On DVD & Blu-Ray: August 21, 2018

What if I told you the best parts of Deadpool 2 had nothing to do with the antagonist 20th Century Fox has been psyching everyone up for since last November? Or furthermore, since the post-credits scene in the first movie? I'll do you one more-what if I told you the least interesting parts of Deadpool 2 in fact featured the same guy who was so charismatically devious in Avengers: Infinity War? Well, for my money's worth-I'd much rather watch the Deadpool 2 that deals with the titular character figuring out how to balance his sarcasm and wit with that of being part of something bigger-whether that be with Morena Baccarin's Vanessa or his newly formed X-Force family-but for the movie to go on for long stretches pretending as if Josh Brolin's Cable is a traditional villain in the sense that this is as much his movie as it is Deadpool's and that it is he who we will come to see the merc with a mouth clash with in the unavoidable climactic third act is a disservice to the movie in general as Deadpool 2 is simply better than that. It's better than this because, for a lot of its running time, Deadpool 2 (which is really a missed opportunity in terms of a title, guys-Untitled Deadpool Sequel is where it was at) balances so well the kind of irreverent humor that is the character's trademark and upending the expectations and conventions of the super hero genre in ways that aren't as obvious as one might imagine or as easy as it could be for writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland) to default to, but rather Reese and Wernick as well as star Ryan Reynolds, who gets a writing credit on this follow-up, insinuate from the get-go that this isn't just going to give you what you want while upending those expectations, but rather that it's going to do this in a way you don't necessarily see coming. The writers as well as new franchise director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) stick to this main idea, this thesis if you will, throughout and layer in a genuine emotional pull so as to not hang their main character out to dry with little more than the same shtick we've come to expect. That said, there are plenty of laughs to be had and viewers won't be longing for more of the old because this isn't completely more of the same, but rather there is a more intense satisfaction to be had from the bigger ambitions Reese, Wernick, and Reynolds have for the character this time around. Still, I'd be lying if I said those ambitions don't get away from them throughout the course of this neXt-level adventure. Full review here. B

Whether one knows they know his work or not, most who pay attention in some capacity to the film world are usually influenced by or at least familiar with the work of writer/director Paul Schrader. The writer of Scorsese classics such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull as well as being the director of American Gigolo and Auto Focus, Schrader has made a career out of analyzing the psyches of tortured male souls and their having to grapple with the varied struggles and conflicts their environment and/or time in history dictated them to deal with. In First Reformed, the writer/director is very much speaking to the time in which the film has been made as this is a story of a man full of anxieties and uncertainties despite his outward facade of peace and a certain serene stillness that only such measured priests can uphold. Being the sometimes cocky, but mostly guilt-ridden Catholic that I am I wrongfully assumed that First Reformed was about a Catholic priest coming to terms with the quarrels his mind could no longer ignore and facing this crisis of faith with what the movie could only determine to surprise us with, but in fact First Reformed does not care to follow such a repeated quandary, but is instead the tale of a man who was beaten down by life long before he decided to make the church his one and only true love as Ethan Hawke portrays Reverend Toller, a man who found something of a lucky break in being appointed the priest for a small congregation in upstate New York whose building is now more of a tourist attraction than a place of worship. What this less imposing set of expectations doesn't change though, is that of the DNA of Christianity and how these inherent leanings impose themselves on the psychology of those that are the truest of believers: the ones that feel the most conflict over the many contradictory if not often well-intentioned teachings of the faith. Toller is a man who sees himself as something of a courier for Christ despite constantly questioning his worthiness of such a status. As Toller is in a spiral, as he is literally and metaphorically dying on the inside, he comes to a path that many a Christians seem to find a paradoxical peace in: their own sacrifices. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, so why am I excused from such an act? To suffer means to earn salvation is what then becomes the mentality once becoming so engrossed in the religion, but as Toller at one point poses, "Who can know the mind of God?" he at another derives what is necessary to please God in his own and from this perspective, twisted way, thus painting the broad themes of contradiction and discountedness that inform First Reformed. B+

Johnny Knoxville, Chris Pontius, and crew find a new way to convey their daredevil antics through a movie about-you guessed it-a daredevil who designs and operates his own theme park with his friends. Action Point was an unmitigated financial disaster costing an estimated $19 million and only raking in $5 million domestic with no international gross to speak of. All of that taken into consideration, yeah-I still want to see it and will probably redbox it this weekend if not sooner.

Show Dogs, the movie that was criticized by an advocacy group over scenes that it said sent a "troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse," arrives on home video this week to what I assume is the anticipation of no one. The film, which stars Will Arnett and the voice of Ludacris, follows a Rottweiler police dog who is ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog in a prestigious Dog Show, along with his human partner, to avert a disaster from happening.

The only interest I have in this third God's Not Dead movie or God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is the fact it was filmed here in my home state and a few friends were extras in it, but other than checking this out for the sole purpose of trying to spot some familiar faces in the background I have no desire whatsoever to see what happens when Pastor Dave responds to the unimaginable tragedy of having his church, located on the grounds of the local university, burned down.

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