On DVD & Blu-Ray: November 1, 2016


Having never been a Star Trek fan it is difficult to gauge where the new series of films lands when it comes to understanding how much it draws on what made the original series and other features so endearing and loved by so many. With Star Trek Beyond, the third film in the re-booted series and the first not directed by J.J. Abrams, it finally feels like (to an outsider, at least) that this new set of films has found its footing. While I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous two Abrams films they have very much been in the vein of attempting to re-establish the brand and telling the origin of what became the legendary crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on the Gene Roddenberry series that ran for eighty episodes beginning in 1966. This was all necessary, of course, though Into Darkness certainly could have come more into its own rather than once again feeling like an assembling of parts, but as an introduction to this world and these characters the 2009 version is almost flawless save for some third act story elements that cause the film to trip at the finish line. In saying that this third film has found its footing is to say that it finally feels these characters know who they are and are more assured in their roles (both in the actors playing them and the characters themselves). Much of this has come from being almost three years into a five year mission thus giving us our first glimpse of this newly assembled band of actors in these iconic roles in the midst of actually exploring uncharted areas of the galaxy. It seems, at least from my non-seasoned perspective, that Star Trek Beyond is the film Star Trek fans have likely been waiting on since the credits rolled on that 2009 re-introduction. Written by Simon Pegg and his writing partner Doug Jung (who has at the same time both a minor and major role in the film) and directed by Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift all the way through Fast & Furious 6) Star Trek Beyond is full throttle entertainment from beginning to end, packing in a contained and straightforward action narrative into an evenly paced two hours with interesting character dynamics abounding and even some slight philosophical meanderings to wonder about in the process. In essence, Star Trek Beyond does an exemplary job of compiling every facet a movie such as this should contain and executes them without question or hesitation-the only downfall to this being there isn't anything necessarily unexpected about what we receive. It's hard to fault a film for accomplishing the job it sets out to do and Beyond fills its sci-fi action/adventure quota with ease, but this lack of anything fresh or unique to make it stand apart or on its own is also what keeps it from being anything more than your solid summer blockbuster. Video review here. Full review here. B

Being a male I may not be the target audience for a movie about moms cutting loose and attempting to let go of the pressures and stress they are under not to mention the inherent guilt all mothers seem to feel when everyone around them isn't happy and settled, but still...I try to observe. In that I like to think of myself as somewhat perceptive I can see how a movie with these core ideas might be appealing to its target demographic. The thing with Bad Moms though, is that right from the get-go the circumstances of this world are exaggerated in such a drastic fashion that it's not so much funny as it is distracting-and that it's executed poorly-makes it distractingly bad. While I haven't been around many Jr. High PTA meetings lately it's hard to imagine a woman in the vein of Christina Applegate's Stepford-ish Gwendolyn having as much control over the going-ons of a public school as this woman does, much less that someone of her mentality would even care. I mean, wouldn't her kids be in some private school where she is a dime a dozen? Petty complaints aside-Bad Moms is simply trying too hard to be what it doesn't need to be in order to be funny. There is ample opportunity for not only exploring the interesting facets of the psyche of mothers and how they're supposed to come off as if they have everything under control at all times, but rather than explore the small truths in the absurdity of that mentality Bad Moms resorts to F-bombs as its main source of punchlines as it isn't inspired enough to reach for more. That isn't to say exaggeration is wrong-comedies can thrive on that particular brand of ridiculousness, but given the circumstances and type of story writer/directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (21 & Over) are attempting to convey such over-the-top shenanigans would have been better saved for scenarios such as the PTA meetings rather than leaning on it consistently when something a little more subtle or observational might have worked in the films favor. More examples containing small truths that hit the mark of the "funny because it's so true" flavor rather than the "yelling makes it funnier" train of thought would have provided for more substance to both the story and these characters-letting the audience know they really do understand the struggle, but what do I know? Mothers all the way from their late-twenties to early-sixties might love this thing and there's nothing wrong with that necessarily-I just think they might have enjoyed a more adept approach to the same material a little more. I think they deserve it. Video review here. Full review here. D

It is mind boggling how many stories continue to be mined from the time period in which World War II took place whether they directly have to deal with certain events of battle or just repercussions of the German invasion that so many countries suffered from. While it is even more impossible to imagine the amount of stories that have yet to be told around interesting, fascinating, and downright terrible acts that came out of this period in history what makes this new film from writer/director Sean Ellis even more telling than its compelling story is the fact it delivers such a small and contained piece of that larger puzzle while at the same time still conveying how grandly devastating so many of the actions that occurred during WWII were. Anthropoid operates in this realm well; slowly initiating the viewer into its world and set of circumstances before we realize the full extent of what our two protagonists have really volunteered for. The movie takes a risk in not attempting to largely develop or humanize these characters until the second act of the film, but rather Ellis and co-screenwriter Anthony Frewin (who was an assistant to Stanley Kubrick on a number of films) use this first act to delve into the history of the situation and present it to the audience in a way that at first feels labored in that it's all work, no play. As we come to feel something for these people and as we come to know a more expanded cast of characters the sympathy builds as does the understanding for the purpose of the colder, but vital scenes that bring us into this mission. The history lesson is important, but more it is understanding the type of thinking that crafted these situations and as a result, our history as we know it, that is key to understanding the character choices and actions that come to take place in the third act of the film. We all know war is hell-even if we've never actively participated the history books and movies have told and showed us this countless times before-it is that Anthropoid is able to give a sense of the scope of that saying in its single, largely unknown account of these actions that makes it not only a story worth telling, but one that is executed in an entertaining and incisive enough fashion that it deserves to be seen as well. Full review here. B-

There have been a number of different, interesting, and downright strange roles Daniel Radcliffe has taken in what publicly has felt like an attempt to distance himself from the role that will forever define him, but Radcliffe seems a smart enough fella to understand and realize that no matter what movies he makes in his post-Harry Potter years that it is "the boy who lived" that he will forever be most known for. Rather than necessarily distancing himself from that role, Radcliffe seems more intent on exploring territory he never was able to during his years at Hogwarts. Whether that be Allen Ginsberg, a guy with mysterious horns sprouting out of his head, or a farting corpse-Radcliffe has ventured into areas that even the fearless Mr. Potter might have had some trepidation towards. There is no exception with Radcliffe's latest film as the actor portrays Nate Foster in a story inspired by real-life FBI agent Michael German, who helped co-write the script with director Daniel Ragussis. How is Foster different than anything Radcliffe has played before if he's simply an FBI agent you ask? Well, after displaying the necessary skills in the eyes of higher-up Angela Zamparo (Toni Collette) to go undercover Zamparo requests Foster infiltrate a radical white supremacy terrorist group. In short, Radcliffe is a skinhead in a role that asks him to play with the moral complexities of remaining true to the identity he has assumed while attempting to navigate this dangerous world without forgetting the principles that brought him to this line of work in the first place. It is a role worth salivating over for sure, but the question with such potential in a leading role is will the movie itself be able to keep up with what this intriguing character is doing on its own. With Imperium, the answer is 50/50. Though there are plenty of tense moments via Ragussis' script that come with the nature of the subject matter and a few sequences that test the resolve of Radcliffe's Foster it is largely Radcliffe's performance that brings the otherwise meandering narrative to possess real purpose. It isn't necessarily that the plot is bad as it follows a somewhat standard undercover storyline where the viewer can't help but feel our protagonist is under suspicion because we know the truth thus giving way to moments when that protagonist puts on display why they were chosen for such a mission. Beyond the routine story beats though, is there something the film is trying to say? It feels like there is and that there should be with Imperium, but what exactly those things are never come across. Full review here. C

Sea of Trees will seemingly forever be remembered as the McConaissance movie that was booed at Cannes. Still, despite that terrible reception, the direct to demand release by A24 and the onslaught of more bad reviews the film received once it was released for public consumption I still can't help but to be curious as to how bad this movie might actually be. In saying that I mean that I plan on checking out what all the negative fuss surrounding this movie is about, but that I haven't made time to yet because I've felt no need to rush out (or take up precious quiet time at home) watching something that is supposedly terrible. It may very well be as bad as I've heard, but I look forward to finding out just how terrible Sea of Trees is for myself at some point soon.

Just...no. I don't know that I'll ever be able to justify to myself wasting even 87-minutes on a movie called Nine Lives about Kevin Spacey finding himself trapped inside the body of his family's cat. Just...no.

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