On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 24, 2015

In the wake of Disney animations current uptrend there was something to be optimistic about in Big Hero 6. Initially, I wasn't as over the moon about the idea of Disney mining more Marvel material so as to fill in their animated films as we have enough super hero movies at the megaplexes as it is. To lose a release from a major studio many look forward to hearing from each year to yet another comic book adaptation is understandably disheartening. At the same time, it makes sense with Pixar slowly losing steam in its winning streak and Disney's singular animation department delivering the one-two punch of Tangled and Wreck-It-Ralph before last years behemoth that still is Frozen. They needed to offset the princess tale with another video-game/male-centric adventure while not excluding any potential audience members. The good and relieving thing about Big Hero 6 though is that once the film begins and the story starts to roll you forget this is supposed to be a super hero movie at all. There are no capes, no grand transformation montages where our protagonist is supernaturally altered and given powers beyond his comprehension, but instead the film focuses on the interests of its cast of characters and their love of science that will inexplicably come off as nothing short of neat to the children in the audience that don't know they crave a more practical approach to the barrage of Marvel productions they've seen over the past six years. It was probably smart for Disney to officially partner up with Marvel and reveal a new legion of fans to a more obscure comic book and by the end of the film, when the super hero element becomes more prevalent without ever taking over the narrative, I appreciated it more so for its restraint and patience to tell an actual story rather than throw fifteen minutes of exposition at us before putting our heroes in spandex suits. Big Hero 6, for all its visual glory, is frequently entertaining though unfortunately it does ultimately lack the component that makes Disney films wholly involving and part of our coding. Full review here. B-

What do you get when you take an outlandish premise that every middle class American can relate to, mix it with a cast chock full of more diverse talent than any other comedy in recent memory and let them both free to wander where the wind takes them? That would be the original Horrible Bosses which, back in 2011, stuck out to me as one of my favorite comedies so far that year. It was just effortless. And that is saying a lot in a summer that also counted Bridesmaids among its hits. The film was immediately funny and fast paced with a cleverly written script that gave the summer season a feeling the raunchy R-rated comedy was here to stay. Naturally, after this type of high came the downslide with the less broad, but not as bad as everyone says Bad Teacher and the truly terrible Change-Up in which Jason Bateman also starred. Every year we get this slew of raunchy summer comedies intended for the masses that studios have thought we craved since Wedding Crashers truly revitalized their appeal, but only a couple, if any, ever break out to become genuinely funny over time or command real staying power. I liked Horrible Bosses the first time I saw it and probably watched it two or three more times once I bought it on blu-ray, but did it have the staying power of such recent classics that have also commanded sequels such as 21 Jump Street or Ted? Maybe not, but much like with the fellas from the Hangover series I simply like having the opportunity to hang out with these characters so as Horrible Bosses 2 offers the chance to see Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), Nick (Bateman) and Dale (Charlie Day) get into some rather fun mischief I found it completely acceptable and more than justified if not really necessary. At all. Full review here. C+

The amount of self-inflicted sacrifice is intended to shape and deliver who we want to be. In certain areas there has to be some level of talent involved, in others it simply takes determination. In Whiplash we assume there is an inherent skill to our protagonists ability that has been present since he picked up sticks at a young age, but it is the amount of hard work and sacrifice that will prove whether he will turn out to be complacent or one of the greats. Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) has plenty of ambition, but it is his drive that will turn the story of his life into something people might discuss around a dinner table decades after he dies. As a child who was not given everything on a silver spoon and certainly not conditioned to believe anything I touched would turn to gold failure in certain areas became an expectation. Our present, cushioned society makes these truths indiscernible and so we garner generations where all that is expected is instant gratification with little endeavor or commitment required. Whiplash, while clearly drawn from personal experiences and small truths, is also and maybe even more of a commentary on if there is a line to be drawn in breaking down these barriers of reassurance. In what will likely be one of if not "the" defining performance of his career J.K. Simmons as conductor Terence Fletcher tells Andrew that there are no two words more harmful in the English language than, "good job." Fletcher has a philosophy that genius is not blessed upon an individual or built through congratulations, but rather because it is pushed to a breaking point where the only thing that matters is to never stop striving to be better. True greatness comes from real pain. Nothing will essentially ever be good enough for Fletcher and it is in this drive to prove him wrong that Andrew is unable to stop. With his second directorial effort Damien Chazelle has crafted a film so in tune with itself and its character arcs that it is nothing short of exhilarating to see unfold. While one should take the literal actions of the film with a grain of salt and look at the bigger, metaphoric implications it is making to get a clearer message of its ideas it nonetheless comes together to deliver one of the best and certainly one of my favorite films of 2014. Full review here. A+

Beyond the Lights received some pretty solid reviews and piqued my interest, but the trailers never looked appealing to me and I can't say I'm interested enough to check it out. I'm sure this one will do great on home video though as it will seemingly play great in living rooms and garner an even bigger fan base.

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