On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 12, 2017


There is a difficulty to pinning down what exactly it is about Matthew Vaughn's work that makes it stand out if not necessarily resonate, but to date it has been difficult to not at least enjoy, on a surface-level, every single film the director has released including the oft forgotten 2007 Neil Gaiman adaptation, Stardust, that is a genuinely great, very funny, and wickedly entertaining fantasy film told by someone who knows how to manage tone. Maybe this is it. Maybe it is the way in which Vaughn is able to deliver on a particular tone above everything else that makes his personality shine through so much more than other for-hire action directors tend to be able to do. It would be easy enough for studios to craft generic comic book adaptations, X-Men sequels, and James Bond spoofs-everyone is making some variation on one of those today-but to bring a unique perspective and distinct personality to such common proceedings is a gift and there is no denying Vaughn has that gift whether you appreciate where he's coming from or not. It is a tough thing, straddling what is to ultimately be an intangible aspect of one's final film, but Vaughn has always done well to imprint his films point of view throughout the film-thus making for the literal actions of the characters in the climactic scenes to feel all the more successful as they have not only accomplished the proper resolution the plot desired, but have simultaneously satisfied their moral compasses. Having listed many of Vaughn's previous projects it isn't difficult to note the guy has had ample opportunity to make sequels, but that he hasn't and that he did decide to take on the follow-up to his surprise 2014 hit says a lot about how much he is invested in this world and in this material. What then would Vaughn do in his first sequel? What is the direction he would choose to go? Those were the thoughts and questions stewing in my brain as the Kingsman logo on the front of the Kingsman tailor shop is revealed once more in the opening moments of Vaughn's latest, but while Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a bigger sequel and dares to explore the extended universe that exists around this independent agency we were introduced to three years ago it isn't nearly as cheeky or outrageous as we've come to expect the Kingsman or for that matter, Vaughn himself, to be. And so, while the film is serviceable and generally a good time it doesn't touch the bonkers and bawdy tone of the original despite being bigger in every sense a sequel can be. Full review here. C+

If you thought the sound design in Dunkirk was crazy effective wait until you get a load of Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit. That isn't to say one is more effective than the other, but both utilize their environments and the sounds that resonate most within those environments to help push the visceral experience of each film to the next level. A level that indeed truly transcends the space and time of where one might be viewing the film and places you among the riots of the summer of 1967 where fear, uncertainty, and chaos ran rampant. I open with such a statement not to emphasize the technical aspects over everything else in a film as important and timely as Detroit so as to draw attention away from the tough and difficult subject matter at hand, but more to begin a dialogue about why the movie itself becomes equally effective and affecting. It is through this portal of sound, of genuine gun shot smatterings that ring out at any given point in the movie and make you feel not only as if you’re in the room with these characters, but are then also inherently placed in the headspace of someone such as Larry Reed (portrayed by newcomer Algee Smith), a singer and aspiring musician who just so happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is interesting, seeing how writer Mark Boal’s (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) screenplay brings several strands of characters, historical situations, and themes together into a single, encapsulating experience, but while we don’t meet Larry Reed until just prior to the events that the film dedicates its biggest chunk of time to it is his arc that we become most enamored with in many ways due largely to the fact he faces a wider variety of obstacles in terms of difficult choices as well as attempting to comprehend a life that seemingly has everything he ever hoped for stripped away in the matter of hours. That also said, Detroit is not about a single character, but more it is about how far away we still are from things being easy even if it would seem we’ve overcome so much in the fifty years since these infamous riots. As a piece of entertainment, Bigelow’s film isn’t something to be recommended for the experience which it entails, but rather because it is a heavy experience that needs to be known about and acknowledged. Detroit is about acknowledgment and about asking not why this happened in the past-we know why it happened-but rather if we’re doing today what we need to be doing in order to prevent as much from happening again. Detroit is a reminder we’re not doing as well as we should be in case you couldn’t already tell. Full review here. B

In Home Again, life for a single mom in Los Angeles takes an unexpected turn when she allows three young guys to move in with her. Thanks, but no thanks, Reese Witherspoon. You do so well and then turn around and make seeming schlock likes this. Didn't Michael Sheen have better things to do with his time?













In The Trip to Spain actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon once again embark on a six-part episodic road trip through Europe. This time they're in Spain, sampling the restaurants, eateries, and sights along the way. Laughs and impersonations ensue.