On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 11, 2016


I'd like to think there's not as much ignorance in the world as the internet tells me there is, but the small corner of the World Wide Web known as IMDb and more specifically the user reviews for 2016's reboot of Ghostbusters would suggest everything I've hoped to be true about this world is in fact wrong. Given (at the time of this writing) the film had been out in wide release for less than 24 hours it was astonishing how many harsh and outlandish tirades had been hurled at the film already. Of course, we're not here to discuss the inability of what are now likely forty year-old men to share in the wealth of their childhoods. Childhoods that provided such pleasures as the original 1984 film, and extend those same feelings of excitement and pure joy to the kids of today and moreover the young girls and women of today who have undoubtedly always looked to the portrayal of their gender in Hollywood and wondered why they were always so restrained. As far as I'm concerned and as far as I can tell (I was born in 1987 so I don't exactly "get" the hoopla that surrounds the original) despite how much the original Ghostbusters was a huge success and universally praised at the time of its release I've never understood the level of infatuation with it. Sure, it's a perfectly enjoyable comedy with a charismatic cast and unique premise, but in the thirty plus years since its release I can't help but think the film has lost some of its charm otherwise I wouldn't feel as out of the loop. With this new, all-female version director Paul Feig has both paid homage to the original film while creating a world and characters all his own. Written by Feig with the help of The Heat screenwriter Kate Dippold this new Ghostbusters universe doesn't capitalize wholly on the gimmick of the gender swap, but more it uses this basis of an idea to explore a familiar world from a new perspective. While no matter how good the film might have turned out to be there would undoubtedly still be people decrying the fact it exists at all, but that it is a lot of fun if not necessarily an exceptional comedy will surely only anger them more. To remain focused on those who take away from the unadulterated fun that Ghostbusters can provide though is to be reminded of the disappointment this world can be whereas to simply take the new Ghostbusters on its own terms can make you believe good does in fact exist among us. In short, it's a delight. Video review here. Full review here. B-

Say what you want, I certainly would have prior to walking into the new live-action adaptation about the lord of the apes, but The Legend of Tarzan is a welcome surprise in a sea of lackluster, would-be summer blockbusters. Taking keys from Chris Nolan and Sam Mendes in their grand but grounded takes on mythological heroes like Batman and Bond director David Yates (the last four Harry Potter films and this November's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) has created a Tarzan film that is very much in line with the origin stories of these larger than life figures while simultaneously steeping itself in some of the politics of the time all the while remaining self-aware enough through the presence of one Samuel L. Jackson to remind us we shouldn't take things too seriously as we're still talking about a man who was raised by apes and travels by vine. In short, The Legend of Tarzan is kind of everything one could want out of a big-budget summer blockbuster as it features not a re-tread of the same story Disney animation told seventeen years ago, but more a re-structuring of the origin tale through a brand new adventure that lends the action some purpose and includes some unexpected weight in its story. Some will list this new incarnation of Tarzan as empty spectacle, but I'm hard pressed to understand the reasoning as not only does the screenplay by Adam Cozad (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan) feature some templates where Yates orchestrates some pretty impressive action sequences without relying too heavily on visual effects, but it also features scenes of crisp dialogue where what could have easily been stock characters have intelligent conversations that not only move the plot forward, but acknowledge the larger world that their actions exist within and will ultimately effect. Maybe it is due to the lack of expectations when walking into the film, but it quickly proved to be more than another summer tentpole to come off the blockbuster conveyor belt. Bringing us into this world and to these characters we thought we knew there are added layers that enthrall. Becoming invested in these familiar names as played by a top notch cast we come to care about the somewhat complicated if not familiar plot that is still able to put just enough of a spin on what was expected that the reality of what we've received is so much more fulfilling than what I could have imagined prior to sitting down in the theater. In all honesty, I'm not sure one could make a better Tarzan movie than what we have here. Video review here. Full review here. B

The Infiltrator opens with a nice little tracking shot through a 1985 bowling alley as Rush plays on the soundtrack and arcade games make up the lighting. We're informed we're in Tampa yet we're following a man with hair so black it can't be natural and who is wearing a jacket in what is no doubt an insanely hot summer. Something feels off. When the camera finally pans around from the back of the figures head to reveal Bryan Cranston's face and all the stories it tells with its many cracks and crevices, but still ruggedly handsome and definitive features most will know the set-up we've been dropped into. Given the context clues provided not only by the title of the film, but by what we see in the opening seconds it is clear Cranston is undercover and is preparing for a moment of some sort. He's effortless in his adaptation of the customs and dialect in which the men he's now keeping company do business. From here we are given a brief and subtle glimpse of how adept Cranston's character, who we come to learn is U.S. Customs and Drug Enforcement Agent Robert Mazur, actually is at modifying his persona and adjusting to whatever the situation might call for which will naturally inform moments later in the film to be filled with even more tension once we become invested in the characters. In all honesty, you've seen this movie before. It is easy to pick up on the beats of the story and understand where things are headed even if the real life events this film depicts are likely much more complicated than we're led to believe. By containing this story to what are more or less genre trappings though, director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) doesn't limit the power of the story or the tension that unfolds from these moments, but rather gives what is undoubtedly a sprawling epic guidelines by which the highlights and necessary information of Mazur's story can be communicated to a mass audience in a clear and effective way. The Infiltrator may feel somewhat familiar in its execution, but the exceptional cast led by Cranston and by virtue of the unique details that make up the familiar plot there is much to be taken from the film if one is looking for a white-knuckle crime drama worthy of that descriptor. Full review here. B

There is nothing particularly new or even original about Blood Father and yet there are still signs of life within what would appear to be a corpse of a movie. Every actor over the age of fifty that once counted on their name above the title to bring in box office returns has attempted an action/revenge picture that can be traced back to Liam Neeson's success with Taken. Of course, that film worked because Neeson was playing somewhat against type and in a caliber of film he often didn't appear in. Neeson himself has ridden that success through two terrible sequels, a number of entertaining Jaume Collet-Serra flicks, and other B-movie actioners that have given the esteemed actor a brand new phase in his career (though that phase does seem to be coming to a close). We had the inevitable Nicolas Cage attempt in Stolen, Kevin Costner tried his hand with 3 Days To Kill, Sean Penn had The Gunman, Pierce Brosnan even took up the action mantle again to get in on the game with The November Man, and Mel Gibson naturally tried his hand with 2010's Edge of Darkness. Remember that one? It wasn't bad, really, but it certainly didn't match Neeson's success (hardly making back its $80 million production budget in its late January release slot) and it certainly wasn't enough to overshadow the storm of controversy Gibson garnered himself that year or four years prior. In that film Gibson played a homicide detective investigating the death of his activist daughter, but in Blood Father Gibson's character, much like in real life, has ended up on the other side of the law. An ex-con who only comes to reunite with his estranged seventeen year old daughter after she kills her drug dealer boyfriend. Gibson strangely enough plays Mike Link who we find at a point of acceptance with his shortcomings. It obviously parallels where many imagine Gibson is at with his career and life in general-Link's opening scene leading him to comment that, "You can't be a prick your whole life and then say never mind." While Blood Father may utilize our idea of current Mel Gibson to emphasize both the desperation and hope in its protagonist's plight the film outside the presence of Gibson is very much a generic action thriller that sees a dad in need of redemption kicking ass, taking names, and risking it all for the sake of his misguided daughter. Full review here. C+

I watched about a half hour of this fifth installment in this massive animated franchise that continues to pump out sequels to solely to the numbers they put up internationally, but Ice Age: Collision Course is exactly what you'd expect from a fifth film in a franchise as far as I could tell (and that would be the opposite of Fast Five) though I admittedly didn't stick around for the second or third acts in what felt like a death march to the end of the, ahem, ice age. In this latest installment Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary), and Sid (John Leguizamo) join up with Buck (Simon Pegg) to fend off a meteor strike that would destroy the world. In short, things aren't looking good.