Since we know how important at-home-entertainment is for all of us – every week we do a little “what’s getting released on DVD/on demand/Netflix this week” round up for you, with nice little excerpts of our past reviews and more. You’ll love it. Trust us.
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Ghost in the Shell. Here’s Emily Yoshida over at Vulture:
For all the liberties the new Ghost in the Shell takes with its source material, it’s more invested in that title, specifically the “ghost” soul of its cyborg protagonist, than any of its predecessors in the long-running anime and manga franchise. That’s not to say that it does anything dramatically interesting about that soul, or asks many challenging questions about what it’s like for a person to persist, divorced from their original body. But it is obsessed with idea that Major “Mira” (Scarlett Johansson) must unlock her true individuality to defeat the system, an extraordinarily American narrative shoddily grafted onto the original story like a black-market crab-claw arm. The body rejects it almost immediately.
- Black Butterfly. Here’s April Wolfe over at The Village Voice:
At best, all this might sound like an amusing setup with the potential for twists and fun. But this movie has none of the goofy thrill of the good King adaptations. Goodman shoots everything in pea greens and dry browns shrouded in dull gray, which smothers in drab seriousness a story that could do with some style — and some self-awareness of how derivative it is. Pretty quickly, Jack goes full-on Annie Wilkes when he gives Paul the 12-step pep-talk to quit the bottle and get back to work on his screenplay. Ex-con Jack starts cutting any distractions from Paul’s work, seizing his car keys and trapping him in the house under the guise of doing a good deed. If only Jack had a personality as strong as Kathy Bates’ to prop him up.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Kong: Skull Island. Here’s yours truly over at The Washington City Paper:
Kong: Skull Island is admirable in its desire to get right into the good stuff. The screenplay introduces characters with two lines of dialogue, sometimes less, and the threadbare exposition functions as a break from one jaw-dropping set piece after another. This is the rousing special effects extravaganza that Jurassic World should have been: director Jordan Vogt-Roberts barely has any pretense of a story and instead lets the creatures—who are frightening, awesome, and vivid—bellow and shriek for themselves. There is some resonance here, since Kong: Skull Island serves as a metaphor for misguided American exceptionalism surrounding the Vietnam War.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (more sci-fi edition):
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Rogue One represents a challenge for the ever-expanding Star Wars universe. It is the first big-screen entry that is not explicitly about the Skywalker family, so its failure could interrupt Disney’s plan for an annual Star Wars movie until well beyond our lifetimes. The best thing about Rogue One is that director Gareth Edwards and his team see the challenge as an opportunity. By focusing on a new-ish set of characters and goals, we are able to see the intergalactic civil war with more grit, danger, and heroism than we have from the previous seven episodes. Rogue One is not perfect, but it represents an exciting growth – in cinematic and narrative terms – of what a Star Wars film can be.
- Star Trek Beyond (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s Matt Singer over at ScreenCrush:
Though it’s made at the scale of a modern Hollywood tentpole, Star Trek Beyond has the soul of the quirky, personal indies Pegg co-wrote and starred in for director Edgar Wright, which blended genre trappings with rich themes and ideas. This movie isn’t just fun; it’s sincere and sweet and downright inspiring. At a time when the nightly news feels increasingly apocalyptic, Star Trek Beyond offers an upbeat alternative. In its rejection of the politics of fear, Star Trek Beyond is hopelessly out of touch with the zeitgeist. But sometimes being in touch with the zeitgeist is overrated. This movie doesn’t put a mirror up to society, it shines like a beacon pointing a way forward, if only we’re bold enough to take it.
- Europa Report (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
I don’t know whether Sebastián Cordero saw Prometheus before he made Europa Report, but his stripped-down sci-fi thriller made me think of a famous quote from Jean-Luc Godard: “The best way to criticize a movie is to make another movie.” Broadly speaking, both films have the same premise: a group of scientists travel to a planet on the hunch there might be some life there. Whereas Prometheus devolves with inane plot logic, Cordero and screenwriter Philip Gelatt stay true to their characters. Up until the bitter end, the scientists act like intellectually curious professionals, and while they care for each other, there are no heroics.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.