dvd and blu-ray

legion-season-one-blu-rayDan Stevens stars as mutant and former mental patient David Haller. Over the course of the season’s eight episodes we’ll see David leave the institution, be pursued by one mysterious group and be recruited by another all while questioning his own sanity. Adapted by show creator Noah Hawley, the highly-stylized show takes the X-Men character in unusual directions for a super-hero TV-show.

Highlights of the short First Season include the malevolent identity within him (played by Aubrey Plaza) taking action against his new friends, David questioning the premise that he isn’t crazy, David getting lost in his own mind, and David’s battle against the Shadow King.

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The Ballad of Lefty Brown

by Cap'n Carrot on February 26, 2018 · 0 comments

in Film

ballad-of-lefty-brown-blu-rayWriter/director Jared Moshe‘s The Ballad of Lefty Brown is a passable, if forgettable, western starring Bill Pullman as Lefty Brown, a screw-up who vows to avenge the death of his closest friend (Peter Fonda). Meanwhile others, including the man’s widow (Kathy Baker) are more than willing to believe the crime was committed by Brown himself despite the scarcity of evidence (or credible motive). The performances are solid, and the western vistas are pleasant to watch, so even if the journey doesn’t lead anywhere all that interesting it at least makes for a modest diversion.

The film follows the cowboy’s misadventures, eventually leading to him discovering the real reason his friend was murdered and seeking vengeance against one of the most powerful men in the territory. The idea of turning the dimwitted sidekick into the central character goes against the western template, but that’s really the only place The Ballad of Lefty Brown strays from the expected in a rather straightforward revenge tale.

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The latest DC animated feature adapts the first Elseworld story in which DC characters are reintroduced in other times and places. Taking several liberties with the source material, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight still takes place in Gotham of the late 19th Century where the new vigilante Batman (Bruce Greenwood) will match wits with the serial killer Jack the Ripper butchering women in the streets.

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scooby-batman-8

Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold is an odd, but not unwelcome, merging of the two franchises. It feels neither like Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) visiting an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold nor Batman (Diedrich Bader) guest-starring on Scooby-Doo but instead a mashup of the two that provides plenty of fan-friendly moments and a host of winks and nods for longtime Batman fans (ranging from the Riddler‘s cell number to one hero’s famous love of cookies).

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Battle of the Sexes

by Cap'n Carrot on January 2, 2018 · 0 comments

in Film

battle-of-the-sexes-blu-rayBattle of the Sexes works as a kind of CliffsNotes version of events leading up to the inter-gender 1973 tennis match between women’s champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and aging men’s star Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). The script by Simon Beaufoy offers glimpses at both players’ home lives, marital and emotional issues, and eventually the match itself. While Battle of the Sexes touches on the creation of the WTA and the rivalry with the men’s tour, I’d have preferred more insight here and overall better framing of the historical importance of the match.

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Stronger

by Cap'n Carrot on December 19, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

stronger-blu-rayJake Gyllenhaal stars as Jeff Bauman whose life changes in an instant when he loses his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing. Based on Bauman’s real experiences, the screenplay by John Pollono follows the man’s struggle to deal with his loss while an entire city embraces him as the symbol for “Boston Strong.”

Stronger spends a little more time on Bauman the screw-up and less on the man’s finding the strength to work through his accident (mostly shrunken down into a couple of montages) than expected. Post-accident, when the film focuses on Bauman’s struggle and that of his girlfriend (Tatiana Maslany) the film’s focus is clear, although the amount of side characters, including Miranda Richardson as Bauman’s mother and a host of friends and family (none of whom seem to understand what the man is going through, but are happy to cash in on his celebrity), aren’t nearly as strong or compelling.

[Lionsgate, Blu-ray $24.99 / DVD $19.98]

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Detroit

by Cap'n Carrot on December 12, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

detroit-blu-rayKathryn Bigelow‘s distressing and unflinching look into the Algiers Motel killings during Detroit’s 1967 12th Street Riot, is as masterful as it is hard to watch. It’s a brutal film to sit through as the director refuses to pull punches or tack on any kind of happy or hopeful ending. As a result the film struggled mightily at the box office despite being a critical success. There are obviously parallels between the story we see unfold and recent events, such as those in Ferguson, Missouri. In 50 years we may not have come as far as we had hoped.

Screenwriter Mark Boal pieced together the script from written accounts and interviews with survivors. Algee Smith leads an exceptional cast as one of many held captive at gunpoint, threatened, beaten, and subject to psychological torture by racist police officers (Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, and Ben O’Toole) and members of the National Guard in the Algiers Motel. The longer the police stay, looking for a shooter that doesn’t exist, the deeper the hole they dig for themselves and potential witnesses to their actions.

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Despicable Me 3

by Cap'n Carrot on December 7, 2017 · 0 comments

in Film

despicable-me-3-blu-rayThe fourth movie of the Despicable Me franchise is the weakest and most disappointing (and that’s from someone who enjoyed Minions!). Screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio go through the motions putting Gru (Steve Carell) back in the life of crime (but not really) with the twin brother he never knew (and who is even a worse villain than Dru).

Other than Minions, this is the first of the franchise that doesn’t put Gru’s relationship with his three adopted daughters front-and-center. Instead, the girls are thrown into a subplot involving Lucy (Kristen Wiig) struggling with her new role as a mother. As to the franchise lovable henchmen, the Minions meander around for much of the script in their own subplot which never goes anywhere all that interesting.

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war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes-blu-rayThe third (and likely final) entry to the modern retelling of The Planet of the Apes saga focuses on the war between remaining human military (this time led by Woody Harrelson) and Caesar’s (Andy Serkis) race of intelligent apes. After an attack on the ape’s base that left his family dead, Caesar sets out on a quest for vengeance against The Colonel (Harrelson) which will become complicated by the discovery of a young human girl (Amiah Miller) and learning his followers have been captured by the enemy.

While the real conflict in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was between the apes themselves, War for the Planet of the Apes focuses instead on painting the humans, particularly Harrelson, as the villains in a more straightforward storyline of revenge leading to a definite conclusion to Caesar’s story. This works in the film’s favor, allowing the series to end on a high note (even if director Matt Reeves misses on several key moments, such as hamfistedly spelling out far too much in the final scene).

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the-librarians-season-three-dvdThe Third Season brought new challenges for the Librarians in the form of D.O.S.A. (the Department of Statistical Anomalies, a secret Unites States Government organization tasked with dealing with similar phenomena and who view the Librarians as potential threats) and Apep, the Egyptian God of Chaos, attempting to release Pure Evil on the world.

Highlights from the season include Stone (Christian Kane) and Cassandra (Lindy Booth) stumbling on a lodge full of Norse Frost Giants, Eve (Rebecca Romijn) targeted for death by the unstoppable Reaper, a mystical carnival run by Sean Astin, the search for the Eye of Ra inside the Bermuda Triangle, the discovery of a vampire retreat, and the return of Jane Curtin as the Librarians head to Shangri-La in the penultimate episode of the season.

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