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US Blu-ray & DVD releases this week: Daddy’s Home 2, Hell or High Water, Hellraiser: Judgment and more

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Daddy’s Home 2 – Some people may have been surprised that Daddy’s Home got a sequel, but when a mid-budget comedy goes up against Star Wars: The Force Awakens and quietly grosses $150 million, it’s no surprise that another one is coming. And the second film also sneakily made a pretty good amount of money (over $100 million.) Add in Mel Gibson and John Lithgow as the dads of the dads, and the result is a sequel that’s nearly as much fun as the first film. Like the first movie, there’s nothing brilliant about Daddy’s Home 2, but it’s silly and funny and doesn’t take itself too seriously, and sometimes that’s exactly what I want. Also available on 4K Ultra HD (as well as Blu-ray and DVD), the film doesn’t shine like some big budget epic might, but with bright colors and sharp resolution, it looks about as good as you’d expect a current film to look.

Same Kind of Different as Me – A terrific cast that includes Greg Kinnear, Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou, and Jon Voight highlight this faith-based film based on the New York Times bestselling book (which is – in itself – based on a true story.) The story isn’t all that in-depth, following a couple whose lives begin to change when they start volunteering at a homeless mission. A new homeless friend helps them turn their marriage around. Love, salvation, and the sanctity of marriage are all pretty common themes in the faith-based films I’ve seen, so this should appeal nicely to the target audience, even if I’m not it. Good performances make it a winner in the genre.

Hellraiser: Judgment – Of all the horror franchises out there, Hellraiser is probably the biggest major one that I’ve never really gotten into. But I always give the new flicks a chance to see if one of them can win me over. This latest installment sees a new actor (Paul Taylor) taking on the iconic role of Pinhead from Doug Bradley. However, the main focus of the film is a trio of detectives trying to track down a serial killer using the Ten Commandments as his theme. Honestly, there’s a lot of low-budget scenery and poor writing at play here, and it didn’t do anything to change my opinion of the franchise.

The Girl Without Hands – This feature length animated tale based on a story by The Brothers Grimm is a fascinating film. The story alone is pretty interesting, involving a man who sells his daughter to the devil, only to find her protected by her pure soul. Of course, the devil exacts a price: her hands. That’s a simplification of the plot, but it’s a starting point. More interesting, however, is the animation, which was all hand-painted by one man. The art style is reminiscent of Japanese watercolors, even though it’s a French film, and it makes for some striking visuals. Worth a look if you want something a little different from the norm.

Hell or High Water (4K Ultra HD) – Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and the always-excellent Ben Foster star in this modern day western/noir mash-up. While Bridges shares almost no screen time with Pine and Foster, it’s the two younger actors who drive the film. Playing brothers who rob banks to save Chris Pine’s farm from the banks, the duo is absolutely terrific on screen together. Foster is all bundled up crazy energy, while Pine is a good man caught in a bad place, full of anger and sadness. The film is a solid crime drama, but it’s a bit slow at times. Like, a lot of the times. Bridges provides some humor and Foster’s energy is captivating, but the film is bleak and measured, and it never gets to the level of exciting I feel like it could have. Worth a watch, but ultimately nothing special. This new 4K Ultra HD version of the film really lets the visuals shine; the desolation of the desert is in striking detail, while the color saturation really lets you see all the minor shifts in tone in the color brown. With a snazzy soundtrack to boot, this is a top-notch a/v presentation.

Also available this week on Blu-ray & DVD:

  • Doomsday Device – I’ve been a fan of Corin Nemec since way back in the days of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, and while I’m happy to see he’s still acting, I wish he could get out of the Z-movie rut he’s stuck in. I don’t get it. He’s a likable actor, recognizable to many people (especially genre fans thanks to his stint on Stargate SG-1), and he’s got good screen presence. But dreck like Doomsday Device (which is basically your typical SyFy level movie about a device of immeasurable power causing destruction and disasters) isn’t doing anyone any favors. Sigh.
  • Resolution Song – A largely unknown cast headlines this movie about an emotional journey and the healing power of music. While I didn’t recognize anyone in the cats, they all do a pretty good job in a movie that is maybe overly earnest and a touch dramatic but has its heart in the right place and is easily watchable. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re looking for a heartfelt dram, this is the song for you.
  • Rise of the Footsoldier Part II – Was there a Rise of the Footsoldier Part I? Apparently, yes, but the fact that I can’t even remember that it exists says something about what kind of film it is. That said, while ROTFP2 is a pretty familiar tale – criminal sees three friends killed, rises in the ranks, seeks revenge, other crime-y stuff – it was better than I expected. Craig Fairbrass in the lead role isn’t a great actor, but he works well for the role he’s playing here. There are some sizzling action scenes and for the kind of movie it is, it’s a good way to kill 90 minutes.
  • The Aftermath – Genre B-movie legend Sig Haig stars in this low-budget sci-fi cult classic (so cult it’s almost completely obscure) that riffs on Planet of the Apes and any number of other sci-fi classics. It has that kind of appeal to people who love late night movies, SYFY Channel schlock, and true underground cinema. Anyone looking for competent filmmaking, good acting, or strong writing is advised to look elsewhere. Still, I’m happy the film has been released on Blu-ray for the fans out there.
  • Red Dog: True Blue – This week’s boy/girl ends up on a farm/ranch and meets a dog/horse that changes his/her life direct-to-DVD movie has arrived, and in this case it’s boy/ranch/dog. The only thing that really sets this movie apart from every other film of its ilk is the quality of acting. Bryan Brown and Jason Isaacs pop up in supporting roles, but its young Levi Miller (Pan, the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time) who carries the brunt of the weight, and I’ve found him to be an extremely talented young actor. A nice family film.
  • Dealt – I love magic. Not REAL magic (although that would be cool, too), but illusion. Sleight of hand, card tricks, making elephants disappear, you name it… if it’s some form of stage magic, I’m fascinated by it. This terrific documentary focuses on Richard Turner, one of the world’s greatest sleight-of-hand illusionists… who’s also completely blind. What more do I need to tell you? It’s a great film about a fascinating subject.
  • Hazlo Como Hombre (Do It Like an Hombre) – This film was a huge hit in Mexico, and it’s not bad on a surface level. There may be something concerning about a friend trying to convince another friend who’s just come out of the closet that he’s not really gay, but the film plays it for laughs, so I won’t get too political. The cast is funny and pretty (both guys and girls) and there are a few good laughs, even if things are sometimes a little uncomfortable. Maybe it just plays better in Mexico.
  • Line 41– This documentary sees an elderly holocaust survivor return to the Nazi Ghetto he lived in as a child. I mean, if that description alone doesn’t grab you in the gut, I don’t know what will. More than just a general doc, though, the film sees the survivor meet up with the descendant of the Nazi who ran the ghetto, and the two men go on an emotional journey together. It’s a powerful and somber piece.
  • Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, Hedgehogs, Minnie’s Helping Hearts, Blaze and the Monster Machines: Heroes of Axle City, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Sesame Street: Best of Elmo 4 – We have a number of new kids-themed releases this week. First up is Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, which sees the return of the beloved football-shaped-head-looking kid from the popular ‘90s Nickelodeon cartoon. While I was never a fan of the show (I don’t dislike it, I just never watched it), sees Arnold and his group of friends on a search for Arnold’s parents. From what I can tell, a lot of storylines from the show are dressed and possibly wrapped up, so I think fans will really enjoy this. Plus, at 80 minutes long, it’s a proper movie. Hedgehogs features voices from Chevy Chase and Jon Heder, as well as a couple of the guys from online comedy favorites SMOSH. This is one of those animated films originally made in another country which then just slapped some American voices onto it. It’s right in line with films like The Secret Life of Pets (although not the same quality, obviously) and kids should like it just fine. Minnie’s Helping Hearts sees Minnie Mouse sort of taking over Mickey’s Racing Roadsters. It’s typically high-quality pre-school programming from Disney. This latest disc release puts Minnie and Daisy front and center and sees them helping their friends and the like. You can’t go wrong with Disney. Next up is Blaze and the Monster Machines: Heroes of Axle City. In case you were worried that your pre-schooler didn’t have enough vehicle-based shows to watch, now we have another new Blaze This is one of Nick Jr.’s most popular shows, which follows a young Monster Truck and his friends in the world of Monster Truck racing. Of course, there are learning components as well. This show is perfectly fine for the youngsters, if a bit redundant. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a real treasure, and I wish I’d had it about six years ago. My kids loved this book when they were young, and we used to read it all the time. Now it’s been adapted into an animated short film, and it’s lovely. It really captures the spirit of the book. It’s only 25 minutes long, so I wish there was more to the DVD itself, but for parents of ids of a certain age, this is a treat. Finally, Sesame Street: Best of Elmo 4 gives you two hours of Elmo-centric programming for your toddler. I think by this point we all know what you get when you purchase a Sesame Street Parents know it’s one of the most time-honored shows for kids in the history of television. This DVD release focuses on Elmo (as usual) and will keep your kids happy (and quiet) for two hours!
  • Steve McQueen: American Icon, Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan, A Fanatic Heart: Geldof On W. B. Yeats, #artoffline – There are also a number of arts & entertainment-themed documentaries out this week. Steve McQueen: American Icon is the equivalent of a faith-based documentary about a Hollywood icon. The film is narrated by Gary Sinise, and it sees a Pastor journeying around the country in a replica of McQueen’s Bullitt car, exploring the late actor’s religiosity. I’m not big into religion, but there were some interesting moments here. Not the blanket biography you might expect, though. Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan is pretty much exactly what the title implies: an exploration of Dylan’s gospel music. At 81 minutes, this is a feature-length film, and Dylan fans should enjoy it. I’m not into Dylan or gospel, so it wasn’t quite my cup of tea. Similarly, despite the presence of luminaries such as Bono (one of my personal heroes), A Fanatic Heart: Geldof On W. B. Yeats sees Bob Geldof recruit a number of superstars to share the poetry of Yeats. I’m not really into poetry either, so while I think the target audience will eat this up, this two-hour collection wasn’t quite for me. Finally, #artoffline is an interesting exploration of what happens to physical art in the digital age. What is its place? What is its purpose? It’s an interesting question, and at just an hour in length, it remains an interesting question from start to finish. Worth a watch.

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