On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 23, 2017


It's disappointing. Tragic, even. All those struggles and all that time invested in trying to make the world a better place and this is what they have to show for it. This is what it's all come to. There is a sweeping sorrow to Hugh Jackman's swan song as The Wolverine, but much like its brutal, bloody, and exceptionally R-rated violence, this tone feels justified and necessary. Necessary not only in the aesthetic sense of what is befitting to Logan's world, but necessary in that tragedy always was the way of the world for Logan AKA James Howlett, so why might his conclusion be spared such tribulations? Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for our titular mutant LOGAN is another tale in which our protagonist is pulled into a conflict in which he bears no responsibility in creating, but that his storied past has somehow served as an influence and thus he is then unwillingly pulled into the scenario. This time things are different though, as before and in the many movies we've seen Jackman portray Wolverine the character has always been reluctant, but ultimately unable to deny his true and selfless heroism. He couldn't help but to care, couldn't help but to stand up for the little guy and what he felt to be right, but in LOGAN Wolverine is a much more broken man than we've ever seen him before. His extended past is beginning to catch up with him and we can see that he's tired of playing this role, he's tired of being the hero, of feeling the responsibility to save the day and that he's essentially forcing himself to not care any longer, but rather focus on the task at hand-a task that sees putting himself and an old friend first. In the midst of all this is the centerpiece that is Jackman's final turn as the adamantium clawed mutant making this grief and misery and pain all the more palpable. Jackman so embodies the character at this point though, it's hard to imagine he has a hard time slipping into even the worn and weathered skin of his alter ego at this stage in the game. And while it is Jackman's (presumably) final turn in his most iconic role that is rightly at the center of what makes LOGAN so emotionally rich and narratively compelling there is plenty going on around him that builds the film up in these ways and make it a genuinely thrilling end of an era. Video review here. Full review here. B+

Get Out is the directorial debut of Jordan Peele who you might recognize from the sketch comedy show, Key & Peele. Get Out is not a comedy though it contains a fair amount of laughs, namely from the performance of stand-up comedian LilRel Howery who will get many, many jobs from this star-making performance. What Get Out actually turns out to be is a rather striking thriller that provides a topical conversation around racial tensions that then amplifies and exaggerates the inherent tensions of its presented scenario in a way that both plays with the tropes of the horror genre while delivering commentary on innate and unavoidable fears in the black community. I heard someone explain it as, "playing on black people's fear of white people's fear of black people," and it's hard to put it any better or more simply than that. This is all to get to the point that Get Out is making the point that we need to stop pretending we know what it's like to walk in other people's shoes. Not that these assumptions can't be compassionate, but more that they are unnecessary. Get Out begins as one thing-playing on the natural awkwardness that comes along with a black guy going to meet his white girlfriends entirely white family in their very white/suburban neighborhood for the first time and then, once it arrives there, takes steps using its genre classification to get at this idea that no matter how good or well-intentioned one might be, it is near impossible to have a real comprehension of what people who have experienced struggles and/or faced some kind of oppression have indeed been through and more over, who they became out of such experiences. Get Out is a film that plays on those facets of ourselves that we'd rather not acknowledge-that no matter how much we believe ourselves to be above stereotyping people or forming preconceptions, that there is a truth to such ways of thinking and Peele uses this unavoidable, unflattering truth to draw out a fair amount of anxiety. Peele plays on those anxieties and social standards exceptionally as through to the very last frame Get Out keeps things as taut as any horror movie in recent memory while never losing sight of its original intent no matter how crazy the genre hijinks get. Video review here. Full review here. A

It was funny, as when The Great Wall was to initially be released back in November or December of 2016 (which it still was in China) I imagined it to be Matt Damon's bid for the current Oscar season. Then, we finally caught our first glimpse of the film in late July just in time for Matt Damon's Jason Bourne to return to theaters. From that trailer alone it was clear this wasn't going to be the awards contender I imagined it to be based on the cast and other credentials, but rather that this was going to be something of an homage to the big budget action pictures of yesteryear. That it could potentially be one of those epics where ancient times were explored and mysteries explained via an entertaining interpretation was interesting and irrefutably intriguing. At the very least, the idea was this might be a good bit of fun and/or an inventive distraction that starred one of today's last-standing movie stars making the kind of movie only a true movie star could make. While all of that potential is still present on screen as the actual film unfolds what is not present is the sense of fun nor is the necessary entertainment factor that should seemingly come along with it. Rather, The Great Wall becomes something of a slog at only an hour and forty-five minutes with the film dedicating a majority of its runtime to a subplot that should have been abandoned the moment these mysterious creatures, for which the wall was built to keep out, finally rear their ugly heads and wreak havoc. Instead, the three-man screenwriting team decide to give these creatures a convoluted backstory and point of motivation that is exactly the opposite of motivating-meaning it deters us not only from caring about these creatures, much less their victims, but does nothing to instill an investment in anything that is happening. If anything at all, it only motivates us to look at our watches more often. And thus, it is the script where The Great Wall fails most consistently as director Yimou Zhang (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) certainly has the visual sense to accomplish what the screenplay requires and despite Damon's accent being in and out the cast largely made up of Chinese performers handle the drama and particularly the action well enough-it simply might have been more compelling had they better drama to work with. Full review here. D

Talented people with actual talent provide voices in this reject of an animated movie called Rock Dog about what happens when a radio falls from the sky into the paws of a wide-eyed Tibetan Mastiff. Leaving home to fulfill his dream of becoming a musician, Bodi (Luke Wilson) sets in motion a series of completely unexpected events. Seriously. Talented, funny people like J.K. Simmons, Eddie Izzard, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, as well as Matt Dillon and Sam Elliot dedicated time to this. Wtf?










This Oscar-nominated, animated film about a young boy who is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age after the death of his mother, chronicles how he begins to adjust and learn the meaning of trust and true love. My Life as a Zucchini was actually the official submission of Switzerland for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category at the 89th Academy Awards this year.