New Blu-ray & DVD releases for the week include some television releases, some drama and a good flick for the family.
First we have Sing. I somehow missed this at the theater and I’m disappointed I did. It’s adorable. It’s from Illumination Entertainment, the studio behind the Despicable Me films and The Secret Life of Pets. It has a great voice cast featuring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Nick Kroll, Scarlett Johansson, and Taron Egerton among others. McConaughey voices a koala named Buster Moon whose theater is in debt and he wants to put on a singing competition. His assistant accidentally puts $100,000 as the prize money and not $1000 and hundreds of animals come out to audition. He picks his talent and it’s full of singing, dancing and laughs. MacFarlane gets to croon like Frank Sinatra as a mouse. Witherspoon is a singing pig. I knew Johansson could sing because of her album with Pete Yorn, but the surprise is Egerton. He was impressive. The entire movie is fantastic filled with great music and characters that adults and kids will love. I’m a grown man without kids and thoroughly enjoyed it and will be watching it again. The animation is amazing and if your family enjoyed this studio’s previous films, pick this one up immediately. The best film out this week.
Next is A Kind of Murder. It stars Patrick Wilson, Jessica Biel, Eddie Marson, Vincent Kartheiser, and the better version of Jennifer Lawrence, Haley Bennett. It’s based in the 1960’s and reminded me a lot of The Girl on the Train which Bennett was also in. I like Bennett a lot and I’m a big fan of Patrick Wilson, but the film was a bit disappointing. Wilson is married to Biel who winds up dead. He’s having an affair with Bennett and where Biel died was the site of a previous murder. It felt a bit rushed and I don’t know if it explained itself all that well. Bennett and Wilson are great as usual, but Biel felt out place as a wife of the 1960’s with issues (think bi-polar). She seemed to overact a lot and just didn’t do it for me. Bennett continues to impress me every time I see her, I just wish the film didn’t simplify the affair/marriage part. Marson’s character should have been fleshed out more as well. It’s not unwatchable, but I wanted a bit more from it especially with this cast.
Third we have Cinema Paradiso. This is a new Blu-ray release of the 1990 Best Foreign Language Academy Award winner. I can honestly say I had never seen it until now. Watching the film just goes to show how much the Academy LOVES giving out awards to movies about movies. It’s literally about a boy growing up and working at a movie theater in a small village in Italy. It spans his life and his relationship with the projectionist at the theater. I’m not really sure why this won any awards. I didn’t get much out of it. There’s nothing wrong with the movie, but Oscar worthy? No. I know people who love this movie so obviously it has its fans and they will go crazy over this collection. It didn’t do much for me. To me I was just watching a movie about a boy working at a movie theater. It looks beautiful and the young actor is good and the set design is great, but as a movie itself, just not my thing.
Next is Wolf Creek Season 1. If you’ve seen the original Australian film this is based on, you might wonder why they turned that into six television episodes because I certainly did. Even John Jarratt returns as Mick Taylor, the crazy guy who goes around killing people. For season 1 an American family is killed by Mick, but the daughter is only left for dead. She survives and wants to hunt down the man who killed her family. It’s not bad exactly, but I might have preferred a third movie instead of a six episode series. I believe it’s coming back for another season, it leaves the door open for one. The deaths are cool and if you’ve never seen the movies you might like it a lot. If you watch the From Dusk Till Dawn series you might like this.
Last is The Brokenwood Mysteries Season 3. This is a New Zealand crime drama that I quite liked. It has a little bit of a Sherlock flair, but with a bit more characters. You have one by the book type, one guy who thinks he’s the best and a younger guy trying to find his way. The car festival and Christmas episode were my favorite of the four. Christmas can make for some great drama and this one totally worked for me. After those two episodes I wanted more, but alas, like other series, there weren’t many episodes to be had. I thought the show was gritty, but felt really authentic too. The more I see of crime dramas outside the US, the more I realize our police procedurals are very one-dimensional. If you’ve seen the first two season definitely pick this up. I just wish it had more episodes.