On DVD & Blu-Ray: July 16, 2013

I'm not a big sports fan, in fact you could say I'm barely a fan at all, but like most kids I played little league baseball and came to have a certain nostalgia for the game in my now early adult years. Besides that, I have always enjoyed films about sports despite my lack of any real interest in professional league athletics. Though 42 doesn't reach the heights of some of the greater sports films and instead turns out to be rather straightforward and formulaic it is still a solid, interesting, and inspiring film purely on the basis of how rousing and great the actual story of Jackie Robinson truly is. Like I said, not knowing much about sports I couldn't attest to the historical accuracy of the film, but as a person who knows little to nothing about professional baseball I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film and that lack of interest in what serves as the backdrop for the drama here didn't hinder my experience. Writer/director Brian Helgeland (A Knight's Tale) still seems a little unsure of himself behind the camera as that straightforward, square vibe the film radiates is partially due to the completely conventional and basic way in which the film is shot and the story is told. It could be called uninspired or it could be said that Helgeland knew his material was strong enough that he didn't need to worry about trying something innovative or different in the way he conveyed the story. This is true, but this also keeps the movie safe and inside the lines of every sports drama that has ever come out. What is disappointing about that is the fact Robinson's story is anything but safe and so outside the box that I hoped a film about his life would be the same. Despite these complaints, I can't harp on the shortcomings of the film too much as I found myself always engaged and entertained by what was unfolding on screen. B

When I walked up to the window to purchase my tickets for Fede Alvarez's retelling of Sam Raimi's cult classic Evil Dead the theater employee felt the need to inform me that the film was very violent and graphic and the night before several people requested to switch movies as they couldn't deal with the extreme content of the film. I appreciated the gesture, but this was one of the reasons I was so excited to see this latest kids in the woods horror flick that had such positive buzz floating around it ever since its South by Southwest Festival premiere. The horror genre may be the classification of film I have the most issues with as it is easily the most limited in what types of stories it likes to tell and how it likes to convey them. Whether this be through a main antagonist with a definitive look, name, and niche as far as killing methods go or the always optional ancient evil forces coming back to haunt a seemingly innocent group of extremely good looking people by this point we usually know pretty early which way things are going. This has been the case since at least the mid-70's, yet it is important to remember the context in which Raimi's film arrived back in 1981. There was no precedent for horror flicks where kids got picked off one by one after so many bad decisions your throat was sore from yelling at the screen. I was never introduced to Raimi's breakout film and its eventual sequels until I watched the first film this past week in preparation for what Alvarez chose to take liberties with. I wasn't disturbed or upset by the fact they were re-making the film as I had no emotional attachment to the original series, but it was clear those works were very special in many peoples hearts and to tackle a re-make like this was treading hollowed ground. All I can say when it comes to this new film is that it certainly does its job of making the audience cringe and it does it well. The film realizes what type of movie it is and what it needs to be to leave a strong impression. It is a disturbing yet slickly made throwback of a scary movie that is both an homage to the film that inspired it and a progressive experiment in where the genre may go from here. B-

Directed by Walter Hill who is famous for films such as 48 Hrs. and The Warriors and based on the French graphic novel "Du plomb dans la tete" by Alexis Nolent the movie centers around James Bonomo or Jimmy Bobo (Sylverster Stallone) as they call him. A lifelong criminal, Jimmy has known nothing else and continues to evade prison time while knocking off whoever he is paid to knock off from the unseen guys above. After an opening sequence that straight up lets us know the film will not be shying away from its title Jimmy and his partner Louis (Jon Seda) retire to a bar for the night when it becomes clear this job was intended to be their last. After seeing his partner die Jimmy naturally needs to seek some kind of vengeance as he liked Louis pretty well and worked with him for a good enough amount of time to justify some, you guessed it, bullets to the head. Turns out, the guy Jimmy and Louis were paid to hit that fateful night was an ex-cop from Washington D.C. who was kicked off the force but also had a partner needing to find some answers and the people responsible for his death. Set in New Orleans the setting is a welcome character as it doesn't seem as bland as it would if located in New York or LA. This also allows for Jimmy to not only be a person of great help but gives him an edge over detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang of the third through sixth Fast & Furious films). The two join forces and it is evident Hill tries to create that buddy cop chemistry present in his own 48 Hrs. as well as plenty of Lethal Weapon style action films that make them memorable. The jokes come fast and predictable as Stallone acknowledges the outlandish aspects of his age and doing what he is doing while undercutting Kwon by making as many racist jokes as he can come up with while insulting his lack of violent resolution methods. C- 

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