On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 6, 2017

When I was a little kid and would take in a particular Disney animated feature multiple times within a very short window I always wondered what it might be like to see such characters and such worlds come to life. Real life. I never thought it would happen after the live action versions of 101 Dalmatians and its money-grubbing sequel underwhelmed (at least they did in my adolescent mind), but then again I also desperately hoped that one day movie studios might wise-up and begin building a shared universe where my favorite super heroes interacted on the big screen as well. As I've grown up and become a parent myself it seems Disney has decided to make all of my dreams come true while also giving their most iconic of animated classics updates so that they might reach wider audiences and new generations-including my daughter's. Over the past seven years or so now we've seen an uptick in the number of live-action films based on classic Disney properties. Whether they be from the respective studio that originated the tale in popular culture or not it seems many have noticed this as a way to garner solid returns-despite the brand recognition formula not always working (I liked you, Tarzan, but you cost too much). Though Disney began this recent trend by attempting to re-work properties such as Alice in Wonderland and the Sleeping Beauty story in the form of the Angelina Jolie vehicle that is Maleficent, it has been the last two live action adaptations in Cinderella and The Jungle Book that have yielded the best results in terms of quality (with all doing rather well financially). The point being, when it comes to these re-imaginings the best bet for both pleasing audiences and critics alike seems to be sticking with the source material and simply adding flourishes where might be necessary. This is one of the highlights of this latest incarnation of Beauty and the Beast as more logic and depth are applied to the characters and their plights despite the film as a whole being little more than a pound for pound remake of the Oscar nominated 1991 animated version. One would be hard-pressed to even call what director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) has made here an interpretation, but while there isn't anything in particular that separates the new film as being great in its own regard, it pays honorable enough homage to this reviewer's childhood memories that it would be difficult to argue with the thrills and excitement it delivered in selling such a fantastical story come to life. Full review here. C+

Written by Just Haythe, who previously only adapted Revolutionary Road for the screen and served as one third of the team that composed Lone Ranger among a few other jobs, A Cure for Wellness is a movie unlike those we typically get a chance to see in cinemas these days. This meaning Haythe has crafted a horror film of epic proportions that was somehow granted a budget of $40 million and placed in the hands of Lone Ranger director Gore Verbinski who, despite the reputation the likes of The Lone Ranger and The Pirates of the Caribbean films may garner him, is one of the best and most underappreciated auteur's working today. That the film also got a major theatrical release without having the added bonus of a rather recognizable star is just another surprising facet in the fact this thing was able to be made as it has been. That said, Verbinski, for one reason or another seems to carry a lot of clout in Hollywood and if he can use it to continue getting high-concept original material made at budgets not normally given to properties without source material or brand recognition-more power to him. Outside of his blockbuster endeavors, Verbinski has made inspiring films such as Rango and The Weather Man, but what is most critical to understanding why he was the perfect fit for something like A Cure for Wellness is the mention of his 2002 hit, The Ring. It could very well be that my experience with seeing The Ring for the first time in theaters at a nine o'clock show at the age of fifteen was one of the most terrifying if not the defining theatrical experience of my life when it comes to horror movies, but Verbinski (just listen to that name, even his name sounds like he was made to create horror movies) will always hold a special place in my petrified heart. And so, when it was announced the filmmaker would be directing his first horror flick in fifteen years you can bet it shot straight to the top of my most anticipated list. As with all movie-going experiences, expectations play a certain role and mine couldn't have been higher for A Cure for Wellness which may or may not be why the finished film simultaneously floored and confounded me. To be clear, this is a staggering piece of work-a masterful examination of purpose and other existential qualms that drive us to achieve material success that translates to a superiority over our fellow man that is never fully qualified as such in this life. Yet, while the film begins with such ideas and ambitions ripe for the taking it eventually succumbs to the mystery the film layers in early on that will seemingly intertwine with its thesis, but rather the two never mesh leaving Haythe's final draft one we wished he'd revised just a few more times given he might have then had his hands on a masterpiece in several genres and not just a satisfactory psychological thriller. Full review here. B-

Aftermath is the story of two strangers' lives that become inextricably bound together after a devastating plane crash. Inspired by actual events, Aftermath stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Scoot McNairy and tells a story of guilt and revenge after an air traffic controller's error causes the death of a construction foreman's wife and daughter. After the surprisingly tender performance Schwarzenegger turned in a few years ago in Maggie I was anxious to see where this new direction in the action star's career might take us next, but have yet to have a chance to catch Aftermath. This looks like a solid character drama though and I'm excited to check it out.

Having already ordered my blu-ray copy of The Ticket one might be able to deduce the fact I'm quite excited to finally be able to check out the latest starring Dan Stevens (The Guest, Beauty & the Beast). Written and directed by Ido Fluk the film follows a blind man who regains his vision and finds himself becoming metaphorically blinded by his obsession for the superficial. The film also stars Malin Akerman and Oliver Platt and while there wasn't a terrible amount of buzz around the film ever since The Guest I've been interested in any projects Stevens chooses and am eager to see what his latest role offers.

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