On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 8, 2015


There was always going to be a cloud of doubt, suspicion, or sense of "what if" hanging over Ant-Man after director Edgar Wright exited the project. Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), an auteur in his own right, was the man who convinced Marvel that the pioneering Avenger was plausible on the big screen in the first place. Wright and screenwriter Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) completed the final draft of the script that serves as the basis for what will now forever play on these DVD's and Blu-Rays. Wright was the one who cast the majority of the actors here. He was so close, in fact, to being at the helm of this project they had to delay the shooting schedule in order to find his replacement. All of this is to say that despite Edgar Wright not technically being the director of Ant-Man, one can still very much feel his fingerprints all over the film. That isn't to say this is an Edgar Wright film though, let that be clear, as I still believe Wright would have made a much different picture than what's been delivered. Given what we have though and that actual director Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man) came into the fold so late it would be wrong to not give the guy credit where credit it is due as he adds a competent and fun if not exactly enthralling piece to the Marvel cinematic puzzle. Along with this cloud of doubt there was always the question of how far was too far. Sure, Marvel pulled off Thor (a mythological Norse diety who wields an enchanted hammer) and they successfully made a talking raccoon and sentient tree cool with last years Guardians of the Galaxy, but was a shrinking man who communicates with ants just a little too much to ask for? Whether it be the way Wright originally wrote the story that weaved in the many advantages of being small with a large army behind you or the rather exceptional special effects that make these sequences and these capabilities more sophisticated, the film works. There is no doubt leading man Paul Rudd's humble turn is due much credit for this as well. Regardless, while Ant-Man may be minor when compared to his companions, this is a film that feels fresh and as much it's own thing as we've seen from the earth-based MCU in a long time. Full review here. C+

Minions, while inherently funny, is wholly insignificant and unnecessary. For parents, Minions will be ol' reliable, for children who enjoyed the Despicable Me films it will be what they've been waiting for, but in terms of the actual quality of the product it couldn't be more vanilla sans for the ridiculous amounts of innuendo and subtext these guys are able to get away with due to literally half of the dialogue in the film being unintelligible. At the very least, I guess this flick might open up the idea to children that watching foreign films can't be all that bad as with those you are at least given subtitles whereas with Minions one has to count on interpretation of tone and inflection to elicit the intended comedy. The thing is though, and this became apparent in the Despicable Me sequel, is that it seems the folks behind these colorful fun fests are forgetting the minions are not only inherently funny, but inherently sidekicks despite the fact this film, their own feature, is about them seeking out a boss to serve. If the minions only goal in life is to function purely as sidekicks it only seems fitting they would remain in that role in any movie they might appear in, but when a movie only happens because the first was a surprise hit and the multiple sequels and spin-offs are concocted more because the iron is hot rather than there being any actual ideas of value you're going to run into such dilemmas. When the small Illumination Entertainment company scored a $540 million hit with the original film and it's sequel notched nearly a billion worldwide you better believe they were going to milk this now-franchise for all it's worth. The minions instantly became cultural mainstays and so I understand why a feature of their own was ultimately inevitable, but it doesn't mean it makes any more sense. Get what I'm saying? They are sidekicks, they are good in small portions, but a little bit of these little yellow creatures goes a long way and in giving them a feature length film things have simply gone overboard as the weight of an entire narrative on the back of a character created purely for comic relief is too much for them to carry. Full review here. D

Expectations are never high for anything from the notorious Eli Roth. Roth, whose most recent picture, The Green Inferno, was a delayed bit of intrigue that turned out to be little more than a traditional gore-fest without any substance. And so, when his latest, Knock Knock, comes down the pipeline and features a rejuvenated Keanu Reeves (John Wick really helped that guys rep) you want to be interested. When you hear that the film was adapted from a 1977 film called Death Game that featured Colleen Camp (who makes a cameo appearance here) you also want to be hopeful. Still, the story is rather familiar and there isn't much of a reason to believe that Roth will necessarily bring anything new to the Fatal Attraction table. That said, there are plenty of interesting ideas at play here and by the end of the film I'd developed something of a respect for the filmmaker for at least attempting to say something about the generational differences in which sex, sexuality and the sanctity of marriage are viewed. Like any film that touches on such subjects and has been made by someone with enough perspective to know that love can be the only genuine thing we have in this world and that sex as presented by popular culture is largely a world of fantasy there are hard facts to be dealt with and bold statements to be made. While the tide of whose side we're on is continually turning in this psychological thriller, the thing the film lacks that might make it all the more compelling is a certain slyness. It's all about the way something is said rather than what is necessarily being said and Roth has a way of being so blunt and on the nose that it undermines the poignancy of what he wants to say. Still, the movie plays out with such inherent intensity that it's hard to look away or not find many of the elements entertaining if not on something of a disturbing level. The progression of the mind games that our two female leads endow Reeves character with are up to par with any seasoned antagonist, but Roth's inability to remain restrained makes for a finale that screams the movies ideas at our faces rather than chillingly delivering a question that individual audience members might be afraid to answer about themselves. Full review here. C-

In an attempt to re-boot the Transporter series with The Transporter Refueled the makers of the film decided to leave one key element out: the transporter himself, Jason Statham. And with that, any interest in the film quickly disappeared leaving this an easily forgotten late summer action flick.