On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 29, 2015

(Available Friday, October 2nd) Organized chaos. Organized chaos is what best describes the sequel to the fourth biggest movie of all time. How does one top the first culmination of the first cinematic universe? Sure, bigger is always better (and Age of Ultron certainly feels bigger), but more it is the combination of broadening the scale with that of keeping the characters compelling and their story moving forward. As always, whether it be trying to manage the multiple characters or the overarching storyline that the Marvel Cinematic Universe intends to execute some things get lost in the shuffle. This is to be expected, moreso with the characters than the storyline as Marvel and head honcho Kevin Feige seem to have a pretty clear picture of where things are ultimately going if not allowing each director their own wiggle room to implement their own ideas and ambitions. Within this wiggle room we are given the titular baddie of this second Avengers film in Ultron. While Thanos has been making minuscule appearances since he first showed up in that mid-credits stinger on The Avengers and would seemingly be Marvel's biggest bad of them all, Ultron seems to be the deviation that Whedon wanted to explore and thus proved a solid enough distraction to carry the Avengers through this soggy middle ground and onto the third act of this cinematic universe they've been constructing. While Ultron is a compelling piece of artificial intelligence as far as characters go with James Spader providing a maniacally dark humored mentality to the intimidating "murder bot" the evil guy's motivations are always a bit muddled. Covered up by flowery speeches and philosophical mumbo jumbo about the only path to peace being true extinction Ultron is given no motivation for his actions beyond being programmed in such a way. A program that is too smart for its own good who hijacks any physical form he can in order to execute his plan. This is all well enough reason to give earths mightiest heroes someone to fight, but it's the weakest link in an otherwise sprawling production that is everything we want it to be. Everything we've been waiting for. Full review here. A

Ladies and gentleman, Melissa McCarthy has brought us her version of Austin Powers and while it more or less diverts the James Bond tropes through a slew of supporting characters this is very much a breaking the mold kind of movie that not only puts a woman in the lead where a man typically reigns supreme, but a woman that looks like McCarthy who, per usual, recognizes where she fits into the Holywood lexicon and more or less takes a big ole dump on those expectations. Being unwilling to yield to anyone's pre-determined set of guidelines for what it takes to be an actress, a comedian or now, an action star, has made McCarthy one of the hottest properties around and with Spy she delivers a kind of definitive comedy that will seemingly launch her into the stratosphere of commanding her own franchise. Much like Mike Myers in 1997 McCarthy has used the same popular and well-known template of the spy thriller to lampoon any and all of the typical beats that Ian Fleming's most famous spy and his many imitators have acted out over the years. Opening with the more dashing version of Bond in Jude Law's Bradley Fine as he infiltrates a high class party to commandeer a nuclear bomb that has somehow managed to end up in the wrong persons hands we are taken through the scenario as expected until Fine comes face to face with Tihomir Boyanov (Raad Rawi) and the first of those many expectations are turned on its head. Given this upending of expectations not only makes the audience anxious to see what the film will do with each scenario, but it keeps us consistently laughing as both the sight gags and the one-liners are expertly set-up and executed so as to get the biggest pay off. Needless to say, both McCarthy and frequent collaborator Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) know what they're doing at this point and they use their assumed short-hand to create not only a solid, credible comedy in a world of sub-par and sloppily put-together comedies, but they so clearly know how to draw on the strengths of each cast members talent as well as the archetypes of the genre so that it all seems to effortlessly pull together to create a hugely funny and entertaining time. Full review here. B-

Having never seen a single episode of HBO's hit series surrounding a group of friends that follow their up and coming movie star friend to the promise land of Hollywood I went into the feature film version with no expectation and no knowledge of what I was getting into. Four years after the series has ended, the film and its co-creator/co-writer/director Doug Ellin gives fans of the show a recap of what these guys have been up to while introducing newbies, such as myself, to the core characters and the molds from which they come. If you're as unaware as I then the only thing you'd probably heard about Entourage was the fact it was produced by Mark Wahlberg and was loosely based on his experiences as a naive kid from Boston learning to navigate this strange world of the wealthy that is all in the name of making movies and making a lot of money from those movies. Money is power in Hollywood and yet in what is barely an hour and forty-five minute movie the glamour already began to wear thin, the pointless partying and finagling was understood to be the norm on any random Tuesday afternoon, but like most of these peoples lives, there is no substance to the going-ons of this movie that documents their exploits. What this says about the series, I'm not sure, but I know that it gives me no further interest in going back to see what all the fuss was about my junior year of high school. Instead, I'm more curious as to how much of a payoff this is for fans of the series that have been waiting for more closure or further adventures since the show wrapped in 2011. All of that said, given the premise and clear tone of what we're dealing with here, I don't know what more you could expect from a feature-length version of this kind of story. It is smarmy to the max, repulsive even in some aspects and slightly sickening depending on how much thought you care to give it. The execution unfortunately is unlike its characters in that it feels minimal and rather ordinary when, at the very least, it should be anything but that. Full review here. D+

Cop Car opens with a shot of newly constructed houses in a newly developed subdivision that all look like one another. There is a sense of freshness to the distant, static shot, but then it is followed by something more interesting and dynamic. Isolated trailers, convenient stores that don't bear corporate brand names and barren country roads where telephone poles still line the way. In short, we are quickly disconnected from any kind of familiarity and brought to the ground level that is the wonderment of being inside the mind of a prepubescent boy. Actually, there's probably a slight bit of puberty that has begun to alter Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison's (Hays Wellford) bodies and minds, but no doubt less than they'd care to own up to. The two boys are presumably running away from what we come to understand are rather unspectacular home lives, but of more importance is the fact they are competing in an exchange that consists purely of curse words, working it's way up from the likes of "penis" to the "f" word. Harrison refuses to say what society deems the worst of these words despite Travis employing multiple peer pressure tactics telling us all we need to know of the two boys. It is when Harrison and Travis stumble upon an abandoned cop car ten minutes into the film that things begin to come together. Director Jon Watts (who's done plenty of television work and will helm the Spider-Man reboot for Marvel Studios) works from a script by himself and co-writer Christopher D. Ford (Robot & Frank) and in establishing all we've already put together by the time the titular vehicle is introduced we have a strong sense of apprehension about where things might be going. Watts eases the audience into this strange, time-warped landscape of severe austerity while making the terms of our environment clear. In both the aesthetic and mentality of our lead characters we are transported to an age where one's outlook on life and subsequently the life they lead and the circumstances they find themselves in by the end of the film are of a certain simplistic nature, but simple doesn't always mean sunny. Full review here. C

I was anxious to see director Gil Kenan's (City of Ember, Monster House) interpretation of the 1982 horror classic, Poltergeist, but didn't catch it in theaters as my wife has a love for horror films and wanted to see it as well, but such things are difficult to accomplish these days with a baby at home. When the film ultimately came and went without little more than a peep I wasn't given much reason to continue my interest and given Insidious Chapter III opened less than two weeks later it wasn't surprising I'd already forgotten about the film. And yet, here we are four months later and the re-make is now coming to home video. Given the solid cast and Kenan's previous credentials I can't help but want to check this out and despite the 31% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes I can't help but think there have to be some redeeming qualities. We'll see as I'll no doubt rent this in hopes of it being a fine enough distraction in the calendar's lead up to Halloween.

Max is a movie about a dog that helped US Marines in Afghanistan who returns to the U.S. and is adopted by his handler's family after suffering a traumatic experience that was directed by the guy who made Remember the Titans. I can't muster up any kind of excitement for the film and the mediocre reviews don't really inspire any further need to seeit. I'm sure there is a large animal-loving audience out there for this tale of heroism, but I'm not in it.

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