On DVD & Blu-Ray: May 14, 2019

Let's talk about how bold Happy Death Day 2 U actually is...

Beginning with the fact that writer/director Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, a personal favorite) doesn't simply repeat the first movie again (pause for sympathy laughs), but rather that he goes on a mission to better contextualize the first film through the journey of this second chapter that shifts itself from a straight-up slasher flick to that of a sci-fi slasher with leveraged moments of humor is an admittedly strange, but courageous place to go.

Things could have become muddled just as quickly as they'd been cleared-up by the first movies clean and cheery climax, but Landon somehow manages to entangle his core group of college kids in an even greater mess of time travel by adding in ideas of parallel dimensions and multiple universes. The inclusion of such well-worn comic book and science fiction tropes could have just as easily led to this sequel chasing its own tail and eventually folding in on itself narratively, but instead it is this new facet that breathes new life into the newly-minted franchise as the man in the mask is somewhat pushed to the back.

This does decrease in the scares, sure, and the movie doesn't hold as much of a "creepy" factor in terms of putting the audience at unease, but the time constraint element of the plot paired with the still lurking serial killer amps up the tension enough it's easy not to notice the genre shift. It is when we realize that not only is Happy Death Day 2 U continuing the time loop story in an interesting and entertaining fashion, but that it's actually building on the events of that first film in a way that makes those events from the first film more meaningful and using this newfound emotional investment in these now familiar characters and settings to ratchet up said investment and expand the ideas being explored that we realize how smart Landon has been about his approach and how rewarding the viewing experience truly is.

The test for a movie that shows us the same thing over and over again is whether or not it makes something familiar feel born again-the same way our protagonist feels every time they wake up with another opportunity to live their best life-and like Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2 U finds a multitude of ways in which to make all of this not only feel fresh, but to add layers and meaning where there seemed to be only be a desire for strong wit and entertaining distractions before. B+

Sports movies-even WWE wrestling movies-are rarely just sports movies, but rather they are tales of the human spirit and the perseverance of the little guy or girl as they overcome the odds to win whatever game or match will solidify them as worthy to both themselves and those that have doubted them up to that point. Fighting With My Family is no different.

It’s a little too safe, a little too by-the-numbers, and a little too obviously condensed to cross that barrier from sweet to sweet and unique despite the endearingly original world through which this sports dramedy is conveyed, but it still works more than it doesn’t. The presence of Stephen Merchant would indicate this might be funnier than it is, but there’s such a strong balance of “rough-around-the-edges” and pure “wholesomeness” as well as a top notch cast that even when you recognize every beat it hits you can’t help but be hooked. Florence Pugh is a Star. C+

What's been great about Neeson's post-Taken career is that it has allowed the previously purely pedigreed actor to stretch his actual acting talent into a handful of different variations on the action/revenge genre whether it be insanely bonkers action like The A-Team, mystery/thrillers with a tinge of shootouts such as in The Unknown and Non-Stop, gangster dramas such as Run All Night and A Walk Among the Tombstones or simple, but effective action dramas like the superb The Grey. Going into Cold Pursuit one wouldn't be wrong to assume this small-town revenge thriller would fit squarely into one of these aforementioned categories, but in true Neeson form-the guy has found a way to pick a script that fits the public's expectations of him while deviating from those within the content at the same time.

Cold Pursuit is as much an action flick as it is a dark comedy with hints of elements of both revenge thrillers and gangster dramas as director Hans Petter Moland (who also directed the original Norwegian film this is based on, In Order of Disappearance) pitches Neeson's honorable citizen, Nels Coxman (also a joke the film acknowledges), who ploughs snow in the winter mountains of a small ski-town called Kehoe outside of Denver, when his son is mistakenly murdered. Coxman takes action, which ignites a war between deranged druglord "Viking" (Tom Bateman, who would make an excellent Joker, I must say) and a local Indian chief, White Bull (Tom Jackson), who had previously held a truce with Viking's father.

Hints of the Coen Brothers and Tarantino abound, but at the same time Cold Pursuit wholly encapsulates its own thing through the severity of the situations it encounters and the absurdity with which it executes them. B-

This look at the Apollo 11 mission from documentarian Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) chronicling the moon landing as led by commander Neil Armstrong and pilots Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins was unfortunately one I missed on the big screen after its debut at Sundance earlier this year. While coming so soon on the heels of First Man might deter some from treading similar ground, but if the reactions to this film-which uses a surplus of footage filmed during the actual events-are any indication this is just as worthy of being screened as that introspective narrative. Things being recorded or captured on film are now things we take for granted, but weren't nearly as accessible in the summer of 1969 when what is arguably humanity's greatest achievement was unfolding in front of our eyes.

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