On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 5, 2017


The Despicable Me franchise has officially reached that point in its life where it doesn’t have any idea where to go next and so it begins digging into the main characters past to try and come up with characters to fill in roles they have yet to address. You’ve seen it before in countless films whether it be something along the lines of Austin Powers in Goldmember or even something as wacky as the Fast & Furious franchise that can’t help but to keep bringing people back and connecting them in unforeseen ways. With the inevitable Despicable Me 3 the folks over at Illumination animation have decided to take this route and approach their film as if Gru (again voiced by Steve Carell) fell into something of a Parent Trap situation, but the two never ended up going to summer camp together. Instead, it is after the passing of their father that his long-lost twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Steve Carell), contacts the newly married and newly heroic Gru in order to connect and maybe try to pull him back into his old ways of villainy. It’s a fine enough device, I guess, and it mostly works because Carell’s voice work is so amusing in how he slightly differentiates the two and then has to subsequently voice both Gru and Dru doing impressions of one another in what is arguably the most entertaining and genuinely funny scene in the movie. If any other scene in the film had a hint of the kinds of layers or even this kind of wacky creativity in the sense of trying to accomplish something due only to the fact it presents an interesting challenge then the film as a whole might have in fact been more interesting, but as it is Despicable Me 3 is more of the same, but busier. Busier in that it wants you and the children you’re presumably taking to the theater to think there is a ton of stuff happening on screen when in reality all you’re seeing is a collection of disparate scenes strung together by the standard objective of attempting to steal the biggest jewel in the world. That said, Despicable Me 3 doesn’t really have to be anything more than what it is as it is just funny enough and just consistently colorful enough to feel like the shiny new product it needs to be in order to please the masses who will spend their hard-earned money on it. Full review here. C-

When you're one of those people that goes to the cinema a lot it is movies such as American Assassin that seem to become the most stale and the most generic the fastest. Of course, to audiences that only see a few movies in theaters every year American Assassin will be a perfectly acceptable piece of action pulp. American Assassin is a film that will no doubt fulfill expectations for those that felt intrigued enough by the trailers to go out and buy a ticket, but while American Assassin is acceptable in terms of technical prowess, some interesting performance choices, and a rather straightforward if not clich├ęd plot it fails to really exceed in any way within the narrow parameters it has given itself to operate and exist within. No doubt hoping to piggy back off the success of last September's secret assassin thriller, The Accountant, American Assassin has neither the intrigue nor the style that picture had, but rather with this adaptation of the Vince Flynn airport novel director Michael Cuesta (the criminally overlooked Kill the Messenger) has settled squarely into middle-of-the-road territory with a story that isn't afraid to go big, with Cuesta (in his first major studio movie) unfortunately deciding it best to stay as safe as possible. This inherent feeling to stay as safe as possible is to be understood in many ways for, by making this a competent action/thriller and little more, Cuesta stood more of a chance to please the general public than he did taking risks and appeasing a few critics. With such a consensus comes a solid return and more opportunity and eventually, more power over ones endeavors. Cuesta is playing by the rules in American Assassin. To the movie's credit, it does subvert a handful of expectations within certain scenarios while never being afraid to flaunt its more brutal aspects, but it also never embraces its own genre for the more exciting aspects that such a genre has to offer. Rather, this is a movie that is given ample opportunity by its genre to do some cool things with the story it is telling, but rather than take advantage of them American Assassin seems to consistently waste too many of them. Full review here. D