. This OK teen-angst melodrama uses the “Groundhog Day” template for a serious exploration of bullying, with a message about having the courage to do the right thing.
“The Last Word” (Universal, 2017, R for language). Shirley MacLaine stars in this dark, foul-mouthed comedy-drama as a grumpy old lady who is so controlling that she decides to dictate the terms of her obituary, enlisting a reluctant local writer (Amanda Seyfried) and a young schoolgirl as a charity case to help her rewrite history. Anne Heche co-stars in this major disappointment.
“The Ticket” (Shout!, 2017, not rated/probable PG-13, audio commentary, trailer). This slow, didactic melodrama begins with an interesting premise as a man who has been blind from his youth suddenly regains his sight and begins to pursue the superficial things he’s never been able to see, including women other than his wife. Dan Stevens (the Beast in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”), Malin Åkerman and Oliver Platt co-star.
“Fist Fight” (Warner, 2017; R for language, sex, nudity, drugs; deleted scenes). A mild-mannered high school teacher (Charlie Day) accidentally causes the firing of a tough-guy teacher (Ice Cube), who challenges him to a fistfight after school. This raunchy comedy is an unacknowledged reworking of “Three O’Clock High,” with battling teachers instead of students. Tracy Morgan, Christina Hendricks, Dennis Haysbert co-star.
“Aftermath” (Lionsgate, 2017, R for violence, audio commentary, featurette). As he did with “Maggie” a couple of years ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger attempts to stretch his acting muscles with another heavy melodrama, this one based loosely on a true incident. He’s a blue-collar Russian immigrant whose wife and pregnant daughter perish in a mid-air collision, prompting him, after a lot of maudlin soul-searching, to seek revenge on an air-traffic controller (Scoot McNairy).
“Chapter & Verse: A Harlem Story” (Anchor Bay, 2017; R for language, drugs, violence, sex). Daniel Beaty is an ex-con and reformed gang leader who hardly recognizes his Harlem hometown after a decade in prison, and whose efforts to land a job and stay straight are threatened by a wary community and the gangs that are still around. Loretta Devine co-stars.
“Sky On Fire” (Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence, in Mandarin with English subtitles). Chinese filmmaker Ringo Lam’s fifth “On Fire” action flick casts Daniel Wu as a secret medical facility’s security chief who is caught in the middle when a young thief tries to steal a vital ingredient to a groundbreaking cancer cure but turns out to have a sympathetic motive. It's very uneven, despite the slam-bang third act.
“Operation Mekong” (Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence, in Mandarin with English subtitles, featurettes). Chinese narcotics officers investigate the ambush of two commercial vessels traveling down the Mekong River, which pits them against a drug cartel in this fast-moving action effort. Though it claims to be based on a true story, think “Rambo” more than history.
“The Assignment” (Lionsgate, 2017; R for nudity, violence, sex, language, drugs). The bizarre premise here has a hitman (Michelle Rodriguez) killing the brother of a crazed surgeon (Sigourney Weaver). As revenge, the doctor arranges for the hitman to be kidnapped and taken to her secret surgical hideaway, where she subjects him to gender-reassignment surgery. It’s supposed to curb his/her killer instincts. It doesn’t. Tony Shalhoub and Anthony LaPaglia co-star; co-written and directed by action veteran Walter Hill.
“Collide” (Universal, 2017, PG-13). Nicholas Hoult (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) and Felicity Jones (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) star in this thriller about a former drug-runner drawn back into the life when his girlfriend needs an expensive kidney transplant. You know it’s bad when even Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley, as warring drug lords, can’t save it.
Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.