On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 24, 2016


Watching The Finest Hours is like going to a restaurant you know and trust and despite being satisfied when you leave, feeling as if there was definitely something lacking. The contents are all inviting and have an undeniably charming quality to them, but upon consumption you simply aren't as full as you'd hoped given the dish wasn't as rich as it had the potential to be. The Finest Hours is a handsome film, directed by Craig Gillespie (Million Dollar Arm, Fright Night, Lars and the Real Girl), and features both impeccable costume design and an earnest soundtrack not to mention a story that is genuinely thrilling. Pair these strong qualities with an all-around impressive roster of cast members not only in the key roles, but in supporting and minor parts throughout and it's nothing short of a guarantee that the film will at least be a rather solid venture. And it is. In fact, that's exactly what The Finest Hours turns out to be with there not necessarily being any issues other than the fact it doesn't feel like an exception in the long line of cinematic adventures we're given throughout the year despite the story being one of an exceptional heroic act. For this reason, the movie adaptation of the story and of Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias' novel feels as if it is something of a missed opportunity in representing a story that could have really produced a great or even "exceptional", piece of fiction. Instead, The Finest Hours gives audiences what we expect in that it is consistently engaging, naturally tense in moments, and hits just the right amount of emotional beats to make the harrowing rescue mission all the more affecting in the end. It is in this emotional connection though, that the film doesn't connect as often as it should. Even without the love angle from which the film comes at the story there should be more than a handful of emotionally charged moments given both men at the head of these dueling narratives are staring death in the face. And yet, we never feel as emotionally invested in the proceedings as the characters clearly are. There is a disconnect and while it doesn't destroy the film, it certainly keeps it from realizing its full potential. Full review here. B-

I'm not one who necessarily believes that comedy sequels are necessarily going to be horrible. I understand the case that is made, but as a rule of thumb, as a blanket statement, I like to think there is more to this phenomenon than that. No one will argue that comedy is the most difficult genre to pull off successfully and when one does so to the effect that it connects with a large group of people it is hard to not want to return to that well in hopes of capturing those same gracious returns once more. What is strange about this latest nostalgia-fueled sequel though, is that it didn't seem to connect with many people upon its initial release back in 2001. Ben Stiller likely knew this about his dimwitted male model character when he came up with it for a pair of short films for the VH1 Fashion Awards in 1996 and 1997. Stiller knew there was never a real chance the character would catch on or even that his modest comedy would make a boatload of cash, but he clearly loved the material and put his creative mind to the petal to not only come up with something silly, but something topical that provided commentary on the frivolity of the fashion world when compared to something as sobering as sweat shops and child labor laws. Then, something happened that Stiller never could have foreseen in a million years-Zoolander became something of a staple of the post 9/11 world in that it was released a few weeks after the attacks and provided some much needed silliness to divert our national consciousness away from all the horrible things that were happening. In this regard Zoolander, a film about the titular idiot model becoming the pawn of corrupt fashion executives in order to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia, held a special place in many people's hearts. It didn't hurt that the film was a genuinely good, funny comedy, but that fondness for this safe haven of a comedy has now snowballed into a world dominated by social media that consistently referenced and recapped the original to the point Stiller and co-stars Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell (each who have long since passed their pique popularity) couldn't help but to re-visit these characters in hopes of reaping those gracious returns once more. Instead of being the warm, safe place to return to in times of sadness or stress though, Zoolander No. 2 only makes it clear how sad the reality of these characters lives actually is. Even worse, the legacy of Stiller's once pristine fashion satire is now tainted by having dressed it up in something ugly. Full review here. D

Within the barrage of faith-based films that hit theaters earlier this year was Risen. Out of all the faith-based films that hit theaters this year, Risen was also the one I had the most interest in seeing, but never managed to catch during said theatrical run. I'll certainly be remedying that this weekend as I'm anxious to see if this interesting take on a very familiar story is played to its full capacity or if its simply another opportunity to preach to the choir. The talent (including Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton) certainly suggests it might be worthwhile, but we shall see.









Another flick I intended on seeing upon release, but for reasons I can't now recall must have never made the time for. I likely didn't put much effort into getting around to How to Be Single and that is probably because iits easy to tell what type of movie this is and what types of lessons our protagonists will likely learn. That doesn't mean it can't still be fun and thus is the reason I'll still rent it this weekend at some point to watch with the wife. Risen and How to be Single-sounds like a solid double feature to me.