On DVD & Blu-Ray: November 5, 2019

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is a movie where, in the breadth of a single scene, we are witness to a character stating that, "humanity's hate for itself is greater than its self-preservation" alongside another piece of dialogue that goes something like, "genocide, smenocide." This is to say that Hobbs & Shaw very much knows what it wants to be with the question being if by the end of its mammoth two hour and seventeen minute runtime it actually has become that. One might interpret these two opposing lines of dialogue (spoken by the same character, I might add) for a film that wants to have its cake and eat it too by being both a serious action film that in fact takes itself seriously while injecting consistent moments of humor with the obvious outcome being that the latter then also consistently undermines the former, but what sets Hobbs & Shaw apart from its Fast & Furious brethren is that, from the get-go, it's apparent this thing doesn't take itself serious at all-in any regard-and so, when a character does begin spouting philosophical verbiage as Idris Elba's Brixton Lore does from time to time he does it with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. It only seems natural this would be the case in a movie where both Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham play what are more or less heightened versions of their own public personas whilst The Rock takes down a helicopter with his bare hands and Statham shows off his Wing Chun kung fu, karate and kickboxing skills to the extent that if he and director David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2) don't team-up for a martial arts-heavy film series to jump-start the next phase of Statham's career I will be sorely disappointed. As the ninth film in the series, but the first spin-off it only feels like the natural evolution for Hobbs & Shaw to be as outlandish and self-aware as it is and in following through on these instincts in every situation and not attempting to get too caught-up in plot, basing anything in anything resembling reality, or details such as logic and physics Leitch and his crew end up delivering exactly what audiences are looking for from this type of summer blockbuster. Keeping a keen eye on character and an even tone with the humor and its balance with the legit action Hobbs & Shaw maintains the emphasis on character being most important as that's what brought us here in the first place while the delivery of tight fight choreography and colossal action set pieces is what convinces us that not only should we continue to care about and invest in these characters, but that the creative forces behind the scenes care about them too. Full review here. Video review here. C+

Set among the warm fall colors in 1968, director André Øvredal's (Trollhunter) adaptation of Alvin Schwartz's collection of folklore that are forever ingrained in the minds of the children who read them thanks to Stephen Gammell’s red and blue-tinged illustrations is a genuinely frightening slice of nostalgia horror aimed at the same audience as Schwartz's three collections of short stories with the visual prowess to line up alongside the creepiest of horror shows. It's a difficult line to skirt and an even greater feat to accomplish, but what allows this compilation of the individual stories to feel like a cohesive whole is both the fact that no individual creature or arc is meant to outshine the other and that Øvredal along with screenwriters Dan and Kevin Hageman with a credit also going to producer Guillermo del Toro is the fact they utilize said creatures and arcs within the architecture of your standard "killer/slasher" structure to enhance the character arcs of our heroes. The caveat of this adaptation is that they've made each of these "scary stories" a symptom of the same source-a book written by the strange, misbegotten daughter of the family who founded this rural farming community in which the film takes place: Sarah Bellows. This plot device of a literal book of scary stories allows for the main characters to have the knowledge and understanding of what they're dealing with, for the structure to ratchet up the tension by placing a ticking clock via the head count and finally, for the Hageman's and del Toro to write these protagonist's in a way so that the stories they end up in from Bellows' book are of a metaphorical nature thus lending the individuals and the stories themselves a certain amount of depth. This isn't to say Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark transcends the horror genre and will go on to serve as a defining piece of work, but more that this film in particular had the difficult task of relaying a work written for children that was meant to make those children feel like adults into a movie that looked as if it were made for adults, but successfully functioned as a movie for both audiences. And sure, different genres do this all the time, but there has always been a clear distinction between PG-13 horror and R-rated horror and while some of this achievement may be relegated to the fact this was granted a PG-13 rating and we therefore accept this content is acceptable for younger teen audiences, to see past the semantics is to see that Scary Stories doesn't simply achieve the objective of being creepy, but it ever so quietly works its way into that rarified air of being a horror film that feels as familiar and comforting as the fall leaves its set within while still being unnerving; hell, it may not break any barriers, but it does feel like a breath of fresh air. Video review here. B-

The Art of Racing in the Rain, based on the novel by Garth Stein and featuring a talking dog with the voice of Kevin Costner, if nothing else-teaches viewers why you never marry a girl w/ rich parents. D+

Having been sandwiched between Widows and Hustlers has subsequently made The Kitchen feel like whatever the inverse of an Oreo is. D

I don't know why Undercover Brother 2 exists, but I need people to know that it does. And it stars Black Dynamite.

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