'The Shallows' leads new movies on Blu-ray, DVD this week
Posted September 29, 2016
It’s not “Jaws,” but “The Shallows” is a pretty good shark-attack thriller, leading new movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week.
“The Shallows” (Columbia, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurettes). This overly familiar but effectively scary tale tells of a young woman (Blake Lively) surfing alone at a secluded Mexican beach when she’s attacked by a shark. She finds refuge on a whale carcass, then manages to swim to a rock that’s 200 yards from shore. But the shark is patiently circling. The film has sharp direction by Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra, and Lively (“The Age of Adaline”) is quite convincing as an intelligent woman fighting for her life.
“The Innocents” (Music Box, 2016, PG-13, in French and Polish with English subtitles, featurettes). A young Red Cross medical student arrives in Poland shortly after World War II to assist survivors, but when she is recruited by a Polish nun to secretly help an unmarried woman give birth, she discovers that the convent has several pregnant, traumatized nuns who have been raped by Soviet soldiers. It's a complex, at times horrifying historical melodrama based on true events.
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (Sony, 2016, PG-13, audio commentary, featurette, bloopers). A troubled New Zealand city kid (Julian Dennison) who admires the gangsta lifestyle is sent to live with a country couple, a grumpy bushman (Sam Neill) and his sweet wife (Rima Te Wiata). After the wife suddenly dies, the boy runs off into the bush country, so Neill sets out to find him — but authorities think that in his grief Neill has kidnapped the lad. It's a smart, funny comedy-drama but has too much foul language.
“Finding Altamira” (Sony, 2016, not rated/probable PG). Antonio Banderas stars in this true 19th-century historical drama as Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, a Spanish amateur archaeologist who stumbled upon prehistoric cave paintings on his own land, images initially spotted by his young daughter. After hiring a University of Madrid archaeologist to validate his findings, they published their work, which was quickly discredited as fraudulent. De Sautuola spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name (which didn’t happen until 14 years after his death).
“Central Intelligence” (Warner, 2016, PG-13, theatrical and unrated versions, alternate scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). Dwayne Johnson is an overweight, bullied high school kid who has grown up to be, well, Dwayne Johnson. Now he’s a CIA agent and a bit crazy as he recruits reluctant former schoolmate-turned-accountant Kevin Hart to help with a case in this slapstick/action comedy. It's strictly for fans, and surprisingly crude and violent for the PG-13 rating. (The unrated version is eight minutes longer.)
“Warcraft” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, bloopers, motion comic: “Warcraft: Bonds of Brotherhood”). This fantasy thriller is about an Orc invasion of peaceful Azeroth, which leads to dissenting Orcs teaming up with humans to battle the horde, eventually discovering there is a deeper evil at work. This video-game adaptation did very poorly at the U.S. box office but was a huge hit worldwide.
“Cell” (Lionsgate, 2016; R for violence, sex, language; audio commentary, featurette). This Stephen King story teams John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, who scored in the previous King-based film “1408” — what could go wrong? Everything, apparently, as this one sat on the shelf for two years. This poorly structured zombie-like yarn has the monsters triggered by an electronic signal to their cellphones.
“Transpecos” (Sony, 2016, not rated/probable R for violence and language). The film is a thriller set against the U.S. Border Patrol’s efforts to monitor a remote checkpoint, an effort that goes sideways after three officers stop a car that is smuggling drugs and money.
“Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn of the Fourth Reich” (Sony, 2016; R for violence, language, nudity). Sean Patrick Flanery, Tom Sizemore, Kip Pardue, Stephen Lang and Rutger Hauer star in this World War II thriller about a special ops team ordered to prevent Nazi officers from fleeing to Argentina to establish a Fourth Reich.
“Edge of Winter” (Sony, 2016, R for language and violence). Joel Kinnaman stars in this Canadian thriller about an on-the-edge divorced father on a secluded winter hunting trip, attempting to bond with his two teenage sons, played by Percy Hynes White and Tom Holland (the new Spider-Man). When the boys reveal their mother is taking them out of the country with her new beau, Dad begins to unravel.
“City of Gold” (Sundance Selects, 2016, R for language, trailer). This documentary has Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold exploring ethnic variety in Los Angeles, particularly independent neighborhood eateries where he finds some surprisingly exotic dishes and offers up stories of the immigrant families behind them.
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.