Wide range of genres among movies on DVD, Blu-ray this week
Posted September 11
Lots of new movies are on Blu-ray and DVD this week, representing a wide range of genres.
“Love & Friendship” (Sony, 2016, PG, featurette). Writer-director Whit Stillman (“Metropolitan”) gives Jane Austen’s novel “Lady Susan” a first-class film adaptation with this lavish, ironic and very funny period piece (which borrows its title from a different Austen story).
Kate Beckinsale is terrific in a sardonic performance as an intelligent but manipulative young widow with a sordid reputation in 18th-century England who’s on the prowl for a wealthy new husband and would also like to find one for her insecure daughter (Morfydd Clark).
Beckinsale flirts with men and brushes off women with glib retorts designed to dress-down others while providing herself an air of victimhood. The supporting cast (Chloe Sevigny, Stephen Fry, etc.) is also excellent with special kudos to Tom Bennett as a doltish young suitor whose obtuse observations are hysterical.
“The Meddler” (Sony, 2016, PG-13, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). Susan Sarandon shines in this amusing comedy-drama about a charming but overbearing middle-aged woman who follows her daughter (Rose Byrne) from New Jersey to Los Angeles so she can continue to drive her nuts. This sweet-and-tart exploration of family dynamics gets a boost from J.K. Simmons as a retired police officer who pursues Sarandon. The good supporting cast includes Lucy Punch, Jason Ritter, Michael McKean and Laura San Giacomo.
“Therapy for a Vampire” (Music Box, 2016, not rated/probable PG-13, in German with English subtitles, featurette, bloopers). A vampire count takes to (and floats above) the couch of Dr. Sigmund Freud to confess that he resents his wife of 500 years — and especially her nagging him to describe her face, since she has no reflection in a mirror — in this lampoon of “Dracula” set in 1930s Vienna. So Freud suggests she sit for a portrait, but when the count sees the painter’s girlfriend, he realizes she’s a dead ringer for his long-lost first love. The film is a surprisingly funny German screwball-horror spoof of vampire tropes.
“All the Way” (HBO, 2016, not rated/probable R for language, featurettes). This excellent made-for-cable historical film follows Lyndon Johnson (Bryan Cranston) after his assumption of the presidency as he deals with the economy and the escalating Vietnam War, but primarily focuses on his tenuous relationship with Martin Luther King (Anthony Mackie) over the Civil Rights Act. Cranston superbly reprises his Tony-winning Broadway role and the rest of the cast, including Melissa Leo, Bradley Whitford and Frank Langella, is first-rate. The film is nominated for six Emmys (with winners to announced Sept. 18).
“Now You See Me 2” (Lionsgate, 2016, PG-13, audio commentary, featurettes). The Four Horsemen magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco, with Lizzy Caplan replacing Isla Fisher) reunite to learn more about the secret society that recruited them at the end of the first film and are coerced by a tech prodigy (Daniel Radcliffe) into pulling off an impossible heist. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are also back for this over-the-top, ridiculous sequel that is strictly for undiscriminating fans of the original film.
“Money Monster” (TriStar, 2016; R for language, sex, violence; deleted scenes, featurettes, music video). The live TV broadcast of a cable finance show with a flamboyant host (George Clooney, channeling Jim Cramer) is hijacked by a disgruntled blue-collar investor (Jack O’Connell) wielding a gun, which eventually leads to revelations of a stock fraud. The result is a muddled thriller, despite solid performances. Julia Roberts co-stars; Jodie Foster directed.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (Paramount, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes/extended ending, featurettes, music video; reversible masks). In their sixth theatrical feature, Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo work with April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) to take down Shredder, who has escaped from prison, as well as the notorious Krang. This is a direct sequel to the 2014 reboot.
“R.L. Stine’s Mostly Ghostly: One Night in Doom House” (Universal, 2016, PG, bloopers). No. 3 in Stine’s “Mostly Ghostly” straight-to-video franchise, this time with Max taking an enchanted jewel from a haunted house and unwittingly unleashing evil spirits. It's a comedy-horror aimed at tweens and has Morgan Fairchild and Danny Trejo as part of the cast.
“The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!” (Sony, 2016, PG, featurettes, sing-along). This straight-to-video cartoon sequel (No. 6 in this series from animation director Richard Rich) has Princess Alise abandoning her royal training to set sail as a swashbuckling pirate, along with Lord Rogers, Jean-Bob the frog and Speed the turtle.
“The Darkness” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes/alternate ending). This allegedly true haunted house flick has Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell as a couple whose autistic son brings home some rocks from their Grand Canyon trip and they turn out to be mystical stones that can awaken evil spirits. Ming-Na Wen co-stars.
“The Bodyguard” (aka “My Beloved Bodyguard,” Well Go, 2016, not rated/probable PG-13, in Cantonese with English subtitles, featurette, trailer). Martial-arts legend Sammo Hung stars in this melodrama and also directed (for the first time in nearly 20 years). He plays a retired bodyguard fighting off dementia who relocates to a small town bordering China and Russia where he becomes friendly with a young neighbor girl whose father is mixed up with mobsters (led by Andy Lau). Uneven blend of sentiment and action, but fans won’t quibble.
“Center Stage: On Pointe” (Sony, 2016, PG-13, featurette). Dancers are recruited to compete at a camp where the winners will be chosen to join the American Ballet Academy, which is developing more modern dance styles. This is the third film in this franchise, with Peter Gallagher, Sascha Radetsky, Kenny Wormald and Ethan Stiefel returning.
“Honey 3: Dare to Dance” (Universal, 2016, PG-13, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Wormald is also in this one, an in-name-only sequel about a Cape Town, South Africa, student dancer (Cassie Ventura) who rents a hall to mount a hip-hop adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet.”
“Compadres” (Lionsgate, 2016, R for violence and language, in English and in Spanish with English subtitles). Mexican comic actor Omar Chaparro stars as a cop framed for a crime by a drug lord who has also kidnapped his girlfriend in this frantic action-comedy. He tracks the thug to San Diego and teams up with a teenage hacker (Joey Morgan) to take the guy down. Eric Roberts and Kevin Pollak co-star.
“Urge” (Lionsgate, 2016; R for violence, sex, drugs, language; featurette). A weekend of hard partying turns deadly for a group of 20-something friends introduced to a designer drug that strips them of their inhibitions and eventually leads to murder. Pierce Brosnan and Danny Masterson are among the stars.
“The Ones Below” (Magnet, 2016; R for language, sex, nudity; featurettes, trailer). This British psychodrama is about a couple happily expecting their first child, although the mother-to-be harbors insecurities about her maternal abilities. Then, another couple moves into the apartment below them and she is also pregnant, which eventually leads to tragic circumstances and growing dread.
“Hard Target 2” (Universal, 2016, R for violence and language, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). This sequel to the 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme film (which was directed by John Woo) has a retired martial artist (Scott Adkins) being offered a million-dollar purse for a final bout in Myanmar, but he’s actually being set up as a target for a human hunt in yet another variation of “The Most Dangerous Game.” Van Damme, of course, is absent.
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.