On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 4, 2016


At this point in the sixteen year-old X-Men franchise the only thing the film that followed the ultimate team-up/culmination of fourteen years of X-Men movies had to be was a good next adventure. Going from the high that was Days of Future Past featuring both old and new cast members with a time hopping plot that saw everything torn apart only to be put back together on a new timeline there was never going to be a way to compete, so why not just give audiences what they really wanted in a proper follow-up to First Class? Where the younger versions of the mutants we've all grown to love go on an adventure together and further solidify themselves as the X-Men? Maybe that would have been too easy. Maybe that would have been looked at as taking the road more traveled, but in following up the popular comics storyline of Days of Future Past it was immediately obvious director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg thought they needed to do the same with the sequel and so they opted to adapt another popular storyline from the comics that included one of the X-Men universe's biggest bads: Apocalypse. This was a fine idea in theory and certainly had fans of the series excited for a showdown between Professor X's mutant team and the very first mutant, but seeing as how Kinberg and Singer have chosen to execute that story on the big screen it feels less like a step in the right direction and more like a recycled collection of comic book movie clich├ęs. The whole affair feels tired, rushed, and nowhere near as layered or nuanced as the two previous films that were all in all pretty stellar. That this latest trilogy of X-Men films featuring the incredible core cast of Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and James McAvoy goes out on such a generic note with X-Men: Apocalypse is rather disappointing, but more than that it is frustrating. It is so abundantly clear not only how much talent this cast has that is being wasted, but also how much potential this film had to be a really solid super hero flick with the same story even, but conveyed in different and more interesting ways. Fans of the genre will always be indebted to the X-Men films for jump starting the current domination of movies based on comic books, but while their counterparts at Marvel are flourishing it can't help but feel as if the X-Men are currently somewhat stunted. Full review here. Video review here. C-

Swiss Army Man is an odd film. One should know that first and foremost. When seeing the quotes on the posters or other marketing material that claim, "you've never seen a movie like this," you should take that to heart. Sure, I get it, you've probably heard that countless times before, but if you continue to read such quotes you'll get reassurance that such hyperbole is accurate when discussing Swiss Army Man. It is in this wholly unique fashion that the film naturally finds its own identity, but also finds a way to convey what is essentially an existential crisis by our main character, Hank, played by Paul Dano. Of course, when the film opens and we meet Dano's character as he attempts to kill himself by hanging we don't know any of this. We assume, given the writings we glean on pieces of trash floating in the water, that Hank is the lone survivor of some type of sea-faring accident and that he has more or less reached his breaking point. It is as he readies himself to step off a cooler with the noose around his neck that he notices a body has washed ashore. Though this body belongs to Daniel Radcliffe it is clear the soul inside has long since gone on to greener pastures. For Hank though, this body he eventually deems Manny is his saving grace. It becomes apparent almost immediately that directors and screenwriters Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as Daniels) enter into Hank's personal reality and are insistent on not letting us out of such a world until they have made a clear statement on each individuals own necessary version of sanity. We all need a different kind of rational to deal with our different set of circumstances. When it comes to Hank we have a very fractured and uncomfortable human being who, as we discover more about him, comes to be this man that doesn't feel he meets the basic standards of normal that society requires. While Swiss Army Man may feel like and project to be an outlandish buddy movie of sorts between a man who at first glance likely belongs in an insane asylum and a corpse the movie certainly has bigger ideas in its head than the fart jokes that have made up much of the conversation around it. Full review here. B

I watched The Purge: Election Year back in July, but never got around to writing a review. This was due to the fact I watched it a week after release, but also because I just couldn't muster up much to say about the film. Everything to be said about this now trilogy of horror/political satire seemed to have been summed up in my full reviews for the first two films as Election Year was more of the same. Sure, it had the insanely good timing of lampooning one of the most outrageous presidential elections in our nation's history and took well enough advantage of that by positioning Elizabeth Mitchell's Senator Charlie Roan as the candidate to vote for despite being targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge. Still, with the return of Frank Grillo's character and a subplot about medic services during the events of the Purge this third film couldn't help but feel scattered and as if creator and filmmaker of this entire enterprise, James DeMonaco, was trying to fit more into his final film than it could handle. It also didn't help some of the performances here are genuinely terrible or that the expansion of this universe established in the more contained original never seemed to come to fruition in as grand a way as possible. D+

In another film I wanted to see at TIFF '15 that simply didn't fit in the schedule Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood star in Into the Forest about how, after a massive power outage, two sisters learn to survive on their own in their isolated woodland home. I imagine this one will end up on Netflix if it hasn't already and if so, I wouldn't mind checking it out eventually.