On DVD & Blu-Ray: July 19, 2016


It's important to remember that each individual comes to a movie not only with certain expectations and preconceived notions, but a different life experience up until the point they view a movie that will inform how they respond to a given piece of entertainment. I'm a child of the nineties, a product of Power Rangers and Capri Sun's; a time when what some would argue the best iteration of Bob Kane's Batman character would be brought to life. I'm of course referring to Batman: The Animated Series which ran from 1992-1995 and more or less became the defining Batman in my life-the Batman all other Batman's would be chasing from that point on. Too young for Michael Keaton's movies and too juvenile to initially understand just how bad Joel Schumacher's films were, the animated series brought to life the most genuine and credible version of the superhero my generation (or any other up to that point) could imagine. I adore the Christopher Nolan trilogy and what he did for the genre as a whole. I will forever hold that trilogy in high regard and The Dark Knight as one of the single greatest theater-going experiences of my life. Eight years after the Nolan/Christian Bale epic that will go down in history as the best live action version of Batman thanks to the late Heath Ledger's performance we now have the next attempt to bring the caped crusader to life in what is more or less the sequel to 2013's Man of Steel. Jump-starting the DC Universe in an attempt to catch up with Marvel Studios, director Zack Snyder and his team have delivered a film that seems to want to bring the tone, artistic quality, and believe it or not...the fun of that nineties animated series to life on the big screen, extended universe and all. This is where I come at the movie from. A place of balance between what was my childhood Batman (never having a large affinity for Superman given he never had as influential an animated series) and what is my more mature, realistic Batman in the Nolan trilogy. It's a parallel that worked out well for my progression from child to adult and so, the big question was: where would Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fit into this scheme and how would everything I've seen and read of these characters inform my response to Snyder's bringing together of these two icons on the big screen for the first time? For this particular viewer: I enjoyed the hell out of it. Full review here. Video review here. B-

Demolition is more about deconstruction than it is about necessarily destroying anything. I mean, things are destroyed, obviously, but not for the sake of getting rid of them. Instead, our main character Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a person who finds liberation in his soul-searching through methods of destruction. In the latest from director Jean-Marc VallĂ©e (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild) we dive into the deep end right off the bat as we are witness to a man losing his wife in a horrific car accident and not feeling a thing afterward. This kind of wake-up call to the fact he’s been living a meaningless life for the past however many years gives our protagonist the need to demolish everything that constructed that prior existence. This realization is of course tipped off by what is typically a heartbreaking event and yet Davis shows no signs of distress or loss thus giving the film something of an edge while still being able to explore the mundane aspects of life that it seems to find so interesting. If the film is anything it is a showcase for Gyllenhaal to display what has made him one of the more credible leading men in a saturated market and for this Demolition thrives the majority of the time. The rest of the time you can feel screenwriter Bryan Sipe (with his first major screenplay) searching for an ending or a way to bring all of Davis' destruction around to some kind of meaningful epiphany, but it never gels. Unfortunately, this trips up a rather promising beginning that has all the momentum in the world in its first hour. Full review here. C+

In December 1970 Elvis Presley apparently wasn't feeling too great about the direction America was headed in. If one wasn't aware, Presley was largely a conservative; a man who feared communists, the general tone around the Vietnam War, and the seeming lack of respect for the office of the President. And so, being the King, he assumed he could take such matters into his own hands and indeed planned on doing as much by taking his concerns straight to the White House. In December 1970 Presley's career was as big as it had ever been. The iconic one-piece jumpsuits debuted earlier in the year and the signature karate moves were now an even bigger part of his stage show. His shows at the Las Vegas International Hotel had sold out, set, and broke records throughout the year, but by the end of 1970 it seemed Presley's head was in a very different place. This brings us to the new film from director Liza Johnson, Elvis & Nixon, which discusses little to nothing about the music career of Elvis Presley, but more offers insight into the man Presley was outside of his well-known (and well-worn) persona. It's an interesting take and the film overall is a slight 86-minute excursion that strictly covers the how and why of this infamous meeting offering little to no commentary on the actual events leaving plenty of room for audience interpretation. This lack of any real angle, but rather pure intent to tell the story of a rather strange and unexpected set of events is admirable given today's highly peremptory society and especially considering the topic, but Johnson seems to care little for her characters actual beliefs or motivations, but simply accepts such feelings as fact and follows them with her camera to where such impulses led these actual men. Does this provide a compelling or complex film? No, not really, but it would have been next to impossible to make a film of this meeting not interesting and at the very least Elvis & Nixon is an interesting and straightforward history lesson if not being as necessarily notable as its main characters. Full review here. C

The title of this latest music biopic suggests that Miles Davis was a man ahead of his time and many would agree when speaking about his musical talents, but Don Cheadle's first directorial effort, Miles Ahead, isn't introspective enough to put on display why this particular individual was allowed insight into music others hadn't yet tapped into, but rather it's about how Davis was very much a product of his time. In his actions and his views in his personal life Davis was very much of the state of mind that society should function a specific way, especially in regards to how he was allowed to treat the opposite sex and how they weren't allowed to treat him. One can only imagine Cheadle and screenwriter Steven Baigelman (who also worked on Get on Up) decided to come at Davis' story from a more personal angle due to how destructive he needed to be in order to be inspired enough to create what would become his legacy. Of course, that leaves audiences, or more appropriately Davis himself, to deal with the bigger question of what is worth more in the long run-his present prize or his potential imprint he could leave on culture? In Miles Ahead, Cheadle shows us how one drove the other-how life goes on for Davis long after the thrill of living is gone (one can learn a lot from John Cougar Mellencamp). What was the thrill though? The music or the indisputable love of his life, Frances Taylor (Emayatzy Corinealdi)? The even bigger question is does Davis ever figure this out for himself? Sure, he is now the subject of a motion picture and regarded as one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century, but how often did he think of Frances and the times they could have shared, the memories they could have potentially made while grappling with a reputation that could go either way? Miles Davis, the man, would have you believe that he didn't grapple with anything as one of his most famous quotes states, "do not fear mistakes. There are none," but it's hard to believe given Cheadle's interpretation that being one of the most influential and innovative musicians of the 20th century came with a price Davis wasn't always sure he wanted to pay. Full review here. B